I love nature time-lapse videos. Most of us never have the time or the required environment to sit and enjoy say the blooming of a rose, or spend an evening star-gazing. Just so we don’t miss out on these extraordinarily beautiful gifts of nature, some genius minds came up with the concept of time-lapse videos. The two time-lapse videos below are my absolute favourites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jt03qSdleo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFpeM3fxJoQ Night sky time-lapses always remind me of that Pale Blue Dot image… Puts our existence in perspective, does’t it? How big are we and how big are the things that we fret about in day to day life? Image Courtesy: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/126387515/Pale-Blue-Dot
The Alchemist is no doubt Paulo Coelho’s best work in English. However, there is something about Eleven Minutes that stays with you long after you have finished reading it. When I first read it, there were several sections that were so deep that I would pause reading at the end of the page and let it all sink in. However, there is one small thing that makes the book a little less perfect to me. I’m not a fan of happy endings in fiction, they are just too far off from reality. Also, my mum once told me that the love left incomplete is the sweetest… Eleven Minutes ends with Ralf meeting Maria in Paris airport with roses and quoting his favourite line from Casablanca. Now that, I feel, is too fairytale like for such a perfect book. But again, Maria had had her fair share of sufferings so probably a little bit of fairytale was due in her life. However, I feel that some amount of longing across continents would be better before they would come to the realisation that they are meant to be together.
Below are the lines that earned Eleven Minutes a spot on my list of favourite books of all times:
Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria. Wait a minute. ‘Once upon a time’ is how all the best children’s stories begin and ‘prostitute’ is a word for adults. How can I start a book with this apparent contradiction? But since, at every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss, let’s keep that beginning. Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria.
- At that moment Maria learnt that certain things are lost forever. She learned too that there was a place allied ‘somewhere far away’, that the world was vast and her own town small, and that, in the end, the most interesting people always leave.
- She also noticed that, as had happened with the first boy, she associated love more with the person’s absence than with their presence.
- When we meet someone and fall in love, we have a sense that the whole universe is on our side. I saw this happen today as the sun went down. and yet if something goes wrong, there is nothing left. How is it possible for the beauty that was there only minutes before to vanish so quickly? Life moves very fast. It rushes from heaven to hell in a matter of seconds.
- From Maria’s diary, when she was seventeen: My aim is to understand love. I know how alive I felt when I was in love, and I know that everything I have now, however interesting it might seem, doesn’t really excite me. But love is a terrible thing: I’ve seen my girlfriends suffer and I don’t want the same thing to happen to me. They used to laugh at me and my innocence, but now they ask me how it is I manage men so well. I smile and say nothing, because I know that the remedy is worse than the pain: I simply don’t fall in love. Although my aim is to understand love, and although I suffer to think of the people to whom I gave my heart, I see that those who touched my heart failed to arouse my body, and that those who aroused my body failed to touch my heart.
- The power of beauty: what must the world be like for ugly women? She had some girlfriends who no one ever invited at parties or who men were never interested in. Incredible though it might seem, these girls placed far greater value on the little love they received, suffered in immensely when they were rejected and tried to face the future looking for other things beyond getting all dressed up for someone else. They were more independent, took more interest in themselves, although, in Maria’s imagination, the world for them must seem unbearable.
- Everything tells me that I am about to make a wrong decision, but making mistakes is just part of life. What does the world want of me? Does it want me to take no risks, to go back where I came from because I didn’t have the courage to say ‘yes’ to life? I made my first mistake when I was eleven years old, when that boy asked me if I could lend him a pencil; since then, I’ve realised that sometimes you get no second chance and that it’s best to accept the gifts the world offers you. Of course it’s risky, but is the risk any greater than the chance of the bus that took forty-eight hours to bring me here having an accident?
- If I’m looking for true love, I first have to get the mediocre loves out of my system.
- Up until then, travel and the idea of going far away had just been a dream, and dreaming is very pleasant as long as you are not forced to put your dreams into practice. That way, we avoid all the risks, frustrations and difficulties, and when we are old, we can always blame other people preferably our parents, our spouses or our children – for our failure to realise our dreams.
- With a smile here and a smile there, she was beginning to understand that this was all in the documents she had signed and that, when it came to seductions, feelings and contracts, one should never play around.
- I can choose either to be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It’s all a question of how I view my life.
- At the moment, I’m far too lonely to think about love, but I have to believe that it will happen, that I will find a job and that I am here because I chose this fate. The roller coaster is my life; life is a fast, dizzying game; life is a parachute jump; it’s taking chances, falling over and getting up again; it’s mountaineering; it’s wanting to get to the very top of yourself and to feel angry and dissatisfied when you don’t manage it. It isn’t easy being far from my family and from the language in which I can express all my feelings and emotions, but, from now on, whenever I feel depressed, I will remember that funfair. If I had fallen asleep and suddenly woken up on a roller coaster, what would I feel? Well, I would feel trapped and sick, terrified of every bend, wanting to get off. However, if I believe that the track is my destiny and that God is in charge of the machine, then the nightmare becomes something thrilling. It becomes exactly what it is, a roller coaster, a safe, reliable toy, which will eventually stop, but, while the journey lasts, I must look at the surrounding landscape and whoop with excitement.
- That’s what the world is like: people talk as if they knew everything, but if you dare to ask a question, they don’t know anything ? Whenever I try to appear more intelligent than I am, I always lose out.
- From Maria’s diary a week later: I’m not a body with a soul, I’m a soul that has a visible part called the body.
- It’s really only forty-five minutes, and if you allow time for taking off clothes, making some phoney gesture of affection, having a bit of banal conversation and getting dressed again, the amount of time spent actually having sex is about eleven minutes. The world revolved around something that only took eleven minutes. And because of those eleven minutes in any one twenty four-hour day (assuming that they all made love to their wives every day, which is patently absurd and a complete lie) they got married, supported a family, put up with screaming kids, thought up ridiculous excuses to justify getting home late, ogled dozens, if not hundreds of other women with whom they would like to go for a walk around Lake Geneva, bought expensive clothes for themselves and even more expensive clothes for their wives, paid prostitutes to try to give them what they were missing, and thus sustained a vast industry of cosmetics, diet foods, exercise, pornography and power, and yet when they got together with other men, contrary to popular belief, they never talked about women. They talked about jobs, money and sports. Something was very wrong with civilisation, and it wasn’t the destruction of the Amazon rainforest or the ozone layer, the death of the panda, cigarettes, carcinogenic foodstuffs or prison conditions, as the newspapers would have it. It was precisely the thing she was working with : sex.
- All my life, I thought of love as some kind of voluntary enslavement. Well, that’s a lie: freedom only exists when love is present. The person who gives him or herself wholly, the person who feels freest, is the person who loves most wholeheartedly. And the person who loves wholeheartedly feels free. In love, no one can harm anyone else; we are each of us responsible for our own feelings and cannot blame someone else for what we feel. It hurt when I lost each of the various men I fell in love with. Now, though, I am convinced that no one loses anyone, because no one owns anyone. That is the true experience of freedom: having the most important thing in the world without owning it.
- Today, while we were walking around the lake, along that strange road to Santiago, the man who was with me – a painter, with a life entirely different from mine – threw a pebble into the water. Small circles appeared where the pebble fell, which grew and grew until they touched a duck that happened to be passing and which had nothing to do with the pebble. Instead of being afraid of that unexpected wave, he decided to play with it. Some hours before that scene, I went into a cafe, heard a voice, and it was as if God had thrown a pebble into that place. The waves of energy touched both me and a man sitting in a corner painting a portrait. He felt the vibrations of that pebble, and so did I. So what now? The painter knows when he has found a model. The musician knows when his instrument is well tuned. Here, in my diary, I am aware that there are certain phrases which are not written by me, but by a woman full of ‘light’-, I am that woman though I refuse to accept it. I could carry on like this, but I could also, like the duck on the lake, have fun and take pleasure in that sudden ripple that set the water rocking. There is a name for that pebble: passion. It can be used to describe the beauty of an earthshaking meeting between two people, but it isn’t just that. It’s there in the excitement of the unexpected, in the desire to do something with real fervour, in the certainty that one is going to realise a dream. Passion sends us signals that guide us through our lives, and it’s up to me to interpret those signs.
- If I have already lost him, I will at least have gained one very happy day in my life. Considering the way the world is, one happy day is almost a miracle.
- He’s an artist. He should know that the great aim of every human being is to understand the meaning of total love. Love is not to be found in someone else, but in ourselves; we simply awaken it. But in order to do that, we need the other person. The universe only makes sense when we have someone to share our feelings with.
- Passion makes a person stop eating, sleeping, working, feeling at peace. A lot of people are frightened because, when it appears, it demolishes all the old things it finds in its path. No one wants their life thrown into chaos. That is why a lot of people keep that threat under control, and are somehow capable of sustaining a house or a structure that is already rotten.
- Other people think exactly the opposite: they surrender themselves without a second thought, hoping to find in passion the solutions to all their problems. They make the other person responsible for their happiness and blame them for their possible unhappiness. They are either euphoric because something marvellous has happened or depressed because something unexpected has just ruined everything.Keeping passion at bay or surrendering blindly to it – which of these two attitudes is the least destructive?
- ‘I have a lot of pristine train sets in my life too,’ said Maria, after a while. ‘One of them is my heart. And I only played with it when the world set out the tracks, and then it wasn’t always the right moment.’ ‘But you loved.’ ‘Oh, yes, I loved, I loved very deeply. I loved so deeply that when my love asked me for a gift, I took fright and fled.’ ‘I don’t understand.’ ‘You don’t have to. I’m teaching you because I’ve discovered something I didn’t know before: The giving of gifts. Giving something of one’s own. Giving something important rather than asking. You have my treasure: the pen with which I wrote down some of my dreams. I have your treasure: the carriage of a train, part of your childhood that you did not live. ‘I carry with me part of your past, and you carry with you a little of my present. Isn’t that lovely?’
- People wanted to think like that because they thought sex was everyone else’s sole concern. They went on diets, wore wigs, spent hours at the hairdresser’s or at the gym, put on sexy clothes, all in an attempt to awaken the necessary spark. And what happened? When the moment came to go to bed with someone, eleven minutes later it was all over. There was no creativity involved, nothing that would lift them up to paradise; the fire provoked by the spark soon burned out.
- I’ve met a man and fallen in love with him. I allowed myself to fall in love for one simple reason: I’m not expecting anything to come of it. I know that, in three months’ time, I’ll be far away and he’ll be just a memory, but I couldn’t stand living without love any longer; I had reached my limit.
- I’m writing a story for Ralf Hart – that’s his name. I’m not sure he’ll come back to the club where I work, but, for the first time in my life, that doesn’t matter. It’s enough just to love him, to be with him in my thoughts and to colour this lovely city with his steps, his words, his love. When I leave this country, it will have a face and a name and the memory of a fireplace. Everything else I experienced here, all the difficulties I had to overcome, will be as nothing compared to that memory.
- Really important meetings are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other. Generally speaking, these meetings occur when we reach a limit, when we need to die and be reborn emotionally. These meetings are waiting for us, but more often than not, we avoid them happening. If we are desperate, though, if we have nothing to lose, or if we are full of enthusiasm for life, then the unknown reveals itself, and our universe changes direction.
- Everyone knows how to love, because we are all born with that gift. Some people have a natural talent for it, but the majority of us have to re-learn, to remember how to love, and everyone, without exception, needs to burn on the bonfire of past emotions, to relive certain joys and griefs, certain ups and downs, until they can see the connecting thread that exists behind each new encounter; because there is a connecting thread. And then, our bodies learn to speak the language.
- Sometimes life is very mean: a person can spend days, weeks, months and years without feeling anything new. Then, when a door opens – as happened with Maria when she met Ralf Hart – a positive avalanche pours in. One moment, you have nothing, the next, you have more than you can cope with.
- The strongest love is the love that can demonstrate its fragility.
- Life is too short, or too long, for me to allot myself the luxury of living it so badly
- Of course, everyone spoke ill of her profession, but, basically, it was all a question of selling her time, like everyone else. Doing things she didn’t want to do, like everyone else. Putting up with horrible people, like everyone else. Handing over her precious body and her precious soul in the name of a future that never arrived, like everyone else. Saying that she still didn’t have enough, like everyone else. Waiting just a little bit longer, like everyone else.
- Yes, I love you very much, as I have never loved another man, and that is precisely why I am leaving, because, if I stayed, the dream would become reality, the desire to possess, to want your life to be mine … in short, all the things that transform love into slavery. It’s best left like this – a dream. We have to be careful what we take from a country, or from life.
- ‘What made you fall in love with a prostitute?’ I didn’t understand it myself at the time. But I’ve thought about it since, and I think it was because, knowing that your body would never be mine alone, I had to concentrate on conquering your soul.
- ‘Weren’t you jealous?’ ‘You can’t say to the spring: “Come now and last as long as possible.” You can only say: “Come and bless me with your hope, and stay as long as you can.”‘
- She got to the airport, drank another cup of coffee and waited four hours for her flight to Paris, thinking all the time that he would arrive at any moment, because at some point before they fell asleep, she had told him the time of her flight. That’s how it always happened in films: at the last moment, when the woman is just about to board the plane, the man races up to her, puts his arms around her and kisses her, and brings her back to his world, beneath the smiling, indulgent gaze of the flight staff. The words ‘The End’ appear on the screen, and the audience knows that, from then on, they will live happily ever after. ‘Films never tell you what happens next,’ she thought, trying to console herself. Marriage, cooking, children, ever more infrequent sex, the discovery of the first note from his mistress, the decision to confront him, his promise that it will never happen again, the second note from another mistress, another confrontation and this time a threat to leave him, this time the man reacts less vehemently and merely tells her that he loves her. The third note from a third mistress, and the decision to say nothing, to pretend that she knows nothing, because he might tell her that he doesn’t love her any more and that she’s free to leave. No, films never show that. They finish before the real world begins.
- One day, someone should decide to tell her story, she would ask them to begin it just as all the fairy tales begin: Once upon a time…
2013 had not been kind to me. Heartbreaks, leaving the UK and all my friends behind, and loss in the family kept me low all year long. Once I recovered a little I knew I had to find myself again if I had to completely snap out of the phase. For a traveller at heart that I am, nothing works better than a trip to a new place to remind myself of who I used to be.
So, by November I started to hatch the plan to do just that. Having wanted to see the Merlion for a while now, Singapore was definitely the first choice. Although, it had a little bit of competition from Egypt, but Singapore came out the winner in the end.
After some coaxing, I got my mum to agree to accompany me on the trip and the planning started full on. Of course I had to leave our visas till the last minute (in spite of knowing my luck with them so far), but thankfully, we got them sorted just at the nick of time and off we went on the 23rd of December to celebrate the holiday season in the dazzling city of Singapore. Trivia: The name literally translates to: Lion City.
We reached there in the wee hours of the morning and instead of feeling tired, I felt like a canister of energy had been opened inside. Out came my notes, as we went in search of some local food for our breakfast. My mind was stuck on the famous Kaya toast with Kopi (coffee made with condensed milk: yummm). I loved it so much that it became my breakfast staple when we were there and I even brought a jar of the green stuff home. My Kaya craze didnot end there, I got a lot of my friends to try it and pestered them till they said they loved it too. (Yeah, being my friend sure comes with a price).
So, anyway, I got my Kaya toast and the mother chose a soupy sea food noodles, which by the looks of it she thoroughly enjoyed. For deserts we had the jelly cubes we used to love in Hong Kong. After a very satisfying breakfast we started making our way into the city on the MRT (the Underground/Subway of Singapore). I tend to remember places by the colours and smells of the place and interactions with the locals. On our way out from the airport, we met this Singaporean man who helped me get the travel cards out of the huge MRT machines and showed me on the map how I need to get to our hotel. I (virtually) knew the route already, thanks to Google but this lovely man literally stood next to us the whole time till we got off at our station and kept telling us trivia about Singapore’s MRT. The other memorable person on the same MRT journey was a middle age Chinese lady who took pity on me carrying a suitcase almost as tall as I am and took the responsibility of taking care of it while I focussed on not falling on people standing next to me in the crowded train. We never spoke as she clearly did not speak much English and my Mandarin is a little rusty now! Interesting how smiles can do all the talking in situations like this…
We reached our hotel, Carlton, at about 9am , way before the check in time, only to be told that our room has been upgraded and we were being given a room in the executive section of the hotel. Woop woop. We got to check in straight away and I was almost in tears (of joy) to find out that our room had a view of the Singapore Flyer and the Gardens by the Bay. (I think that was the universe trying to make up for the sh*t that it put me through earlier in the year).
Although we were too hyper to rest, somehow the jet lag caught up and we took a ‘long’ nap. By the time we were up, it was still light outside and we decided to go out and explore the city. We walked for two hours straight crossing Raffles City, Bugis, Arab Street and we went as far as the big flyover (not sure what it’s actually called). We started walking back from there and as luck would have it , we took a wrong turn and ended up in front of the famous Mustafa Centre. That’s the place they say you can buy a laptop, some mangoes and everything in between from. A little bit of shopping and a gorgeous Indian dinner later, we started retracing our steps and with the help of a few more very friendly and helpful Singaporeans, reached our hotel. The lobby was bursting with energy- it was Christmas eve and everyone was on their phones or Skype or FaceTime showing the person on the other side the pretty Christmas decorations in the lobby.
The next day, we decide to head early (which was about 11am; early enough for me when on holiday) to Jurong Bird Park. It was absolutely fab. If you don’t have Ornithophobia, then this is a must see in Singapore. With a very large number of very pretty birds, it’ll sure be a treat for the eyes. Although to be honest we were a little “birded out” in the end. That night we treated ourselves to a fancy (and rather expensive) Singaporean dinner. The name escapes me right now, but it was really good!
The following day, we made our way to Singapore Zoo. It was massive. You might want to take plenty of time in your hands to see the whole place at a relaxed pace if you don’t want to rush around like we did to squeeze in the Zoo, River Safari, and the Night Safari all on the same day. Hectic but totally worth it. We walked long stretches of land looking at animals and fish of every possible kind. Most of them we had never heard of or seen on TV, so it was quite entertaining and educating. My mum and I spent the whole day soaking in all the information about these animals from all round the world. The night safari was probably my favourite bit. You actually get to see uncaged animals- starting from deer to lions and anteaters to hyenas – from such a close distance that it can freak you out a little bit, or as in my mum’s case, a lot- so much that she did not want to go on the walking trails at all and preferred to do the safari on the tram. I might have to go back to Singapore someday with someone a little more adventurous to go on those walking trails.
On our list the next day was the Singapore Flyer and the Gardens by the Bay. Having been on the London Eye twice, I wasn’t too impressed with the Singapore Flyer, to be very honest. But who would want to miss out going on a glass capsule on a rainy day to look down at the city, Merlion, floating football ground, Sentosa Island, gardens by the bay and the harbour? This was the day when the rain played a little bit of spoil sport, and we were stuck in a restaurant for two hours to let the rain stop before we could walk to the closest MRT station. I had read a lot about these bouts of heavy rainfall in Singapore and turns out there was no exaggeration in their description. I had never before seen it pour like that. Stormy monsoons in east India and annoying drizzles in Birmingham, UK, were the only two types I was aware of before I witnessed this wrath-of-heaven-in-the-form-of-giant-water-drops rainfall. Anyway, so after the rain stops, we find our way to the Gardens by the Bay. Massive structures covered with all sorts of ferns and plants shot up to the sky with awe inspiring beauty. A magnificent waterfall greets you as you enter the Cloud Garden and then you can take the lift up and walk all the way down the spiral, soaking in the beauty of amazingly colourful flowers and brilliantly patterned ferns. That night my mum and I sat quietly in the hotel lobby getting the sad feeling creeping in that it was our last night in this beautiful city.
The next day we had an evening flight leaving our morning and afternoon free for a quick trip to Sentosa island to see the replica of the Merlion and the famous S.E.A Aquarium. This was my mum’s favourite part of the trip. The aquarium will leave any kid or adult equally wide eyed. We had taken the cable car to the island and came back on the monorail and MRT. Again, the cable car was a little bit of a let down as I was probably expecting to see the gorgeousness we had witnessed in Hong Kong when the cable car took us over the airport and we saw flights take off and land , hanging in mid air!
On our way back, I had a small -er- accident when I walked into a pedestrian traffic signal post. If you thought no one can ever be so clumsy, you clearly have never met me. So yeah, I brought back a scraped knee and a twisted ankle as souvenirs besides a ton of chocolate and the usual touristy stuff. Other than this, everything else on the trip was just perfect and most importantly, it served its purpose well, I feel back on track now 🙂
Our decisions and choices make us the person we are. A number of times in life, we stand at crossroads wondering which way to go. The road we choose not to travel on, stays in our thoughts even long after the decision has been made. Once we are on the ‘”chosen” road, and are stumbling our way through it, we wonder if we made the right choice. And then when we taste success, we feel sure and confident about the decision we had once made. The “other road” still doesn’t leave as alone. It comes back in our daydreams and sometimes (in a much worse form) during a mid-life crisis.
Having been interested in English literature all through my school life, everyone was pretty sure that I would opt for a degree in Literature after school. When that did not happen and I chose, Communicative English (Linguistics) as my Major, it came as a little bit of a surprise to my family and teachers. But to be honest, I chose it mainly because a close friend of mine had signed up for the same course. Yes, for a 19 year old me, that was a reason good enough. However, after the three years of my college, when I decided to do a Masters’ degree, I had to make a decision, and I knew by then, it had to be based on a reason stronger than the one used earlier. So, I laid out my options and picked the top 2 that could see myself enjoying- Journalism and Advertising.
After considering for about 2 and a half months, I decided to go for Advertising. One reason being the erratic work hours of a journalist, and God knows I need my 8 hours sleep each night! So, there it was, a decision made. Then suddenly it appeared to me that probably I should do my degree in general Marketing, so that if I ever felt like I have had enough of my job in Advertising I could easily look for a career change in the same industry. Very pleased with my decision making abilities, I then started sending out my applications…
Do I regret my decision? No. …but I do often wonder how it could have been if I would have gone for Journalism. I tell myself that since all media are controlled by the people in power and the freedom of speech is, to an extent, just for the namesake, I would have felt suffocated very soon… Not to mention the sleepless nights I would have to spend. I’m sure being a journalist would have its own perks but as of now, I’m okay with not being one and just daydreaming about it at times.
Once we leave high school we realise that pretty much everything around us is temporary – friends, teachers, boyfriends. As we move from school to college and then to university, and out of our hometowns and cities, we realise that this change and impermanence is actually quite fun – meeting new people and a chance to start over each time. All this while subconsciously we firmly believe that the only thing permanent in our life would be our family. No matter where are go and where we live, they’ll always be waiting for us- at ‘home’.
We then get so busy growing up that we forget that our parents (or grandparents) are getting old (or older) and inching toward ‘impermanence’ each day. The thought that someday they might not be in our lives is brushed off as “nonsense”. Or if you are like me, you don’t forget it, you just dread to acknowledge it even to yourself- thinking “if I ignore it, may be it wont happen”.
When I was a little child, my mum was always away for work and it was just me and my grandparents at home for as long as I can remember. They were the ones to get me to school, bring me back, check my homework, feed me the much hated veggies and do rest of the regular stuff that adults do to torture kids.
When I gradated from Aston Uni three years ago, they were both beaming with pride. All the hard-work I had put in seemed worth it now because of their happy faces. Now when I stand at the verge of losing one of them, I’m of course, unable to cope with it and find myself falling deeper and deeper into depression.
My grand mum, who has been suffering from a lot of age related illnesses for a while now, suddenly took a turn for the worse, when she had a series of mild strokes within a very short span of time.
As names, faces and words are seeping out of her memory, I feel that I have lost one of the most important persons in my life already. She doesn’t remember me anymore, or most people for that matter. (She didn’t even recognise herself when my mum showed her a pic of the two of us together).
It breaks my heart a little bit more each time, when on Skype she asks my mum who I am. I used to be her favourite grandchild (much to the dismay of my little cousins). She used to assure me that by the time I go home this year, she’ll be up onto her feet and if not, my presence will “cure” her and she’ll go visit our old neighborhood with me. None of that happened.
With my passport still with the border agency for visa extension and no way for me to leave the UK at the moment, I feel I have lost my grandmum already- to the stroke that wiped me right out of her memory.
On Sunday afternoon, when I was cooking dinner, my mum called me on Skype. I got a glimpse of my gran then. To be honest I’d prefer not to her see in that state but a part of me takes it as a reassurance that she’s still with us. The puzzled look on her face meant that she still had no clue who I am. To help things along, my mum reintroduced me to her and asked her to ask me what I was cooking. At this point my mum was trying hard, for my sake, to make a conversation happen.
And asking me what I am cooking or what I’m about to have, would definitely be the apt question. It used to be my gran’s favourite question. How was my day? How was work? How’s the weather outside? – nothing seemed to matter to her. The first question each day would be – “What did you have?” and inevitable followed by “What are you going to have in your next meal?”
Back to our Skype call on Sunday:
When I told her I was making chicken. She said, with a firm nod, “That has always been your favourite”. For a split second my heart stopped, I went speechless. It felt like I had my gran back. I didn’t know what to say, rather I didn’t want to say anything just so I could hold on to the feeling and I hoped that may be, just may be, she still remembers me. But who was I kidding? After a couple of seconds of awkward silence, she started saying random things again, which made me realise that my 15 seconds of happiness was up and I fell back into reality with a painful thud. It was very hard to fight back the tears at that point.
I’m still struggling to accept the fact that she might not be around for too long. Time off work, shoe shopping, tubs of Haagen Dazs, nothing seem to help. No matter what I do I have these sad thoughts- like a heavy weight in my chest that wouldn’t go away even with deep sighs.
My life, of course, will never be the same again. I’ll just have to accept that and find a way to deal with it. I know I will, eventually. (Not like I have an option anyway). What’s giving me strength right now are the memories we made in the last 26 years. Also, the fact that I never took them for granted. Every day they came on Skype, I reminded myself how lucky I was to have them. I would also take a snapshot each time , and that would go into a well preserved folder. I guess I always knew this wouldn’t last forever and I did all I could to hold on to the moments that we spent together.
A big fan of images, I am usually drawn to anything that has a meaningful image on it. If I ever post a quote on Facebook, I always Google it to find an image with the quote and a picture in the background. I feel, a beatiful image makes the quote last longer in our minds. It’s the same with my blog posts, I have never posted anything without an interesting image to accompany it. So you can imagine how unimpressed I was when I first saw the book Many Lives, Many Masters in the book store. Having heard raving reviews about it, I gave the back cover blurb a go but couldn’t really decide if I could sit through something like that. I must mention here, that inspite of being a voracious reader, I find it almost impossible to bring myself to read books on religion, and spirituality (oh and also those self-help books).
About 7 or 8 months later, a very close friend of mine read out a para for me from her copy of the book- “groups of souls tend to
reincarnate together again and again, working out their karma (debts
owed to others and to the self, lessons to be learned) over the span
of many lifetimes.”. She said, “…that explains why we take an instant liking to some people and feel at ease in their presence- as if we know them already and we know we can trust them, even if in fact, we might have only very recently met them”. She explained, when we have a positive relationship with a person in a lifetime, we sometimes tend to carry it over, to other lifetimes. That was enough for me to go back to the book store and pick up a copy of Many Lives, Many Masters. Today, it’s one of my favourite books.
Chick-flicks never fail to cheer me up. May be watching two happy people makes me forget about my own worries for a while or may be the fairy-tale-loving young girl still resides somewhere in me – whatever the reason, I find myself craving for one every so often. This week I picked The Vow. I found the story to be a little too good to be true (not the actual story, but the little things surrounding it). I mean, c’mon, when you have a cold your boyfriend sends you a hamper full of stuff that would make you feel better… he delivers it himself to your work and watches you open it, while he stands outside in the rain wearing a seriously hot shirt over a chiseled body? Only in a books and movies!
Anyway, there are two quotes from the movie that I really liked:
- Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.
- The moment of impact. The moment of impact proves potential for change. Has ripple effects far beyond what we can predict. Sending some particles crashing together. Making them closer than before. While sending others spinning off into great ventures. Landing them where you’d never thought you’d found them. That’s the thing about moments like these. You can’t, no matter how hard you try, control how it’s gonna affect you. You just gotta let the colliding parts go where they may. And wait. For the next collision.
The best thing in the movie, however, was it’s theme song- beautiful lyrics and haunting tune- the kind that you’d play on repeat for days.
So here we are now my friends
Gathered together again
To celebrate bitter-sweet life
So here’s to our struggles and strife
Let’s make the most of these hours
Till time defeats all with its powers
And let’s make the most till the dawn
Keep on going untill we are gone
One day there will come a time
When we all must face our crimes
All tears that we have caused
To hide our fears and our flaws
Getting so low and so high
Cought between gutter and sky
And we go through all of this
Just for a small taste of bliss
Keep on going until we are gone
So come on come on
Come on come on
Each of us is bleeding inside
We’re just alone for the ride
And each of us cursed to roam
We can never go home
Nobody else understood
But why do you think they would?
Do you think it’s how we planned?
We’re doing our best- best that we can…
Some of the beautiful lines from the 2003 novel Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares:-
“Maybe the truth is, there’s a little bit of loser in all of us.”
“Maybe, sometimes, it’s easier to be mad at the people you trust because you know they’ll always love you, no matter what.”
Maybe happiness didn’t have to be about the big, sweeping circumstances, about having everything in your life in place. Maybe it was about stringing together a bunch of small pleasures. Wearing slippers and watching the Miss Universe contest. Eating a brownie with vanilla ice cream. Getting to level seven in Dragon Master and knowing there were twenty more levels to go.
“Maybe happiness was just a matter of the little upticks- the traffic signal that said “Walk” the second you go there- and downticks- the itch tag at the back of your collar- that happened to every person in the course of the day. Maybe everybody had the same allotted measure of happiness within each day. Maybe it didn’t matter if you were a world-famous heart throb or a painful geek. Maybe it didn’t matter if your friend was possibly dying. Maybe you just got through it. Maybe that was all you could ask for.”
“Wish for what you want, work for what you need.”
“It was her last breakfast with Bapi (Greek for ‘Grandad’), her last morning in Greece. In her frenetic bliss that kept her up till dawn, she’d scripted a whole conversation in Greek for her and Bapi to have as their grand finale of the summer. Now she looked at him contentedly munching on his Rice Krispies, waiting for the right juncture for launchtime.
He looked up at her briefly and smiled, and she realized something important. This was how they both liked it. Though most people felt bonded by conversation, Lena and Bapi were two of a kind who didn’t. They bonded by the routine of just eating cereal together.
She promptly forgot her script and went back to her cereal.
At one point, when she was down to just milk, Bapi reached over and put his hand on hers. ‘You’re my girl,’ he said.
And Lena knew she was.”
Lena studied the faces of the girls on the sidelines. She could tell that Kostos owned the lust of what few local teenage girls there were in Oia, but instead he chose to dance with all the grandmothers, all the women who had raised him, who had poured into him the love they couldn’t spend on their own absent children and grandchildren.”