Wednesday, February 8, 2017

In a whiff ...

A limbo-esque afternoon was rolling up reluctantly into a warm & dusty evening
While a crabby granny was losing her serenity over a bunch of kids, still dreaming

The sun sieved a delicate pattern of shadows through a giant mango tree canopy
As Mangali & Budhwa locked their horns in a friendly bout to shake off some ennui

T’was time to drag out the belaboured, carbon clad earthen pot into the backyard
& prepare the clay fireplace for the euphonious pop with inherited skill and guard

She called out to them, hailed & hollered, but the little brats held on to their chaser
Finally, a splash of icy water on their faces got them to get up & sprint out for cover

In no time the fire was lit with the ceremonial pot perching pompously on top of it
Even as a pair of feet rushed to the store to fetch the prized sack of golden corn bit

The children hunkered around the fire as their humped magician threw in a handful
Eagerly waiting to catch the first explosion & take in the warm aroma by the soulful

It had the coarseness of mud & the calidity of sand with a smoky taste of the wood
Even though it seeped in our hearts like milk in water, it left a dint like no one could

Years later, stepping out of my office, a subtle trail left me spell bound on the spot
& I slowly realised that it was the same fragrance that had elated me as a kid, a lot

In a whiff I relived those moments of childhood bursting with wonder & simplicity
Not wanting to shake off this beautiful illusion where I wanted to be in perpetuity

But it left me feeling wistful & forlorn, as if I had woken up from a beautiful dream
As if I couldn’t recall the very page of the book where I had left reading in between

There have been many afternoons since, but few sans any baggage, my mind warns
Many epicurean recipes devoured but no one even near to those magical popcorns !!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Siem Reap - the land of Angkor Wat n more ...

You don’t have anything or anyone nudging you to think in any particular way so you are eventually free to think what you’d always wished to think or better still, to not think at all.

Siem Reap was one such place for me.

Chugging around in a tuk-tuk; fresh air on my face en-route to Tonle Sap, I was simply feeling good. But this ‘good’ was different. It wasn’t the thrill of discovering a new place neither was it the euphoria of a good bargain. It didn’t have the like of a Facebook or the filter of an Instagram.

This good was fresh & light. It was dewy and breezy! No matter which direction I turned, I was greeted by uninhibited and unadulterated abandon. No hoardings to tempt me, no advertisements in whatsoever form to distract me. No big billion sales, no mobile launches or the must try new restaurant of the town. No traffic to manipulate or deadline to chase.

Life here was akin to lying in a hammock by a sleepy river, gazing into infinity. Every moment had a story to tell and you could listen to them for hours together putting aside your reasoning and inferences. Every breath had its space to breathe. 

I guess a day of meandering about the temple ruins of Angkor Wat with eyes peeled apart to absorb the panorama, had scraped away the last bits of aspirations and conditionings, leaving behind a bare heart. I was no longer worried about my mobile or wi-fi connectivity for the connection that I felt with the place and with myself was much stronger.

There’s something unassuming yet striking about the stones of Angkor Wat. Putting up together the awe-inspiring temples of Bayon and Ta Phrom for over so many years, they still seem so uncomplicated. Even though some of them are losing their grip over time, they have not lost their grip over their humility. It was almost like being in the company of wise men, listening to what they have learnt over the ages without being pigeon-holed.

Tonle Sap on the other hand turned out to be much more than an experience. It was and will remain an uncanny realisation. When the river sized inlet poured out into a sweeping expanse of an all-encompassing source of life, all I could think about was, death. And the only thought that could bring some consolation in that maniacally trembling boat was that everything eventually will come to an end. I left that thought at the grim horizon as the boat turned around once again towards the lively floating village.

Siem Reap for me now, is much more than the land of Angkor Wat. It’s a place to lose yourself in. The moment you enter, it embraces you with an unhurried grace and a comforting smile. It doesn’t seem to be in a rush to catch up with the world. Rather it works upon you slowly, unwinding the invisible race clock inside, with each passing minute. Far from the deliberations of assertiveness over aggressiveness, this piece of land is rooted in kindness and compassion, celebrating each day as a blessing.

So when it rained that night, all I did was, soak in all the bliss and the blessings!