Simple Love Photo by sonika uppal -- National Geographic Your Shot
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Thursday, 6 March 2014
Thursday, 1 August 2013
Two months into the new place .....and like all new houses.....this one also , slowly.... is starting to unfurl on me , unlocking its nooks and crannies, the favorite hiding places....the curling-with-coffee-laptop points.... the fold-your feet-with a book corners . Out of all the moves i have been through , and trust me ...there have been too many to count , this one, has been the most difficult.....and i have been struggling to make sense of the why's .....
Well of course ...as my dad accuses me ...i have changed.....that my favorite city in the world changed me....
I look at myself in the mirror and i smile and whisper back...." no....not changing dad...i am aging ...I am getting older...." And thats not necessarily a bad thing you know....at least not how i see it ....
There are things about growing older that nobody prepares you for .....the first sighting of grey in your hair , the jaw that juts out , just a wee bit more assertively , the crows feet next to your eyes , which i simply adore...which kind of drags and maps the line of joy all the way from soul to heart to the eyes....The youthfulness , the freshness that is slowly getting replaced with the knowledge of all the milestones, the firsts that have come and gone forever and have left an indelible mark on you....it reflects you know....it reflects in your eyes, your skin ...your very being.....
Then there are your breasts and hips and arms and shoulders.....that remind you of the gravy train bounding forward relentlessly. Make peace with it .
But that is not the changing ...the aging my dad implied and that is certainly not the aging ...that has been on my mind last couple of days....like i said....there are things about aging....that nobody tells you about....
The biggest of them is ...coming into your own ' ....Might make some of you snicker but -- there is a metaphorical butterfly inside each of us ...and so is the cocoon ....and there is no set age , time for the cocoon to fall away and the butterfly to emerge....but what IS definite is the fact ....that its an occasion to be celebrated....this setting free because no one else can do it for you....you will come into your own at your pace....at a moment...a phase...a time of your own choosing.....that sacred place where independence and assertiveness and humility and confidence all merge together seamlessly...gracefully .
This moment is about YOU . and only you . It isn't meant to wow or hurt or thrill or sadden anybody ....This moment just is . There are no ellipsis after it . Don't apologize for it .
Friends , relationships, family sometimes ...without meaning to...can make us feel bound...held back...Sometimes we and other times...they forget ...that we are our own person , that there are endless other roles each one of us play and have a right to ...in the various niches of our lives . And these niches are not necessarily intertwined ...they don't have to be . Family or friends is not akin to being Siamese twins and as we grow older .....we stop making excuses for this bit....for needing that time out...the breathing space but more importantly feeling the need to screen those other sides . As a mother , its a lesson i teach myself....to extend the same understanding and discernment to my children , as they grow older......
Because trust me....all of it...requires huge....really huge amounts of courage...The courage to finally say...that not everybody likes me and i am okay with it ......That its okay to outgrow things and people and friendships and relationships . That its my choice to decide who and what and how i want to divide my 24 hours into . It does not make me a bad person ...or any less kind or gracious or humble...It just means that i am doing the best i can .....and you have to trust me on that .
Its okay....to let go .
And its okay for others to let go too . There will always be people ....grown men and women...who will let you down , use you.....And there will also be those who will make you feel like a fool . You may think you have earned and developed the ability to judge and sift but if there is one thing i have learned , then it is this....that there is no escaping this hurt . That people look you into the eyes and speak lies , say things they do not mean at all ....the good guys....with people hanging onto their every word....the cool ones...who act fearless ....that turn out to be the biggest cowards, the ones who stitch together neat lies to make themselves look better...i think they probably believe it about themselves too...
Let go....it is their journey and their own figuring out to do . I read somewhere that , some stuff doesnt age well....bitterness is a really ugly thing in an adult .
Honesty is the single best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones especially as you grow older...
.....honesty that rears its head when you reach 35 ....like i have and wonder , what is it exactly....that you are doing with your life....oh you know the constants , the responsibilities ...the haves and the have nots.....but you still wonder...in moments lone...
No matter how great and happy ones life is....there is a certain loneliness thats attached to growing older and coming into your own...but that is just how contradictory life and its emotions are.
And i am okay with this lonely ....which many of you will argue and call solitude . No, it isn't....its just plain lonely......the kinds that makes you fall in love with late night and wee hours of the morning conversations ...the kind of spilling forth of all sacred ...non sacred thoughts and ideas and experiences ...
and some times...sharing of the quiet....that can only happen after a certain age.....
i am okay and thankful for it ....for the quiet that streaks my sky in those wee hours of the morning when its still dark and i can spread a rug in my terrace and wonder about
how growing up is synonymous with summer trapped in the furrow between the eyes
and the smell of winter in the hair
and spring inside that heart....
Stealing words from the ' Architect '
I would want to tell them one thing:
"Your life, your body," I would say
“is a country with a history
as thick as any the lands you walk on.
It in are your own wars, your own triumphs,
you’re own laws, you’re own leaders.
There will be those that will try to rule your country,
try to shape it, mold it - deny them. Refuse them entry
because only you know the weather patterns,
the landscapes, the inhabitants.
There will be days where it will rain and flood you -
let it. For with the rain, comes growth.
There will be a time when someone
will try to make you their home - this is a good thing.
But wait for the day an architect travels to you,
wait for the one who will look beneath the surface
and love the fossils as much as the flowers."
and thats all this change is dad.....happens with age....just like that .....seemingly out of nowhere , your soul gets wings and it could never..... not be so .
grins n smooches
Friday, 26 April 2013
Driving back the other day....summer's first evening of swimming with the girls ....on an impulse , i rolled down the car window and switched off the air conditioning . Probably not a smart idea given delhi's amazing traffic and pollen season bang on top of us....
I leaned a little out and as soon as the wind hit my nostrils...i knew i was right ...
It smelled just the way a summer evening ought to smell like...
it smelled just the way summer evenings used to smell like .....back in the days when people used to wet the front of their houses along with their plants and gardens simply to settle the dust or cool the verandah down ...that smell . The particular smell of vendors with pushcarts selling popcorns and orange bars ....the swarm of mosquitoes on top of your head , that wouldn't leave you , no matter how much you ran helter skelter , and your mother lathered your skin with odomos ...Every child seemed to marinate in a curious combination of grassy odour ...mosquito repellant and sweat....heck , who ever heard of deo's back then ....
As soon as the wind hit my nostrils.....my head and heart were filled with these images....despite the collective groan from the back about the ac...i played mean mom wanting the girls to start making their own memories about what summer evenings smell like.....
Take your mind back to some of your favorite memories ...and more than sights and sounds....you are more likely to remember what it smelled like.....its funny how the mind works....
I often tell people about the " god of small things ".....in days and times when almost everybody is talking about staying focused on the bigger picture ....i find ...it is my faith in the god of small things that keeps me going .....
Its a lot like bokeh you know....when i zoom into a tiny detail....i am so filled with awe and rapture and astonishment and a gazillion of other emotions ...the rest becomes hazy and shifts into the background ....even if , for a few minutes.
Life 's like that . I'll take those few minutes every time . The trick is to make a life out of those minute chunks....
There are always those , who will snort and snicker and call this cheesy or cliched....but like Pema chodron said ..... " Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world "
More often than i care to count , i find myself unable to connect , convey , share or understood ....my love for the ordinary , my love for small details, my self made life mantras....my propensity to get sad or emotionally overwhelming reactions to the people and scenes i photograph .......wanna hear a doozy example ??
The other day i was at the passport office and like these places are , long queues and endless running around for one document or another , finally when my turn came at the xerox window.....there was a sikh gentleman in front of me , looking at a sign that read -- please carry change or you will not be entertained , change , which he obviously did not have.....he requested the xerox guy, who ...enjoying his 30 seconds of fame refused point blank....I took out 10 bucks and handed it to the gentleman saying , please take it...he shook his head vehemently ....i again reiterated , please take it ....i happen to be carrying change..and dont lose your turn....after a lot of battling inwards...no's and refusal....he reluctantly took it......He left and for a long time afterwards..... i was overwhelmed with the man's simple yet intense sense of dignity......something so ordinary , that managed to reaffirm my faith in human values...
....difficult to convey...but there it is...my god of small things..and why it affects me so...??...reading into people's syntax or my own ellipses , believing firmly that semantics are important .....all i can say is , you gotta be your own hero and the faster you learn that Life's toughest battles and your most cherished victories are personal private things walked on lonely paths .....all alone , the easier it gets .....
I sit in this crumbly world war 2 vintage barrack i call home ....constantly like snowfall the white wash crumbles and fall on various surafces , my eye travels to the flowers i begged from the maali bhaiya and arranged in my kitchen window and i recall warmly a friend once exclaiming ...oooh you lucky thing , flowers ! somebody spoils you too much " and i said ....yep , i do .
oh , and to those interested , if you are ever in delhi , there's a shack right behind pondicherry house , thats sells the worlds best melt in your mouth malai tikkas ....you have to sit and eat in your car , with windows rolled down and make some fabulous life lasting memories of what a summer evening smells like .......
Friday, 11 January 2013
I don't know if any of you know that feeling...
the feeling of standing at a point in a certain place...certain spot...watching the light slant across in that precise manner....shooting off motes of dust particles....drawing the eye more towards the shadows and crevices...
a not so exact sense of deja vu but ..
but wondering rather ,
if someone at some point of time ...has stood or will stand ... ever... at this exact place and spot and see what you see....feel what you feel....
and more importantly
if they will wonder about the exact same thing....
this is what i remember ...above all , about the moment of making this photograph . Taken at the qutub minar delhi...
“I have buried you in every place I’ve been. You keep ending up in my shaking hands.” —Bon Iver
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
i rambled on and on today
like it was something
i just had to say
sharing wilted anticipation
hidden neath' the syntax
whence in truth
all my mind did
was circle back
to the shape of your mouth
when you leaned up close
and angled it against my nose
the spiraling thump, deep
deep in the pit of of my stomach
the tranquility of closed eye lids
and your ever so little parted lips
what does your tongue taste like?... i mumble
like yours, you reply
what does mine taste like ?
tu hamesha sahi baat bol deta hai jaaneman
still part shy and part overwhelmed
i bury my head in my arms
whilst needy fingers
ache to push your hair back
like daylight savings time
this is where i ought to insert
..............*.case foreclosed *
dark emotions akin
to moles on skin
that won't get rubbed off
in this sincere disarray
i wonder some more
the month of june
on the phone,
the song i belted out totally out of tune
pausing the stirring of spoon
at the glint of honey in my tea
if its still me ?
another wonderful night of poetry at dVerse,
Saturday, 8 December 2012
“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.” —Thich Nhat Hanh
I came across this quote a few days ago and for some inane reason it filled me with such joy and energy , that is so raring to get unleashed , i wanted to bottle it up and spray it on me every single day....
These lines , in all their entirety describe to the hilt what i feel in that moment when i open my eyes each morning and the dream carries on ....
Somebody told me a few days ago , that to put it simply.....just focus on living your dream without searching for reasons ...the why's and the hows ...and that is exactly what i have been doing . I live , breathe, eat , sleep and dream photography....because i have realized that it gives shape to all the words and emotions and feelings that roar inside me like cumulus clouds and overwhelm the very marrow of me if i cannot express them . You see , they are not the point ....neither are the images....they are the portal to this feeling that sweeps over you , when you are doing what you love....when you are living your dream .
I read read read about images and styles and concepts and dreams late into the night and scribble endless thoughts and ideas and sensations each one evokes within me, in my note pad [ blackberries and apps are just not for me...sigh ]....i realize the more i shoot and talk to people....their comfort level is directly proportional to mine and gets reflected in my choice of subjects and subject matters....
Of course life goes on, all around you .....what needs to be done , has to be done and i cannot plan a life based on whimsical notions that i lose touch with reality or all that is tangible . As a woman , without even meaning to , you focus more on what is required from you vis a vis what you require yourself....but in this thin line of tangibles and intangibles ....i get to dream and play and transcend somewhere into this territory which is all my own ....however metaphorical and profound in the hope that somewhere some time it will translate into what the world at large considers tangible .
So its 6 in the morning and i have just come back from a slow walk with my camera , just soaking ...absorbing my delhi warming its hands, huddled around fires on this cold december day ....and thats what i want to share with you all on picture perfect this week , when its all about WEATHER............
Saturday, 17 November 2012
As each mommy will vouch for , the one time every child is bound to say something important , something that just cannot wait another second to be said , is when you are in the bath battling with shampoo suds in your eyes .....right at that moment , the door will go bang and a yelp .....MAaaaa .....
not now nandita , later , i yelled back to my six year old
no ma ....i have to tell you something important !
what?? , the resigned to habit me ....
i wish i had a life .
There was a silence from my side for a minute , while i considered if i had heard her right ....so she repeated it ....i wish i had a life ....
oh....hmm.....let me finish my bath, come out and then we can talk about this ?
are you mad at me ma ? is life a bad word ?
no ...not at all , the corners of my mouth lifting of their own accord at the sweet sweet innocent irony of her questions......
Without getting into the semantics of what inspired her question, and trust me ...semantics are important...on most days...just like my ellipses....there are entire novels , lifetimes sometimes woven between those semantics and ellipses ...today....i'd rather focus on life itself . Its been on my mind for a few weeks now ....life and its lessons ....the bigger picture so to speak . Most days , focusing on the bigger picture renders within me huge amount of comfort ....on days like today.....i doubt if there is actually a bigger picture in existence or if its simply a concoction of our minds and hearts and if life is in the details , the small stuff we tell ourselves not to sweat about .
Besides i've been wanting to write....its a perfect wintery morning , the sorts that leads you to the hammock under the kiwi tree and chew on pencil ends and trudge through that atlas of impossible by daylight musings . Also when your bff tells you softly that it would be nice if you blogged ....you kind of know deep down , where its coming from.....
Last few months have been about some major changes on all levels for me and without design they have shifted the plates , the terrain and the marrow of me . The impact has been fairly intense but thats okay.....intensity i can handle , its the lukewarm...halfhearted that has always scared me.....intensity to me is synonymous with life....so i am okay with the changes ....yes, there have been moments when i have literally sat down and sobbed my heart out but like my favorite jane austen line .......
"There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me."
the " others " here may and does denote time , situations , scenarios , mindsets , prejudices and people .....always people .....
and of course now another line has become a favorite .....hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting....from barack obama's acceptance speech.....
I've learned that life is going to teach us lessons every day , especially those we do not want to learn , ...There will be times when just like the people who matter most .....life will let us down and there's a lesson in there too .....things that matter the most , convictions and values that held greatest significance will fall away of their own accord , undergo changes and make way for new ones.....the frames of life will seldom be in focus, the light always wrong and pixelation all grainy and yet......in all the years to come ......we will look at them with the full weight of our love for the moment when that frame was made .
I've come to love a term ...." slow exposure " ....
I've come to love my fumbling slow yet sure steps to what i no longer feel scared or shy to term as " my dreams essential to my being alive "
I've come to love the overwhelming naked intensity with which i view these dreams......intense , sensitive yet so pregnant with potential that it terrifies me ...yet i love it...
I've come to love this feeling of feeling/being challenged ....i WANT to feel absolutely flagrantly challenged , pit the very marrow of me against the challenge and earn that glow...bask in it...the sweaty adrenalin ridden glow that comes from having overcome it ....
And i've come to love the sadness too....that sometimes envelopes me and almost always passes....yet again reflecting ...refracting life....
Life...wherein you wake each morning....at that precise moment when a slanting sliver of sun's hazel ray travels over and across your eyes...you wake with that childlike wonder intact and faith in all that is yet to unfold ....and know finally that it will always be that picture [ after you've been yelled at for not turning off the bracketing feature ] ....that picture, that moment , that phase, that month .......the one you didn't plan for ...but felt within your bones so deep , that it ended up becoming that very same life lesson i talked about earlier....
....that one... will always be your favorite ....and help you keep the courage of your young unsophisticated naked self in tow....
Is life a bad word ?
hell no...not one bit....