Evanescent Happiness

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Through my bedroom window the other day, I saw it was only a little time left for the Sun to set over Rock garden – and my favorite spot over there.

I left home hurriedly & crossed the road to enter the garden located on the opposite side.
‘Hurriedly’ because I knew it was a fleeting, evanescent moment that I had to catch. Universe painting the sky with its blue, pink & saffron crayons to remind us again that the nature is the biggest artist of all. And we both watched it together all those times, pausing for minutes, letting our silence appreciate that moment; for we knew it was a transitory one. We knew that something so beautiful would last only for seconds before the darkness conquers the sky. 
But honey, we let the nature fool us by its artistic sorcery as if it would not return the next day.
It did, right? And we watched it again, enthralled by its magic. I watched your face yet another day, lit up by the golden sunshine and the wind complimenting the scene by gently flirting with your hair.

Today I ran away to reach my spot and thought of all the times we could rewind the sunset and beat the so-called fleeting happiness. The other side of the bench was empty though, as I let myself to be tricked by the Universe again, as if I was Vikram & nature, Betaal.

The warmth of the setting Sun reminded me of your nudging me when I used to be lost looking over the horizon. And then you would shake your head like you always did, before you smiled, showing an even row of teeth. I would ask how your day was. And as I rummage through this past, I realise that the biggest trick the Universe ever pulled on us was not hinting that ‘us’ sharing that time and space was the only evanescent moment of them all.

You know, I desperately bleed ink on the paper tonight, gasping for thoughts and hoping to preserve our memories before the darkness conquers the sky yet again. Because every time I sit at my favorite spot, I remember so much and yet forget a little. That little is a scary part. I keep wondering if you remember the part of the memories that escaped my fingertips. For I am just a writer with only a limited power to immortalise the part of us that I can recall. I sometimes wish you could lend me few of our laughter & fights that I must have forgotten now.
Because I’m just a lover with an aching heart. If only we could become those purple sunsets and make a pact with the Universe to let us meet behind the horizon. If only if we could blindfold the Sun and trick the time into thinking that it isn’t yet the time to set apart. Because girl, I am just a writer, not yet a match to beat the nature’s art.

 

Are you one of those people who press the elevator button twice or more, and truly believe that it will come faster?

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‘So, are you one of those people who press the elevator button twice or more in a period of less than 60 seconds and truly believe that it will come faster? I was one of you, and most of us are. In this Dolce far niente phase of my life, It was a cozy winter afternoon where I came across this question regarding pressing the elevator button. Within seconds, I found myself digging deep in the rabbit hole trying to know as to why do I (we) actually press the button and expect it to come faster? We have always subconsciously believed that the more number of times we press the elevator button, the faster it is going to come. Right? Wrong! Our subconscious self knows that the elevator has recorded the press and will arrive at its time, but in our material-driven, self conscious world we think pressing it again is going to help.

Maybe because most of us are so adapted to ‘do’ things constantly. We can’t stay still. We can’t do ‘nothing’. The moment we realize the elevator isn’t coming anytime soon, we start getting edgy. Then, we feel extremely edgy. Just even in a matter of a couple of minutes, we can’t stand just like that. Humans have been disciplined to prefer action over inaction. From the time we wake up in the morning right till we hit the bed at night, how many seconds do we just sit still doing ‘nothing’? Doing nothing is also an action, but at a different state; which we fail to practice most of the times. I’d also like to point out, we live in a society where being busy signifies importance and doing nothing is frowned upon. People are just a bit less busy than it takes to tell people they are busy.

This behavior is not limited to elevators, but also I could see people pressing the pedestrian crossing button over and over again, and we do it on our computers too while entering some command.

Is it because we want to take control over everything that is happening to us in our lives? It seems to me that we are too afraid to let go, sit back and watch things happen to us. It is too dreadful to think about this experience as something terrible might just happen. No?

Anyways, Is it wrong or harmful to press the elevator button twice or more? As long as it fulfills the purpose of making our brains calmer in that moment, why not just do it? We really know pressing the button MAKES NO DIFFERENCE and the elevator will come at its time. But yet, the more time the lift takes to come, the more number of times we press the button. It is said that we humans are the rational most beings on Earth. But has the hole over-flown now? Do you think we give way too much importance to rationality? I believe rationality is subjective and not one universal paradigm. And just calming your brain doesn’t seem to be irrational in any way or does it really? It isn’t about rationality.

It is about faith and trust. Patience is too cliché a word. I wouldn’t say it teaches us patience, which by itself it certainly does. But something bigger and beautiful beyond patience, it cultivates a culture within us, as individuals. We don’t need to take charge of everything that happens to us, because whatever is going to happen and can happen will happen anyway. There is thrill in giving (away) controls of your life. And we need to start trusting things, trusting the elevator, trusting the lift and trusting yourself for being able of developing trust. We need to shrug off our insecurities and simply trust.

Because the gospel, my friends, is that the elevator will not come early no matter how many times you press the button. Just press it once, and stay. Stay still and tell yourself that the elevator will be here soon, following its status, and in no time the elevator shall arrive! When I did this for the first time, I walked in the elevator with a pure and blissful sense of achievement. I felt calmer than I would feel otherwise. The main epiphany I had here is that being in control of yourself feels much greater and pleasant than trying to control other external factors. And every time you do this when you are waiting for an elevator, soon you’re going to get dang amused to see yourself feel free and lighter and cheerful. Trust me on this; it is one of the best feelings to see yourself develop a new habit that stays with you for life. The habits and cultures I’ve cultivated in myself at this age are the most memorable ones and are independent of any external pressure or brainwashing. I took the sole decision of it & it feels fascinating.

Just know what my sense of universe is trying to tell you, When you press the button of the lift , the lift is going to come, regardless of how many times you have pressed the button (You will get what you want). Also, if you keep pressing the lifts button twice or more, restlessly, it is Not going to make any difference and it will come at its time. (You will get what you’ve always got). I also just realized I have thoroughly and thickly endorsed dolce far niente in the lines I wrote above, unplanned so I believe it’s a pat on my back by the universe. Maybe…

About the author: 
Kiran Dave is a knowledge hungry, and a passionate lover of life. She believes as we love, we attract. She is fond of Expressing by the means of writing, practices meditation. She loves meeting people as she believes we all have a story to tell, and that there is happiness and inspiration that magnifies the positive level of your nature and psyche in everything we experience as Humans. Reading stories and current affairs of the world is one of her favorite amusement. She’s an aspiring scholar in the scope of International Relations.
Follow her on www.simplytac.blogspot.in

Mood swings of a restless dream

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Brain over heart. Job over sweetheart. Money over profile and Career over dreams.

Because we are supposed to. Because we are a part of the society, that trains us to be one amongst the flock.

Wisdom teeth start making their way in, while we are busy murdering the teenage dreams. High school crushes from the scrapbook make themselves seen after a long time, adding their honeymoon pictures online. Paycheques in your bank account have become a routine, finding their way out to somebody else’s wallet every time you buy yourself a pint.

Amidst thousand racing thoughts in your mind, you seek peace. Peep your head outside the bedroom window and feel the night kissing your cheeks. Moon is there already, slowly playing its tricks on you. One minute you are dreaming and the next it is your reality. You have a mind tickling realisation that you’ve been through your best times already. You wish, someone told you so.

In the world where most of us are looked as replaceable, you wonder how you still manage to keep few relations tucked safely in. ‘Friends’, such a fancy label given to those who enter your heart unexpectedly and carry a piece of it with them forever. You feel happy to have let them steal it.

Most look at themselves in the mirror, but you look for yourself. At your messed up hair and the dark circles underneath your eyes. You smile once and yet know this is not how you do it. Cold water drowns your eyes into a moment of ‘nothing’ for a minute and immediately throws you back to the present time.

‘Today’. And you know you have to deal with it. Alone mostly. A series of bad decisions do a mocking dance every morning and Sun tries its best to make you smile. Birds are still chirping like they used to and streets are full of smiles. Hoping you could see it.

Rubbing your eyes, you snooze the dreams yet another time and tell yourself, it is a new day.
Caffeine has become your drug and newspaper the first person you make eye contact with. Skipping horoscope section intentionally, you fold the newspaper back and leave. Hoping you will take a stand at least today. For yourself. And take a leap over the puddle of boredom. To the dreamy land. It waves at you.

Grass is greener on the other side. You know it. Because you fertilized it yourself in your favourite dream. We all know secretly where we have to be.

Heart over brain. That’s how it was always supposed to be.

Living life Nawabi style

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With winters kissing your cheek under the white moonlight, you are standing at a fairly busy street of Hazartganj on a Saturday evening.  Watching the shops and brand outlets draped in black and white clothes and a hoard of townspeople crowding them.

LUCKNOW. Like an old Bollywood film, the town welcomes you with its name flashing in front of your eyes in a big Times New Roman font followed by Urdu as you get down at Lucknow Junction.

After paying the rickshaw guy twenty odd rupees or so without much hassle or negotiation required, you reach Hazartganj Chowk or Chouraha as they famously call it here in pure Hindi. So, standing outside Royal cafe restaurant, one of the most popular ones – you watch several people relishing a basket chat and chatting about the week that just went by. A mixture of mashed potato, curd in a basket made out of sev is enough to satiate two rumbling tummies at a time.

Food is one of the many reasons why one shall visit this town. Not more than 200 meters from Royal cafe you come across Shukla tea stall, where you can spot the chap heating creamy milk outside a small restaurant and pouring it skilfully in already laid down glasses in rows. It is then topped with a layer of tea diving into milk, as he fills the glasses almost overflowing it. A delight to one’s s eyes as well as taste buds craving for some tannin.

And it doesn’t end there, my connoisseurs! Take a ride through this city in a cycle rickshaw. Through the busy streets of Aminabad, the rickshaw driver will take you to food joints like Tundey Kabab and Dastarkhwan. And while he drives through the crowded parts of Lucknow, he will narrate to you tales of their existence in town since pre-independence era. Both the places serve a mouth watering delicacy known as Galawati Kabab. A folk tale follows the dish that, once upon a time there lived a Nawab at Lucknow who had a weak set of teeth and hence ordered his chef to cook kababs accordingly. And so in process, Galawati Kababs were borne. Pick up a piece of these kababs gently with a spoon…gently because it is so tender to be broken otherwise. So lift a piece and wrap it neatly between the crispy buttery Mughlai paratha and simply rest them on your tongue. With the blink of your eyes, kababs shall melt in, spreading the mouth watering taste of it down your throat.

Apart from food, the city is known for its love for Hindi & Urdu language. And it is overwhelming to hear people speak purest of Hindi, marinated with respect. You won’t know respect until you hear an elderly Lucknow businessman speaking to a chap dropping him home for few bucks and thanking him in most respectful way you would have ever heard of.

As you ride your bike along with white fiat cars topped with blue lights demanding you to give them way ahead, an open bridge spreads its arms wide over Gomti river – separating the town into two distinct parts. And old and new Lucknow.
Old or new, the city wears a serene mask on its face and lets you do your job at peace. A fountain laughing a mouthful of cold water will welcome you at every corner of this town.

I am yet to see a town so careful to maintain the buildings and houses in their pristine form that even cafe coffee day paints itself black and white to be a part of its clique. Big clothing brands try and stand out with their showrooms taking shelter in white flamboyant architectures, reminiscent of its royal Nawabi past.

Wondering how to reach here? Simple. The capital city of Uttar Pradesh is just an overnight train journey from New Delhi and requiring a 24hours travel from Mumbai. Airlines hover around it every day, giving you a glimpse of wide gardens showcasing a tall statue of Buddha and several elephants standing in rows. So one can take a nonstop flight from metro cities or have a connecting flight from New Delhi/Mumbai from other towns to land here.

And yes, don’t forget to add ‘G’ to every surname that you come across here. After all, mingling with the local stream lets you appreciate the place even more.

Rest; there are plenty of places and faces waiting for you to arrive here – in Nawabi style!

The Flying Dutchman

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Piyush was once more flying…from one town to the other. Once more, because it had only been few months that he had come to this town and was now looking forward to settling in a new one.

He remembered his childhood as he looked outside the rounded airplane window on his right. The huge airplane wing was disrupting the panoramic view of town from the above. He looked at box shaped houses midst the green areas from above. He wondered what people must be doing in each one of those. He wondered how many were sleeping, talking, sharing a joke or making love. He thought of troubles some of the people must be living with, in those houses which now went from box size to tiny dots. He recalled himself sitting outside his house back in his school days and gazing at the sky.

“Mamma, you know which one is my favourite bird?” he would ask her, keeping his eyes focused at blue skies.

“Which one?”

“Kite! Ask me why.” He would demand.

“Oh why is it so, sweetheart?”

“Because mother, it flies up…goes high and higher, as in highest and I love the fact that it flies so up in the sky.”

His mother would smile and ask him, “So, you don’t like other birds like Parrots or Sparrow?”

“Umm…Not really, I think the kite gets to see so much. Much more than any other bird in the sky.”

“Oh but son, do you know that kites don’t have a cozy home like parrots do?”

“Uhh?” six year old Piyush could do nothing more than scratching his head in reply.

Airplane was moving steadily now. Seat-belt sign had gone off. Piyush offered a smile back to the air-hostess as she handed him a glass full of water.

Drinking it carefully, he looked at the vast sky outside. It looked like a long bed sheet with huge pillows of cotton resting on it.

He badly wished that he could point those out to Sana, while sitting next to Sakshi. It had been a year that he had seen them. Sana was five and half year old now. He had missed her last birthday due to his work schedule. Thinking of them brought back memories of the last day he had met them. He could see Sakshi walking off the front door, holding little Sana’s hand who looked just once at Piyush before walking with her mother…without saying anything. He had hoped that she did…he had hoped she would at least resist a bit…say that she wants to stay with him. But maybe his absence during her school gatherings had much more impact on her naive heart than he had thought.

He missed her now. He missed Sakshi too. Maybe one of them more than the other. He couldn’t decide which one. He did not want to.

How he wished now, that he had not taken up that big assignment. But then again, it was big after all. Travelling across twenty towns doing what he loves to do the most and getting handsomely paid for it. He was going to live his dream. So what if happened later than he had planned, it did nonetheless. But then…Sakshi and him…his inner voices kept debating with contrasting thoughts throughout that journey.

Seat belt sign glowed once again. Routine announcement was made and the plane started its landing process. After doing few squats in the sky, plane finally touched the ground and Piyush could feel the speed at which he was moving closer to his destination.

Getting out he joined the flock of passengers waiting at the conveyor belt, desperately waiting to claim their baggage. In his head he could view the scene as parents waiting outside the school, for their kids – looking all alike in similar uniforms. He smiled at the thought.

He even heard few passengers speaking his mother tongue and felt genuinely happy. He felt that there really needs to be a special word in the dictionary for this – for the special kind of happy and content feeling that tickles your heart, every time something reminds you of your home.

“Take these extra twenty and put some Daffodils along with Lilies” Piyush told the flower vendor.

Holding the bunch delicately in his hand, he adjusted his jacket and made his hair before ringing the door-bell.

He saw the eye-hole turning dark with someone peeping from inside and it was followed by a pause. He had expected that.

Shahid opened the door and things couldn’t have been more awkward with Piyush standing there with flowers in his hand.

“Hi Piyush, wasn’t expecting to see you here!”

“Well you shouldn’t be. This is not your house.”

“Says someone who doesn’t have one” Shahid replied with a smirk on his face.

“C’mon guys, cut it out!” Sakshi came from behind and let Piyush inside.

“What the hell is he doing here?” Piyush followed Sakshi to the kitchen without taking his shoes off.

“Why do you even care?” Do you stay here? Oh let me guess, you are here to collect something you forgot the last time. Or maybe you made a girlfriend in this town.”

Piyush smiled at all the sarcasm she gave him and put the flower bunch in front of his face for her to hold it. She did not.

“He has just come to collect my signed divorce papers. He will be off then” she told Piyush while slowly accepting her favorite flowers from his hand. He leaned ahead and hugged her as her back touched the wall of the kitchen.

“Get off, you” Sakshi said blushing. “Go and meet Sana. She is upstairs.”

“Yes” he said kissing her once more before asking her,

“Did he meet Sana?”

“Yes he did. But don’t worry. She still loves this flying Dutchman more than her so called real father.” Sakshi spoke loud enough for Shahid to hear who was leaving the house, having collected the papers.

“What about your job Piyush? What are you going to do and how long are you going to be here this time” she said moving the wavy hair off his forehead.

“I do not know. I do not know where I am going to work, not as of now. But I can tell you that I’m here…now and I’m not going anywhere.”

“C’mon honey, let’s both go to her room. Come with me” Piyush said to her and took her along like a kid pulling his mother out of shopping mall.

They went to Sana’s room and knocked the door.

“Daddy!” Sana looked at him from head to toe as he sat down to come to her height and hugged her.

She showed him the drawing saying, “See…see I drew a bird – a parrot. Mamma made me erase the cage I had put him in. She says it needs to fly sometimes. Do you like Parrot, daddy?”

Piyush had tears in his eyes as he held Sakshi’s hand tight and told their daughter, “Yes, sweetheart. It’s my favorite bird.”

~Delhi-ride

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With a mind conquered by perceptions and biases towards this new town, I looked for my bag on the conveyer belt at Indira Gandhi International Airport. A journey of not more than three hours had somehow been really stressful thanks to the extra halt. So being a perfect gentleman, I lend my hand to help a fairly good looking fellow traveler to pick up her heavy suitcase off the belt. Then I tussled with a man who picked mine thinking it belonged to him.

As soon as I stepped outside the airport, millions of body cells died with air conditioning being suddenly replaced by scorching heat of Delhi summers. It was just a beginning. And it began with me arguing with a taxi driver over fare. Ultimately we decided to settle for an amount much closer to what he had quoted. It gave me a pseudo satisfaction. That’s Delhi for you. This town is mostly about outsmarting each other. Be it a cab driver, a colleague, an auto guy or someone you thought was a good friend. You do have a choice. To let them win the argument and flaunt a white flag, but that’s what you come here for. This town teaches you a lot more than that.

A metro is its lifeline and one of the best things you can come across. But its youth is what drives this town…it is what makes Delhi so vibrant and lively…through day and night. Guys – with their collars pulled up as much as they could and Girls – making it big against all odds in a town that is known for anything but safety; they can outwit you even before you know it.

Fights, struggle, hope, dreams, money…these paint Delhi into a young colourful canvas…if you have the eyes to see it.  From gullies selling Parathas to a fleet of shopping malls…from Steamy Momos to Hookah and Beer mugs clashing at one of the hundred packed lounges at Central Park…from freshly graduated crowd of English literature of best of universities in our country to people tapping their feet to the tune of any random Punjabi rap song…Delhi is a joy ride that’s completely up to the traveler’s discretion.

Stuck In A Loop

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What’s worse than staying alone in a new place, a new town? Maybe staying alone in an old hotel room on the sixth floor. What’s worse than staying alone in such a room? Realising that you may not be alone as you think you are.

Few places take you by surprise as soon as you land there. The hotel room that I checked in at, near New Delhi Railway station was one of those. Not that it looked scary even a bit, but there was something bizarre about the place. Strange in a familiar way. I knew that I know a fair bit more about this place than meets the eye, the moment I checked in there.

Late September 2002.

Delhi was still half having forty winks when I arrived there. ‘5.30 am’ read my wrist watch. After a couple of negotiation rounds with the cab driver, we managed to settle for an amount which was much closer to what he had stated. But then he dropped me right outside the hotel if that was any consolation prize for me. I paid him the agreed amount and picked up my luggage. My eyes were still trying to read the faces and the places around. After all, it was my first time in the capital city. But I could tell that not much had changed in this city for a long time, just by looking at it.

After getting done with the formalities at the reception desk, I pushed my luggage at one corner of that spacious hotel room.

“This hotel had been in existence from over a century now…right from the British era. Many prominent British and Indian personalities would stay here back then” a guy with thin-framed spectacles sitting at the reception desk said with immense pride. I greeted him with a forced smile and entered my room. The door got latched behind a strong gust of wind.

I took my pants off and hung them on the sofa chair. The shirt was thrown on the bed. My hands desperately rummaged through the suitcase for boxer shorts for I needed nothing but the comfort that time. I threw myself on the cosy bed and took a last glance around the room. The room was spacious, and the furniture was in tune with the building’s architecture – reminiscent of the British era. It almost replayed the receptionist’s description of the place in my head. The room had dim lights. It had a tube light straight above one edge of the bed; it had a central fan and an air conditioner which seemed to be working all right. A study table waited in silence at one corner of the room near the window. The bathroom was big enough, and more importantly, it was clean. And yes, a double bed to myself.

I don’t remember when I dozed off. It must have been good four hours or so which took much of the stress of last night’s journey off my body and my mind.  When I opened my eyes, the first thing that I noticed was the archaic dark-brown wall clock. It was 10.20 am.

The temperature inside the room had fallen to 19 degrees thanks to the strong air conditioner. A splash of cold water from the wash basin threw me back into an awakened state. I looked around the room. The place had something that felt so much familiar. Was it the maroon paint on the walls which matched my bed room’s colour? Was it the curtains or the antique wall clock just above the door of washroom? All these possibilities were rejected after a brief period of thought.  But there was something that had dragged me all the way to this place, to this town. As if it was calling me all this while. I could almost hear whispers echoing in every corner of that room.  Those four walls around – I knew them somehow. I felt like I had been familiar with every corner of this room.  It smelt of jasmine flavoured room freshener that the room service boy had sprayed only recently. But there lingered another smell in its crevices. A scent of burnt gunpowder and books. The musty old manuscripts. I felt dizzy with the whirlwind of thoughts in my head. I held my head with both hands and tried in vain to calm it down.

My mind was going frenzy with a storm of thoughts about this place. The sweat dripped down my chest. I got up and took a glance around. On the left side of the centrally-placed double bed, there were two seven feet tall wooden cabinets. The wall on the right side of the bed was mostly conquered by satin red curtains dropping down all the way to kiss the floor. They were hiding something secretly behind. Something that I had to see right now. I had already taken on the role of a detective ever since I arrived here and had almost forgotten about writing the travel blog. My hands rummaged around and felt a hard surface behind the curtains.

I pushed open the curtains, and there it was – A small window in the centre. It had thick ornate borders and two strong bolts, one at the top and the second at the bottom. Why was such a window being hidden I asked my over-intrusive mind. Before it could answer, robotically my hands tried to unbolt the doors of the window, and they did succeed with some strength which showed that it had not been touched for quite a while. As it opened, the rubble of dust and paint came sliding down to the floor.

With both arms wide stretched I pushed the doors of the window out wide and a dazzling flash of light blinded my eyesight for few seconds. Along with it came a cold breeze of air sneaking inside the room, as if it had been waiting to enter it from a long time. I looked outside, and that view had the power to pause my heartbeat for a brief time. I was enthralled. It was not how this city looks like.

Few horse carts moved slowly down the road. There were fewer people on the street than usual. There was a small tea stall around the corner. There was a British style restaurant that my eyes somehow had skipped while checking in this hotel early today morning. There was also a bullock cart making a slow progress along the road and the houses around, the tiny brown houses with slanted roofs. But that was not all to this strange bucolic sight. What particularly caught my attention were two men in long overcoats.  Both were standing on opposite sides of the road – The one with his back to my hotel building and the other one whom I could see more clearly because he was facing the hotel.

He was an Englishman. He looked like one for sure. A man of more than six feet height approximately, with a moustache and dark golden brown hair curling down like sea waves down till his neck. With every intermittent pause between the successive drags of the pipe in his left hand, he looked at the man on the other side. And that man that other man who was wearing a black big-sized hat either failed or pretended to not having noticed the Englishman on the other side. He simply kept watching the road as if he was desperately waiting for someone to arrive.

My eyes swung from Englishman to the man with a hat and back to the Englishman like a spectator at Wimbledon watching a tennis match. The man with a hat frittered away his time by looking at his watch, then at the sun with a frown and again back on the road. As he looked up, I tried to get more of his face, but it was eclipsed by the hat over his head and the sunlight falling on it. And then, there came a big horse cart which came to an abrupt halt just a few steps away from where he stood. This horse cart was different from the other ones in a sense that it had a nice roof and the cushion seats inside. I could even see a kerosene lamp hung on one side. A scene right out of a Tarantino movie.

The man with a hat now stepped ahead after adjusting his coat a couple of times and walked straight towards the cart. He picked up a parcel in a fashion that said it wasn’t the first time he was executing such an act. A brown envelope was given by hands that stretched out from the cart. The man bowed down a bit while simultaneously lifting the hat over his head. It was followed by an immediate waft of a hunter rope on the horse’s back that did the job. The black horse flared its nostrils, neighed and galloped ahead. A small cloud of dust followed the cart, while the man with a hat quickly verified contents inside the parcel. Smiling, he now turned.

He turned towards the hotel and looked straight up. Up at the very window, where I was standing. Before I could study his face, my spying mind was shocked by the sound of a gunshot.  It had taken no more than few seconds for a bullet to travel from the pistol of the Englishman on the other side of the road and it to pierce the back of this man with a hat. He fell on his knees and with a jolt of that shot his hat fell off and so did the parcel from his hands. He looked up at the sky and the window. Pupils in my eyes widened up. I had seen that face. I had seen it more than once. For it belonged to me. I saw myself in that black overcoat looking up at the window, at myself. I could see myself falling on knees, with the blood oozing through my chest. Dying slowly with every second that passed.

I stood still like a wax statue at that window and watched the strange scene unfold in front my eyes. A scene that had transcended the barriers of time and a window that drove me into a time travelling ride. I closed my eyes and pinched myself.

I opened my eyes to a blurred vision of the deluxe room. I got up from the bed, and the old-fashioned wall clock caught the attention of my half sleepy eyes. ‘10.20am’!

With an immediate impulse, I turned right to find the satin red curtains. Air thrown from the ceiling fan above moved them rhythmically like a billowing skirt over an air-vent. And I could hear them whisper gently. They were calling me to open the window behind. To steal a look into another world. To watch the man with a black hat getting shot. To watch myself die.

What were the possibilities? What choices did I have? I decided that I had to save myself from dying this time from getting shot. Little did I know that it would repeat itself somehow. Little did I know that I was stuck. Stuck in a loop.

Wander at times to find yourself again

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Bus took another turn on that serpentine road and swirled from the sides. Midnight had swiftly dropped the dark gown to turn into a dawn. Sun was trying to murder the moon and its rays were acting harsh on her sleepy delicate eyes. But they both were still holding onto their talks from the starry night. Both were probably dreaming of the same things as they slept cosily onto the narrow seat allocated to them in that luxury bus. As he opened the eyes and moved his hand gently to move the hair off her face, she cuddled up even more into his arms.

He checked his watch. Half an hour more and they would be at Dharamshala. A city in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is located in the upper reaches of Kangra valley and through the half opened window; he could now get a fresh view of its beauty.  As bus entered the town, bus driver pressed the horn – which itself was so far asleep on the quieter road. Horn sang its tune and was enough to wake her up.

She looked at him, then outside and then turned back at him to ask – “Have we reached already?”

“Almost!” He said, pulling back his hand which had gone comfortably numb by her head resting on it.

She made her hair and he kept the luggage ready to get down to the place they both had been longing to be at from months.

Breaks were applied and bus came to an awkward halt on the upward slope of a narrow lane. A cloud of smoke that had been following the bus, overtook it with that stop.

“There they are” he said excitedly, waving at his friend from Dharmshala and his girlfriend who had taken efforts to receive the pair early morning.

Hellos were exchanged and soon all moved to the apartments where the staying arrangements had been done.

“I can breathe freshness all around” she said to his friend and they all agreed in an instant.

A small town exhibited a charmingly bucolic sight. It was covered by dense forests of pine and coniferous trees. And a look inside the town had warmth of mixed cultured population staying in vibrant coloured houses with characteristic rooftops. From the top, these looked more like toys with colourful hats placed on their heads. Morning had its effect over the town, as they all could witness several vendors – busy setting up fruit and vegetable stalls in the market.

She tried to read the native faces as the car moved through narrow lanes, up and down the slope, introducing to the city its new guests. Face responded back with smiles and welcomed them all.
They reached the guesthouse and formalities were completed.

Standing in the balcony, they both couldn’t help but continue appreciating the beauty of Dharamshala.  Guesthouse would have been better known as Simba from Lion king, since it was held high in hands of the mountain it was built on. It was overlooking the town of hundreds of tiny toy like houses with those typical hats on their heads, almost hundreds of feet down.
She was here now…with him in the lap of nature. She turned around to watch him look at her and saw joy in his eyes over making it till here.

“Thanks” she whispered and the words were quietly carried by the wind…carried far towards those colourful houses looking up at them…and beyond the snow clad mountain range that surrounded the valley from one side.

“See” he showed a Tibetan monk walking briskly up and down the lane. From the balcony, he almost looked as small as a GIJoe action figure he had had as a child.

“We shall go to McLeodGanj” he told her and they took the first sip of the coffee, which had gone cold a while back.

And they did. As soon as the Sun drove up the sky from East, their weary feet had made it to the residence of Dalai Lama, McLeodGanj – A place, uphill of Dharamshala which is populated mostly by Tibetan community. It has a magnificent monastery with larger than life images of Buddha.

He satiated his rumbling tummy by savouring some hot steamy momos while she preferred to subdue her hunger by delicious pastries and bakery items at one of the cafes around. As they entered the monastery, he couldn’t help but get awestruck by its august interiors and beautiful life sized images of Buddha. She held his hand and together they rang each of the prayer bells in a row. Call it holiness or the majestic aura of the place; they both got drowned in their own world of thoughts. He could not recall later as to when did she leave his hand and took a sit in front of that centrally placed Buddha idol. He left the room and came outside to witness Tsuglag Khang – the Dalai Lama’s temple which stood tall in front of him demanding respect.

On their way back, their minds did most of the talking. She had her eyes fixed on the world outside of car. He occasionally looked at her half lit face by the Sunlight and then retreated back into his thoughts. The car moved through a mountain road, occasionally greeting a marketplace full of stalls of prayer bells, shoes, hand-knit woollens and what not. Then once the car had covered a sufficient distance, it came to a small waterfall. A steam of water so clear and inviting that they did not need a plan or time to decide. Jeans were pulled up to the knees and hair were tied back. They held each other’s hands and carefully climbed down the cold rocks to enter the pool of blue water. All the tiredness and distractions were washed away as they played and bathed in ice cold water. Minutes turned into hours and soon it was time for itinerary for its next spot.

A local Tibetan market was plan for the next day to shop for Tibetan artefacts, food items, and small monastery items. Further they stopped their car to take a view at Cricket stadium which is situated at the highest altitude in country. “Watching the game of cricket here would be an unparallel memoir!” he exclaimed. Wherever they moved, city did not fail to keep up its unspoiled natural extravaganza and breathtaking views of scenery around.

He never managed to fathom if that vacation brought them closer. But it certainly was one of the best ones they both had ever had. It had all the reasons to brighten up their faces with smiles. A town that was full of life and yet wore a serene charm.

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