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The final moments    Leave a comment

When I lay finally and nobody comes to get me. I’ll wait for you 
I’m waiting for her is all he could think of

At 84 he lay down with peace in mind and heart fluttering far away. He knew this was it. He lay in his Santorum. It was his heaven and his reason for existence for the last 53 years. He was the exceptional artist.  A painter, whose success was based only on one subject- Maya. Lying in bed he looked around all his creations that he had done over the years.  All he could see was Maya. She reflected in all his paintings, she was the single source of inspiration to him.  From the first time, he met her to finally what his imagination carved her out to be it was all there.  She was his love for the number of years he could not even remember. As far as his memory went he felt he was born loving her. May be even before. All his life he had strongly placed his belief and heart in the corollary that the events in our lives today were set in motion a long long time ago. There is an old Buddhist saying that, when you meet your soul mate, we should remember that the act to bring us together was 500 years in the making. So, always appreciate and be kind to each other. Maya was his soul mate. She had touched his life like no other ever had. Such emotions are a carried forward of another life time, may be many

‌He had spent 4 years of his life being in love with her and the rest of it in her memory, holding her in his heart. In those 4 years, he lived his entire life. Those years gave his life a meaning and reason for existence. That was his purpose.  4 years that were worth the 83 that he lived. Anything after that was unreal and unimportant. His existence became those paintings he did of Maya. He lived for those fleeting moments when he caught a glimpse of her.  Walking down the road or driving away.  He was never too sure how my times he saw her or was she just an illusion created by his mind to calm his heart. Then he realised that it could not be an illusion.  If it was, she would have been with him
Why was she not with him he could not fathom. There was no reason and no logic. She had loved him just as much.  Then how did she go from being the epicenter of his life to a distant dream.  Someone who he could think of but not reach out and touch and feel her physical existence. The love they shared he knew was theirs and only theirs.  He knew she was a good wife, a perfect mother but her heart and soul belonged to him, like his to her.  He ached at that thought.  Then why was she so far far away.  That question had haunted him all his life.  And when all rationale beats you, you live in a stillness and the calm of acceptance. If he could talk he would talk and tell the world, acceptance and stillness is bliss in an ironical way. He would tell the world that love truly was magical. That love truly was when you melt away in it even without the person near you. He would tell the world that this was a perfect love story. It may not have had the cliché trajectory defined by society norms but it was perfect and more.  He loved her not to own her but just love her.  He knew that she did too.  She always would just as he did. And as he breathed his last, he knew that there was one person for whom the world would now stand still. Forever. He knew he could breathe his last in peace because she would come and get him.  When nothing was left, he had everything

Death ends a life not a relation, sometimes it gives a new life to a relation rebirth

Do we really die?? Did he really die or finally live

 

 

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Posted November 23, 2016 by nidhi khanna in Musings

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Relations   Leave a comment

Construction and deconstruction 

Some relations are formed when we are born or may be even before we are born. Some are created on a conscious level. Not matter what the nature, all relations require a lot of effort. As we pass the trajectory of our life we nurture these relations, well almost all of them. A few relations bloom while a few wither away. But whatever be the emotional outcome of a relation, one thing is for certain, all relations occupy a specific space in our memory box. Some in the form happy memories and some in the form of scars. Almost all memories bring tears to us when we think of them, just that some are happy tears while some are not so happy bordering to being hurtful and crossing the border to being damaging

What we are today is a result of the bouquet of memories we collect

As we collect these memories we realize a stark difference. Strangely the ones that blossom are the ones we make deliberately and the ones we are born with or are part of our life due to named relations fade into the background of our lives. Why are self developed relations more dear than the ones we are born with? Does giving a name to a relation kill the relation or the least bit put it in jeopardy? Do the new self created relations push through the default relation or do the default relations give way for us to go and look for more, creating new relations in life. This is a paradox which I fail to understand, but consistent it is

Even as I take my magnifying glass and try to make sense of this, all I get as an answer to my search, is no answer. In my search for a rational explanation, I realized that these are emotions that we were talking about and not a chemistry practical. And in the honesty of it all, most of us see some relations that could have developed into something beautiful and meaningful, not withstand through the sands of time and fade away. Not because either person did something wrong.  The reason is often attributed to the lack of doing anything

“People aren’t either wicked or noble. They’re like chef’s salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.” ― Lemony Snicket

Posted September 4, 2016 by nidhi khanna in Musings

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The dilemma of reality   Leave a comment

The ugly face of reality in my dream world

Naina settled in for the night under her duvet and looked out the train window. This was the beginning of an annual trip her family took as a routine. It was always around the same month of December heading towards the same destination

As the train chugged towards the north skies became clearer giving way to the stars in the Milky Way which otherwise stayed safely hidden from sight in foggy city skies, city of lights- Mumbai. Lying on her stomach with her face in her palm she looked appreciatively towards the skies to gaze at the stars and hopefully catch a meteor. The cold December breeze hit Naina’s face making her nose red and icy cold. The train moved on and Naina slowly slid into her dream world. This was not a sleeping dream. It was a real dream, a dream she envisioned with open eyes and an open heart. This dream was different as she believed she would see it unfold as her life unfolded. This was a dream of her life in which she played the protagonist. The stage was set. She dreamed of the milestones that she would like to achieve as she went along her life and she knew the exact years when she would experience each of them. The specific details were set in her head as if a reel were playing in front of her. She would have a perfect life, naturally

Today as Naina stared out the window of the plane headed south she could once again see the clear skies just like she had years ago when she was an innocent girl with dreams in her eyes and hope in her heart. The cool air conditioning did not feel natural or even close to the cold breeze she had felt years ago. She wondered when so much time had passed and yet not much had changed. Naina could not fathom why she suddenly drifted to that page of her childhood memories. Those trips were long gone history now. She was a corporate minion who was successful in her career and knew where she wanted to be professionally in the next few years. She had achieved career heights many would only wish and hope for. But had she planted this in her future, which was her present? She had not

Naina started to take stock of her childhood dream. She remembered every detail of it like it was written on pages of the book she held in her hand, starting at the words unable to read. It was a beautiful memory which made her smile and go back to being a child. These thoughts gave her warm happiness which was a treat in her work packed days. Just like most people she too wanted to go back to her childhood, where everything looked pure and serine. Most of all what childhood gives us is hope and faith. Faith in the hope that there is time in life in which we can achieve our dreams, where almost everything is possible

That is why dreaming at that age was a very different experience from today. The yesterday’s dreams were filled with hope and faith that were given to us by time. And time alone took hope and faith away from us as we grow up. Time makes us realize that some things we were meant to do would now never come true, because we just do not have the time anymore

Leaving those thoughts she smilingly drifted to her happy place, where she was a child with hope. With this she returned to the milestones she had thought she would achieve and in the semi aware state of mind she could see how every part of her dream had played out exactly like she had imagined

Naina imagined she had achieved the professional and social milestones she had set for herself and the world was a happy place

There is so much peace and happiness when we get what we want; the life that we envision for our self.  And then we wake up. Naina’s moment of awakening was now

And suddenly the airline experienced turbulence. She had never experienced such bad weather ever and she was a frequent flier. What was even stranger that it was definitely not expected in the month of April. As a habit her seat belt thankfully was always fastened

Suddenly the smile vanished from her lips. She took a closer look only to realize that she, the protagonist of her story looked very different at each of the social milestones. Of course she was older but that did not seem to be the answer. Then Naina realized what was amiss, the person playing her part in her dream, in reality was not her

With the continued turbulence she looked up to see the expected light on the seat belt icon to be brightly lit, which it was scarily not. What was the jolt that she felt? Why was nobody else reacting to the turbulence? The crew smiled and moved on not telling her co passenger to fasten her seat belt. Naina’s mind was confused but she decided not to dwell on it any further and she started to carefully see herself playing the roles she had so carefully and lovingly drafted for herself as a child. The dreams were of everything that she wanted to be, and achieve in life. And the turbulence came back and she saw it clearly. The person playing in her dream was not her. Naina’s yesterday’s dream was someone else’s life today and she had no way to achieve it now. The milestones were long gone. Life had happened to her and she had not even realized it. The turbulence stopped. It was not a turbulence of an airline or weather; it was something larger than that. The turbulence was her life and dreams shaking in the reality of today

When she looked around she saw an entire lot of things life had given her. Some of which she had dreamed of and a lot of which she had not. Yet she had not wanted to give up her dream for this and yet she had to or had she. Was she nothing but a marionette at the hands of life and destiny?

This was something she could only wonder about and not have answers. She had to live with the question

The life Naina had dreamed of was a reality. Only it was not her reality, it was someone else’s reality. Life has a way of panning out. Today years after, Naina felt something within her chest and she realized, it’s in our moments of decisions that destiny is made. Even though she dreamed it she also believed that events would occur naturally

We think life is eternal and we will live on to fulfill all that we wish for. Suddenly life happens and we realize we don’t have a second chance. We stand at that stretch of road where a large part of our journey is covered with nothing to show for it. Ironically the only thing that helps us move the rest of the journey is a dream

Holding on to that thought Naina went in to her dream world oscillating to occasionally read the book in hand

 

“The world is so unpredictable. Things happen suddenly, unexpectedly. We want to feel we’re in control of our own existence. In some ways we are, in some ways we’re not. We are ruled by the forces of chance and coincidence.” ~ Paul Auster

Posted April 9, 2016 by nidhi khanna in Uncategorized

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The delicious ambiguity   Leave a comment

Letting you be vulnerable is brave

Statutory warning: this is not a blog of a person who is depressed but is just an attempt at being a little self-aware and introspective

As I cogitate about the me that was, isn’t. As I read yet another blog of a traveler and photographer, I ruminate and it makes me acutely aware of the missing pie in my life. While I did not go through the entire read and toggle to my excel sheet which is obediently calculating my investments such that I can do something substantial with it later and utilise it for things I enjoy doing. Even as I hammer the keyboard further, somewhere deep my mind dips to where my heart is. It makes me wonder. While I figure the finances and what exactly I am going to do with them for a better tomorrow, the reality of today stings me. Proclivity gets the better of us, always. The only reality being is today! This makes me travel back to the younger me. And here is an account of what the younger me, full of dreams with faith and hope and above all surety of realisation

Shattered dreams of youth in the face of reality

Over a decade back I felt I had the world at my feet and nothing was beyond my grasp. I believed that everything one desires is always yours. And why should I believe differently? I have always got everything I want. Were the desires then simpler and fulfilled by parents and today demands are different and need a constant external factor for accomplishment. And then moving to external validation for all the things that we achieve

Being an arriviste I believed it was all possible. The only aspect I did not account for was making things happen. Life does not just happen. Things are not automatic

It’s very easy to plan something for the future and say that you will achieve it at another a time. I was no different and today I am caught like a flat footed president

I had a clear idea of who I wanted to be when I grew up, or rather until I grew up. The credence of a dream comes in the brutal face of reality when we reach the moment in time of our lives where the dream coincides with the date and a reality today. I knew all that I wanted and I was in for a rude shock. And this shock comes in spite all the monies earned, fancy titles, cars or houses purchased. It’s just pure and simple independence. Independence not from anyone but myself.Independence not to do something or take a decision. It was independence to be me. Somewhere in the journey of over a decade I missed being the person who I was born as and born to be. Above all that was the person who I actually wanted and desired to be. I started being a picture of what everyone envisioned me to be. Started living a life as seen by others and lived by others. And no, I am no person to look for external validation or be suppressed. I just made their perception my reality and my truth and started living up to that perception. So I just became part of the rate race!

One could say “She lost her laughter somewhere along the way and she did not even know it

Today I am a person to fit in with a prototype. This prototype encompassed social demographics, age and place of existence. And yet there were people who were leading their lives as they liked and wished. Sometimes it felt as if my dream was being played in front of my eyes, albeit I was not part of the script. I just stood looking in from the outside at a beautiful reel unfold

Change needs to be revolutionary not evolutionary

Was it late for me to follow what I wanted to do? Could I turn the stream of my life and break away from the mould? Was it acceptable in my society to see me be more than a corporate minion and a conventional human? I did not have answers to those questions. Was I willing to find out? This dawned like a eureka moment. Why should I want to find out? Was that not validation? If there is something that one wants to do, which is not a prescribed format, who judges? People care to judge when we care to listen

Be emancipated We think life is eternal and we will live on to fulfill all that we wish for. Suddenly life happens and we realise we don’t have a second chance

Posted March 16, 2016 by nidhi khanna in Musings

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A cafe called memoirs   Leave a comment

Memories manifest a road longer than the road itself

For the second time in a week I ventured to the Southern part of Bombay, albeit this time the trip was for official purposes and I was certainly not amused when it got rescheduled right after crossing the famous Worli sea link. There was no turning back, not on this stretch at least. Like a phase of life we need to cross even when we wish did not have to, I needed to cross the sea link though for the lack of a “U” turn. There was just no turning back at this moment in time. And just as life gives us opportunities to take a turn, to make a choice I had my opportunity a little later. It was time to decide if I wanted to go through with what was dished out to me or to change route. I decided to see what was in store for me. I was not going to take the next available “U” turn and be grumpy about how a waste of drive these 20 kilometers were, I was going to use this as an opportunity to explore and experience one of my favorite cafes in South Bombay. This café held and boxed in so many memories. They were countless trips I had made to this place, with a varied set of friends often, giving me varied memories. Just the mention of Mondys brings a smile to my face. A smile that comes from the countless memories that played like a flashback reel in my mind. Secretly I knew another reason for this extended journey was contributed to one of my favorite musicians Karsh Kale playing at the Asiatic steps in the evening. These two things kept me going the extra mile, literally. Though he was scheduled for playing late in the evening I knew my café would keep me company until that time. Like a light in times of adversity

To my mind the idea of adventuring like this was embedded in my sub conscious four days back when I visited this very cafe with a friend after spending a long tiring day capturing the essence of the Kala Ghoda festival. Over some chilled beer I noticed a very pretty girl who looked like she was stopping back from work, she sat there all by herself having beer and chicken occasionally , stepping out for a smoke. It looked like she was giving herself a much wanted break from the crazy corporate life most of us live. We all need that break. How many of us actually took it? I know I certainly don’t almost as certainly as that many do as well. What caught my attention was her confidence in being by herself and more importantly content about it for she definitely did not seem to miss company. I guess that was the time the idea cemented and created space in my head. And I wondered what it would be like to be in a place especially like this, buzzing with people and watching the world go by. Less did I know that I had sowed the seeds of this idea to come to reality in a matter of just four days

I decided to do something I had only hoped for and spoken about so long but never implemented. The decision to drive to south Bombay and spend the day with just myself seemed intriguing scary and pretty at the same time. This had been just wishful thinking for such a long time and no concrete plan to action it. But we sow the seed of our actions today in thoughts of yesterday

With my wishful idea in mind I drove further down and headed all the way to Café Mondegar, which by the day serves chai and pao. Strategically placed in the midst of street shopping comprising of goods which defined authentic Bombay and ranged from clothes to jewelry to bags to Kolhapuri chappals to books and antique items, to name a few. As a result it was a certain stop for tourists. Mondys which is usually buzzing and has a long wait queue in the evening now had a choice of tables to pick from. So I picked, the only table near the long window that was overlooking the street. But then I was told it was reserved for Baba. I smilingly asked “Who is Baba?” I got a good naturedly response “the owner”. I laughed and took the next best table which was right next to it. So I had three fourths of the view. And that was enough. After all it was not my first or last trip to the place, so I was familiar with the view

And just like that I settled in and looked out the window I could see the colorful street with loads of pretty jewelry hanging from dust and rusted coated chains. Soon there would be women across all age groups and across cultures bargaining and haggling over them. This was a sight so familiar and experienced. These jewels that hung on the streets had a different appeal to them when one saw them on the necks teamed with fancy branded clothes shoes and bags. Or even just a casual kurti. I was not aware of a woman who did not own at least one piece from this street. I personally owned quite a few accessories from all the trips here

The tables were filling up and as always with the most inconsistent crowd of people gathered, the jukebox continued to play songs which were almost the same collection of songs I had heard since my first visit here about two decades back. I point to songs but in reality nothing about this place had changed. The ambiance, the décor, the paintings on the wall were all the same, but maintained never the less. I guess people visiting did not change much either. After all I was coming here for as long as I can remember

As I moved my attention away from the window and scuffled through the menu and after much contemplation ordered the chai and toast (I did not have courage to order a beer so early in the morning, for fear of being judged I guess) wondering and planning in my head how I wanted to spend the day today. But I was at a loss. I did not know what I wanted to accomplish. And when one does not know what they want to accomplish, how does one plan for something like that. Play it by the ear I decided. Do as I wish without having to consult and for now this is where I was

I got comfortable and came my all time companion- A book

As my chai arrived I was cozier with feet plonked up and eyes glued to the book a soft familiar music played on in the background. And just like that some time passed by peacefully like a river flowing on a calm morning

I sporadically sipped my chai and looked out the window again. The predicted women visitors were trying on the pieces while deciding which they fancied the most. I could remember all the times that I had done the same so often, haggling on the price and always feeling cheated. That’s the byproduct of haggling

There were no targeted thoughts coming to my mind, I sat taking in the scene from outside. People walked by. Cars taxis buses trucks honked to make their presence felt. And just like that life moved on in so many ways. I was sitting here stationary and life still moved. And so many times in a non stationary manner

People went about their lives as this Saturday morning crept towards the afternoon. And just like that my attention went to the vacant table that still awaited Baba while the other tables were amidst some interesting conversations. And may I dare say some very interesting food too.  And some tables with beer. Then why had I ordered something so platitudinous I wondered. Sigh

I have time. In that moment my attention moved to feel the experience and not the event. Like the music drifting in the background I drifted somewhere in my past. From the septillion times I visited this place sporadically with different set of friends sharing a chat and some laughter over some beers, juice or chicken, unknowingly creating memories for a future that is called today. Reminiscing about the days gone by where the worry in life was attendance and scores in an exam paper and not career or life. Words like judging did not exist in the dictionary we had built in our heads. I am certain we like all college kids, were a boisterous lot too. And this cafe had seen much of that. It was like a little magic box that held septillion memories carved beautifully in the reams of our minds along journey of our life for life

Those were the days when we never wondered what others were thinking of us. Life was simple uncomplicated and pretty in almost all the ways. It gave us the hope to dream and our dreams coming true. Though we all have dreams until we breathe, the dissimilarity being lesser time to fulfill those dreams

With all this in my mind I realized that for once even though I sat all by myself I was at ease and disconcerned with opinions being formed by people around, or may be that just a concoction of our own minds

As these multiple thoughts were drifting through my mind I saw a group of college students much like how I used to be here and it made me wonder about today. Had I ever anticipated that sitting here on a day like this looking back at such small occurrences of my life and understanding it with a whole different meaning. It would be difficult to say what I would think of this experience in future, but as of now I was content with myself and what life had to offer to me

And this I mean in a metaphorical manner. I guess life took its turns and landed me here. Today this is my Memphis and that’s how I got to Memphis

P.S. I still did not see the mysteries Baba. I am certain there will be another time for that

Posted February 25, 2016 by nidhi khanna in Uncategorized

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The perfect illusionary vision   Leave a comment

The rubric of this reminds me of a song I heard as a child on repeat “It’s just an illusion” and it’s serendipitous that the rubric is owed to “Imagination” ironically in sync with the band’s name

But a perfect illusion emerges on one such thoughtful trip

As I took off headed for home I peeped out from the matchbox sized airplane window, where two juxtaposed worlds emerged in unison. The only common aspect breaking the monopoly and monotony of darkness was the shining twinkle. In one world they are called stars and in the other lights. One is a gift from the almighty power and the other is from electric power. They both illuminated in the darkness outside like a Christmas tree with no defined pattern and yet seemingly following a perfect symmetry which was understood by no other but the shining lights themselves

However there was a presence of a stark disparity in both the worlds. If we were to count the twinkles, the earth below beat the sky by miles. As I looked up at the sky the stars shining were so much lesser in numbers than the lights below. And the reality of it is juxtaposed. Reality says that the stars in the sky are unlimited versus the limited lights on the earth. At this moment the dense clouds accompanied with fog did not let all the inhabitants of the Milky Way galaxy make their presence felt all the way to us. As a result it let the earth win over with a substantial margin of shining lights. In the face of reality, this was a juxtaposed situation. This paradox reminds me of something my father keeps reiterating, since my childhood. “See none of what you hear and half of what you see” This was a QED moment for him. If I had to believe the numbers I would be misled and the reality could not be further away. I have chosen not to be misled by this proposition in life. Thankfully I have been taught better. However this juxtaposing paradox applies beautifully somewhat, to experiences in our lives as well

We live in a constant juxtapose paradigm

Even as we have so much in life to be grateful for, we decide to focus and cavil about all that’s missing and all that we wish we could have had. As the cliché goes “we never value what we have, until it’s lost.” The truth actually is that we value what we have; we never thought we would lose it

This juxtaposition is not restricted to materialistic objects, but also to our emotions. When we hurt we remember the good we had at one point. Helping us pull through bad times, giving us hope that good is around the corner we try and turn our life another corner in anticipation. Some of our best and worst memories come from the same phase of our lives and often the same instances and same people who we love the most hurt us the most. We distract ourselves from the current emotional space and transport ourselves to pretty much the opposite state. For some reason it seems easier to get through a particular phase of emotion by remembering the juxtaposed emotion

Just like the inversed reality of the sky, earth and the shining lights we build an inversed illusion around ourselves no matter where we stand on the spectrum of emotions

Irrespective of our positioning on life’s barometer one thing is certain, be grateful for what you have and don’t have. There always is a reason; just that sometimes the underlying of a reason comes to us in hindsight which we say is always 6/6. Perfect vision

Posted January 14, 2016 by nidhi khanna in Musings

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The blue mist- A year that was…. is and will be   2 comments

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly- Richard Bach

What some call the end of another year; some call it a new beginning

Flash back and forward

Having walked 364 days and now standing at the end of the calendar I turn back and reminisce and look back at the various emotions felt through the year. Not events, emotions. Events in life are meaningless if we do not feel any emotion around them. All this stirred in me for two reasons. One which is more glaring and obvious- we are at year closing and we dedicate this time to look back and hopefully have some smiles some tears and look forward with a silent secret wish that the coming year will bring a renewed hope of happiness. Somehow we believe that the minute a digit on the year changes, something will change. Wish we could all have these renewed hopes every time a digit on the date is changed. Somehow, change in year is of more significance to most of us. Guess it’s a rarer occasion and a daily occurrence makes a change in date attenuate

The second reason being what emotions came to me as I watched the news a couple of days back. I came across an interview of Sanya Mirza, who has been on a winning streak of lately. In the interview she spoke about this year being a good year for her. It’s lovely to hear when someone can say that with a smile and nostalgia. That sentence however got the machinery connecting my heart and head moving. And I realised it’s a statement I would not say for any year of my life. At least none that came to mind instantaneously. Did I not cherish all that I had achieved or did it not matter? Was there no particular year that could be engraved in my memory? This cogitate was accompanied with a twinge of sadness. Its then that I had a eureka moment. Almost immediately I realised something meaningful. Though I may not be able to say in an instant about a good year I could not even point to the other end of the spectrum, a bad year of my life. And for that I am thankful. There was no epoch of my life where I could say that life took a turn. I realised that I am a person who lives her life in the balance of things. Nothing is extreme for me. No emotion or situation is definitive. Just the way Gary, George and Matt don’t get enough of the sentence “It’s the balance of flavours that matters in dishes you cook” This is a balance of flavours of life. So as the projector of my life’s film goes on in my head, year after year, I reminisce some sweet some sour moments with the attention spearing towards times which I would could point and say ecstatic or non-ecstatic

And hence this year gone by became another year with few memories to cherish and some perishable hopefully some lessons learnt and some changes made and above all some moments to be grateful for. In all an eventful year with an array of emotions to fill in the memory bank

This piece would be incomplete without due respect given to the coming year. I do not have temerity to ignore 2016 and the renewed hope in our hearts. Looking forward to experience the realisation of our dreams and add to the existing memory bank with various emotions

Creating and wiping a portion of the slate clean for 2016 to write a new story, a new chapter. In anticipation…..

The future is better than the past

Posted December 31, 2015 by nidhi khanna in My experince

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