Shades of Autumn

I loved drawing big leaves all over my school art-book. I would then colour them in green, orange, red and yellow.

“The reds and yellows and oranges are for autumn,” I’d tell mom knowledgeably, “You know the leaves turn into those colours before they all turn white in winter!”

It is another story that I never really saw these colours in the trees outside my house in Delhi. They’d sometimes get a muddy yellow at best. This is why, when R and I ventured out for a walk by the Danube the other day, I was in for a glorious surprise.

All the trees around us have metamorphosed into autumnal delights. Their leaves have been painted, presumably by the heavens, into striking colours that look very like the crayon drawings in my old art-book. There are huge scoopfuls of leaves strewn all over the roads, almost like a leafy carpet. It is the proverbial autumn. And if it wasn’t for my jackets and headgear that kind of restrict movement, I would have jumped into the piles of leaves like I have seen some dogs do.

Vienna in AutumnHow is it possible that very soon these colours will disappear? What will be left behind is a sheet of white, thickening everyday as the snow falls harder, and all traces of the vibrant colours of autumn forgotten until the year comes a full circle. It makes me feel transient, vulnerable. The sun sets over the Danube even as I extend my hands to capture some warmth. Little kids run past me in their winter wear; elderly couples hold on to each other’s hands tightly. When they all wake up the next morning, it is likely that most of these beautiful leaves will be strewn on the roads, the colours rapidly disappearing. Everything about our world can be – and most likely, will be – altered by time. All we can do is cherish the happiness of the moment.

So, this is what I have decided to do. Leaving you with two more pictures of the Viennese autumn that I find incredibly beautiful in a searing, melancholic sort of way. Enjoy the dash of colour while it lasts!

Of Red, Hormones and Girl-Things You Shouldn’t Discuss

White and Red Skirt

She ran to the nearest washroom. It was the PT period and everyone was down at the playground. Nobody saw her running to the washroom. She shut the door on herself, almost throwing up at the stink. No matter how highbrow the school, the washrooms oddly started to stink toward the end of the day. Now, she told herself, surely it wouldn’t be so bad. Surely it would last out for another hour or so. Continue reading

9 Rules of Partying For Introverts

Tangy TuesdayIntroverts at a party

Wait, why do introverts need to party at all? I give you this, my dear: destiny. Sometimes, no matter what you do, destiny makes its presence felt. There will invariably be some party you just cannot miss – an office do of the husband he has to attend to be polite, a family gathering you must go to or risk being called snobbish, you get the idea. Considering I already battle my fair share of “why don’t you talk to us more often”, I try and avoid this scenario with R. So, when he whisked me away to this event, I found I couldn’t say no. Continue reading

Why This Durga Puja Is Entirely Different

Durga Puja in CR Park

The sun is a beautiful shade of gold. The birds are chirping more often, almost glad that a long and dehydrating summer is on its way out. The air is fragrant – with the distant aroma of khichudi-bhog that hordes of people will queue up to eat. There’s no doubt about it – Durga Puja is here.

For a couple of wonderful days starting now, days that make up for everything else the year brings forth, C.R. Park in Delhi will celebrate merriment and gaiety. Children will dress up in their new clothes and run to the pandals, buying one ice-cream after the other from the many carts. The stage will abound in musicians and orchestras, dancers and nervous little volunteers making announcements related to the prasad and the anjali. By night, the lanes outside my house will be lit in a million colours, the fairy lights in no mood to sober down till long after the year has bid adieu. It will be a sight to behold. And here, miles away from it all, I will behold the sight only in my memories. Continue reading

There’s Something Very Special About This Morning

Schönbrunn Palace

It rained last evening, and well into the night. I didn’t see much of it as I was tucked in bed, tired out after the long walk in the gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace. I dreamt of the people who must have lived there years ago, their gowns and dresses long and flowing, their kitchens fragrant, their mornings occupied in tending to the glorious gardens. In fact, when I woke up this morning, I still felt half inside the palace, imagining myself to be a house-member, perhaps the princess who had two big, furry dogs and an apple strudel for breakfast every morning. It took me a while therefore to realize the skies outside had changed… Continue reading

Hello From Wien!

There are large trees lining the lane outside my little home. Their leaves keep moving relentlessly all day, catching even the slightest wind. They seem to be soaking in every bit of sunshine they can – and delighting in it. In a month or two, sunny days will be rare, the skies grey and heavy. That said, I feel none of this heaviness inside me. Not just yet. I am lapping up the sunshine too and slinking inside my blue Jaipuri quilt at night. I carry a jacket with me while going out but sometimes don’t get a chance to wear it at all. The weather is playing with me and I don’t know the game. It is, after all, my first week in Vienna. Continue reading

No, Don’t Ask Me When I Plan to “Start” a Family

One of the rather uncomfortable side effects of marriage is the constant pressure to procreate. And the even more discomfiting fact is that this pressure comes from people you have never and would never discuss the mechanics of procreation with. Now, while I’ve been reasonably fortunate so far in dealing with the curiosity about my childbearing plans, that’s not what compelled me to write this post. It’s something a bit more disturbing.

After marriage, there is a host of people who enquire when you’re planning to “start a family”. And this always, imperatively, bugs me. No, not because it’s personal and nosey (which it is) but because it’s founded in falsehood. You see, I already have a family! Continue reading

Back To The Jungle

* Winning Entry in Disney’s My Mowgli Memory Contest *

Jungle Book

It was a late-winter Sunday morning in Delhi and still dark outside. The household was asleep. I tip-toed out of my bed, put on a jacket, and rushed to the washbasin. The floor-boards were chilly, the water even worse. But I didn’t mind. Before everyone woke up, I had to shower, put on fresh clothes, pray, and finish my homework. Erm, in case you have pinned me down as this ideal, unreal kid, let me burst the bubble. There was a big reason for the big rush.

Jungle Book aired on TV on Sundays. I couldn’t miss it for the world.

Outside our living-room window, the sun was now high up in the sky. The kitchen was fragrant with weekend-special breakfast, and I knew it, a chocolate pastry for me. Meanwhile, in the jungle, Mowgli the man-cub was being raised by a family of wolves. He had two excellent friends – Baloo, the bear and Bagheera, the panther. They hadn’t a soft bed or fluffy paranthas, and lived in perpetual fear of Sher Khan. But despite this, they were a bunch of happy folk. They were also my role models.

My family, predictably, latched on to my Jungle Book love, and used it to sell whatever point they were making. So, when I came back from school one day, my shirt all soiled with mud, Granny would go “Looks like our Mowgli jumped into a jungle puddle!” Or, if I crept behind Mom when the neighbours brought out their dog, she would remind me “Darling, he’s no Sher Khan!” You get the idea. This is why even though my home was well-lit, comfortable, and in the heart of the city, there was an aspect of the jungle to it. In my mind, there were mysteries right behind the fridge, or in the store-room, or in the dark of the attic. Almost within reach.

I say almost because I could never hold on to time. To be honest, I didn’t even try. Growing up seemed so tempting, so full of big and new experiences. So I grew up. There was holiday homework, then college assignments, then work deadlines. Unlike the freedom of the jungle, and the simplicity of those early Sunday mornings, life now presented complicated challenges. There was a time when achievements the size of Colonel Hathi came easily. Memorizing the lyrics of “Jungle Jungle Baat Chali Hai, Pata Chala Hai”, for instance. And now, one of the most daunting achievements was finding satisfaction.

I wonder how it will be to see my favourite people from the jungle all over again. They will have new and interesting voices, in a virtual world more real than ever before. In the Hindi version, I especially look forward to Irrfan Khan as Baloo and Om Puri as Bagheera – rich, powerful voices to portray the most adorable friends (and bodyguards) ever! Times have changed since the Jungle Book of my childhood, and we have reached new, fantastical standards of film-making. 

This Friday, I will sit with 3-D glasses over my spectacles, and let Disney carry me effortlessly into the depths of the jungle. There, waiting for me, will be all my friends of yore – the happy-go-lucky Mowgli, the affectionate Baalu, the strong and sensible Bagheera, and all the rest. Together we will re-create the beautiful and innocent land of childhood, still untouched by time.

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I’m blogging about #MyMowgliMemory at BlogAdda.

Picture Credit: The Hindu

Chirp No More

He was there when I opened the door to the balcony, chirping away with all the strength he could muster.

“What is it?”

He replied in monosyllables. “Chirp. Chirp. CHIRP!”

Confused, I looked around into the evening. The sun was setting, lending a golden glow to the plants in our little, slightly messy, garden. The sky was alive with groups of birds returning to their nests, in time for the evening snack – a freshly caught worm! In fact, some members of his family could also be seen near the roadside shrubs, chattering away about climate change.

“Why are you sitting here all alone? Go out and play.” Continue reading