Saturday 31 July 2010

Red balloon...


We were coming back from one of our usual treks to the grocery store when we saw this Virgin balloon flying really low over the Oxford roof tops.

We see this balloon often while waking home. Usually we see this balloon like a bright red speck in the sky, but that day it was huge and seemed really near and low. It seemed to be touching the roof tops. So much so we thought there was some problem and it was trying to make a forced landing. We could even see the bright fire flickering in the balloon. We  contemplated what would happen if the balloon made a landing in the grass track next to our house or worse still on the railway tracks. My husband got really excited and started running after the balloon like those boys who run after kites. I got worried wondering what if the balloon hit our roof. But pouring water over all our crazy contemplation the balloon sailed regally away from us, safe and secure but still very low.

Friday 30 July 2010

Urgently need a job...

This came as a forward but it is so pertinent to my life right now that could not resist putting it up. The picture says that it is taken from santabanta.com.
For those who cannot read Hindi "aap ka future" means what is your future.

Thursday 29 July 2010

A step ahead....

Remember the movie 'Catch Me If You Can' where  Frank Abagnale Jr. played by Leonardo DiCaprio was conning people of millions of dollars and was always a step ahead of the FBI?

My life is a bit like that, always a step or two ahead of me, going her own merry way, craving her own destiny. Sometimes she seems fit to fall in with my plans and dreams and at other times, she goes her own way without a thought or consideration to my plans or convenience. The idea that I am in control of my life is but a mere illusion and the very idea of being powerless completely freaks me out. My ego demands me to think that I am the sole pilot of my life. But at the risk of hurting my ego and diminishing my vanity, more and more I feel like there is a power, much greater than me who is running my life.

I will go the traditional way and call this power God. Assuming that God is running my life is a double edged sword, on one hand it absolves me of all responsibility, but on the other it renders me completely powerless.

I am wandering. Today my intention was not to talk about God but my life.  Taking a step away from myself, being an observer, I have realised that my life has her curious meandering path which she follows and I just fall in step with her. At times I am happy to oblige and at times, I get angry, I rebel, I protest and try to cling on. But very rarely did things go my way, follow my plans or my dreams. I am not saying that my dreams have never come true. On the contrary in most cases they have, but never at the time I wanted them to or the way I imagined. There had always been slight or significant changes, almost like someone mockingly saying that She can plan and run my life better than me.

I feel like I am a car set in a race track, I have been given certain advantages and some other disadvantages which brings of the illusion of being powerful. But someone has the remote control which has the power to keep me on the course or throw me off. Each car in the race is similarly controlled and we each follow our own course, we know the beginning and the end, we know the pitfalls and the soaring peaks. But we do not know when we are going to hit the pitfalls or reach a soaring peak. We are all driving like crazy, each of  trying to reach the maximum number of peaks and avoid all the pitfalls. But here we are rendered powerless, someone makes us fall into those deadly pitfalls and equally someone makes us reach those peaks. The idea is to keep faith in that someone that She would guide us through the pitfalls and has the peaks ready for us to climb and keep going. After all since we have been made the drivers of our cars means that we are special.

Friday 23 July 2010

at this moment....

sitting in front of my computer, trying to finish a job application. yes i am back in the job market. the carnival i worked for, is over and wrapped up for the year...so time for a new job. as usual do not feel like doing this application (God I HATE job applications). instead thinking about all things good...mmm  at this moment if i had to wish for something, what would that be...

first one is super easy-- job, a long term, to stay in forever job with fab money and lots of travel...so that i do not have to make another job application for the coming 5 years...or better still ever...

flowers...lots of flowers...so many that our whole house fills up...

some nice candles....vanilla ones...they are so my favourites...

money to go on a long holiday...maybe to scottish highlands...

a day of shopping with as much as i can spend...i am thinking handicrafts...fairtrade...silver jewelery...some nice clothes...yes shoes...some home-ware...

a second holiday maybe in morocco or turkey...

a trip to india...with lots of time...to visit all my family and friends spread all over...do the goa trip with cousins...

to own a great camera and become a great photographer...

to...

okay i know it is just a little evening dream...so should not dream for way too much...but as they say unless you dream...:)

Oxford from a double decker bus....

This summer the regular buses have turned into double decker ones. I do not know if this is a regular feature of Oxford summer to deal with tourists, but I must say we are charmed. Both me and my husband, we get excited with double decker buses, especially if the first seat on top is free. We love sitting there. I had my camera with me during one such ride.

The photographs are taken while the bus had stopped on the High Street. The first two statues were on the main gate of some college. The third photo is that of the High Street, fourth one of the Plain, the fifth one of the clock just before the High Street branches into Cowley Road, Iffley Road and more and the last one is a pub right at the beginning of High Street. I liked the way reflection of houses on the other side of the road has fallen on the lens.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Rath...

After two weeks of continuous sunshine and summer heat, it rained  today, bringing the temperature down considerably. The day dawned cloudy, with big dark grey clouds crowding the sky, reminding me of monsoon back home.  It started pouring buckets, the parched soil of Oxford soaked up the water gratefully and the trees are back in their green glory. They no longer look tired and yellow, wilting  under the relentless heat of the sun.

A message in my inbox informed me that it is Ratha Jatra today. Ratha Jatra is the Hindu celebration when the three deity siblings Jaganath, Balaram and Subhadra get up on a magnificent chariot and go off for their annual visit to their aunt's house. The celebration originated in the Jaganath temple of Puri but spread in the rest of India as well. If you want to know more, you could check this out.

To come back to the weather, one of the folklores that I grew up with is that it always rains on the day of rath. I remember as a kid cuddling upto my mother as she read me poems from Rabindranath Tagore's Sishu. There were many a poem on rath and the rain associated with rath.

Today  in this far away land, watching the rains those far away memories floated back.

I remember childhood days when we never had any school holidays for rath. So throughout the day in school there was heavy anticipation. We would all be busy planning how to decorate the rath we would be pulling in the evening. Yes each child in Kolkata during my childhood days were given a  small chariot to decorate and pull. And if we were really lucky we would even get to buy a brand new one, specially if the old one had disintegrated. I remember more than the pujo it was the chariot pulling which generated all the excitement.

These chariots were made of plywood, loosely nailed together and brightly coloured. They disintegrated really easily too. They came in various sizes, with first, second and third and sometimes fourth levels. So there used to be an inherent competition about the length of our chariots. The most magnificent ones were the three storied ones.

So after school we would decorate the chariots with colourful papers, glitters, flowers and leaves, put in  Jaganath, Balaram and Subhadra idols, a small plate with a sweet (prasad), an incense stand with a couple of incense sticks burning (much to the horror of elders and the incessant warnings) and after a round of the house [sometimes a pround grandma would put in an one rupee coin as dakhina (offering to the God)].  I remember my father coming home early to help me with my rath. As a youngster memories of me jumping up and down with joy and not being much help in decorating the rath is still there.  After a round of the house, it was time to make a round of the neighbourhood lane and the serious business of showing off the rath to the neighbourhood children and inspecting theirs. In my case it was our compound.  Kids from other houses would also come out with their chariots and after a couple of rounds of dragging the chariots with strings (which because of its lightweight would keep tripping/falling, or the idols would fall face down or the incense stand would stumble) we would offer the prasad to each other and then return home in glory. Next day in school we would all be agog with stories of how magnificent our raths were.

The rath with all the decorations would stay for 7 days, because that is the number of days these Gods would spend in their aunt's house. Then on the 8th day it was the ulto rath (return journey). Ulto rath was not that exciting, so we would do one quick round and then dismantle the rath and keep it safe for next year.

Apart from this, another attraction of rath was the food. Papar bhaja (poppadam) and suji ir halua (suji ka halwa) were must for rath. Also in Rashbehari there used to be a rath er mela (fair in celebration of rath). Among other things I remember the huge papor bhajas (they used to have huge speciality popadams) and also the nurseries. Since July is serious monsoon time in India with a lot of planting happening, these fairs would have huge nurseries selling all kinds of plants. How green and vibrant those plants looked to my young eyes.

I do not remember when I stopped getting excited about rath. Somewhere around teenage I guess.  But the younger memories are vibrant enough to last forever.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Dreaming the impossible

Every time I see the blue sky from my window my soul wants to fly away. I wish I were a gull and the sky my home. Often I wonder if I were a gull what would I do. You see if I were a gull, I would be no ordinary gull, I would be as extraordinary as Jonathan Livingston Seagull!

During the morning, in the bright light of the sun, my soul wants to go seek the sun. I know it is a daring dream to want to meet the sun...but if I were a gull, I would certainly want to go as near the sun as possible. I know the mighty sun may scorch me but surely not if the sun knew my intention was just to pay him homage and not be destructive.


During sunset my soul wants to fly to the clouds turned pink by the rays of the setting sun and lounge there, hoping that the clouds go carry me away with them on their eternal travel. I would perch on a fluffy white cloud and go with her where ever she goes. Seeing the world from the top of a cloud would be so much fun. After traveling far and wide I would not mind  falling as rain on a parched piece of land. What joy if that land could be my mother land, my days in exile would come to an end. If I were a rain drop I would love to fall on the red soil of the land from where my ancestors came. I want to be the monsoon rain and bring relief to the land and nourish her children.

At night when the sky turns inky blue, I want to reach out for the twinkling stars. On clear nights, the stars seem so near, it seems like with their incessant twinkling they are calling me to them. Oh what joy it would be to go visit a cluster of stars and sit with them in the bosom of the night sky, to laugh and chat with them while the rest of the world sleeps. One turn of my head would show me that in the other part of the world it is light and they are all going around in their daily business. The stars would laugh at my amazement but me a mere mortal among the immortal stars would still be amazed.

Oh the impossible dreams...

Thursday 8 July 2010

Feeling blue...

It is glorious outside, the sun is shinning, Oxford looks pretty as a picture and is inundated with tourists and foreign language students. End of June university term ends and students leave Oxford only to be replaced by swirling mass of international students who have come to join summer schools. Everyone seems tanned and in great mood, everyone except me, that is. The carnival I was organising just finished, was great fun and tremendous success. But now suddenly there is a vacum in its wake and I am at a loose end, do not know what to do with life. I am still feeling very tired, but my mind is alert and needs next project  to keep it busy. Obviously the practical thing to do is to look for another job. But there are so many ifs and buts right now and job hunting is such a slow and excruciating process that it is making me feel quiet blue. It is so bright outside that my blue is light and faded, a bit like the sky blue, but just cos it is faded does not mean that it is not a blue. It is a blue indeed and I am stuck in its grips. Sadly.

Lunch

A quick working lunch, Mediterranean style salad!