cloak

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they don’t see the laugh
the talk, the walk
forget the jokes, the art-rock
the crinkle, the quirks
the passion, the works…
your situation is who you become
no matter how far you run
as who should say
it’s bigger than the parts
that make up the one

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This post is loosely inspired by an Oh Wonder song called Overgrown, which is about being there for a loved one whose depression seems to have taken over their personality .

 

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the loop

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“In suffering, you’ve found a greater understanding and appreciation for all of life’s wonders. You’re still trying to believe it every day. One morning you convince yourself it will all be worth it the next you’re down and believe it all to be worthless.”

-Connor Franta, Note to self

WIP

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when I’m working,
I don’t doze off to escape.

when I’m working,
I forget that I’ve gained weight.

when I’m working,
I don’t touch the scars on my face.

when I’m working,
I don’t think about the closed gates.

when I’m working,
I don’t worry about my thinning hairline.

when I’m working,
I don’t feel the heaviness on my eyes.

when I’m working,
I find no  joy  in whining.

when I’m working,
I don’t have to find a silver lining …

 

 

photo by Anubhav Saxena, courtesy of Unsplash

Travel Diaries: Laxmi Ashram, Kausani

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Dharti hai ek,
Aasmaan ek hai.
Phool hain anek,
Baghbaan ek hai.

All the squeaky voices, hushed conversations, and noisy banters were replaced by a mellifluous chorus as I sat down in the back of the classroom. Morning prayers at Laxmi Ashram, as I found out, are always unifying affairs, and down-the-line cheerful and cathartic.

Forty five minutes previous I was tossing Imli toffees in my mouth to prepare myself for the ensuing altitude sickness. I was going to hike to a seven-decade-old, all-girls residential school run on the principles of Gandhi’s Nai Taleem. Established in 1946 by Catherine Mary Beilman or Sarla Behn to empower rural girls and women through education and holistic skill-based learning.

When I reached the Ashram, there were two smiling faces, waiting. Waiting to open me up to a world of simplicity and unity. To show me how empowered and independent young girls go on to become pillars of strength for the rural community.

I was a bit late, thanks to the multiple stops I’d made during the hike. Some girl students were collecting their books while others had already started ascending the stairs to their classroom. I entered the room from the back, and quietly sat on the floor like everybody else. I was soon going to hear them sing a prayer song that would footprint my heart.

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I left the place humming a tune of togetherness, and optimism. Of a song that distilled in a few words this beautiful message:
There is one Earth. And it is but one sky that canopies the flowers on its face. The flowers may look different, still there’s but one Gardner who looks after all of them.

Travel Tale: Floating in the Poetic Dusk

A big ring adorned Mamta’s nose, silhouetting half her face as we huddled around a bonfire for warmth. And sitting there with the glorious Kumaon hills girdling us and Mamta reading one of her poems for me, I learned how nature and words soothe a crumbly spirit.

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It was only a day before that I had met Mamta for the first time when the hosts of my retreat centre introduced us. Our small chat had concluded with her beaming at me and exclaiming in broken Hindi, “Didi, I will come and see you at the inn tomorrow!” She wanted to know what a bunch of college girls from Delhi were doing in Kausani!

Which brings me to: What could I do here? In 3 days?
For starters, I could sit on these porches that always welcomed us with tea and viands. I could talk to these people who always regaled us with colourful stories. With them, I could drink these buttery noons and tangerine sunsets. Maybe along the way, I could pick up a few Kumaoni words, understand a new culture, unspool its richness and authenticity. But, who could’ve imagined that I would do just that and more, and that Mamta would help me with most of it!

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She joined our group for tea just like she had promised. A few moments later, we were scribbling Aipan designs on random scraps of paper—and in the next few—up on our feet, matching folk tunes with our own versions of Chholiya as the sun dived between the hills. Here, in an Indian village in the quiet vicinity of the Himalayas, the Italian saying of il piccolo mondo got a whole new meaning!

Within hours, I was sitting under the pin-pricked night sky, listening to Mamta’s voice as she read a poem from her notebook. And while her words warmed the December air, I took a closer look at the poetry of the land I was in. I could see and feel it in the Buransh (Rhododendron), in the chartreuse farmlands, and in this amazing rendezvous of nature, people, and history.  

That’s how I was always going to remember this village cradled in these verdant hills. As a place where I felt freer, happier, lighter—all at the same time. My souvenir: A friendship that began with a Kausani local asking me, “Tumar naam ki cha?”

Travel Archives: Almora

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Yesterday, while scrolling through some old photographs on my laptop, I found this one of me and Munni Devi. It was clicked in December 2015 when I went on a cultural trip to Almora, Uttarakhand.

I met Munni Devi at Nanda Devi Handloom and Heritage Centre that sits peacefully amid the Himalayas, supporting and empowering rural women. She showed us around the museum―a recent addition to the place―and took us to the workshop to meet the women artisans. Some of them had been working there for more than a decade!

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Scarves and shawls knitted with the indigenous nettle grass, hand-woven carpets, and an argosy of trinkets were put out on display. What stood out to me more than the material objects, though, was the affection that was raffled off to us.

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An Aipan artist at Nanda Devi Handloom and Heritage Centre

It was so easy for them to trust a stranger. To happily take a break from their intricate work and strike a conversation with some curious students who’d come from a gummy city to know more about their art.
But, did these students know the story behind the wedding ritual of a traditional pichhauda? And that they shouldn’t go home without tasting the signature Bal Mithai! Had they tried the folk dance of Jhoda?
They didn’t. And no, they hadn’t. But suffice it to say that they left the Himalayan peaks of Nanda Devi much more enlightened about Kumaoni culture, and a lot more in awe of this land’s warmth.

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Also, Munni Devi gave me the biggest hug as I said goodbye! Recalling that feeling twists my tear ducts even today.

Cover-ups

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Cover it up with ice-cream,

Cover it up with smiles,

Go out for shopping,

You’ll start feeling fine.

Cover up the gloom,

And look for answers out,

All they’d ever ask you

Is what you’re up to now.

Cover up the dreams and

Hustle all day long,

But when you are lonely,

The spider would start to crawl.

He’ll pull up the veil and

Bring back your frown,

So know that quick fixes

Are not wise or sound.

All they’d ever tell you

Is what the world’s about,

But who you are matters

When all comes crashing down.

 

Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Safe to fit in

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We were busy sitting straight

Colouring inside lines

Running relays

Getting caught up in grades

Letting sketchbooks fade

And losing ourselves thus

Never standing out

Never making a fuss.

 

Oh, why didn’t we want our quirks to be seen?

We never really liked filling trees with green!