Meart

leaf-409258_1280

Click
And there they were
Between
Warps and wefts
Bare skin and clefts
Amid
Words and stares
Caresses and layers
Through
Giggles and grins
Fears and wins
Click
And there they were
Waiting for the meart to say it did.

-To made up words and experiences!

Advertisements

Flutter

annie-spratt-554754-unsplash

A thoughtless rant,

A history unplanned,

A short delay

In the end of May,

A clubbed ride

With a courteous divide,

A shared story,

An unsaid worry,

And the silent cry

Of a strange butterfly.

Photo by Annie Spratt courtesy of unsplash.com

Why I love independent cinema

admission-2974645_1920

Some of my favourite movies are independent films, which many of my friends either haven’t watched or feel bored by. But these films have helped me reflect and relax during some difficult times, and have lent my diary multiple helpful quotes and songs. Today, as I finished re-watching Paterson after an exhausting day, I felt like sharing some of my observations about independent cinema or cinema in general. And why it works, at least for me.

  • The way conversations are shot
    The use of wide shot in conversational scenes makes them more immersive, as opposed to the usual back and forth manner where you see only one of the actors’ faces at a time. As a viewer, you also have the body language to draw from, apart from just the dialogue.
  • Rhythm and editing
    While I understand why some people may find the rhythm to be off, I feel that there are more layers to how an indie or short film is cut. As you reach the end, the switch-overs, in many ways, inform why you arrived where you arrived. Some directors even shoot the movie sequentially so that the actors’ performance can grow with their characters and the story. I hereby plead guilty of watching too many film festival interviews!
  • Little hints written into the script
    I like how tiny character details and references are written into the script. Sometimes they are as simple as the colour of the scarf that the protagonist would wear. And music is almost like another character in the movie! What’s more is how these little details not only aid storytelling but also seem to seamlessly coalesce into rich characters. And the place and time references have sent me on many a ‘history  hunts’ on the web.
  • Sum of parts
    The slice-of-life narrative allows the story to take a more natural shape since the entire plot doesn’t revolve around one big event that happens either in the beginning or the end of the movie. Much like life itself, it’s a series of events, a sum of parts that make up a whole.
  • They’re all different
    Indie films are subtly funny, heartbreaking without being mawkish, fairly precise and yet universal. Although I have observed these commonalities in most of my favourite movies, there are, of course, many unique aspects in every one of them. It’s also weird that I relate to them differently every time I watch them!

Independent cinema has made me look for the details and fall in love with the art of storytelling and film-making. As Sister Sarah says in Lady Bird, maybe love is the same thing as paying attention.

_

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Exploring Delhi: Humayun’s Tomb

IMG-20170322-WA0020

Those walls
Resting on symmetry
Climb up to a bulbous head
And finials reaching out
To a clear firmament.
Those walls
With holes and crevices
Let light in
And shine it out
Out of those rooms
Full of stories and sounds.
Those walls
Of rust red tombs
With six-pointed stars set in sandstone
Chipping away
Living on.

IMG_20170328_203807

Humayun’s Tomb was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1993, and has undergone extensive restoration work since.

One fine day, a friend and I were idle, magically, at the same time, and we decided to head to Humayun’s Tomb, the mausoleum of the Mughal emperor Humayun built in the 16th century in Delhi. What ensued was a realisation about how we often overlook the beauty of our own city while hankering for escapes to outstation destinations. A wondrous escape was right here, under our proverbial noses!

IMG_20170323_091732_427

We reached the main tomb enclosure after passing several smaller monuments that adorn the path leading up to it. It was more than 400 years ago that Humayun’s first wife, Haji Begum, commissioned the tomb near the banks of river Yamuna.

IMG_20170323_170114_028
The site was chosen because of its proximity to Nizamuddin Dargah, which is the mausoleum of the Nizamuddin Auliya, a celebrated Sufi saint and a favourite among Delhi rulers.

IMG_20170325_094733_959
Designed by a Persian architect, Mirak Mirza Giyath, it was the first garden-tomb to grace the Indian subcontinent with its ‘Charbagh’ gardens. The structure portrayed a leap in the design of Mughal royal mausolea, which reached the apogee with the Taj Mahal at Agra.

IMG_20170325_115120_780
Naturally, it is one of the top tourist attractions in Delhi, being a monument that gives a peek into history together with art and architecture. As for us, this small trip was also a fresh change from the long hours spent amid papers and books and electronic devices.

IMG_20170322_112134_270

As much as I wish that we had chosen a breezier day and time, the sight of lush green fluff shining bright under the buttery noon more than made up for the mid-March heat.

IMG_20170322_110341_270
Even more memorable was that this mini-exploration culminated under the cool shade of a tree overlooking the six-pointed stars set in red sandstone, in the good company of an old friend and alloo paranthas packed in a steel lunch-box.

Featured image clicked by Ishan Sharma.

The Tale of the Mistletoe

mistletoe-berries-16393_1280 (1)

“Oh, don’t ever harm Baldur!”

Beseeched Frigg to each & every one.

But overlooking the mistletoe

Brought death to her precious son.

She wept and howled, distraught,

Her tears forming white berries,

This loss even the Gods could feel.

So they brought Baldur back,

Put her out of her misery.

 

It’s an offering dropped from heaven,

Said the Greek and Roman.

For lovers to embrace,

And enemies to find peace.

Resilient like a warrior,

It feeds and heals,

Even when trees shed all their leaves.

 

Elks, chipmunks, robins,

Porcupines and bluebirds,

It brings all together,

And not once cleaves.

In life as in the legend,

Mending, thawing, binding,

Rounding every crease.

 

photo courtesy of pixabay.com

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.

1025389_1668984470044192_6352353124638565865_o

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!

12371001_1668981416711164_3409110161882279111_o

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

DSC00252.JPG

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!

Weaving

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.

12362777_1231351836880607_921979603364908721_o

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.

Munni Devi1

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

The Street

The Street

The dawn rose and my eyes adjusted to the view, from bokeh to bright, as the sun sprinkled a golden filter across the street. Who were these people, so immersed in their preoccupations, chasing life, their hopes and anxieties all closed to me?
Do they have a special pocket in their briefcases, one in which they ensconce their dreams? Do they ever think about home, or are they happy to get by just like me, meeting new people, gleaning stories?
Who live in the thatched cottages on the mountaintop? Do they savour the sunrise and sunset as much as the tourists? Do they ever look out their windows and watch me on this bench where I sleep?
Who is the owner of the antique trinket shop? Does he know who carved the wooden camel so painstakingly?
What is the tale of this bustling anecdotal street?

I started from home with little more than an intrepid spirit and a guitar. Today, I have a bag full of memories; they can’t be distilled into a single photograph or diary entry. 

photo by Josh Wilburne, courtesy of unsplash.com