Who

Who are you?

The face you show me or the person when I see through you

The love you show for me or the hidden questions I see it wrapped in

The path that I carved for myself or a sudden turn that’s just around the corner

The fire I see beautifully lit in candles or the flame that extinguishes my own

The hands that hold me dearly or the clasp that can suffocate

Who are you?

The light that helps me through the dark or the one that blinds me in the daylight

The smile that cheers me up or the one that suppresses my own

The one who exist or is just resting somewhere in the corner of my heart

Who am I?

The one you encounter every morning or the one whom i meet every night

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Japan- Not just the land of rising sun!

Japan, also known as Nippon is the land of anime, cherry blossoms, strawberries, manga and sake!! To name, these are just a few things from the list that can go on and on. Personally, I would confess that I haven’t been exposed much to the beauty of Japan except for the occasional cherry blossom treat until it was decided that I was going on a business visit to Japan and boy did I not feel blessed when I started looking up about Japan online. Words will definitely fall short to describe what it was really like staying there but I’ll try my best to cover it in 2 parts.

Tokyo- The delectable treat of past and present

The best part about Japan- the ultra-modern and accessible train network that’ll take you to any part of Japan and is definitely the best way to explore all the cities. While I was putting up in a hotel in Kawasaki-shi, a neighborhood area of Tokyo, I could easily hop on to one train or another to explore Tokyo and nearby areas. There were multitude of nice small Japanese eateries around my hotel so on the second day of my trip I decided to go to one such place only to discover that the servers there did not understand English and I was at a total loss because I did not understand Japanese ( Yes, I haven’t even installed a translator). But, now comes the best part, despite the language barrier, Japanese are so delightfully helping and humble, they would go to any extent to make you understand and help you out. So, during this incident and through the rest of my stay, I always managed to get a decent meal (and of course a hang of few keywords☺) and whatever else I needed.

Tokyo, with its people, is on top of the game for latest fashion and technology but is also a home to many beautiful shrines, temples and parks which are a treat to visit. I started off with the heart of Tokyo and the most touristy place Shibuya. From waiting at the Hachiko Square and going past the crowd at Scrambled Crossing to being a shopper’s and foodie’s paradise, this place had it all and of course the best way to get immersed in the feel of the city is to walk down those cobblestoned roads! Meiji Jingu shrine was next on my list- one of the most popular and beautiful shrines with a nice beautiful forest and garden adorning it. This is where you get a taste of Japanese culture and tradition and yes I was lucky enough to witness a Japanese wedding procession too. Next, what’s better than to observe the Tokyo skyline at night in all its grandness and flamboyancy- that’s what I did from the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building and yes I went back with a couple of ink stamps as a token.

Post this weekend as a tourist, any time I got- post work on weekdays and on weekends (if any) was spent walking miles on the streets of Tokyo soaking in the city with all its flavors. For street shopping, it’s the areas like Shibuya, Harajuku, Takeshita Street, Shinjuku (Ginza for luxury shopping) and Akhibara (gadget shopping) that keep you on your toes. If you are fond of stationery, visit stores like LOFT and Tokyu Store and not only will you be not disappointed- you’ll get your hands on many things you didn’t know existed before. Visit 100 yen shops (Daiso) to get your hands on anything and everything including souvenirs at a reasonable price( most things will only be 100 yen). Nihonbashi, the industrial area of Tokyo is one of the oldest trade places in Tokyo. One can find the oldest of buildings- both offices and department stores here still standing tall in all their charm. I found a lovely multi storeyed book store here “Maruzen” to get my dose of English books (by Japanese authors) and also a good stop if you are seeking translated anime and manga. Get down at Tokyo station to see of the most elaborate stations one will ever see- both inside and out. It’s a world of its own with many outlets for clothing, amazing eateries, goodies, confectionaries etc.

“Fuji-San”

Visit to Mt. Fuji was one of the most awaited trips I had to undertake, not because it is the highest peak of Japan but because it is a sight to behold. Fuji- san as Japanese lovingly call this mountain, is an active volcano standing beautiful and tall with its perfect conical shape and snowcapped top just like out of a beautiful painting. The mountain is known for playing hide and seek with the clouds and one should consider themselves lucky if they get to view this magnanimous structure. We took a bus to Kawaguchiko Lake Station (one of the Fuji five lakes to access Mt. Fuji) but to our dismay despite being a clear day and visiting sites where Mt. Fuji can be viewed best, Fuji-san was discreetly covered with clouds. We also could not go to the base station since it had snowed the previous day and the roads were closed and so we went around and explored other areas but as luck will have it, around afternoon, all the clouds cleared and there it was- Mt. Fuji in all its grandeur and trust me no picture can actually do justice to the beauty I saw with my naked eyes leaving me elated. Trip to Mt. Fuji can easily be covered in a day, even less or more time depending on how much you want to explore. Cruise around the lake area to see lavender plantations, and many other beautiful points at some distance that are worth a visit.

Food Splurge

Japan is definitely a foodie’s paradise (especially for non-vegetarians *wink*), with so much variety and so many options to choose from, I can safely say that I spent most of my money eating and drinking out- It’s hard to resist when every new day brings a new dish (read treat). Apart from the numerous ready-made meals and beverages that you’ll get in the supermarkets (these are totally fresh and good), few dishes that are a must try are sushi (definitely the best fish you can ever get), tempura (shrimps), mochi, wagashi with tea, matcha tea, ramen, udon preparations, yaki soba, takoyaki (octopus preparation), yakitori, miso soup, and taiyaki. These are just a few names of many more that I either did not get a chance to try or I did try but the names have escaped my memory. Don’t miss a chance to grab the matcha tea ice cream because there isn’t anything like that! And of course, when it comes to drinks, sake and red wine were definitely the winners for me but yes it’s a known fact that Japanese whisky is one amongst the best. And the best part, traditional Japanese tea ceremony, which comes with all the sweets I mentioned, can only be savored here.

These were just a few excerpts from my experience in Japan. Apart from this, there are many things that make Japan unique and beautiful- things like how Japanese are quite disciplined but also indulge compared to no one, how beautifully they pack things (It’s the land of origami by the way) and many such things which one would discover when they explore this beautiful place.

Stay tuned for the 2nd part in which I will talk about my experience in one of the most beautiful places- Kyoto and also Cherry Blossoms!!

A Horse Walks Into A Bar by David Grossman – A Review

Ever wondered how in a split second we make choices that are as inadvertent as they can be but that not only impacts us but also people around us including our loved ones. These choices are often a reflection of what we see, feel and imbibe but can we change or will we change anything about them if we were to go back in the past( even if it meant destroying a loved one). Unfortunately, we cannot.

A Horse Walks Into A Bar takes us on one such ride with protagonist Dovaleh G, a standup comedian by profession, and Avishai Lazar, the narrator and a long-lost friend of Dovaleh. The story is set up against an evening in a bar in the city of Netanya in Israel where Dovaleh promises a show to remember.

The show begins with Dovaleh’s usual gimmicks and comedy paired with excerpts from his life. Over the course of the evening however, a deeper story begins to take shape with the events that happened way back when Dovaleh was a child talking about the choices he made and with him falling apart as the evening ensues- all this in the presence of a childhood friend Avishai, who was especially invited by Dov and who sees him after more than forty years and is as bewildered as everyone else in the audience. Through the narration, we get a sneak peek into Avishai’s own life and who himself reflects how he could have made an impact had he made choices that were different from what he really chose to be in his teens.

The story is a moving take on not only how our choices determine the course our life takes and the impact they have on our loved ones. It is also a rudimentary take on society in general- the prevailing conditions in Israel with respect to the world, the people and emotions. How often we end up building a false facade taking for granted people and their outwardly feelings only to be shattered to pieces by the piercing reality.

It’s a book to be soaked up in all it’s light comedy and grave emotions. Read on to discover this masterpiece.IMG_20180522_215556_489

Partners In Crime…

Our worlds were delectable that crossed each other

The ways were dirty yet strewn with flowers

The air was heavy yet deliciously sweet

The rivers strong, yet abiding.

The sun hath upon us its scorching heat

We basked in it and killed it with our shine.

When one failed to live the coveted dream,

the other held him to embark on the same

It was not the lightning and thunder,

but the showers in which we danced that weighed.

The eyes which saw their first love,

shared the smile with those hands that carved the letters.

The dark never scared us for we shoved it off with our wilder charms.

We screamed and shouted and chased the hounds

that troubled our worlds from afar.

The autumn took away the flowers and the green withered away

but we painted the canvas with our colourful smiles.

The winds that dampened the eyes with dust, we flew along to give them a race.

                                                            

We were merry, we were divine, always scrapped for cakes and wine, and hence were we those beautiful Partners in Crime!

The Dark Side

It was hot and sultry outside, the clock was about to strike the second hour of midnight. She lay on the bed, wrapped up in some rags with her hair spread all over her face and her naked arm. The humidity formed droplets on her beautiful face, which shone like pearls in the dim light. She blew from her lips, a flick that blocked her view, without any will to move as if some inanimate force held her tight.

Her deep eyes looked at the ceiling above. Her mind was not at a moment’s rest. The ceiling soon enough cleared into a mirror housing her shadow that looked back. It was Satan. She was not surprised because she had often seen it, that she has always wanted to reach for it but in vain, failure was all she got.

It was just an inch, the last inch, the temptation she wanted to abide by. The temptation to betray her own morals, her principles, to taste the exemption just once. Even though she knew that it was addictive, but was ready to take her chances. The desire of being desired by one and many and burning in its flames, to lose it to no one and making everyone lose it. The sheer contentment of getting herself robbed off all her virtues, to be as bad as anyone could get, and to be as good as anyone would never dream of, to kill the pain and make it suffer. The clock struck two and the silence darkened, she flinched as it setting herself free from that invisible force. As she raised her arm, the images became clearer.

Earlier that day, Maria looked beautiful dressed in a grey corporate suit or that is what anybody else would have thought. She, herself, had ached for a pinch of air even in that air-conditioned luxury five star hall where the meeting had taken place.

It was an important day for her and she had gladly looked forward to it.

“Congratulations Maria, Big Day for you, ehh?” her boss Avantika said, winking playfully, as if mocking at her sole achievement.

“Thank you so much Avantika”, was all Maria could manage to utter, though she intended to say a lot of things but held on as she gave a lot of crap to what other people might think of her and from which she had forever intended to break loose  but had forever been unsuccessful.

Maria had been promoted to serve as the Senior Executive for her organization. Yet when the day itself had arrived, she wasn’t happy. She might have misconstrued the feeling for apprehension but it was far from that and she was scared to admit that the feeling was despair. Despair, she thought, maybe because this success was not the most important thing she yearned for, or maybe it was so important that now she had nothing left as important as this to look forward to, or maybe the success didn’t seem materialistic to her now after she had seen “below the carpet” things.

Maria was not the only one to contend for the post. There were people, better and more deserving than her and she was aware of this.

Though initially a dream for Maria, later on had become an undue ambition. She had succumbed to the vices that controlled her momentarily and was now on the verge of becoming their slave for a lifetime.

She had cheated on men, betrayed other women, feigned love, made false friends and everything else it took to get to the apex where she was now.

But as she reflected upon the vices that got hold of her and the turn of events that had taken place in the recent past, a thought crossed her mind and her face gleamed because now she had coped up to betray all the vices that had made her their home. Had it not been for her true self, she would never have wanted to “undo” what she had done, finish what she had started, felt anguished when she was facing what she deemed as the happiest moment of her life and thinking of going back to her purer self.

Maria was enthralled and shrugged her shoulders suddenly returning to the present where she laid on her bed as if awakened from a dream.

The longing to get hold of something which did not belong to her had actually helped her trace back the path to her shadow, her soul, Maria. Her face flashed at the thought of it and she exactly knew what she had to do.

******************************************************************Next Morning***********************************************************************

“Are you sure you want to do this Maria? You might never get an opportunity like this afterwards!” Avantika said, shocked.

“I am fully aware of that Avantika, but I would like to stick to my decision”, Maria replied smilingly.

“Are you under some pressure, whatever it is, we can work it out…right here, right now…but resignation!”

“No Avantika, I really appreciate your concern but I am not resigning under pressure. It’s my own decision and not somebody else’s. Sometimes you need to take decisions that appear unnecessary, yet are important”, Maria explained, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a very important prior commitment lined up”, said Maria, lying, fully aware of her boss’s adamant nature. “It was a pleasure working with you Avantika”, said Maria, smilingly.

She got up to shake hands with her boss. “Same here, dear”, Avantika replied “You could have stayed longer though, I really liked you; you were one hell of a girl to work with!” And both of them burst out laughing.

“Hope our paths cross again” said Maria, winking, and closing the door behind her. Her face was pretty but the beauty was back as it gleamed with the virtues and reflected her thoughts.

“Sometimes you need to let go of things in order to get hold of them more firmly and sometimes you need to confront your dark side so that you begin  to love your true self more than ever before.”

LOST

We go places and meet people without realizing how they become an integral part of our lives at that point of time. We miss them, when they are not around, we seek them when we need to talk, hold onto them when we need to cry, but bad as it may sound, all of it just goes away like the blink of an eye. The inception of it all is when the extent of utter that we had to discuss just diminishes. Futility begins to show its face in our efforts to stop the very dawn of it. The jokes that we once shared become plain and the ring of their laughter stops ringing the bell in our own ears. That picture of them with which they were personified becomes foggy- we forget how it used to be when they smiled or how dire it used to be when they were gloomy or how evil it used to be with their tricks played. We forget those looks with which we associated ourselves. And just when we wondered that this was all it was about, a gushing wave of remorse pulled us inside the ocean of setbacks. We realize that we had misplaced that one treasure that was so dear to us, which we had used in our minds repeatedly so as to be aware of that one being- we realize that we have lost the words, that we have lost that voice with which we identified ourselves. Voice, that could till now undo every missed step and could revive every expression. Voice, which was till now the witness to that fold of extinction. Voice, which was now gone and hence an exemplary of the being that was now lost.

The Beginning- Go around

The flurry of thoughts and the endless maze left her bewildered. The perpetual canvas seeped within her but the colours escaped her. She has been running since a long time- why? trying to catch up with something-what? Was she chasing someone or was she being chased? She was moving yet still. Something was brightening up constantly in front of her eyes. She has seen it before. Wanting to break the realm of this light, she tried to speak but all she managed to utter was a broken silence- Silence that tore through the walls of her ears to give her a thud. Thud. Thud. She woke up to darkness all drenched in sweat. Maybe that light had finally given in to her unrest. Maybe that silence had paved her way for victory. She grabbed some water. It was broad daylight outside but her room was under the cloak of heavy and expensive curtains. Maybe this was the canvas she had seen in her dreams. She tried to re-imagine what has constantly deep within her mind- everyday, every night : A vulnerable effort to extrapolate everything to her existing reality, to chronicle her conscious with her subconscious, a subtle instrument for her shaken self-belief where she managed to control everything including her deepest regrets. She often found a transient cure in her efforts so that now she could meet another day that lie ahead, accept another person with that glittering smile on her face, put up with few more nuisances that are allegedly vital. She hopped out of her bed for the clock was ticking and soon she will have to rush to work and to let the day consume her.Meaning-of-life

Maybe…

Maybe I am too bad
But I am good enough to know the bad I do
Maybe I am too good
But I am bad to not know that it is not enough
Maybe I am too naive
But I am too good a cynic to overwhelm them
Maybe I am too rude
But I am polite enough to tell them the truth
Maybe I am too boring
But I am crazy enough to laugh my heart out
Maybe I am too mad
But I am sane enough to keep it to myself
Maybe I am too bold
But I am also a coward to know what kills me
Maybe I am too hysterical

But I am calm enough to listen to them
Maybe I am too impatient
But I am patient enough to be with them always
Maybe I am too old
But I am younger than ever to chase my dreams
Maybe I am too young
But I am old enough to know what they mean to me
Maybe I love too much
But I hate them to not love me more.
Who am I? What am I? How am I?
Maybe I am Them..or maybe I am just ME..Well Maybe…10232871-fire-alphabets-in-flame-letter-i

The Not So Common “Commoner”

I just happened to come across this news recently, headed as “Man challaned for ‘dangerously’ overtaking Robert Vadra’s car”. I had a stir of mix emotions within me, I was amused but at the same time full of pity for that man who was mischievously charged by the cops who are the best samples of people convincing you of the fact “ You silly commoner, Yes You! You are the unprivileged one!!” It reminded me of a similar experience, though maybe of a different intensity, of which I was thevictim(since I was the unprivileged one here). Anyway, so this some random day, a some random girl was going to office. As she had to cross the very busy Delhi road, she might had expected being run over by a truck or car, but what she least expected was being pushed and dragged by a traffic cop!! Temperamental as she was and being a girl, she was agitated by this (but who cares) and started shouting at him. The cop who was at one instant “I am the man”, in the very next instant replied timidly “Madame ji, woh minister ki gadi pass honi hai (Mam, a minister’s car is about to pass)” This definitely drove me crazy. Even if the government is so concerned about its ministers’ security(which it should be), why does a common man going to office has to bear the consequences of a ruthless way of maintaining security!! Maybe that day, if I had had a car, and was racing my way so as to reach office on time, the cops could had charged me too for having some “evil intention” in overtaking the minister’s car. Why couldn’t they simply put some indication if it mattered to them that much! (Poor us!)…Well this was one aspect of it, just one side of the coin or rather more appropriately, just a branch of a tree much deeper rooted. In the social culture, when people(I said ‘people’ because I am one of them who certainly do not house that notion) are brought up, they are taught that some people are better than them and hence more deserving and these people live their whole life believing the same, without ever going to ‘why’ of the argument! (not to mention ‘premise+conclusion =argument’here). So these people genuinely believe that some people are the privileged one, and if anyone dares to refute this ideology of them, then you are the bad one and you have just earned yourself an enemy. I would elucidate this with yet another example (needless to say, I have been lucky enough to experience all this!). So this another random day, I decided to go on a shopping spree with my mother, as I was back home. I was just about to park my two-wheeler when this guard comes out of nowhere and tells me “ Madam yahan kyun park kari hai, yahan Mr. XYZ saab apni gadi park karenge” (Mam, why have you parked here, Mr. XYZ is going to park his car here) I tried to reason out with him that if the parking place was reserved for this Mr. XYZ of his. I figured out there was nothing of that sort but was adamant on his belief that “ blah blah blah” and refused to budge even an inch from his stupid belief. But I was adamant too, in the end my mother had to intervene in order to avoid the unnecessary argument and asked me to shift my vehicle a little. After being eyed as a criminal by this guard, I did not want to earn the wrath of my mother, and therefore did as she asked me to. I hope you got the point of citing this example. It nonetheless drives me nuts whenever I think about it. As I said, the problem is what we are taught to believe and lack of education makes it worse. In a democracy that we all pose to live in, but fail to understand the implications of it. We ourselves give some people unworthy privileges, who are not fool enough not to exploit it. People fail to understand that the government is meant to serve us, and not the other way round, that right to equality is not just a concept but a phenomenon that needs to be followed. That even while posting it, I might unduly hurt some people’s sentiments but again this is my idea and I give myself the privilege to voice it!!

Love In The Time Of Cholera: A Review

“one can be in love with several people at the same time, feel the same sorrow with each, and not betray any of them.” As many would think and at the very first instance would form conclusions about the person being discussed, right from him being a Casanova to the futility of his statement when the infidelity was discovered. Well then, let me tell you that this comes straight from a person, the about eighty year old Florentino Ariza, the protagonist of this story. Set in the backdrop of 20th century, when civil wars were a common place and people died more due to epidemics than due to wars.

Florentino’s unrequited love for Fermina Daza forms the theme of the story that is followed by a rather incomprehensible determination in the wake of which one may wonder at the viability of it. Both of them, in their adolescence fell for each other but Fermina, owing to a temperament that marked her character throughout, soon describes it as a major infatuation and decides to move on and marry Dr. Juvenal Urbino instead. Juvenal Urbino, a popular doctor and a descendent to one of the known families in the town, unlike Florentino, who was an illegitimate child of a commoner. What, however marks the potency of the story is Florentino’s decision…He decides to take revenge? No..He decides to do something to Fermina’s husband so that then she would come back to him? No again..He decides to marry another woman? Well, no again…So what does he decide to do? He decides to wait..Wait for however long it takes; wait for the destiny to turn in his favour; wait without an assurance that it will not be futile; just a belief that one day Fermina will be his, even if it meant eternity. And eternity it was, for after fifty one years, when Juvenal succumbs to an accident does he decide to propose Fermina again.

The fifty years that entailed were not an easy passage of time, for Fermina, maybe since she had a family to grow up with but for Florentino, it involved many repercussions. He succumbed to the physical needs that came as he grew up and which implicated many sexual partners. Inspite of the special chemistry that he shared with each of them, was the intriguing fact that he always preserved his love and sanctity for Fermina, that he never thought of hurting any of his accomplices. An excerpt from the book reads when Fermina Daza was overwhelmed “A century ago, life screwed that poor man and me because we were too young, and now they want to do the same thing because we are too old”. A beautiful story that is remarkably woven around characters that are devoid of any malice, when fate plays a role that extends over a period of fifty years and that is expected to evolve and serve its purpose, in all its notoriety, by every eccentric character but does it succeed? Well, it is for you to find out. The narration is one that you enjoy, meanwhile feeling that lurch in the heart. It is undoubtedly one of the finest works of the Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez and hopefully you will also relish it in all its charm.