तुम्हें मुक्त करके मैंने तुम्हें पा लिया…

जब तक तुम्हें अपने ख़यालों में थामा हुआ था

तब तक तुम में और मुझ में फ़ासला बना हुआ था।

आज जब दिल पर पत्थर रख होंसला किया

तुम्हें अपने दिल से दूर किया…तुम्हें मैंने पा लिया।

तुम्हें मुक्त करके मैंने तुम्हें पा लिया…

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My date with the ‘banyan tree’

This Sunday we ventured into the wilderness to find a new trail. The humid weather was working as a deterrent. We saw this banyan tree at a distance. My fellow trekkers are well aware of my passion to climb trees…they took upon themselves the task to find a trail to reach the tree. Though the way was treacherous, we made it.

“Love is like a tree, it grows of its own accord, it puts down deep roots into our whole being.”

Victor Hugo.

The banyan tree had a captivating presence. I was enthralled. It must have stood there for eons…providing the rich oxygen and binding the soil and the creatures with it magnanimous spirit.

After surrendering to its opulence, I approached to embrace it. It reciprocated. How do I know that…? They do have a language…and I am becoming proficient in it with each embrace, each climb.

Climbing the tree at just one spot wasn’t enough. The sweat had drained me out but this benevolent tree energised me. A fellow trekker remarked, “I can see the sparkle in you eyes. You look so happy!” I climbed it at few more spots and spent time in its lap.

We spent some more time under its shade, listening to the birds sing and then set out on the return journey.

Was my hunger to climb the tree satiated…nah!! 

Are my eyes still sparkling…nah!! They are now charged up to ‘twinkle’!

Do I feel rejuvenated…nah!! It’s much more…I am pulsating with positive energy!!

..p.s.: in my excitement to embrace the tree, I forgot to capture the entire tree in one frame.

The first monsoon shower…divine and magical!

Yesterday, the city received the first monsoon showers of the year. The city dwellers had been eagerly awaiting this downpour especially when Gurugram was soaked in the sweat of it’s own people. The sweat was stifling each one from the odour of the other. Unable to concentrate, thanks to the salty droplets of perspiration, the work suffered. Though people like to carve a niche for themselves on the top, here we were ready to stay even in a dungeon if it had a life saving AC.

Suddenly, the weather changed. One could feel the coolness, the wrath of the Sun God diminishing as it was eclipsed by the clouds brought in by the moisture-pregnant winds from the far away land. The Sun further lost the battle to these winds and its luminosity too diminished. The elements of Nature were in an open confrontation. The people sided with the cool winds and hopefully anticipated the outcome of this battlement to their favour. For once, the collective prayers of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, men-women, children, lower class, upper class, Jats, Gujjars, Punjabis and all the other castes were answered. It is interesting how we rise above the bar of discrimination in the face of adversity. And it is this intrinsic human quality than keeps me hopeful…

The cool breeze and the sweeten darkness pave way for the tiny droplets of water to come and embrace Mother Earth. The Earth responds by opening its fragrant buds, spreading the mild fragrance in the atmosphere that entices everyone. Overcome with the magic of this alliance of Mother Earth and the tiny drop, soon the other droplets compete to embrace the ever beautiful and rich Earth. It is now a downpour that touches the parched souls. The harshness of Nature is forgotten and forgiven.

The sweat is long gone and evaporated, all the city dwellers are now drenched in the spirit of cool rain, if not the rain itself. It is interesting how each one enjoys the rains in the city. The mothers become protective. They try and dissuade their children from getting wet in the rain. The toddlers and kids are sheltered under the umbrella and if the rain caught one unprepared, the umbrella is replaced with a dupatta or a bag. 

But the rain plays tricks on the minds of these kiddos. They try and wriggle out of the tight grip of their handlers, stretch their tiny hands and feel the pitter-patter of the rain. A few more tugs at the grip and they run free. The restrain gone, they enjoy their freedom. They elope into the lap of a recently formed puddle. Jump up, splash the water, dance a little and enjoy with a carefree abandon.

One could observe the same reckless merriment while going past the ‘jhuggis’ near Rajiv Chowk. The little urchins drowned themselves in the water that washed past the sidewalks. They lay there in the muddy slush, soaking their bodies to remove the odour of sweat. I was tempted to click a few pictures but the traffic behind barred me from giving it a second thought. Round the corner a few more girls dance in merriment. The rains have a way to let oneself loose. The lovers too leave their inhibitions and find a reason to take solace in each other ‘wet’ embrace. The sensuousness of the rain grips their minds and pumps up the adrenaline. 

But the same city that eagerly awaited the rains is repentant. By evening the city comes to a standstill. The roads have disappeared beneath several feet of water. There is water clogging all around and massive jams. People are eager to reach their homes and share their stories of ‘barish ka jaddo’ and the frustration at the hands of civic bodies. They have failed us in the past and they have failed us today. 

Back home after beating the jams, a cup of coffee in hand, as one reminiscences about the day…a smile plays of the lips, it is the magic of the first shower of rain…ever so nostalgic and divine!!

GurUgram…the city of ‘U’ turns

Gurgaon to Gurugram…we have all witnessed the change in the name about an year back. It is still in our short term memory. Whenever we debate it in our mind to go with Gurgaon or Gurugram…the inner voice says “की फ़र्क़ पेयंदा है!” We try to shove the matter into the long term memory, after all की फ़र्क़ पेयंदा है! and move on…

The matter is dumped and off we go for a leisure ride in the car just because there is nothing else to do! And a car ride for leisure or an important task at hand, is sure to give you the clarity…whether to stick around with Gurgaon or go by Gurugram. Drive से Gurgaon के नाम का क्या connection हो सकता है!

Yup, the roads and the name Gurugram have a connection. Since the name “Gurgaon” received the coveted additional ‘U’ in its name and became Gurugram, the city has witnessed an increase in the ‘U turns’ on its roads.

You have ventured out in the car, driven a few kilometres and notice that there is some additional activity on the road…a sense of callousness is apparent! As you approach the spot and pause for a moment just like the others to figure out, “यहाँ से road बंद क्यों कर दी?” Obviously the next thought that brims in your mind is “अब यहाँ से कहाँ जाना है!” But even before that thought surfaces, there is redistribution of the energies in the brain and you mumble out, “एक और ‘U turn’ बना दिया होगा!!” And yup, you are ready to manoeuvre yet another ‘U’ turn in GurUgram.

If your destination is just a ‘U’ turn away and you embark on the task of taking the formidable curve, you will see a sea of eyes sneering at you from the opposite side. The ones taking the straight road are daunted by the presence of these additional vehicles. Rather than making way for themselves, the drivers on either side try to block the others. They are transported back to their world of virtual games and invariably give a tough time to the opponent. कुछ मज़ा सा आ जाता है…try करके देखना! 😋

The major roads of the city have to be traversed with caution because each one is laden with…you again got it right…a few ‘U’ turns. They pop-up within the close vicinity of the previous one. The ‘U’ turn becomes the activity hub. It creates commotion, chaos and confusion and endless delays. The seemingly sensible but ruthless drivers manoeuvre their vehicles to either take the ‘U’ turn or go way past it. Whatever your path…’U’ turn से बचने का कोई उपाय नहीं है!

I have driven my car in a multitude of cities across many states but GurUgram seems to be the only city where the ‘U’ turns are increasing by leaps and bounds. Near every major intersection of roads…साथ में होगा एक प्यारा सा ‘U’ turn! The complete traffic is diverted to the ‘U’ turn. Though the intersection has a perfect straight metaled road, gleaming and glistening in the sweltering heat of northern India but it is blocked for the commuter…to justify the extra ‘U’ in…you got it right…in GurUgram.

Many a times I have been tempted to challenge the authorities and go past the barricade but then my mind warns me पानी में रहकर मगरमच्छ से बेर करने का कोई फ़ायदा नहीं! Let’s accept it I have to reside in GurUgram, the newly christened city of ‘U’ turns!