Category Archives: Writing

Remembering the season

Cheerful yellows and bright oranges, flaming reds and pretty pinks, deep maroons and aging browns .. that sneak up on you, haul you by the collar and bonk you on the head everywhere you go. And it’s not just the trees that turn color. What sets the New England fall apart is the ivy that falls in step with the season, and changes colors as well. Dull grey buildings and brownstones covered in suits of green during summer, looking all serious and stuffy. But fall arrives, and out come the masks and party hats, as they the join in the revelry and merrymaking.

Of course the rest of nature doesn’t like to be left behind, so it comes together to provide a backdrop to the leaves — impeccable blue skies, vibrant green pine trees, orchard grounds dotted with bushels of shiny red apples, chrysanthemums of a dozen colors blooming at every corner, and farms with hundreds of roly-poly cheerful pumpkins piled high, all waiting to happily tumble-tumble down.

But fall isn’t about color alone. It announces its arrival with a myriad of sounds, as well. Babbling brooks that tinkle at the first signs of frost. Rustling branches trying to shed the last of their leaves. Fallen leaves whooshing around in mini-tornadoes. The creak of the metal of an abandoned railroad track, one of the first to recognize the arrival of the cold. The rhythmic thuds of apples in a quiet orchard. The crunch of dried leaves under your feet as you walk on a cobblestone path. The squelch of old leaves in a puddle, as you step into it off the curb. Every single sound an instrument in the symphony of the season.

Fall is about touch too. The soft feel of a carpet of freshly fallen leaves. The kind that cover the ground so completely that you cannot tell what’s below. Bare ground, green grass, grey stone and charcoal pavement all painted over with reds and oranges, making everything seem equally friendly, equally warm and welcoming. Or a rough bale of hay beneath you during a hayride. Or the hard bumps of orphaned pine cones against your fingers as you collect them from beneath trees that have unthinkingly rejected them. Or the squishy feel of the insides of a pumpkin as you sit with your hands buried to your elbows in one, while a giggling three-year old makes you carve it.

And what is fall without the cornucopia of familiar smells and tastes? Of hot cider with a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg, orange and cloves. Of the smell of butter and sugar from freshly baked tarts, tempting you into the local bakery. Of the crunch of piping-hot cooked apples basted in brown sugar, waiting to go into a pie. Of memories of golden maple syrup as you drive by a sugar bush. Of the smell of fresh carved pumpkins greeting you at people’s doorsteps. Of the lingering smell of pine trees in the air, even when you cannot see any nearby. Of Halloween candy that leaves you on a permanent sugar high. Of moist earth as layers of leaves are raked away. Of leaves slowly growing old.

It’s the season of change, when the skirts get longer, jackets are pulled around tighter, and walking becomes more purposeful as people hurry indoors. When cheeks turn pink as familiar faces burst into smiles. A season of lingering tight hugs, of quick kisses shared on park benches, of hands held a little longer. Of sipping on big mugs of coffee clasped tightly with both hands. Of watching your breath fog up and making pretend smoke puffs. Of sneaking up on a squirrel while it ruminates on what berry to eat, and having it look up and pose for you as you gleefully click.

Fiery yet melancholic, bold yet tender, quiet like an aging monarch, romantic like a new lover, sprightly like a child .. fall has many a persona, playing many a role. And as it concludes its performance, takes a bow and exits gracefully, it seems the perfect time to applaud the season. A season that makes your senses come alive. A season that makes your senses dance.

Photoblog : Sepia-Tinted Words

Sepia-Tinted Words
Sepia-Tinted Words
Castle In The Clouds
Moultonborough, New Hampshire

There’s something very warm and friendly about old typewriters. Like a friend you sit down with and unburden your heart to, safe with the knowledge that he’ll take it to his grave. The steady clackety-clack reassuring you that he is listening. Each tching of the carriage-return, comforting you, making you lighter.

Then again, they’re like old men you meet near park benches. Weatherbeaten yet full of spunk. Packed with stories waiting to be told and retold. Of love, of valor, of sadness and of hope. And just when you thought you’d heard them all, a new one’s pulled out of the bag.

And sometimes they’re artists. Taking your disjointed thoughts and putting words around them. Making sense of your nonsense. Finding images within your incoherence and painting them for you. Giving you a chance to take a step back and look at your thoughts from the outside. Reintroducing yourself to you.

Some letters clean and precise. Others blackened and worn. Warm rusted metal and cool flashy chrome. The familiar smell of ink, like an old pal’s cigar. And the odd sharp edge that lurks around, nicking you when you least expect it. Little wonder that they make such good friends.

Girl, interrupted

Like a headache that arrives and never goes,
Or a curbstone that painfully stubs your toes.

Like a jhalak dikhlaajaa from Himesh’s nose,
While Pancham’s music gently flows.

Like a thorn that pricks while sniffing at a rose, (Token cliché firmly in place)
Or a funky dream that ruins your doze.

Like my attempting poetry instead of prose,
Life has interrupted, and rudely soes. (Okay, so that’s not a word. But it rhymes!)

But I’ll be back soon to annoy you, thoughs.
To generate nonsense, and increase your woes.

But now, I goes.

Apollo-Gs for the lack of updates. Enjoy the break while it lasts.

Short Shorts : Three : Pretty Flower

She was ten. Brushing her bobbing pigtails one extra time, she patted them down. White, with pink and purple flowers. This was her favorite frock.

Everyone said he was very smart. One day, maybe, you will also go to IIT, they used to tell to her. She couldn’t wait to grow up and be like him. Ravi was her favorite cousin. Always brought her chocolates. Cadbury Eclairs. And took her on piggy-back rides and made her giggle. And when mum wasn’t around, he would sneak her off to get ice cream. Butterscotch.

She sat next to him on the edge of the bed, feet dangling and swinging, and showed him her new painting. I won the second prize for it, she said, her face beaming with pride. That’s very nice. You know, those flowers on your dress are very nice too, he said, as he started to trace their outlines. His fingers slowly ran up her thigh.

She did not want to grow up and be like him. She did not want to grow up.

Written as part of the Blank Noise Blog-a-thon 2006. Although, since this isn’t about street harassment, which is the topic of the blog-a-thon, I am not entirely sure if it qualifies.

Sexual harassment and abuse of children younger than twelve years old constitutes a good percentage of the total reported cases. And yet, the available statistics hardly reflect reality. A large number of children don’t even know how to identify abuse, forget report it. Even more so, when the abuser is a family member.

As adults, we have some ways to oppose harassment. Whether we do or not, is a different matter. But we can yell, scream, try to fight back physically and attempt to raise awareness about it. But what does a child do? Their inherent trust in adults, their fear to question their motives and actions, and their own inability to distinguish between right and wrong often leaves them powerless.

Update : Some contact numbers (Thanks Rajesh and Peter, for the info!)

If you know or suspect that a child is being abused, talk to you local authorities or call —

The magic of ..

Some melodies are quite simply, magical. I pick one and go into raptures about it for hours, only to sigh at the futility of trying to imprison the intangible in words. I know I could never articulate how I feel, yet I hopelessly try. It touches my heart, I say, and then realize how facile and commonplace that sounds. How naive it is to try and quantify a feeling so sublime. But not quite ready to give up yet, I break it down into its elements — the voice, the words, the mood .. but I know there is something more, something I cannot see .. like a soft breeze that tosses them all together into a beautiful whirlwind. A silence within the sounds, that speaks to me. No one, but me.

I feel its presence around me always. Sometimes as it sweeps me up into a storm, leaving me breathless and gasping for more .. and at other times, as it slows down to softly set me back on the ground, before resuming its unstoppable happy little dance. And yet when I try to hold it and describe it, it plays hide-and-seek with me. Thumbs its nose at me playfully, as it hops and skips away, leaving me smiling to myself, wondering why I even tried. I gaze at it dreamily, as it gives words and form to emotions I always felt, but was never aware of. An unknown force writing new pages of my journal.

I hum the song, languidly caressing each note and reluctantly moving on to the next one .. but the notes tug at me, wanting me to touch them one more time .. and I find myself singing them over and over again. Till they becomes a part of me, permeating my smile, my hopes, my desires .. till I am one with them. Till I am complete.

Some melodies are like some people .. they come into your life, washing over your senses like the waves, while you carefully try to preserve the ocean you’ve just discovered, in the palm of your hand. You could spend a lifetime trying to put into words how they make you feel, but you know you never can.

And even while you try, you fall deeper and deeper in love. Such are the melodies of your heart.