Flight


These wings don’t know

quite where they are headed

all they know is to flutter

they fly towards the sun and back

they know not how to stutter

they fly and swoop in one motion

they glide and they glisten

they catch the rays of the sun

and they boast to the littles

but be careful, the Old one says

do not get out of hand

you are young, and bright and bold

but these are shifting sands

one minute the sky is bright

the next it turns grey

you must know when to slow down

you might regret the next day

your colours are your badge of honour

your flight a mark of pride

but don’t forget the others,

he says,

you need to be by their side

they are who make you who you are

even if you can’t see it yet

your courage and generosity

is the result of a debt

so remember to keep your fellows with you

you must stick together

fly around all you must

but come back home,

in stormy weather

Wars and Butterflies


When I see anything yellow

I think of you

the only thing that matters to me now

But I am losing it now

I don’t think I will survive this

There will be a new beginning

a butterfly will emerge

It might not be yellow

but it will be something

it will still have your taint on its wings

those signs of battle

long and hard fought

only to lose in its last moments of glory

the wings flutter

legs tremble

must learn to walk again

will I stumble this time?

A Piece of Lost Time: The Shangrong Monastery of Ladakh


The little-known Shangrong Monastery is a 13th century monument, in the village of Alchi, in Ladakh, India.

While people do know about the beautiful and awe-inspiring Alchi Monastery of Ladakh, the Shangrong Monastery gets ignored. Am I thankful for this? A little. Little tourist attention means less exploitation of the area, but it also means that a piece of our past remains ignored….forgotten, and abandoned.

Not much is known about the Shangrong Monastery. But that doesn’t keep it from leaving the visitor awestruck. What is left of it is a long row of stupas (chortens in the local language), and a set of dilapidated buildings.

Ladakh has many many hidden treasures, and this is one of them. As a researcher working in the region, and on the history of Ladakh, I consider it a responsibility to spread more knowledge about this breathtaking region, with beautiful and kind people, and a spiritual core so deep, that it penetrates every human, every thing that steps into and leaves Ladakh.

The many many chortens, monasteries, prayer wheels everywhere you go, is a testimony to the spiritual abode that Ladakh is, even today, when modernisation has started to rear its ugly face.

Chortens at Shangrong

Chortens at Shangrong

Tapestry


We are all weaving a giant tapestry

We just dont know where the threads will meet

There are some lose ends

But they’ll come together

We are just following our hearts

And spilling them on a blank sheet

There might be some knots

Some tangles, here and there

But a little bit of effort

And soon they’ll be gone

And the threads will once again

Be free

To weave this giant tapestry

No one knows what colours to put

We each choose one for ourselves

And keep moving our needles

With time they’ll all meet somewhere

They’ll create a rainbow

No, a mass of rainbows,

Each with the dreams of many weavers sewn in

We each weave a tapestry

Unknowingly adding to the patterns

Being sewn elsewhere

We mould our own visions

Into this great umbrella

Never knowing what shape it will take

And this is how we

Weave this giant tapestry

This weaving never stops

The umbrella never ceases to be built

We may die

But the story never ends….


Everybody looks at you differently

I look at you as the same

No matter the name

And what shape you take

I think of you as the same

When I think of you

I see my saviour

I don’t see your colour

I don’t see red or white

I don’t see one arm or ten

I look at your eyes

They are much the same

They call me strange

Because I look at you as the same

They don’t understand

What I feel for you

When I look at you

I feel calm

I feel safe

I feel like I can breathe

How does it matter if you were

Born black or white?

How does it matter

That you died or didn’t

I look at you the same

Maybe because I am different

But you are all the same

Radio


I start the year 2015 with some creativity. This is a story that I have had in mind for some time, but only got around to writing now. Do let me know if you like it

“Dear Veena,

I listened to your show again last night, and it was splendid as ever. Every time that I listen to it, I think it just gets better. Your voice becomes sweeter. Your words sound like music to my ears. It’s like our own version of a romantic date. I wish I wouldn’t have to wait a whole two weeks to go on these dates.

And this is why I have decided to marry, Veena.  I want to meet a beautiful, nice young girl from your country, just like you. I want a girl with a melodious voice, who sings to me when I am sad, speaks with the most beautiful accent, shies away when I approach her – just like in the movies! I want a gentle-hearted, cheerful and honest young girl. And I think the only place in the world where I can find a girl like that, is your beautiful country. Will you help me find one?

I look forward to your next show.

Love,

Alexander”

This is when he started looking for a girl to fall in love with. To marry and settle down with. He had been alone, in a big, busy land for a long time now. And now he said he wanted to find peace. He thought he could find peace in a woman he loved. He wanted to marry someone from my country- a land that he believed had only beautiful and honest people. Because that is what he heard from us on the radio. Every weekend, he would turn the radio on at 10 o’ clock at night, and as he prepared for bed, he would listen to stories that we told him about our land. He would listen to folk tales of young love, stories that we tell little children before bed, legends about wondrous palaces and gardens throughout the country. We would play songs from old movies, and songs about festivals and frolicking. Oh! What a happy picture we drew! Reporting about the wars, the politics, and the corruption wasn’t our job. We were there to make people feel good about the beautiful things in the world after a hard day of work.

And that is exactly what he heard too. He would listen joyfully to the stories and laugh at every joke we made in the middle. He would come back from work, turn on the radio, and listen to our show while he cooked himself a meal. After his meal, he would get into bed, turn off the light, and fall asleep listening to the music from the old movies. This is what he did every single day.

Or at least this is what he told us through his letters. He wrote every other week. One of our most dedicated listeners, and a special fan of mine. Never missed a show. I did the show at this time every alternate week. Lata and Mani, my co-workers, did the rest.of the weeks’ shows.

All three of us were

But he never wrote to them as diligently as he did to me. Lata and Mani would often tease me that he had a crush on me, and said if I wasn’t in a country hundreds of miles away, he would probably have asked me to marry him by now. Well, they did, until they read this letter.

It definitely had us a little puzzled. But then not so much after a while. He seemed to be a lonely young man. Taking the time to write a letter to someone you never met, every week, wouldn’t be an easy job if you had a family, would it? He had a shop that sold knick knacks so I am guessing he didn’t make much money either. But he seemed to be a happy man. A little dreamy, but happy.

Anyway, so we decided to do something for a devoted listener. We decided to look for a girl. Well, I did. I started a small matrimonial segment on my show. For five minutes, I would appeal to all the singles in the world (or whoever was listening to us) who were looking for love, to tell us what they liked. And I put them in touch with each other by giving them another suitor’s mailing address.

The segment became more popular than I expected. We started getting flooded with letters, from young and old men and women telling us what they liked and who they were looking for. Sometimes we got pretty interesting letters from long lost lovers who were looking for their mates from years ago. We even got a letter from a man who asked us to announce his marriage proposal to his girlfriend on the radio.

But the real flood of letters was, as expected, from Alexander. He started sending us bi-weekly letters, first thanking us, then describing to us what he was looking for in the girl that he wanted to marry.

Such obsession with finding a foreign girl to marry was strange for us. Alexander had taken no time to become the butt of all our jokes on account of the frequency of his letters. But now it even got more ridiculous, with his long, eloquent descriptions of his dreams of marrying an innocent, young girl from a land he had never been to and perhaps would never be able to visit. How were we supposed to find him a suitable match, sitting miles away from him over the radio? You couldn’t even see the person you were talking to, or talking about! Such illusions, the radio manages to create, is something I realized every single time I read Alexei’s letters.

I found it slightly adorable that he wanted so much to marry. It worried me a little, but what could I do? I continued with my search for the perfect girl for Alexei, writing to him about different girls who wrote in to us, also looking for a suitable young man. Much delusional and naïve like Alexei himself.

A few months later, after a long series of conversations about dates with these women and how they never seemed to be The Right One for Alexei, we got a letter from him saying that he had met someone. A girl from my country at last. She had walked into his store looking for trinkets for her friend and Alexei and her hit it off.

Soon we started getting letters from him talking excitedly about how beautiful and how lovely she was and how much they adored each other’s company. Lata and Mani’s jokes by now had changed too. They said I was like his walking-talking personal diary. A pen friend that he confides in but can’t confess his love to.

But anyway, that didn’t bother me so much. I was happy for him. Our segment on matrimonials was also seeming to be quite a success. Everything was good in the world. One of those days Alexei even wrote to us that he planned to propose to his now-girlfriend Nazmi. He was in love with her, and she was all that he had been looking for.

And then his letters stopped.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Well, they ceased for a bit. This was very unlike Alexei. From writing almost twice every week his letters reduced to zero? And suddenly!

At first, we all assumed he had married that girl and was busy in his new life. Then we got a little worried. And then, we forgot about it.

But three months later, we got a letter from him again. His handwriting was slightly different this time. Slightly shaky, not as clear and composed as before. It looked like he had written this in a hurry, and not taken his time with it like he used to.

He had written to us, (all right, to me), saying that Nazmi and him broke up. As it turns out, she was already married. Alexei found out the day he asked her to marry him. She got panicky and confessed that she had been seeing Alexei behind her husband’s back all this while. She said she could not choose between Alexei and her husband.

Alexei said he was heart-broken. He broke up with Nazmi – she had lied to her. But he couldn’t stop thinking about her. He stopped going to his shop and lay in bed till he ran out of food, and till his water supply and electricity got cut off because of unpaid bills.

But now, he is trying to get back on to his feet slowly. He has started going to his shop again. Business is not that good anymore but he is making do.

I wrote back to him saying I was sorry for what had happened, and he was a good man who didn’t deserve it. But what more could I say? I told him that there was more to life than girls and he must find another purpose in life now. And if he still was looking for a girl, then the matrimonial segment was still on and we would love to help.

He replied just once, and with one word – Thanks.

And then we never heard from him again.

…………………………………………………………………………………….

Life moved on. But some things changed after Alexei’s last letter. We stopped the matrimonial section altogether. I am not sure whether we stopped it because we felt guilty, or because it had started to wane in popularity anyway. Mani left the radio and started her career as a stay-at-home wife. I got married and had a little girl in the next year. Lata still comes for the show, but now she doesn’t seem so interested in a show she has been doing for the last 5 years.

I often wonder what happened of Alexander. Did he look for a new girl? Did he find one? Or did he give up on them altogether? Did he get back on to his feet after all? What happened to his dream of a foreign girl to marry?

I have often thought of writing to him. But I can never bring myself to it. The show is still on. Maybe someday he will write to us himself…maybe not….

Sing Me a Lullaby


Wont you sing a lullaby 

to make me fall asleep tonight

 

Wont you hold my hand as I sleep

Till I disappear into the night

Will you remember me

think of me when you are happy?

Will you visit me in your dreams

O, wind?

 

You don’t stop for anybody

You don’t slow down

You rip everything apart

And take the pieces with you

But this time,

 

Will you sing a lullaby

for me to fall asleep?

Will you slow down 

till I float away

O, wind?

Untitled


You’re a breath of fresh air
Oh no!
You’re the wind
Tulips and roses
Will just have to bend

You don’t stop for anyone
You’re like that distant star in the sky
Looks best when admired from afar
Burns when you get too high

You’re a comet
You’ll burn
And then you’ll run away
You’ll leave bright memories
For those left behind
But you’ll be far gone
Way ahead
In this race of time