Monday, 12 March 2018

Bhutan Trip - on the way back

At Paro International airport on the way back to India after an eventful trip. Checked in, security cleared, now waiting for the flight, which is almost 2 hours away, with a fresh brew of the Himalayan Java. Nothing moves without a Java.

Quite like this airport. Nice to see an airport that still retains its old world charm. Otherwise all airports look the same these days ... sterile and uniform. The roof has what I call the Bhutanese motto. The checked tiles.

The take off was breathtaking. In a fairy tale kind of way. The land of Dragons and the Yeti seen from the sky. Would love to come here in different climates. And explore the ancient country more.

Airport Toilets.. the Paro toilet was squeaky clean. Now coming to India. Why can't we have Indian type toilets? Western toilets are being used by most urban householders and they are the target customers for airlines. But can't we have simple India style toilets that many ladies are still comfortable using? Every time I see a suburban lady in saree struggling to use the loo at airports, I wonder why they have to face such inconvenience in their own country! The Indian toilets are hyiegenic too by many standards. One good thing I saw this time were the sanitary napkins vending machines. Even though it has taken us so many years to put them there, at least it is one small step to make travel more comfortable for women. Do we have to thank Akshay Kumar and "Padman" for that? 

Was travelling with some of our co - rally-ers. Two of them won the coveted first prize. A simple conversation revealed they are real pros. High up there in the TSD league in India. Felt mightily privileged to have participated with them. They were obviously of a different league from us.

Thursday, 8 March 2018


Camera - checked
Cash - checked
Comfortable shoes and dual purpose sandals - checked
Medicine - general
Sunscreen / face cream
Mosquito repellent
Pee Safe
Sufficient Winter clothes since I don't wish to spend my nights shivering
Sufficient pairs of jeans tees undergarments
Lip gloss, ear studs and other wee accessories
And again sufficient cash and cards

So goes a checklist before my journey. All packed and ready to start. Despite the longish looking checklist. I pack quite light (or so I think).

It's International Women's Day. Don't know why only one day should be women's Day or various other days... but somehow fitting to be starting off on a car rally to Bhutan on this day!

Monday, 5 March 2018

Road to Thimpu - Plans

The planning for the trip is well under way. The flag off from Kolkata to Siliguri has started. Though we will join at a later date at Siliguri, our vehicle, an Ecosport has already gone ahead. We will be flying to Siliguri, driving from there to Thimpu and then again flying back home because to a real constraint of time.
It is Time Speed Distance Rally. So a bit apprehensive that might not be able to soak in the sights. Anyways... that can happen on another trip!

Friday, 2 March 2018

Road Trip to Thimpu - Really?

Here I was sitting in the movie hall a few hours back, when I get a phone call. Not sure if it was Bajaj Finance or whoever, I text back asking them to connect later. The caller was persistent and the number didn't look like a mass marketing number. I took the call in the middle of an intense scene (Haha I am joking, the movie was Sonu ka Tittoo Ka Sweety) and the caller said she was Sridevi from Kolkata.
It was interesting enough for me to text back, apologising for not being able to take the call.
Well turned out it was Sridevi, an acquaintance I had made when I was doing the TSD Rally at Kolkata. She gave me some rambling explanation, the gist of which was she needed a navigator for a TSD car rally to Thimpu from Siliguri.
I like to think I am not one to jump into situations. And I take calm considered decisions. So a few phone calls - to the organizers, to my employers -  and I am ready for Bhutan. In a calm considered manner.
So there's an upcoming car rally to Thimpu come next Thursday.
3 trophies in the space of 2 TSD car rallies has me day dreaming and pumped up for more!
Keep watching this space!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The Kunduli Girl

I was walking home from school
Running along, skipping along
Playing hide and seek
In the deep jungle trails
Loving their many secrets
Chasing the dappled shadows

The bag on my shoulders
My meagre notes and books
Forgotten in my wonder world
A smile on my lips
As I went hush hush after a squirrel
...Stepping on a twig

Was the noise very loud?
What did I hear?
Was that more twigs breaking?
Foolishly, still unconcerned
As I spy the squirrel again,
But not for long...

They creep up
Trample the mossy bed
Chase away the sun's rays
And give a howl of laughter
So I know they are near
With no place to go, No place to hide

Have you seen hyenas
Hunting sniffing playing with their prey
I am the prey
The bloody boots finally leave
With my smile... hunger satiated
Over my trodden bag, broken body

That was not the end
My halting story uttered
Hunted, haunted, deserted
My tale twisted, my virginity plundered
Many times over
I was a pariah, thrown to a hostel away from home

That was still not the end
Woken up at midnight for interrogation
Proven guilty by the learned
Police, doctors, human rights
Women commission, judges
For speaking up means guilty

This girl; How could she be raped
By the very custodians of safety
It has never happened before
She must be lying
The young girl tells big tales
Luscious images of a vivid mind, maybe

A rope to end it all
Distressed, depressed,
Disowned in many ways
An object of shame, pity, distrust
isolation, disgrace
And a hundred days of plunder

But that was again not the end.
The body dragged to the streets
Politician across parties
Fighting for their scrap of glory
Death too doesn't give dignity
While the jungle keeps it's secret, still

The only end is not to be born.

There are some tales which are so sad they need to be told and retold. Everyday we feel we have seen the worst... when actually the worst is around the corner. I would honestly have liked to name this poem "the death of humans".

Monday, 22 January 2018

On the subject of Architecture

I don't think any subject can aspire to be as aspiring or as all comprehensive as architecture.
People think architects only learn to make plans. No. They are taught to have an eye for colour, rhythm, pattern, taught distinctive styles ranging from the medieval to modern, taught climatic conditions and what type of built environment suits each one, taught about materials, old and new, learn about construction and structural techniques ranging from stone, bricks, steel, concrete to present day  new age materials.
History, sociology, botany, a bit of geology all form a part of what they need to know.
Truly, botany? Right! They need to understand plants and know which types provides what kind of shade and goes with which type of environment!
Plus obviously they learn drawing plans, elevations, sections to represent all that they know. Wait. They don't just sit at a computer and start drawing plans. They spend a couple of years practising drafting on a drawing board. Then they learn to translate their thoughts onto the ubiquitous software the language of which again they need to learn simultaneously with their other subjects.
So if you are an architect out there... love thyself is all I can say.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Of Many Colours

Of Many Colours

I wore blue today.
Royal Blue
That is how I feel when I step out under the winter sky
Bluebells on the hedges, blue bougainvilleas with their fluttering dry paper leaves
Ice cold blue with blue bangles
You had better keep your distance from me
So they don’t offend you, my blue veins that stand out
Getting up in the morning, taking my bath at dawn
Washing those left over dishes
And drying those cold clothes
I wore blue today
To feel the glitter in my blue eyes, for I am tired of feeling grey

Is pink my colour?
It gives the colour to my cheeks
When my husband brings me a gift
But more often when my in laws point out my mistakes
I can hide under my pink lips, bangles and ribbons
The blushes turn to anger soon
Again that is pink and can be kept under wraps
Like my pink dupatta which hid my embarrassment
From the repulsive maulings
Of a revered teacher or a co-passenger or a kin
So I wear a brighter pink
To hide behind my anger, desire, pleasure and... sometimes loathing

The warm feel of the soft grass
The distant trees forming the skyline of a deserted road
The verdant reflection in the nearby pool
The creepers on the wall reaching out to the sun on the roof
Their tender tendrils seeking a toehold
Warm, new, ever growing
Soaking up the dust mites, carbon
Green is my colour
Born in the tussle between Mother Earth and Sun and its siblings
Green won in tentative steps
Over a billions of years
So how can I wreck it in a few planned moves of destruction over a hundred years?

Bright and Sunny yellow
Nothing keeps it down
Flitting from flowers to flowers on the wings of a butterfly
Or gracing the newly weds in the woven marigold
Cheery and Chirpy but always graceful
Yellow knows
Life is a myth
Nothing lasts and nothing is yours
Like the yellow sun bleaches all it falls on
Time washes away all memories
Except perhaps the fabricated ones, all man made
Yellow is my colour: which holds an eternity in every moment

This poem is inspired by the bright colourful sarees worn by Indian women and relates them to her various moods. I would appreciate your comments and suggestions.

Bhutan Trip - on the way back

At Paro International airport on the way back to India after an eventful trip. Checked in, security cleared, now waiting for the flight, whi...