Culture · Europe · Letters · Paris · Travel

To be or not to be

This weekend my friends came over for drinks. Conversation after drinks is never in tandem with reality. We were discussing on racism and the whole world going crazy. We passed funny statements on our religion and boasted ourselves as masters of the world. We were a group of intellectual atheist who believed that anything bad happening to us has nothing to do with any form of religion but it is something to do more with how we define the ideas within us and make it our foundation of our actions. I saw the true testimony of how hollow we are in what we say and what we think that night. Continue reading “To be or not to be”

Culture · Europe · Letters · Paris · Travel

Dear Seine(Part 2),

Locked in love
Locked in love

While Tinni was walking back from the river and wondering if she was really a hypocrite, she came across the bridge filled with love locks. Names of couples written on the locks were hanging on the bridge. ‘Oh my!’ she thought. ‘I bet half them will end up in a break-up. But this will make a great picture’. She stood there clicking photographs so that the picture was perfect with good lighting. She was trying to create love through her camera. As she stood there, she saw a woman putting a lock with only one name written.

She saw her staring at her. She smiled, “Wondering what I am doing?” Tinni was embarrassed. She was embarrassed but she was caught red-handed. “Do you hope of love?”

“I am cynical. I don’t really believe in soulmates”

“That’s not cynical. But do you hope of loving? Loving anyone, with complete heart which is continuous and never-ending.”

She was pondering if this is actually possible – feeling endless love for a friend or mother or even someone special. It was awkward for her. She avoided people who were into sentiments of love.  “I think it is rather taxing and sad. I think we like someone and then focus on building the relationship and nurturing it. It’s simple.” ‘There a good and conclusive answer’, she thought.

“Then why do you like someone. Do you really think that we like someone because of our upbringing or our past? Have you not wondered if you did not have a past, you wouldn’t like the same set of people?”

“I think we have few habits which are innate. For example I am a foodie. I think I always be that way. But I don’t like Death Metal probably because I have not grown up that way.” By this point Tinni realised that she was completely clueless.

“Say you do like Death Metal because of your friends, there wouldn’t be a slightest chance of liking the same people you like now. Even love, would there be no chance of falling in love with the same person?”

Tinni thought for a moment and finally answered, “There will be a chance of liking or loving the same person, but sustenance depends on the past and the environment we live in”

She smiled “Finally logic. Well then stranger let this lock be unnamed. I shall name it the day the relationship has been built rather than having a relationship”.

The sun was setting down. The faint yellow rays were falling on the love handles. She thought it was a perfect moment for a photograph. But some moments can’t be captured just like people who cannot be taken. Not a friend, family or even a foe, people are there, people are everywhere. All we have to do is meet them.

Culture · Europe · Letters · Paris · Travel · World

Dear Seine River, (Part I)

siennIt was one sunny evening when Tinni decided to do nothing in Paris. She had no one there. She had no friends. She went to Paris only because it was her dream to be there one day. Yet, she still had no idea why she wanted to go there. When Tinni saw you, she was not too fascinated by you. You seemed so meek and piddling compared to others present where she came from.

She was sitting and looking at the tourists and some locals sitting and reading a book. A woman approached her. She was old and fragile. She sat beside her and she spoke in English, “You are Indian”, she said in thick French accent. “Dam!n Do I still look Indian? Why couldn’t I look Spanish?” she thought.  “Yes, I am Indian”. When Tinni looked deep in her eyes, she looked a loquacious kind of person.

“Yes, I can tell because a man passed by you, your feet touched him by mistake and you touched your head”. I have never seen anyone else do it. I visited Delhi 20 years ago. I will tell you one thing though, you were not even sorry when you did that gesture.”

“It is a habit I guess, like most other habits we have in our culture.”

“But your habits are governed by tradition and culture. Most of them have lost meaning today”.

“I think most habits do not have meaning. Like I when go to the States I hear ‘Thank you’ from so many people. Rarely do they mean it. It’s just a habit. However, I think the mind is more complex than we think. It knows that it needs kindness and deserves compassion.”

“My child, habit without reason is dangerous. Most of your habits are sanctimonious. Why do you need to be so hypocrite?”

Tinni had rarely met someone who could really vex her or get her riled up. She looked at the calm river. She remembered Joan of Arc, her ashes and thought it was better to be polite and not judge people by just one encounter.

Suddenly, everything around became white noise. She saw the river still and quiet. It was a beautiful sunset. He was calling her to enjoy the warmth. The old lady might have many complexities like the city itself.

But, she is Ganga and Ganga is compassionate yet proud. She realized, she did not have to hear the woman anymore. “We touch our head when we brush our feet accidentally as a sign of apology. It is good to question a habit or tradition but to say they do not have meaning is wrong. Each day we are breaking and making tradition as time changes. But you and I are bound by logic which keeps us moving. Apology need not be loud. Thank you need not be compulsory. But they are essential. I have a sunset to catch. It was nice talking to you”.

She might have been rude. But should Tinni have let it go? She couldn’t. But she started thinking – Am I really hypocrite? She walked by the river looking at the sun set. The night was going to be unfolded, with new thoughts and new people.

Europe · Letters · Travel

Dear Prague,

The beautiful Castle
The Guinness Book of Records lists Prague Castle as the largest ancient castle in the world.
A sweet you would want to remember
TRDLO: Slovak/Czech Sweet Pastry

It has been a long time since I believed in fairy tales and I had given up on it. And out of all the places that I have wanted to visit, Prague was never on my list. I just picked you because from Berlin to Vienna, I thought it would be a pretty good place to live. Looking back, I think you were one of my fabulous places that I have ever visited.
Fairy tales do come true sometimes. When we were young, we believed in fables and talking animals. We had imagination which was led with rationale. We thought Santa Claus existed. Now, we know he does not because he does not send us any present and we know the source of the myth. But then is there a reason why actually we should stop believing on him and start believing in Krishna and Brahma? Can’t we treat them as fables too and take them lightly? I was thinking all this while on the Charles Bridge looking down at the river. I think it one of the loveliest bridges when you have saints glancing over you. You can stand for hours on the bridge and think about matters which have no relevance or importance to your life.
I walked on and reached the castle. I was awestruck. Not by the decor or the architecture but by something known as ‘magic’,by the aura that was there. As I walked inside, I met a few humble people who offered me to have something called ‘Toddler’. It was fresh bread baked with cinnamon and sugar flakes. I sat down with these people and they told me “Our country might not have produced the greatest poets or singers but we have a good sense of humor. We can laugh at ourselves”. I think that was very humble of you my friend. Simple bread for the hungry stomach and few jokes about yourself speaks volumes of your bequest. As I walked around with the unknown people, I reached the cathedral. It was more like a shrine for me. The warmth of the place reminded me of my childhood. Back when we were children, we believed in fairies, elves and gremlins. There was a very little place for God. 

It was evening and I went to the town hall. The place looked like a beautiful fair. Everyone sitting down on the roads was talking, drinking, laughing. I sat down with a friend whom I had met that day back in the hostel. There were few Chinese women sitting. A bunch of boys with thick British accent were passing by, drinking beer. They stopped by the women and asked them – Why are you here? Why are you travelling? Obviously they were drunk. The women giggled and one of them answered, “To live and then sleep well!”. One of the boys bowed and kissed the woman’s hand and then continued walking.
So that’s Prague for me- a beautiful castle, fairies, elves and no God. Just a belief remains, a belief that life is alright. Life is not beautiful or wonderful. It is reasonable