Culture · India · Letters · Mumbai · World

Timeless love

Love“So what would it be like to be married?” my friend had asked me decades ago as we sat in our classroom, waiting for our Economics professor.

I am not sure who said this but I truly believe – Youth is wasted on the young. Little did we know that our universe will be filled with smaller worlds and stars which will change our course of life which we so strive to plan every day. Continue reading “Timeless love”

India · Mumbai

Dear Kanheri Caves,

Dear Kanheri Caves,

The monsoon Caves
The monsoon Caves

Mumbai has always been a paradox to me, and I guess anyone who has lived here will agree with me. There are of course very few places where one would find solace here. Kanheri caves would always hold a special place in special place in heart. While Mumbai is considered as the modern-day city it has Buddhist caves dating back 10 century CE. Somehow these caves still define Mumbai.

If you were to see an ancient city and Mumbai, you would understand the city is not elegant at all. It has haphazard tall skyscrapers and chaotic slums. The suburban Mumbai is filled with unplanned resident buildings. Kanheri caves too are not very elegant structures. They are made of Basalt and nothing compared to Ajanta and Ellora caves, and yet when one sees the caves, they are awestruck.

As I said earlier, Mumbai is mecca of paradigm shift. It is in this cosmopolitan city one will find a shortcut to everything. You may find a shortcut to salvation too. Very few people know that there are still people who convert to Buddhism in Mumbai. People from distant villages travel to Mumbai and convert to Buddhism. The low-caste people find a way to feel like an equal in this city. Little did Buddha know that people would find his way of living as an escape to cruelty.

Amidst the muddled sentiments Kanheri caves stands tall to anyone who seeks amity in this confused era. The caves are away from the human habitation in Sanjay Gandhi National Park. When I first went there all I could think that how can this possibly be here in this city. I climbed up the hill and looked around and I could see the deep green forest. While I ate my energy bar I finally deduced, that sometimes things go well when they are not planed. As I leave this city, I will miss this piece of heaven- a holy cave inside a jungle and amidst eleven million people.

Culture · India · Letters · Sikkim · Travel · World

Dear Snow,

There are three times when I have actually experienced snow fall and every time the experience has been euphoric. I can’t smell you or hold you tight but every time you fall it brings so much joy and warmth in my heart. It is winter time and we are soon moving forward in time for another year.

Changu Lake
Changu Lake

Sikkim

We went to Sikkim with my parents. My mother and I went out to buy some handicrafts from the local store. We were out eating Thupka. Thuupka is an amazing soup which was made by boiling broth of vegetable,chicken and spices together with rice noodles. On chilly winters it is the perfect snack to have. We were sitting on a lawn and my mother pointed at the sky. There were million stars shinning bright. On a no moon night it feels really great to look up at the sky and see the dark shadows of the tress and through them see small specs of light shimmering on a dark blanket. My mother told me that we would be going to Changu Lake the next day and it would be a surprise. I couldn’t think of a better surprise than to see the faint Milky Way glittering right in front of my eyes. I wondered looking at the stars far away what it must be to be like to look from the window of one the planets far above.

My mother knew how much I had enjoyed Badrinath and the snow fakes. As we entered the lake I could see snow walls and I was extremely excited. I couldn’t wait to see the lake. Tucked between the mountains is the beautiful glacial lake. There were Yaks waiting for the tourists. I went with mother and sat in front of the lake. The wind slapped on our face but we could see the cloud descending on the snow clad mountain peaks. My mother took out hot coffee from our flask and we drank it. She made the coffee Irish which made us feel warm. We kept looking at the still water. The lake is considered holy by local Buddhists. I could see the exact reflection of the sky on water. It was as if the sky and earth had become one. It soon started snowing. The beautiful snow flakes kissed the water while we sat looking in wonder around a bonfire. We had all the elements – Water, earth, wind, fire and heart.

India · Travel · World

Dear Starbucks,

South Indian Filter Coffee
South Indian Filter Coffee

I visited your den for the first time when I was in Dubai. Coming from a third world country, I wondered why you were so famous. We were inside a mall and that time we had no idea that malls could be so sophisticated and larger than life. Every material aspect which we had craved for was right there in the Emirates mall.

We had just finished shopping and had bought an LCD TV. It was first flat screen TV with my own money. We had to celebrate. Couple of my friends was looking around for restaurants which would be easy on the pocket. One of my friends discovered Starbucks. We looked at you and smiled broadly. The six of us thought conclusively that this is the place to celebrate.

We forgot the indigence and our situation. I sipped my first cup of café mocha and I did not know that I would soon have rendezvous with you. It cost me two dollars which was about one hundred rupees that time for one cup of coffee. I had collected the paper cup and brought it safely in India. On my trip to America I sat with a friend with a coffee. We talked for hours. Every weekend trip had three cups of cappuccino from the beloved Starbucks. In the age of globalization, it was imperative that  Starbucks had to be in my hometown. I still can’t believe it!

I was passing by my college and saw the Ramji restaurant selling coffee. An impoverished lad was serving coffee from his coffee holder. I went inside and recollected the times when I had the South Indian coffee. I was recollecting the times when we had five rupees in our pockets and went on date; endless hours of conversation, laughs and cigarettes. I saw kids who like us were still doing their last-minute college projects inside the local coffee shop. Every project had markings of coffee spilled on sheets of paper.

Yesterday I went inside Madras Café and I sipped the ten rupee coffee. The smell was still fresh and was made perfectly with use of hands and not machine. It takes talent the way the coffee is made with two cups, pouring coffee from one cup to another, without spilling a single drop. Few of my office friends and college friends came over. Cigarettes, discussions and the mindless observation continued. The caffeine in our systems had made us jaunty. The coffee kept pouring.

I walked past the huge mall and I saw you inside the mall. You looked beautiful as ever and right opposite was the local Anna selling coffee on his bicycle and local biscuits. You will were my first love and aspiration; you always will be. But right now, I need to feel like I just need a cup of warmth. You might be the taste of success but I’ll always come back to the local south Indian coffee makers to get the piquancy of struggle.