Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Soft Rain... And Renewed Hope.

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Summer's just started to turn up the heat on us...and already I am in the mood for rain... Not the pouring torrents that stop everyone in their tracks and bring cities to a halt, but I long for the soft drizzles, the bright greens, the washed skies and brand new life.

There is this nice little poem I found online...

There Will Come Soft Rains
- Sara Teasdale

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Yes, no one would notice us gone... not a bird will sing us a dirge… the sun would still burn… and the earth would still spin… the stars would sparkle on and would still give the moon twinkling company.

I want to stop and watch… before it is too late.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Armchair Traveler: Destination Morocco (Marrakesh)

What is it that my travel dreams always lure me to Africa… is it some ethereal, spiritual pull towards the cradle of civilization? Or is it my Wilbur Smith novels induced and National Geographic fed imagination running wild in my sub-conscious? I know not what it is…but I thoroughly enjoy these wonderful armchair sojourns to these beautiful places. And I make it a point to note them down in my travel diary… waiting for that moment when I get the opportunity to drag my sweetheart and his camera to these wonderful destinations.

It all started with a lovely Moroccan lamp which I saw in the Friday market here (in Kuwait) some time ago. The dreamer in me immediately was spinning tales about the history of the lamp and how it got to the flea market… this trait in me is something my schooling has cultivated in me… mainly the Hindi lectures and exams where we were to write essays on the aatmakatha (autobiography) of some non-living object.

I don’t know why but when I close my eyes and drift in to the Moroccan world, the first image I see is that of an ornate sandstone structure with a bright blue door… maybe it has to do something with the number of pics about Morocco I have seen…all with houses with beautifully decorated facades and bright blue doors. The color blue repels evil… and a blue door should keep all those evil spirits from entering your abode. I wish life was that simple.

But as I enter through those ornate blue doors, I pass in to another world… a sea of orange and caramel sands… undulating dunes stretching as far as the eye can see. Like a dream in a dream, I sleep-walk through the winding valleys formed by the sand dunes, the morning sun glinting on the sand and the rising heat causing shimmering mirages… of a wispy camel caravan led by men and women in colorful robes and headgear. As I move closer the mirage is dispelled to show tanned, wrinkled but bright and happy faces of the Bedouins. Their camels loaded with Moroccan treasures… beautifully crafted metal and glass lamps, lovely rugs and carpets and silver jewelry, hookahs and other treats and trinkets. It all seems straight out of an Arabian Nights’ story which it well might be.

Walking with the caravan as far as the market place, the desert turns in to an oasis… a riot of bright colors… the shamianas that provide the shade and a place for the tribes-people to sell their wares. The colorful yurts that are provided for a weary traveler to rest are decorated wonderfully enough to suit any Saladin (I don’t think he has any links with Morocco…well, his loss, I might add). I am lost among the riches.

On the horizon sandstone and mud houses form an intriguing skyline… it is evening… the setting sun once again turns the sand to gold… alchemy before your eyes. The night falls with a different sort of alchemy… the gold turning to silver… a silver moon watching over silver sands.

It is time to wake up now.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Of Heartaches And Homesickness...

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It has been eleven months since I have landed in Kuwait… and I have survived. Doesn’t sound like much of an achievement, does it? I know it doesn’t, but to me it is. From the hustle and bustle, the happening life of Mumbai to a much laid back lifestyle in Kuwait, it has been a herculean task to adjust…And no… I am yet to find that much needed equilibrium.

For an outsider it would seem to be a joke if I say that life in Kuwait is not fun. What lacks? Don’t we have everything here… loads of dispensable money, everything money can buy and more. Hmmm… yeah, we have all that here... but yet, I miss the pulse of life here. The excitement that is there even in the mundane when I am in Mumbai… that heartbeat of a city which keeps it alive is missing here. You find a tiny bit of that in Kuwait City, but it is no match for what I am accustomed to.
But, this ain’t a crib-fest against Kuwait; rather it is the pining of my heart for my home, my Mumbai! It just happens that when anyone points out one awesome thing after the other in this beautiful desert-land; in my mind I can picture something better in Mumbai… always!

There was a time when people used to flock to the ‘Gulf’ – the term given to the Middle East, in search of its vast non-taxable riches. But now, the Gulf is in the midst of an economic slowdown…we all saw Dubai lose some of its lustre. Kuwait has never been in your face or over the top or flashy, but it still is one of the richest countries in the area and well, in the world too… somewhere in the top Ten! But, the fact that it is has more sober and subtle roots maybe the reason that it does not appeal to the young crowd or the Generation Next as we call ourselves. The religion and culture in Kuwait though not as strict as in its neighbor are still far from forgiving.

Today, in spite of the pull of money and the promise of a luxurious future I still find it extremely difficult to curb the urge to return to India, to the city of my dreams, Mumbai! And, the argument against all those who tell me that I am throwing away a bright future is that money to me is a well-balanced income which I would easily get in Mumbai and luxury to me is being in the city I love, the city of my birth and being close to my loved ones. I cannot think of a better future than settling down in the concrete jungle of Mumbai in a 3-BHK flat overlooking the at times rowdy, at times serene sea… with the music of the never sleeping city buzzing in my ears.
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