The Guide


It was a hazy February morning. And we found ourselves free for the day. One of us had a car, and the rest of us made ourselves comfortable in it. We decided to visit the zoo. When we reached, our eyes fell on a huge stone wall. We forgot about the zoo, and decided to explore this imposing structure.

We didn’t know exactly where we were, but the main entrance was nowhere in sight. We located an opening in the fence, running along the perimeter of the complex. A narrow dusty path lay between the thick stone walls, and the fence along the main road. There was perhaps room only for two or three people to walk. We followed the path.

A group of college students were walking ahead of us. And it was only after a while, that we realised that a stray dog had been following us since the time we had entered. We paused, and the dog passed us by.

The path split into two, one of which, descended towards a lake. We resumed our walk along the narrow path next to the stone walls. The path was on higher ground, and we could see the lake beyond the trees.

We climbed down to catch a glimpse of birds on the lake. When we returned to the path, we found the dog waiting for us. It wanted to catch our attention. And it succeeded.

Our focus shifted from the monument, to the dog. We paused, and the dog paused as well.

It walked up a stone step, and looked into one of the openings in the wall. It knew we were watching its movements. So this time, we were waiting for it. It stood still, while one of us took a photograph. Once the photo-session was over, it walked ahead.

Meanwhile, the group of students walking ahead of us had turned back. We realised why, when we hit a dead end. There was a stone wall ahead of us, the lake was gone, and there was a thick cluster of trees in its place. Our friend, the dog, casually walked into this ‘forest’. On an impulse, we decided to follow it.

We climbed down the cliff, and reached the bottom. It was marshy, but our friend guided us along a thin strip of solid ground. At the end of the ascent, we found ourselves at the magnificent, towering entrance of the Old Fort!

After our initial amazement, we turned around.

Our guide was long gone…

The Guide
The Guide

Photo By Anand – used without permission (but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind :))

The Bouquet


She had been uprooted from her home, decorated to highlight her appealing petals, and given away to indifferent people. In her new ‘home’, she sat quietly in a corner, waiting to be noticed.

Her new family did not appreciate her. They had seen many more like her, and like all the others, she would be abandoned. The garbage collector would pick her up, and she would spend the rest of her short life along with plastics and other alien creatures.

She looked absolutely beautiful. And at the same time, she looked sad. We noticed her head looking towards the ground. She was tired, and disappointed. We decided to adopt her.

We peeled away the pins and wires that surrounded her, and even as I offered her water, some of her delicate petals gave way.

Free from the shackles, and getting a little care, she felt lighter. Was there a hint of a smile? She still missed her home. Nothing could replace that, but now, she hoped she could spend the rest of her days in peace.

Hanging Around!


I’ve mentioned a few times, my love for ‘junk’. Here’s something that we hang around with everyday ūüôā The shells here, have been collected, and passed down, over three generations! Hope you enjoy ūüôā

Related posts:
Somewhere beyond the sea
Old habits die hard
A few of my favourite things

Mango Leaves


Everyone loves mangoes – have it fresh, in pickles, chutneys, salads, shakes, juices, puddings… Even designers love them. The mango motif lends itself to endless adaptations, and can be embellished on almost everything. But the leaves of this tree often do not get the same sort of limelight.

Mango leaves are considered sacred, and are hung at the doorstep of houses on auspicious occasions. Some of the reasons, that I have heard, are warding off negative energy, keeping insects away, and for prosperity.

This past week, India celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi. Our humble mango leaves made their appearance for the pooja. Here’s my attempt to photograph them. It was my first attempt at shooting in the full manual mode, and what better subject to start with ūüôā

Letter To Unniyarcha


I suppose,
Somewhere in Heaven,

18 September 2012

Dear Unniyarcha,

I hope you don’t mind the informal salutation. Even though we have never met, somehow, I feel that you would not mind being addressed in this manner. I have heard about you, though I must admit, my knowledge is rather limited.

Last week, I began taking part in the weekly writing challenge. For this week, I decided to write a letter to you. Let me introduce myself. I live in the 21st century. My home is several miles away from where you lived, but both our homes are part of the same country. We no longer have kings and queens, but we still have wars. The conflicts in our society are very similar to the conflicts during your lifetime.

You are a source of great inspiration to me, and over the past several months, I have been busy trying to create something – based on you. I am writing to you, because I wish to share my vision with you.

In your time, there were sculptors and painters who created such wonderful works of art, puppeteers who breathed life into inanimate objects, magicians who created wonderful illusions, actors, dancers and musicians who recreated dramas on stage. In our time, we still have these art forms, but some people have invented new media, and many of these wonderful arts can be performed within something called a ‘computer’.

I am still a student, and trying to learn new things. In my school, I tried to implement what I learnt, to create a character. If you were to be reborn, in our times, this is what I believe you might be. A seemingly ordinary girl – but one who has an extensive knowledge of Kalaripayattu. Simple, confident, friendly, strong and respected.

I had a rather tough time, and at times I felt rather unpleasant, wondering if I could really conquer the challenge I had set for myself. I took up sole responsibility, and in hindsight, I think it was not a very wise thing to do. Nevertheless, I accomplished a part of what I set out to do. The character has her flaws, and will probably always remain a work-in-progress – aren’t all humans! But I am satisfied with what I managed.

I hope someday she gets to meet you, and gets an opportunity to learn something from you. I thank you for patiently reading this letter. I hope it wasn’t much of an inconvenience. I am enclosing some photographs of the girl. I hope you like them.

yours truly,

Kasturika

* * *

Unniyarcha is a popular legendary warrior, believed to have lived in the 16th century. She was an expert at wielding the Urumi.

Urumi is a long sword made of flexible steel, sharp enough to cut into flesh, but flexible enough to be rolled into a tight coil. It is dangerous to the opponents and wielders alike, and requires great agility and skill to master.

Kalaripayattu is one of the oldest fighting systems in existence. It is believed that the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma travelled from the southern part of India and taught martial arts to the monks at Shaolin Temple. The origin of Shaolin Kung Fu is attributed to the ancient Indian martial art systems.

Source : Wikipedia

In Search Of A Voice


At the beginning of the week, I thought I would try my hand at this week’s writing challenge… I’ve been wanting to write about my favourite author for such a long time. But it’s been a rather busy week… Perhaps I’ll write about that some other time. For now, I present to you… Mr Bond, Ruskin Bond.

The Night Train At Deoli

I read short stories by Ruskin Bond as a child. A collection of such stories, was the very first book that I asked my parents to buy for me.

Even when I was well into my adolescence, and adulthood, I continued to read, and re-read his stories. This of course makes me wonder if I’ve really grown up… But that is a different matter.

Ruskin Bond’s stories,¬†at least the ones I have read, have often been about personal experiences. My favourite ones are those where the author writes as the main protagonist, and narrates events in first person. Filled with nostalgia, the stories portray a wide range of emotions. The author weaves such beautiful stories around everyday events.

‘The Night Train At Deoli and other stories’ is my all time favourite – which is one of the books that I exchanged¬†¬†with my friend. I’ve always wondered if I inadvertently write in a similar manner. But even though¬†Ruskin Bond’s stories have left a huge impact on me, I will not dare say that I write in a similar style – no one can.

Most of what I have written, is based on my experiences. ¬†Strictly speaking, I do not write fiction, and I know that I do not write factual accounts of everything. In fact, this blog was never intended for writing! I had a few images that I wanted to post¬†on-line¬†– so that I could share them with people more easily. I’m not an artist or a photographer.¬†I’m not a dedicated writer, and I have no specific topic on which I write.

As I write this post, I am left wondering what my blog is really about. Perhaps one day, I will figure out what exactly I’m trying to do. Then, perhaps the blog will be a lot more organised than it is right now.

Until then, I will continue searching for my voice.

Dear reader, if you have any thoughts regarding what it is that I write about, please help me organise this little space. What do you think this blog is all about?

Teacher’s Day Out


Today is Teachers’ Day in India – in honour of Dr¬†S Radhakrishnan. In the small primary school that my mother volunteers, the children come from poor* families, and are often ill behaved. While most of the other teachers resort to beating the children into being quiet, she doesn’t believe in beating the kids. As a result, managing them, is a nightmare for my mother. Along with the politics of the management and back-biting from other teachers, the kids were at least partially responsible for my mother falling sick this past week.

After a prolonged absence from work, when she went back to school, the children greeted her with flowers and cards. One little present stood out. The most mischievous child had made a box out of paper. Coloured with crayons, decorated with ‘chamki‘ **, complete with a ‘ribbon’ – it was simple and charming.

When I was in school, one of my teacher’s ¬†said, ¬†“Every person I meet, is a teacher to me…”
Here’s wishing all my teachers, a happy Teachers’ Day!

*poor Рthe term poor here refers not merely to the financial status of the students.  Most of the families earn a decent income. They live in bad localities, and their behaviour is often unruly.

** chamki –¬†sequins