Daughters and dreams

I have dreamt about it, my daughter has done it. Packed up her custom made flat in Bombay to move to Goa.photo

She has the most charming little house with a huge sit out verandah which is her living area, looking out on a motley garden with old trees. A typical old goan house with tiled roofs, open spaces it all feels exactly like what I always wanted, my camp turned into a bit of house. This is what Rifq is now living in and she is so happy, and the whole deal makes me utterly blissful.image

I arrived to see these twinkling candles lighting up the most beautiful space. My little daughter sitting there, reading of all things, the Mahabharath. I don’t know where they came so smart from. Tucked away in a quiet corner of Goa, hidden by old trees, she is sitting outside on her dining table to work, to eat, to be.

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I who never asked my children to live my dreams, find them doing so all on their own. Motivates me to live them too. My trouble is I don’t know which I want to live first – live in Florence and learn Italian, live in Buenos Aires and learn the Tango, go to Alaska to kayak or go to the Antartica to see the penguins and the Aurora Australis?

At the moment I am enjoying a weekend with both my girls, laughing madly, fixing Rifq’s garden and being happy with my intrepid adventurers.

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Of bubbles and glee!

In continuation and conclusion: I met a man ….. and then he went.

But that euphoria – the sparkle in the eye, the bubble of glee in the throat ready to break into a chuckle of remembrance – all of that stays. Songs are more melodious, the trees are brighter and the breeze lifts your heart. What a tonic this thing is.

Why? What do you call it? Science says endorphins, brain synapse, chemical reactions or whatever. Most call it love or more realistically infatuation, ok let’s stay romantic and say an itty bitty love. Is it the giving of love, the receiving of love, the excitement of discovery, liking being liked?

I have a super life, great children, many people to love and be loved by, a lovely home, work that makes me happy. Not a thing that I can say is missing. I don’t even have a man growing old next to me, needing reminding of pills or whatever, and I do like the songs and the trees and the breeze does still lift my heart anyway.  Yet a man can come along and make the blood sing and the feet dance.

How long does that last if you keep the man? (or the woman in reverse, I am quite certain it works both ways.) That’s such an awful question, but it’s real. Some have it, the books say soul mates or old connections. Or the fact that you work it. And the whole world looks for it, writes, sings, dreams, cries for it. Obviously, look how bright it makes the day!

I think it is just a bit of magic that one needn’t question at all. It should happen every so often. I like that singing, dancing feeling.

Of morality and pre owned cars!

I met a man. He looked at me with deep, intense eyes and looked and looked.  I smiled, I shifted, I perhaps even blushed, I squirmed, I shifted, smiled some more and moved away.

Uneasy! you bet. He looked some more, I squirmed some more. It’s the pursuer and the pursued, at some point you succumb, you chat, you laugh, you walk together you talk. There is an attraction – what is it? The fact that you enjoy the feeling of being wanted or the fact that it is actually an interesting man? Whatever, the actual fact in the forefront of the mind is that he is not free. Yet you are behaving like that puppy on the road, slowly being enticed toward that stroking hand – lord what a laugh, and you are watching yourself in glee waiting to see what you will do – it is an enjoyment of the forbidden and you don’t know the end. It’s like a drama unfolding all of your own making.

It is a taboo, a no no, for what reason? A sisterhood thing – you do not betray the sisterhood.  My best friend says ‘what nonsense, you are not betraying anyone, it’s not your business, why are you doing the thinking for someone else?’ Another says ‘ They don’t call them used or second hand any longer – the politically correct term is pre owned – that makes re owning better?

But it’s a rule I have – the whole damn thing makes for sleaze and hiding and the whole purpose of an attraction is to enjoy the damn thing – how do you do that if you are in hiding?

So, perhaps no. Then you spend more time and realise, hello, not just nice to be pursued, it’s a very interesting pursuer. So, you happily spend the time. You think; a flirtation, a jaunt, a moment in time.

Then you think some more – are you capable of loving many people, yes, so why is not another capable of the same. And then you think some more – you have not made a vow to love just one etc etc. You are not pre owned – so is it alright? At this point your brain starts to get fried and nothing destroys the equilibrium more than a fried brain. And nothing should destroy the equilibrium.

Quit out thinking – it is a moment in time. You meet a kindred spirit for a fraction of life, you enrich some portion of it for each other and keep the memory for rereading like a good book. Morality thy name is convenience in a used car lot!!

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Attractions and other ailments.

I met a man. I have met many and there are all sorts, so why did this start me thinking? Because I thought I had a type that attracts me and that is what I should stick with, else it does not work. Which brings me to the fact that I have been unstuck for the longest time!

I have been trying to sift this thought for the last 2 weeks. Attraction; what constitutes it? I am speaking now from purely my own perspective. I always thought, that for me the physicality was of supreme importance. That may sound hugely shallow, but that is what I truly thought my criteria was. Tall, dark and handsome, straight out of that teenage ‘Mills & Boon’. Stereotypical perhaps, but that is what attracted me. Dark, not dark, tall, was an absolute essential – see – the men in my family are large – that is my perspective of the species. You get smothered in a hug, that huge arm comes around you and the world becomes a safe place….!

Just one of those men - my brother Hari.

Just one of those men in my family – my brother Hari.

Having said that, I married a man that my grandmother called a ‘pocket edition’. His mind however was huge, he was my best friend and I miss that still – because obviously with my stupid predilection for the other type, this lovely, gentle man with immense patience and a zany sense of humour and huge smarts, had no chance with a mad, maverick, person who needed to fly. But he is the one man that I still think of, respect and for all intents and purposes he has been the only man in my life.

Uff! that needs clarification – he is the only man that I acknowledge as an important part of my life. I have not been a nun, nor am I discounting the men that have participated in my life, made impressions,liaisons that have taught many lessons – all of those exist. But if I talk about a man in my life it is only ever that huge mind in a relatively smaller person.

So why do I believe that what attracts me is the tall, dark and handsome? Because I have come to see that as an ailment – a purely physical desirable object – nice to look at, nice to feel, nice to be on the arm of – but truly not necessarily nice at all. Many times just a block that functions on the good looks. Mostly self absorbed and so conscious of their attractions that they almost always feel they can do better than what they have – till they either find someone as dumb as themselves or find all the nice girls taken by those nice, smart, not so overtly good looking guys.

I am talking men here because being a woman that is the experience I have. That does not take away from the fact that as an observant woman I have seen the same syndrome repeat itself in the male psyche too. Infact it is larger than life there – how many men could you tell me, would actually go for the smart, intelligent, self assured woman? Oops! Is that really what you want, she will argue, she will challenge, she may not cook, she probably won’t pick up your socks – why would you want her? For conversation? You have the guys.

Now the question is for the women – the men have it pretty figured already. (There are exceptions and I do know men who want to walk beside their women – few, but they exist).

Do you go for that interesting man with the stimulating conversation, who can make you laugh, who  wants to take care of you, because he does value you and will try to please. But dear lord, he is small and not so good looking. He gets hidden in a large crowd, but when he starts conversing, the crowd maybe converges. Do you notice that? Or does that dreamy looking guy over there, standing over everyone and giving you the once over before he strolls across, make your heart flutter because he chooses you and so all eyes follow?

I came to the conclusion a while ago, that for me, the macho male energy is a repellent. It clashes with me and I so am not willing to have it in my life. I thought I could never have a man in my life on a permanent basis.  But I still ailed with the thought that the physical was an important point for me. How fixed one thinks one’s ideas are and yet a split second can change them or make you realize that you just thought you had them.

I learned what, obviously, my subconscious always knew – the mind attracts me more than the body. Though if the mind comes in a bit of a hunk, I am not running.

Men in plenty.

That describes the fact that there were plenty of them and all with plenty as I soon gathered.

IMG_5204I am leading an offroad driving trip into my favourite mountains, this time the group comprises of 19  gentlemen, and I do mean gentlemen. They are a group who travel to various parts of the world together and they are pleased to be pleased, unhassled, unhurried and really very charming and I have the privelege of driving the car in front and making sure they do not stray too far!

I met them for breakfast in Amritsar, they came with me to the Golden Temple in pouring rain – wading through mud and puddles, awe struck by the gleaming gold reflecting in the gunmetal grey water, even more awed by the ‘langar’ and the hordes, eating, cleaning, chopping, cooking. All of this in still pouring rain. The fact that they were the only people wearing water proofs, while all of the masses seemed to not only, not feel the rain, they did not even look particularly bed raggled, amazed them.

The rather horrendous, loud and unceremonious Wagah border ceremony they totally loved – with it’s noise, colour and cheering hordes. They had the enthusiasm to go back to the Har Mandir Sahib again after dinner and they had only arrived very early that morning. To pack in so much in that day was what amazed me about them.

The next day we started our drive on the highway to Dharamsala. I, being used to the ‘Queens’ (large groups of Israeli women who did a series of driving trips in India), was prepared to drive at a snails pace, talk them through every truck overtaking and such like, was so pleasantly surprised to find myself being followed at a merry clip. They very competently overtook trucks, quickly followed my lead of driving on whichever side was convenient – all in all it was a great ride and their tour leader Zev is a large, easy, unruffled man to work with.

I am receiving pendants, chains and rings, caps, keychains and myriad little gifts. I drop a key and don’t need to bend – they treat me like a precious thing and I am pretty much walking on air with so much positively delicious attention.

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We have driven many roads and seen much and are now in my favouritist holiday destination – Raju’s home in Goshaini. Zev, and even I, had a vague doubt as to how these rather posh gentlemen were going to adjust to Goshaini. They are so enchanted with it, that they don’t want to leave. I am so very happy – some have even expressed the desire to stay here for a month.

We have some characters in the group and the largest of them is Dr.B. He is a tall, lanky man who wears pink shorts with a red t- shirt and a blue shirt over it – his wispy white hair blows in different directions, he walks like a camel and gets lost every time we stop. He wants to talk to every person on the street. He joins the village children at their assembly and he tells long, disjointed and purely hilarious stories. He is also a brilliant cardiologist.

Boas at assembly in my bad photo.

Assembly in my bad photo.

Then there is the delightful,  tough man with such a gentle heart and a desire for peace and time to stare. He makes jewellery. How strange is it that in my life I have met two men who are hard core soldiers, tough and strong and they both make jewellery? One was in the French Foreign Legion and this one was a SEAL in the Israeli army.

A, is the man that puts his group of friends together and they travel, he has energy, zest, the charm of a hundred and the ability to win people – obviously that is why they travel with him.

There is A2, the brother of A, a magnetic person with a big aura – he does many things, enjoys diverse interests and wants all of life. A man of intense thought and passion. I have to say he draws me, there is so much I find akin to myself in him.

There are the  other Doctors,  lovely, lovely men – one left Argentina to live in Israel, the other, is a doctor and a lawyer – how long did the man study to achieve both? and what amazing minds does it take to not only want to do both, but to actually do so.

There are myriad others, who I am unable to list because of the exhausting day we had today. But each one of them is smart, erudite, successful and so very likeable. That they are a group that enjoys each other is evident, that they like to have fun combined with discovery is rather wonderful.IMG_5244

We stop for a pee at least twenty times a day and when we do, their bottles of booze come out, with these tiny shot glasses to cheer being together, seeing a double rainbow or just for the fact that they are on holiday. Then the singing starts – so every pee stop is a long halt and we spend double the time on the road, half of it moving and the other half standing still. Every interesting village needs a halt, every rainbow needs a photo – their travel is the way travel should be.

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Now, I get to our drive today – up to Jalori from Raju’s, through Banjaar quite easily – up on Jalori  with fog, tea and vodka – then starts a drizzle – obviously we are taking the Shuad road, since we haven’t given them any real off roading so far – so down we turn, and for an instant, it is in my mind to say – lets just take the basic route, it is bad enough. But I don’t and we go on. Then the rain comes in a deluge, the road starts to flow exposing rocks and creating little rivers, this adds up to stone stairways, mud and long, slippery stretches of following the ruts, maybe grazing your bottom, or going all over in slushy slides – thinking the edge is far to close.IMG_5270

All in all, I think the concentration of that road and then driving more small roads ahead exhausted everyone today. So we are rethinking the rest of this tour – lets see what develops to conclude this very interesting journey.

All we did today was that hair raising drive up Hatu Peak, which all the little Maruti’s do with complete aplomb! It was superb, the temple is complete and quite beautiful, the Pandit is a knowledgeable young man and actually said the prayers while I sat there – before all the men came in and took photographs. It is a beautiful drive to a spectacular spot and I was too busy to take a photograph.

Then we drove the highway to Kufri and took the road through the woods to the stately, decrepit, Palace of Chail. It is such a marvellously, beautiful old building, the manager is a delightful lady who tries to make it most comfortable and does, at least for me. But it is such a travesty of a palace. As A2, very rightly said, ‘this is meant to be a royal dining hall, and it feels like a staff mess!’ The highlight of the place is the monkeys, who try and get into the rooms, certainly get into your car if you leave the door open even for a bit. Are bold enough to jump onto your table, steal your food and run. The other highlight was the discovery of A3’s magic hands – he gives the most amazing massage and I was the happy benefactor of it. He is a gentle man with a lovely smile and though we are probably as akin as chalk and cheese, I like him very much.

Teaching the pulley guys how to do it best.

Teaching the pulley guys how to do it best.

Today was my last day with what I am now calling my gang of men. The drive from Chail to Chandigarh was uneventful, we forded the river at Sadhupul to add a little excitement, stopped to check out the small train at Kandaghat

Boys and trains.

Boys and trains.

Fording the river at Sadhupul

Fording the river at Sadhupul

– had lunch at Gyani’s dhaba and drove in a convoy of cars and trucks – slowly to Chandigarh. The hotel was a disaster – no twin rooms, mattresses on the floor – so much rubbish at the end of a great trip. But these are really people who know what the important things in life are, certainly not worth losing your equilibrium over a shared bed or some such, and so it was all sorted and I have had my last dinner surrounded by all my most favourite guys of the moment.

This morning I have received a heartwarming farewell – the catch to which was: though they enjoyed having me on the trip and I showed them all the lovely roads – these are meant to be all male trips and they do not want to have to explain what a woman was doing on it!! I think they should delete all evidence of me immediately, though I would be more than happy to join their gang of men. Also why they are alphabets and serial numbers.

It's another toast

It’s another toast

It has been for me a marvellous trip, with so much enjoyment in meeting people who are my age and older – fit, well, smart, learning all the time – so much to discuss and talk about. The travels that they put together, the explorations they plan and enjoy –  I could relate so very well. It was for me like a new discovery – so many people who like to do the things I do – the catch is – the man thing. The wonder is they are friends and do these amazing trips together. I love being a woman, but, I would like to join this gang.