Confusions of alone.

IMG_8080Lonely – the heart or the mind? Neither actually, physical loneliness is what I think it boils down to. The heart can be full of love, the mind can be happy with the day, the flower, the circumstance, a book, a movie, the very air.

No one to sit by, no one to turn and smile at, no hand to hold. Physically alone.

Such a happy place to be when you need to make a decision, get up and go, not seek an opinion, not worry about anyone, no one to ask and no one to tell anything at all. So much ease and bliss.IMG_8365

I love travelling alone. You can decide where to go, for how long, what you most want to do there and it’s easy.

I love being home alone, wake, sleep, lounge, grunge, eat, not eat. No answerability.

Perhaps, when you sit in that cafe in the evening, it might be nice to chat about your day, what you each saw – if it was different, or what you each experienced if it was the same. To perhaps discuss what to do the next day. To even share a bad moment or a IMG_8415magical sunset.

Perhaps, wake to a smile, share a breakfast, feel a touch, walk a walk, cuddle a goodnight. Throw a tantrum even.

I actually tend to think alone people would be very good companions to have. Alone people have had lots of time to think, grow and gather experiences. They have leisure to introspect and understand. They have the ability of silence and observation. They have the value for a companion.

Perhaps, I would like to find another alone person to be alone with.IMG_8148

Advertisements

A disappearing grace.

IMG_6017

My  uncle needed some help with his computer, this is how it transpired:

First  his major domo calls the house phone this morning, to enquire if I was awake and free to talk.

Once that was established, he called on my mobile. He explained that he was having some trouble remembering how to do stuff on his computer. Would I please come by and help him when convenient. This came only after the greetings and well beings had been established. No ungracious short cuts.

We fixed on this evening – his question – tea or drinks? I said around 5.30, he laughed and said ‘we will have to see whether that should be late tea or early drinks once you get here.’

I arrived to find him sitting at his table, the computer open and his notebook beside it, with all the issues neatly listed. Ready for me to arrive.

But first of course there was the matter of tea or drinks, which was resolved with tea before we started work and maybe drinks once we finished. ‘The important things in life must come before the mundane.’

His problems were dealt with in short order, he snapped the machine shut and said, ‘well then, time to put on the brothel slippers.’  I have no idea where the bits emerge from till today, I have known him some 58 years, this expression was new.

‘An old cavalry expression for relaxing of an evening’ he said, ‘ an officer did not walk into a brothel beating a drum!’ 

In today’s language they are called ‘desert boots’ probably not even that any longer, but essentially casual ankle high suede shoes with rubber soles. I was so entertained – the vision of cavalry boots thumping up a brothel stairway and the soft tread of the brothel slippers came quite vividly to mind.

I love these moments with the old folk, there is a grace and charm and such perfect courtesy – not to mention the snippets of trivial information that open a window into a world gone by.

The River

IMG_5738I drove across the bridge at Hardwar, and that first sight of the Ganga brightened my heart and set me smiling. It happens every time – the river, the mountains and that forest act like an elixir. The guard at the barrier to Rajaji Park, smiles and waves you through, the road winds through the forest and it feels like old friends welcoming you. Every vista, the trees and the grasses spell home. The old guard at the inner gate who has been there forever, recognises and waves. This time I took the road along the left bank all the way to the Garur Chatti bridge, by passing Rishikesh aswell. How I do love this part of the world and what a beautiful drive it makes with non of the traffic and noise, the perfect way to enter this home stretch after the maddening road conditions all the way from Delhi. Suddenly, it all washes away, the sunlight makes tree shadows dance, the road along the canal brings memories of elephant meetings and butterflies.

Three days at camp – blissful sunshine, the sparkling river with all her familiar nuances and time to stare despite being there to work. It is never work surrounded by that view. I found a new rock and spot to replace the one I lost. Sitting there and talking to the river as in the old days was a healing that has been a long time coming. She was my friend and confidante for so many years and washed away many a care and I thought I had lost the connection. Now as I sit and watch, the cliche of life flowing like a river resounds  – the turbulence, the obstacles, the depths and shallows and all through it, the constant flow. How many, many people before me have thought and said it, and how many more will say it, the point is how many have found wisdom, strength, succour on the banks of how many rivers? This one is just special to me – I think all rivers are special – but the Ganga truly is my friend and I am blessed to still be able to live on her banks whenever I choose.

IMG_5735

Albums and trunks, clearance or remembrance!

OF ALBUMS AND TRUNKS IMG_5699

I thought I would clear some clutter before the new year came in. Little did I think that it was going to be a crying jag of epic proportions.

IMG_5702Trunks: those wonderful things that store everything – I have many – and I thought to get rid of them!! Obviously I didn’t – to start –  it was the girls’ old files – report cards and letters – I was not able to throw out a single one. Then I found an old folder of all the cards that I had kept from my wedding – half those people are gone, but seeing those messages – obviously I just sat there, cried and packed them back into the folder. Backward in time to my own school files and dimmed letters from my grandfather, the ink is faded but the messages remain in that tiny scrawling hand, so many words of wisdom that carried me all this way.

IMG_5646

A dancing Bare Moms

IMG_5647

And dancing parents!

Followed the albums, ancient history, a whole story and so many memories. What a vast family I have, so many, many people that all come together to that one me! It constantly amazes me that I am the only person who has all of these people. Parental doubles, grandparents in quadruples, oh so many aunts, uncles, siblings.

An accident of birth, an accident of circumstance, an accident of plenty yet not any. To belong to so many people, yet to not wholly belong to any – it alternates between a blessing and a craving.

For the longest part of my life I wanted a place and a space that was answerable to none. Today I have it and love it, but, occasionally it throws up that odd alone feeling. This weekend was one such. Do I forget my family or does my family forget me? Probably all in my head and just the memories making me nostalgic and maudlin. 

IMG_5632

A little Maya

IMG_5631

A little Rifq

IMG_5649

Sisters!

IMG_5657

Youth.

School 2

Friends, the dancing ones.

Bombay: Nostalgia and memories

IMG_5544

The Gateway of India

Bombay, for the last few years I have been coming to a different Bombay – what I knew as the suburbs, but where all the young ones, including my daughters live. This time the girls are not here and I am in old haunts and it is a trip down memory lane. Just how much I realised when I was sitting by the window of my beautiful old room in the yacht club, overlooking the Gateway of India and saw the Naval ensign flying off this venerable old building. Obviously I opened the window and tried to peer through the trees to see what was on. That’s when I heard the announcement for the beating retreat ceremony to be held there forthwith. It is a ceremony that I love, with the marching bands and the melodies. Imagine it in this setting, with the backdrop of the harbour and the ships.IMG_5558

I ran down and out into the street to see what I cold see. Naval personnel all over the place, for an instant, I actually thought of going up to the entrance and talking my way in. Then I looked around at the milling throngs and decided I had been in the enclosures often enough. This time I was going to be just one of the crowd peering in.

IMG_5597

The Naval ships lit up

IMG_5561

Helicopter fly past

Found a great vantage point on the median of the road in front of the Taj Hotel. I had to crane my neck to actually see much, but I could hear the music and I could see the colours of the sunset. The helicopters arriving and doing their bit, I realised I didn’t actually have to see any of it, my minds eye relived it all from so many times, but just the fact of being there – in that place at that time. The haunting melody of ‘Abide with Me’ and the naval ships in the harbour turning on their lights. I think all my ‘naval brat’ friends will understand exactly what I mean, there is a poignancy to the whole; pride and a belonging along with a sense of nostalgia.

That this was to occur just the day that I chose to be here, happy chance!

I am now sitting in the bar at the Yacht club, overhearing snippets of sailing conversation, some gentleman trying to get a pretty, scared lady to go sailing. I look around at the memorabilia of sailing lore and think how much I love the sea. I think i shall go sailing one of these days while I am here.

I am so glad I decided to stay here rather than with family and friends. It reiterates for me that thought that comes so often, how being alone can be such a blessed state. Though I would have taken that buggy ride if there had been someone to share it…..so….

IMG_5567

Lit in tricolour

The fortune of my life that throws up these magic moments makes me sure to thank the powers that be for the enchantments.

PS: My photographs are just for story telling not for their great quality!!

The great Taj Mahal Hotel

The great Taj Mahal Hotel

The buggy rides.

The buggy rides.

Bun tikkies and Kwality toffees

IMG_5515Next year we will have known each other for 50 years. We joined school as little girls with pigtails, today even our daughters are out of pigtails, yet we are still able to revert to that childhood and share the same laughter – it is the spa of friendship – which we revisit every year.

We shared the growing years, then grew apart to work, to nurture families and all the stuff that life involves. Some 6 years ago we all connected again to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the old school. Some of us had been in touch in bits and starts, some had been very far away, but that meeting probably came right at the time that it was meant to, we needed the reconnection and we needed that crazy bond that keeps us soaring.

We have spent the last few days together doing nothing in our very own spa full of healthy, home grown food, healthy oils and unguents – red henna and black henna experiments, mad stories and madder laughter. The old trees and gardens of a wholly quirky home allow for wallowing in the sunshine, the whole package allows for a rejuvenation of the soul with the sharing of every bitty, silly story and the whole hearted support of friends that will never judge.

Just how lucky were we that the parents left us at those grey gates to form these relationships that so importantly carry us happily through life.

The written and the read.

photo_70
I received the most touching mail wishing me well with my new found love.
However, my little anecdote is not about a one love, but the discovery that I still have the capacity to throw my heart over a windmill and perhaps not worry about whether it lands in the right place. Just experience the emotion and the euphoria of doing it, without counting the cost – and most importantly the discovery that the cost is not what matters at all. It is the enjoyment of the feeling; whether it is fleeting or lasting must be left in the hands of the Gods.
I say that quite deliberately, because the moment you start to anticipate the where, what, how, what if ? It’s finished, it’s lost, the euphoria is gone. All those human things will creep in, the doubt, the uncertainty, the wanting, the needing, to have, to hold. With that dissapears the essence of that pure, soaring flight. Why would you want to do that? Also that is what prevents you from throwing that heart over in the first place. Caught for a moment, caught forever, who knows?  If one does it often enough maybe it will entwine with another such floating feeling and fly forever.
Also the learning that no matter what the age, love feels very much the same, there may not be as much angst to it with experience, because perhaps you, like me, can discover it to be a many splendoured thing, but it can be as silly, as electrifying, as embarrasing and as euphoric at 18 and at perhaps 80.
So in short, no my friend, I still have not found the man who will walk beside me and I wasn’t even looking. But now I think, if I can risk it then perhaps there is somewhere out there ‘The Passionate Shephard’ type of man who will risk saying those magic words too.