Storying Happiness

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My love for stories started with my nani (maternal grandmother) who had an impressive and varied repertoire up her sleeve. While bed time stories such as the one coming up below  were a staple of all younger days spent with her, anecdotes from her childhood in Bareilly, stories of the independence struggle,her married life in Lucknow and Bombay and scores of other snippets formed large parts of the days I spent with her.

Graduating from the verbal to the written when older and encouraged by a family of readers (nani included), I made lifelong friends with books early on. Like the story narrated, I re-read the favourites often and have been known to buy a couple of copies extra because you know…can’t lose them!

And a step ahead -cinema and radio programmes too are part of the various ways I enjoy storytelling.Radio-well AIR way back, used to enact plays.And recently, it is Nilesh Mishra who I occasionally tune into and enjoy.

So auditory, written, still, moving and telling-stories form a large part of who I am.

Today then, on the International Day of Storytelling, World Sparrow Day and the International Day of Happiness, this tale told to me by nani, about a sparrow, which made for a very happy memory, seemed a good idea to share.

The Sparrow and the Carpenter

A carpenter used to work below a tree in which a sparrow couple had their nest. They were called Gaurva ji and Gauraiyya.

One day, while the husband, Gaurvaji was out collecting food, Gauaiyya was cleaning up her nest and inadvertently the dropping from there fell on the carpenter. The carpenter got very annoyed and despite Gauraiyya’s repeated apologies, refused to calm down. In his anger, he threw a piece of wood at her, which hit her and she fell dead from the tree.

When Gaurva ji returned with the day’s rations, he searched high and low for Gauraiyya, and got increasingly worried when he was unable to. When he found her lifeless under the tree, Gaurva ji became very sad. He asked the carpenter what had happened and upon hearing the tale, he also got very angry with the carpenter.

Sobbing angrily, he stomped off, wanting to teach him a lesson.

He came across a match box who asked him why he was crying. On listening to his story, the matchbox said it would help him and joined him on his way.

A little further, he met four frogs, who in turn were told the story. They too wanted to help.

Thus, Gaurva hitched them to the matchbox and made a cart and rode on…

Some peas on the ground asked…

“Where are you headed Gaurva ji?”

(गौरवा जी गौरवा जी कहाँ चले?)

He replied…

A matchbox and frogs four,

I head towards my home.

A carpenter harmed Gauraiyya,

I want to settle the score.

(The original rhyme in Hindi goes:

चटक मटक की गाड़ी बनाई

मेढक जोते चार

बढ़ई ने गौरैय्या मारी

बदला लेने जाऊँ.)

 

Prickly thorns further up stopped him to ask where he was going:

A matchbox and frogs four,

I head towards my home.

A carpenter harmed Gauraiyya,

I want to settle the score.

 

Moved at the tragic story and they became part of Gaurva’s journey too.

Thus supported and prepared, Gaurva reached the carpenter, who tried to flee as he saw their arrival.

Gaurva threw the peas on the ground and the carpenter slipped on them and fell. As he tried again, the thorns were thrown on his path and he got injured with their prickliness. The frogs, in the meantime, jumped up and down on him and added to his woes.

The carpenter pleaded for forgiveness and admitted that he had acted hastily. He carved out a wooden “Gauraiyya” which magically turned real as Gaurva ji held her. Thrilled with this, Gaurva ji accepted his apology and also thanked his new friends, who had come to his aid.

He and the new Gauraiyya lived in their nest and the carpenter, continued working below the same tree, though now calmer, having learnt his lesson.

‘Tolerance, peaceful coexistence and kindness make for a magical, happier world.”

_______________________________________________________________

I am told that I listened to this story repeatedly for days on end, yet delighted every time in the चटक मटक rhyme. The concept of hitching frogs to a matchbox and riding off must have appealed even then, my sense of craziness!

And while on crazy, I hail from a family of great spinners of yarns and tall tales and those make for some great, uproarious laughter inducing listening.So stories are part of the old gene pool!Add to that the skill of attracting great narrators and wordsmiths as friends and life is so filled with varied kisse-kahanis and thus much khushi!

Perhaps it’s time I knit some of those yarns into a semblance of stories and share the warmth.

Share yours too?

 

 

Storying Happiness

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My love for stories started with my nani (maternal grandmother) who had an impressive and varied repertoire up her sleeve. While bed time stories such as the one coming up below  were a staple of all younger days spent with her, anecdotes from her childhood in Bareilly, stories of the independence struggle,her married life in Lucknow and Bombay and scores of other snippets formed large parts of the days I spent with her.

Graduating from the verbal to the written when older and encouraged by a family of readers (nani included), I made lifelong friends with books early on. Like the story narrated, I re-read the favourites often and have been known to buy a couple of copies extra because you know…can’t lose them!

And a step ahead -cinema and radio programmes too are part of the various ways I enjoy storytelling.Radio-well AIR way back, used to enact plays.And recently, it is Nilesh Mishra who I occasionally tune into and enjoy.

So auditory, written, still, moving and telling-stories form a large part of who I am.

Today then, on the International Day of Storytelling, World Sparrow Day and the International Day of Happiness, this tale told to me by nani, about a sparrow, which made for a very happy memory, seemed a good idea to share.

The Sparrow and the Carpenter

A carpenter used to work below a tree in which a sparrow couple had their nest. They were called Gaurva ji and Gauraiyya.

One day, while the husband, Gaurvaji was out collecting food, Gauaiyya was cleaning up her nest and inadvertently the dropping from there fell on the carpenter. The carpenter got very annoyed and despite Gauraiyya’s repeated apologies, refused to calm down. In his anger, he threw a piece of wood at her, which hit her and she fell dead from the tree.

When Gaurva ji returned with the day’s rations, he searched high and low for Gauraiyya, and got increasingly worried when he was unable to. When he found her lifeless under the tree, Gaurva ji became very sad. He asked the carpenter what had happened and upon hearing the tale, he also got very angry with the carpenter.

Sobbing angrily, he stomped off, wanting to teach him a lesson.

He came across a match box who asked him why he was crying. On listening to his story, the matchbox said it would help him and joined him on his way.

A little further, he met four frogs, who in turn were told the story. They too wanted to help.

Thus, Gaurva hitched them to the matchbox and made a cart and rode on…

Some peas on the ground asked…

“Where are you headed Gaurva ji?”

(गौरवा जी गौरवा जी कहाँ चले?)

He replied…

A matchbox and frogs four,

I head towards my home.

A carpenter harmed Gauraiyya,

I want to settle the score.

(The original rhyme in Hindi goes:

चटक मटक की गाड़ी बनाई

मेढक जोते चार

बढ़ई ने गौरैय्या मारी

बदला लेने जाऊँ.)

 

Prickly thorns further up stopped him to ask where he was going:

A matchbox and frogs four,

I head towards my home.

A carpenter harmed Gauraiyya,

I want to settle the score.

 

Moved at the tragic story and they became part of Gaurva’s journey too.

Thus supported and prepared, Gaurva reached the carpenter, who tried to flee as he saw their arrival.

Gaurva threw the peas on the ground and the carpenter slipped on them and fell. As he tried again, the thorns were thrown on his path and he got injured with their prickliness. The frogs, in the meantime, jumped up and down on him and added to his woes.

The carpenter pleaded for forgiveness and admitted that he had acted hastily. He carved out a wooden “Gauraiyya” which magically turned real as Gaurva ji held her. Thrilled with this, Gaurva ji accepted his apology and also thanked his new friends, who had come to his aid.

He and the new Gauraiyya lived in their nest and the carpenter, continued working below the same tree, though now calmer, having learnt his lesson.

‘Tolerance, peaceful coexistence and kindness make for a magical, happier world.”

_______________________________________________________________

I am told that I listened to this story repeatedly for days on end, yet delighted every time in the चटक मटक rhyme. The concept of hitching frogs to a matchbox and riding off must have appealed even then, my sense of craziness!

And while on crazy, I hail from a family of great spinners of yarns and tall tales and those make for some great, uproarious laughter inducing listening.So stories are part of the old gene pool!Add to that the skill of attracting great narrators and wordsmiths as friends and life is so filled with varied kisse-kahanis and thus much khushi!

Perhaps it’s time I knit some of those yarns into a semblance of stories and share the warmth.

Share yours too?

 

 

रमज़ान की एक शाम

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रमज़ान की एक शाम थी

पुरानी दिल्ली की गलियों से मिलने की चाह थी.

 

पहुंचे हम सब दोस्त वहाँ.

मंदिर की घंटियों और आज़ान का अनोखा ताल मेल है जहाँ.

 

ढलती हुई शाम का था गुलाबी आसमान,

रोशनी में लिपटी थी मस्जिद और मीनार

 Jama Masjid at Dusk

 

नमाज़ की अदायगी

परिवरों की टोलियान.

मुस्कुराहटें .बातें .हंस्ते चहरों की बोलियान.

 The throng at Jama Masjid

टिमटिमाती रोशनी थी हम कदम

चलते-फिरते, रुकते रुकाते

टहलते हुए हम दोस्तों के कदम

Matia Mahal

यहां थी सेवियां,

वहां थी बिर्यानी.

BiryaniSeviyaan

एक मुस्कुराता हुआ लज़ीज़ कोरमा

एक रंगीन मिज़ाज मीठा

Double Ka Meetha

Happy Korma Cook!Korma

Phirni

फिरनी का सकोरा मन हुआ चटोरा

क्या खायें.क्या छोडें.

बड़ी थी कश्मकश.

पकवानों के थे ढेर अनेक.

लेकिन पेट तो था सिर्फ एक!

पहले पेट भरा पर नीयत नहीं

तो आँखों से की हसरत पूरी

अब हिल न सके तो क्या करें

धीरे धीरे चले ,की कसरत थोड़ी!

 

 

बस गयी मन में उन गलियों की रौनक़

बस गया वो स्वाद.

उन मुस्कुराहटों में है अपनापन.

उन गलियों की अनोखी है कुछ बात

timtimati roshni

मंदिर की घंटियों और आज़ान का अनोखा ताल मेल है जहाँ.

गुज़ारी  हमने रमज़ान की  एक खूबसूरत शाम वहां

A Warmth List for the Winter

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Winter as a season, it leaves me cold.

Enthusiasm is difficult to dredge up, truth be told.

Mostly gloomy sunless days

Freezing in so many ways

Layers of woollies with great weight

I only want to hibernate!

 

To make it work for me this time, I made up a list of warmth

Bits from the past, pieces from today…all forming a base for me to go forth.

Yellow flowers on a sidewalk

 

Of school days of long ago, where my mother filled my pockets with dry-fruits hazaar.

I chewed on them on the cold bus stop and all the way to school which seemed so far.

 

Of being bundled in layers of woollies, all hand knitted love.

Of looking for one favourite lost glove.

 

Of the piping hot glass of milk,

The rustle of mummy’s silks.

And the bars of the old room heater, glowing richly red.

And my nose in the cold…like Rudolph’s-also richly red!

 

Of snuggling in a quilt, thick and soft.

Of putting on vibrantly coloured thick Tibetan socks- a comfort of a terrific sort.

A rani pink sweater and matching socks

I just couldn’t get enough of.

 

The glowing embers of a tandoor

Hot chocolate, halwa and gur

 

A community bonfire for Lohri

Gajak, til and rewri

 Vegetables

 

A Kashmiri phiran with delicate work

Yellow flowers lining a side-walk

 

Methi ka paratha and a runny egg yolk.

Tastes heavenly-must try it you folk.

 

An RD Burman song on the radio

Bright fresh vegetables, bursting with good health for you.

 

Mild sunshine filtering through trees lining the road,

Cheering me up by a truck load.

 

An evening walk with the moon full and bright

A friend dropping by, hugging me tight.

 

 

The fragrance of fresh bread

A pile of books, waiting to be read.

 

 

Children in woollens and puppies at play

Absolute bundled up joy

 A moonlit walk

This list will grow yearly,

But this is can say clearly,

I can handle the winter now,

Give a tot of rum and then see how!

The Dusty Bookshelf

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I dusted my bookshelf the other day. The books were stacked two-deep and over time newer purchases had just been piled haphazardly on top. Obscuring the older ones. Hiding some completely out of view. While the bookshelf was handling the entire situation quite stoically, it was bothering me. New books were all very well but I needed to access my older friends a little more easily. The rush and tumble of daily schedules had left me no time to sort this out. And the comfort of my old favourites was sorely needed.

(Strange how it unfolds….we meet new people and forge new relationships….sometimes relegating the older ones to an accessible back shelf These are enduring relationships which have stood the test of time and distances and survived, even flourished. One can almost always start where we had left off….they can be taken for granted up to a point.)

And so it began. I emptied each shelf of its inhabitants. The piles withdrew from the shelves and grew on the floor. The whole enterprise took a long long time…for was I efficiently and speedily dusting, sorting and stacking? No….of course not. I was rekindling relationships with some much read favourites, recollecting the murderer in another, grimacing at my choice of some. (really I BOUGHT THAT?). Smiling at some favourite authors, made even more special as they had been gifted to me. I went through them, wiping each lovingly and occasionally (actually more often than not) reading bits of them-in some to just relish the words, in some to recall a forgotten fact and in some….just to completely refresh my memory-as I had forgotten all about the book-including owning it.

First came those which were an essential part of life. They gave comfort and love but also acted as windows to the soul. We read and recognised in them bits of ourselves. In between their pages and the characters, we saw sides to our personalities which perhaps we did not always acknowledge or recognise. The shades of grey amidst all the colours in us. Our beauty and the beasts within. Our reactions and our thoughts. Our experiences. These books are like people closest to us who love us but know us inside out. There can be no pretence with them and as relationships go, these are the ties of family and a very select few whose presence we choose to include in our lives. There is also, seldom any getting away from them!

The titles by the same authors were re-united with their friends-Roger Ackroyd met Nor M and the Christies marched together. All of MM Kaye smiled. Dick Francis and his jockeys all lined up in a row while Harry Potter stood abreast-from Philosopher’s Stone to the Deathly Hallows. Comfort reading was now a cakewalk. The old and evergreen favourites were sorted and close at hand.

Then came the acquaintances. Liked but perhaps not re-read fanatically. A tentative bond. Books one could take in small doses and took a long time sinking in. Perhaps also, because they were disturbing deep down.

Some relationships are like that, aren’t they? Appreciated but somehow leave you a little unsure of where you stand with them. They leave you strangely unsettled, not knowing whether to take them forward or let them be. Sometimes they mature with time, become less disturbing, more enriching. One is sure of one’s footing. Other times, they fade away. Not in a negative way. There is no rancour.

Some books had showy covers and not much substance….like so many transitory interactions one encounters but with no depth and no desire too, to take it further. Easily disposed…..which was one growing stack too.

And then those which were promising to begin with. Attractive cover, interesting story line. Yet did not really click but were not absolute write-offs. So they remained half read somewhere. Occasionally looked at with liking and a faint curiosity …and then one day when chanced upon during a manic dusting, the interest re-kindles and takes fruition. Dusting off the years, one makes perhaps a fresh start. Revitalises a desultory reading and is surprised pleasantly by the connection. Perhaps the years in between had changed perspective? While not a large pile, it is a comfortable portion to add just that little sparkle to make life stimulating.

Much like rediscovering old friends and acquaintances and finding thoroughly appealing aspects which one never had a chance to discover earlier…due to circumstances. These make for fulfilling interactions and the promise of a future too.

There was also a knot which had never connected and never would. The book was at odds with you and added no value but in some cases took away a lot from one. Peace of mind for one. Little point then in hanging on to something which undermined and caused unhappiness. Some people do that too.

At long last, I came to the end of my days labours. The last bundle to be straightened and set- the constant additions…the new entrants. On a shelf by themselves at the moment, they too would soon be part of one or the other piles and others still would take their place.

That’s the best thing about books isn’t it? One never hesitates in reaching out to pick one. We don’t shy away from them like we do with people. Safer on the whole to bond with a book.

Then again…the books that are meant to be on my shelf will make their way there…as will the people in my life. So better I think to build more bookshelves on the walls around me and make more room…and wait expectantly for what life has in (the book) store for me.

The (Once) Dusty Bookshelf

The (Once) Dusty Bookshelf

It was therapeutic you know……dusting the bookshelf.

thank you for the conversation.

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I recently completed a year of “needstotalk”. WordPress wished me a Happy Birthday or words to that effect.

365 days. 40 posts. 66 comments. 2000 odd views.

As statistics go, I could have possibly bettered them. Written more posts. Done an aggressive “read my blog” effort. Followed all the suggestions offered by WordPress themselves to garner a larger readership. But I did not. Maybe this year.

I gathered some other, highly intangible but very special stats too…..

The encouragement from friends when I started out.
The felicity of being read by them.
The feedback they shared.
Their comments of appreciation.
My mother read it….and liked it and told me so and my aunt so and she read it too.
My father read it…and liked it and made me write other stuff for him.
A teacher from college read it…and wanted to incorporate one post in her lesson plan.
A fellow blogger read it…and shared it on their site.
A friend, in a social gathering mentioned a post and said that it was spot on.
Some friends provided inspiration for writing.
Another published it in her own public forum.
Other friends say they read my movie reviews and even wait for them.
A number of other people read it….from across the world. I don’t know them but they read it.

Invaluable…this. A tremendous boost to my sometimes floundering confidence. (why would anybody read this? Is it good enough? Do I use too many pictures? May be the text is superfluous? Am I always negative in what I write? Are my posts all about memories? Is the grammar correct? It’s drivel-I know it is….).

Over time, some of this agonising abated. People WERE reading it. Hey,…it wouldn’t get a Booker (yes I KNOW they don’t give Bookers to Blogs…but maybe one day they will…right after seeing this post and liking the idea)So I was saying, maybe it is readable after all. You see the people reading my blog and commenting were not the type to provide lip service. They were not compelled in any way to only like and praise or even read at all. They liked it. They told me. It was time to believe in myself a little.

“needstotalk” started in a cathartic moment of crisis. My outlet of self expression, it was and is my space to organise and articulate the inside of my head and heart. It is the conversations I wanted to have. It is the conversations I DID have. I did not expect to be read and appreciated or even acknowledged for the thoughts I shared. Having achieved all three and by so many people has given me a great measure of confidence and acceptance.

So Thank You. Each and every one of you…the ones I know and the one I don’t. You have helped me grow and evolve. You make me want to keep on “(needsto)talking”.

Will you continue being part of my conversations?

To Friendship

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My friends:

You are to me my sanity and peace of mind. My garden of blooming flowers. The song on my lips, the smile on my face. My sounding boards, my critics. The laughter in my life, the silly jokes. The serious discussions about silly blokes. The happiness, the joy, the comforting quilt of love. My eyes light up when I hear from you, and if I don’t, I always hope all is well with you. Distances don’t matter; not talking for days is fine. We can start where we left off, not dependent on time.You are the unshakeable rocks in my life. The music, the songs, the laughter. My philosophers, my guides. You accept me as I am. You nurture me. You pamper me. You care about me. You don’t judge me. You let me cry my heart out. You give me a patient hearing. You tell me no lies. You love me unconditionally. You drive away my loneliness. You make me feel better about being me.

If I am half as good a friend to you, as you are to me, then I will have lived my life well.

In honor of Friendship Day in 1998, Nane Annan, wife of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, named Winnie the Pooh as the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations.

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.” ― Bernard meltzer