Saturday, July 22, 2017

Amman: a morning

Taxi ride from Amman airport to the city
December morning
a terrace
in Amman
by the lemon tree
no lemons to see or even a tree
only a  stump -- evidence that there was once a lemon tree here.

Chimneys high and low
swirl out puffs of smoke
in patterns of their choice--
circles, eggs or just wispy threads.

An English Breakfast teabag sits in the cup I hold and wonders why it's not been taken out yet.
I like my tea strong.
The bag doesn't know this yet but
it will be plastered to the side of the cup and squeezed with the back of the spoon till the very last dribs dribble out.
For now, it swims in hot water and watches vapour rise above the rim and vanish into the blue sky above.

Impermanence of existence:
Every moment is a reminder.

White smoke of chimneys climbs up and turns transparent.
Sky is smoke or is smoke the new sky?
I wonder--
who's cooking today?
A mum?
A dad?
or a hired hand?
Will it be eggs or pancakes for breakfast?
It's been a while since I've written or blogged. My days have been beating to a rhythm of their own lately. Reading books and articles, checking out pinterest pics for designs of saree blouses has been seeping into my ordinary. I've just got back from a short trip to Bangalore. A beautiful pink cotton and a sky blue silk saree came along in my handbag. Yes, I do tend to pack my new purchases in my handbag -- much to my family's amusement -- because I feel that in case of a misplaced or lost baggage situation, at least I'll have my newbies with me. Logic and saree lovers don't see eye to eye. Period.

Summer and politics has kept TV screens and news channels busy in this part of the world. True to my nature, I've switched myself off and escaped to the land of books and a tiny bit of travel and walks and meditation and sitting with eyes open and day dreaming--like I used to when I was 5 or 6 or even 10. That part of my inner child or childhood is growing inside in leaps and bounds and taking me along on so many lucid journeys that I forget to visit my laptop to write.

I woke up early today. Old rumblings of a desire to write and share were knocking my insides, so I crept out of bed, looked at my phone and knew I had a couple of hours of absolute quiet before the husband and son would wake up. A glass of lemon water and a cup of adrak wali chai later, I started to pour out my post at the kitchen table.

Amman came up--a memory, a feeling, a wispy cold breeze I'd love to feel now (when the sun is glowering at us in his 50 degree suit).

I'd spent a total of five, maybe ten minutes when the husband walked in with his noisy slippers--phacchaaak, phachaaak, phachaaak...

I tried to ignore and carry on but failed.

"I've only just started...and your slippers are so noisy..." I complain without looking up.

He knows. He knows how I get when a post needs to be knocked out of me. He grabs a banana from the counter top.

"Want a bite?" he asks "it's the last one."

Love for his generosity mixes with regret at being so short with him--his slippers have always been noisy. I decline with a nod and go back to my screen.

"There's no milk in the fridge and no fruit left." he mentions as a parting shot just as he exits the kitchen.

 We'd planned to go grocery shopping today. But my fingers want to type and the heart is filling up with the usual blogging excitement, so I'm gonna write, share and then cater to the needs of our empty fridge.

"Let them eat toast." I think to myself and keep going on my laptop. 

Back to Amman, a city worth a stop. I was there in December of 2016. I spent a solo sunny day of exploring and a rainy half day with Angela. The people, the food, the art, the history, the local crafts--I loved it all. Here's a collection of photos I took.

Streets of Amman ...
Peeping inside gardens visible from the street -- treasures to behold and cherish

The missing 'U' in laundry service: Apt, I think as 'they' do the dirty work not 'U'!
I think I get the message:)
The husband has always maintained this philosophy but when one sees it on a billboard, one gets it!

Awash and empty... post rains.

 We stepped inside to escape the rain, and found a treasure trove of local crafts beautifully displayed and Jordan River Foundation.

The rain stopped me from taking my camera out but if you're in Amman, DO NOT miss out visiting:
1. Wild Jordan
2. Jacaranda Images
You can get all the information you need on
Pick up or download (from above website) the Map of Downtown, Luweibdeh and Jabal Amman.
It's the best guide to explore the city in a short time--with easy to follow layout showing 
art galleries, studios, markets and restaurants.
 I ended my Amman tour with a cup of coffee at Books@Cafe-- loved it.
His smile says it all: Jordan is full of smiles and helpful, kind souls.
Hope to see you soon.
Smile--it's Sunday:)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Dubrovnik: A bird's-eye view

My morning routine has adapted itself to the hot summer of Doha and the holy month of Ramadan. I don't have to drop my son off to school first thing in the morning, so I find myself in my garden at six: watering, pruning and clicking pictures (when I remember to bring the phone with me). By nine am, the mercury is shooting to reach above 44 degrees, so I cherish this short window of time in the morning when the grass feels cool.

Gardening duties over, I make  my way back to the kitchen. En route, I pinch a few tulsi leaves to boil with fennel seeds and grated ginger to prepare my chai. The husband is packed off with his sandwiches and the son is yet to wake up. I am left with the gift of twenty minutes--too short to sit and mediate or practise yoga or run a wash cycle, but long enough to meet my feathered friends. I cradle my garam, garam chai in my hands and go back out to sit under the fragrant blooms of frangipani and the shade of the mulberry leaves to have tea with the birds.

A mishmash of house sparrows, Spanish sparrows, mynahs, doves and even the odd bulbul play their orchestra of notes while hopping from a branch here, to a leaf there, then to the moist ground to pick juicy breakfast. I've often thought of buying some seeds, but the birds seem content with berries and worms. Sipping tea, while squatting on the grass, trying to be invisible so that I can be part of their world for just under twenty minutes or so is the most special part of my day.

The birds gather here everyday like it's the first day. Their songs herald every day with the same magic, no matter the news, the changing temperature or the moon cycles. I sit and look at them and sometimes my heart flies around with them--free and fabulous.

It's been over a month since I've  blogged. I've been busy doing nothing--yes, that's the best kind of busy. Cleaning, cooking, reading, yoga and walks in Aspire Park have kept me occupied. I've been in a questioning mood (more about it in a later post--maybe:)

Today, after a long while, I feel like I'd like to write and share again. Birds sing, hoot, squawk and squeak.  They hop, skitter, skip and then fly off. I sit and watch and wonder what they make of what they see. So intent are they on their business of being, that they don't seem to have the need to question anything. No purpose needed other than the joy of living. Oh! how blessed are these feathered friends who have no mind to calm, no hearts to open, no chakras to align, no breath to focus on--they know how to be.

Bird's-eye view -- a term used for when you look at something from above--physically removed, detached, like an observer. Maybe that's the secret of the birds' lightness--they observe from a distance, they don't mire themselves in situations and reactions. Maybe one doesn't have to fly to detach, maybe one can sit and close ones eyes and let go. Maybe. Let's see. It's early days, but the journey to be has begun. 
April, this year, saw us exploring Croatia and one of my favourite walks was: walking the walls of Dubrovnik. I urge you to do it if you're able to. The views were stunning, of course, but the peace and quiet up here (at least when we were there) takes you back in time and space. You can be a bird, an ancient warrior fending your kingdom, a princess or a washerwoman waiting for her lover, or a mother carrying a camera:) Up here, your imagination and your eyes will keep you occupied for hours 

All these photos were taken from top of the walls that surround the Old City. 
Dubrovnik: A bird's-eye view

One never knows when ones seams  may come undone;)

And here's a view that's been painted by many artists:
Back down in the old city, who should I see? 
A bunch of birds--colourful, but not free.
Summer heat and political news makes me want to read poems like this one by Emily Dickinson:
Photo courtesy: Google Images.
Hope to see you soon, till then...
Wishing you all a happy summer.
May you smell the flowers and caress the grass.
May you bathe in moonshine.
May the warm rays of sun melt the snows of discontent.
May picnics be laid out 
and books be read under trees laden with summer fruit or leaves of green.
May mangoes bring you juicy sweetness and may cherries tart your tongues.
May lemonade infuse you with mint and thyme.
May jamuns and black berries colour you in their dark deliciousness.
May kulfi melt more rapidly than your licks.
May white kurtas and cream dupattas bear enough stains of feasts enjoyed.
May ice-cream carts ring in all your summers from before:
of orange bars and shared bites.
May you sing with birds and fly with them too.
May you remember to wear your sunscreen, your shades, your hat and your smile
when you step out.
May you be you this summer.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Reflection post #atozchallenge

Nottingham, U.K.
What do they tell us about us?
Are they mirrors to our past,

When we reflect,
do we have the courage to be honest?
Do we take off our masks
and see clearly
in the pools of pondering
or do we
choose to 
see what 
we know 
is not true?

What I did in April 
(for the second time)
was the A to Z.

I cobbled together a new post every morning
followed by sharing 
visiting other bloggers
and reading comments left by others.

Truth be told, it turned out to be more challenging to read than to write!
Never thought that was even possible.
But it seemed like that BECAUSE
there were so many amazing blogs out there.

Come on a tiny tour of the treasures that April unfolded:
I can't possibly mention ALL the links I clicked on in April, 
so I'll stick to the ones I found myself visiting every day, 
despite exhaustion and a kitchen sink full of dirty dishes.
Housework suffered and I gained SIX bloody pounds!
Those were the only negatives of April.

Let's move on to the good stuff then:
From stars by Sage to Eva's postcards and Phillip's envelopes 
I travelled to far off countries (on my bucket list) like Ecuador --thanks to Emily 
and Maui with Courtney
Keith rambled on about Amble Bay. I almost had an ice-cream with him.
Yes, all this from the comfort of my kitchen chair--
that's the magic of blogging.
IF you can forget the bloody pounds you've piled on.
And that ice-cream was NOT even real!

There was so much to learn and admire in April:
From Wendy's odd objects which came packed in the bubble wrap of  her funny commentary
To Sara's herbs which made Deborah and I want to tumble in lilac.
The same rolling in lilac Deborah mentioned jargogle on the day of J 
and I found myself in a state of yagiment--how can I use this word that reminds me of googly eyes in a jar? 
I haven't done any writing this week--so yagimenting continues -- but the good kind:)

I found out that there's "A day to celebrate your first kiss"--who knew it even existed? 
messymimi did.

Toni found me and when I visited her I found Frank's tree--I'll be going back to see more, I'm sure.

There were weird stories all neatly complied under the title WTFs to keep your creative juices flowing--although not always in the right direction--if you get my drift.

We all love stories and when they come in the shape of recorded history, one gets pulled into the narrative. Kristin rekindled my desire to find out about my family's history. Both sets of  my grandparents were refugees of the 1947 partition--when India was carved into two and Pakistan was born. They made India their home where I was born. 

Words are my wine, I'd said when I started this challenge.
Some people have the gift to turn their words into balm and salve our souls with them.
Thank you Susan Scott, Beth Lapin and Deborah for sharing your insights in April.

Then there were bloggers who turned into friends in a matter of few posts.
Jz, you know who you are:)

I've saved my favourite discovery for the last--
My soul mate
happened to come along into my life this April.
He goes by the name of Elliot and you can find him here, right Sue?

I bid you adieu
with a sigh.
I'll miss you guys.
But the EXTRA pounds won't go anywhere if  I don't get my butt out of this chair and on that yoga mat.

So, for the sake of a leaner me (summer is not too far away, you see) I'll leave you with a BIG THANK YOU and these lines:
"I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance
Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance."
Ogden Nash
Till we meet again
in Thunder, Lightning or in....
Oh! No! the fingers are on a roll. 
Need to get to that treadmill---soon.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Z is for Zagreb and Zindagi #atozchallenge

When, on the 6th of April 2017, I took this photo, I was sure my Z for this challenge was sorted. Not one, but two Zs were asking to be explored and exposed. Lucky me.

My blogging to do list when I woke up today (the last day of A to Z) looked like this:

1) write replies to all the comments on my Y post 
2) quickly work through all the pictures I'd clicked in Zagreb (in the few hours we'd spent there)
3) write Z for Zagreb.
4) publish and share
5) And finally, visit as many participating bloggers as possible.


But this is not how my morning is unfolding. Zindagi (Urdu word for life) is interfering with my blogging plans.

A whatsap message has appeared on my phone screen while I'm waiting for the water to come to a boil in the pan on the hob. 

"Let's meet for coffee." my friend types. She wants to talk one on one. 

I am tempted to decline and arrange for a day in May, like everything else I've been putting off this month: threading eyebrows, picking that blouse from the tailor which was supposed to be ready by the 4th of April, yoga, walk in the park, coloring my roots, etc. etc.

I know I won't have the time to go through and edit lots of pictures, like I'd planned to. Dazzle them with your brilliance Arti, my ego keeps whispering sweet nothings such as these to boost me to pay attention to him. Finish with a flourish, Arti. Get all those photos out. Friends can wait. What's the big deal? May begins tomorrow. Have your coffee then. 

Ego is  quite persistent.

I add grated ginger to the boiling water, wait a bit, then add the tea leaves and let it all brew under the lid. 

"If I see her at 11, I'll be back by lunch. I can post then." I'm trying to convince myself while I tidy up, make the beds and put the laundry out to dry, all in a haze of should I/shouldn't I?

"Just need a friend who'll listen to me today." another text and I'm decided.

I'm off, will finish the post when I get back and post it.
A long chat, a few hugs, a double macchiato and a delicious croissant later, I'm back. 

It was a day to listen. Not a day to write. I had plans, but zindagi had a few, too:) In a way, I'm glad Z turned out the way it did. 

It made me look up and take notice of a few realities. Blogging is great, but life happens outside the laptop screen. 

What was your last day of A to Z challenge like? Are you looking forward to it all coming to an end or will you miss it?
Streets of Zagreb may appear next year, 
if I'm here:)

for being part of this:)
Happy Zindagi to all. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Y is for Yellow #atozchallenge

The penultimate post of this challenge wants to be presented in a simple, straightforward way. No hunts for the elusive Y word have been carried out and no digging in closets of memories has taken place today.

It's a post awash with my favourite colour, Yellow.

A favour is all I ask of you my dear readers, please don't tell Turquoise about this post. He's my 'other' love. I tend to wear him more, too. So he may get the wrong idea, you see. Yellow, on the other hand, makes me do things I'd never do for T. Like, go up to complete strangers and ask them if I can click their picture. Or lie flat on my back to take a photo of a tiny desert plant that grows here in Qatar. Or wait for the sunset to capture Y's last radiant streaks. Or set the alarm for 4 in the morning to ensure I catch Y when he's being born.

Yellow, I can't resist. And Turquoise I can't live without.

Without further yakking, let's go and follow that Yellow...
Draped in Kutchch
Resplendent in Qatar--found this beauty on our way to Purple Island
Carpeting Nottingham, U.K.
Hanging in Amman, Jordan
and holding a Green Party, Amman again.
 Keeping Buddha company in Koh Samui
On display in Tbilisi, Georgia
Ready to take off in Washington D.C.
Streaming through curtains
and waiting to be harvested in Rajasthan.
Hanging outside to dry in Ahmedabad
Crossing the road in Split, Croatia
Do you know the name Split comes from a yellow flower that grows in abundance on the hills surrounding Split.
When the Greeks first settled here, they found the hills covered with Aspalatos (the yellow flower),
thus, giving Split its name.
Split is the place where Aspalatos grows.
A very kind lady at a shop I got some lavender from in Split told me this. 
She was such a treasure trove of information. 
I asked her if she knew why Split was called Split.
Croatians call this flower Brnistra. I didn't take any pictures of it, so I'm using this google image:
Van Gogh loved yellow, too.
Here's a letter I wrote to him about...ya right.. Yellow
That was in 2015. 
More recently, I met Surabhi, an artist who loves yellow as much as I do. 
Thank you all for keeping me company.
It's been an amazing journey.
One last letter to go.
Waiting for Zee.
Last year's last was Zekreet
What will this year's be?
Do you have a favourite colour?
What might that/those be?
Do share:)