Joys and Blessings

A friend of mine was asking me to confirm over email that my phone number she had was the one I was still using. Replying something to the effect of “yes, indeed”, I was glad yet curious both for the same reason: I had heard from an old friend after lUntitledong! As us dreamers often do, I immediately took off on a jolly ride down the memory lane. She and I had met on the day we were both leaving the firm we worked for and had decided to keep in touch (which we effortlessly did). The years that followed were laced with conversations and more of them over cups of coffee (tea, once, and a memorable painting party). Braving the peak hour traffic, we would always land up finding a comfortable little place to catch up on the happenings and the non-happenings in our lives. Even after four hours, we would be far from being “done” conversing. And between our meets were our continuous one-liner email exchanges (sheer convenience over everything else!) that would often brighten an otherwise dull day.

Suddenly, life took a turn for the two of us, taking us to two different cities. Once I moved, we managed to overcome the time difference and keep in touch. But gradually, the rigors of adjusting to new cities and the changes in our lives took a toll, leaving us deprived of each other’s company. This continued until I saw an email from her one Saturday morning. I was hoping she was fine and had connected with me to share some happy news. It was only the following morning that I awoke to learn that she had been offered a job in this part of the world and after all of two years, we would finally be only 8 hours apart! Now here’s where I believe that I am blessed. Not the always-manage-to-stick-to-the-timetable kind of blessed, but the meeting-an-old friend-in-a-new country kind. After all, what is a glimmer of familiarity amid a sea of changes if not a blessing (and a joy!)?

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When It Is Always Halloween

This blog post is a tad untimely. But since “inspiration” struck me only now, here I am, taking a step back in time until October 2016. It was Halloween in this little village where I live. Considering that I originally hail from the gigantic, busy city of Mumbai, my brain is used to categorizing quaint, scenic places as villages. Otherwise, for the local people, this village is their proud city. Anyway, it was Halloween and this beautiful, scenic, quiet “city”decided to turn spooky. Shops turned all Halloween-y with their wares and people started “decorating” their houses with witch masks, spider webs and scary Jack o Lanterns. As I saw the city gear up for Halloween, I couldn’t help but snigger.

Here’s why. I am yet to see a place more beautiful than this one (it might seem like I’m veering from the topic, but please bear with me). It is lush green in spring and summer, and the autumn foliage is covered in unbelievably pretty hues. Little houses across the city peeking from behind the green, yellow, orange and red trees are a visual delight. However, the sun takes with itself all the beauty of this quiet heaven, probably as its wages for exuding warmth throughout the day. Upon nightfall, the city assumes a grim and somewhat scary demeanor, making it difficult for the faint-hearted (read: me) to take to its various lanes and by-lanes all by themselves. Dimly lit lone houses atop hills appear anything but welcoming. This is how it is all around the year. Then arrives Halloween to up the already high spook quotient of the city and thus escapes a little chuckle from my lips.

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My daily visual treat

Everyday, I feast my eyes on this charming sight (it indeed is beautiful during the day) along my regular route. But, Halloween or no Halloween, I wouldn’t dare to get near it at night. Because, at that hour, certain other facts overshadow the charm of the house. Let me present them in an increasing order of their “eerie-ness”- there are no street lights around it, it faces a cemetery and….no one lives in it!

Of Sheeshas and Hearts…..

Note: The writer of this piece is utterly and hopelessly in love with the place described, so please bear with the overtly exaggerated tone that is typical of such a state of mind.

I was completely oblivious to what lay ahead of me as I climbed the rustic steps of Sheesha Café at Koregaon Park, Pune. If someone asked me the address to heaven on earth, I’d name Sheesha. Pristine, and peaceful, it’s a place you can sit at till the end of time. In fact, this poetic tone of my description is an outflow of a heart that melted at the very sight of Sheesha….sigh! (I talk normally otherwise. Really.)
Okay, I’d better wipe the smitten look off my face and describe this heaven in some understandable terms. Tucked away in the plush locality of Koregaon Park, Pune, Sheesha is an Iranian food joint. The interior designer of this place actually deserves …… nothing! That’s because its location does the trick. A serene neighbourhood, a canopy of leaves, chirpy birds, the beautiful soothing weather of Pune and ample space are a natural recipe for success. What’s a designer left with to do then? Maybe, just arrange a few comfortable sofas, chairs, tables, chandeliers and of course, carpets – which he happily did. Friendly and experienced staff added to the comfort. In fact, the surreal ambience cleverly veiled the disappointing culinary experience. Honestly, I was happy to rid my mouth of the strange berry rice taste; the curry however was enjoyable. But was that a dent in the overall appeal of Sheesha? Hardly. I refused to budge from the sofa I was plonked on, long after lunch. I lay there, lazily swaying to the Jazz and Afro Latin tunes (of which I understood not a word), with a dreamy-smile.

However, I couldn’t suppress a chuckle when I read this notice on a tree-trunk. It read thus or more or less thus “This is a family place. Any inappropriate public display of affection will not be tolerated.” In a place such as this, where one can fall in love with every flying bumble-bee and every buzzing mosquito (not that there were any), you expect people to not express themselves affectionately? What are you….a stone-heart or something?