Rambles

I write & shoot (photographs) occasionally

Category: As it is

jodhpur

i feel the joy virtually pulsing through my body as we walk down the jodhpur streets: finally, finally we are in the real india where real people live and breathe and go about their daily lives. the streets are packed, likely because tomorrow is the holi festival. already the vividness and vibrance is upon everyone, men and children bathed in pink and yellow, coloured trails on the floor and sandstone walls. shop owners lounge in store fronts flanked by metal wares, open white bags of spices, sweets in time-blurred plastic containers and colourful snacks suspended in long strips watching the world move by. the honking is a song that has no start and end, in small streets we cannot move, sucked into the traffic and pollution, the visible white smog that envelops us all. wheelbarrows and cows, motorcycles and pedestrians crowd the lanes and we are all suspended in time together.

luxury is enjoyable but such settings are also what the soul craves- a mouthful of reality, not knowing when to cross roads and grabbing each other, squealing and leaping across. people unexpectedly receptive to the camera, families waving from windows posing for a picture, children jostling each other to fit into the frame. boys boldly saying ‘hello’ and waving (seemingly proud of their english vocabulary), a young girl in a tuk-tuk looking at me and hesitantly raising her hand before shyly dropping it, giving me the sense that some feelings transcend the barriers of language, how a wave is so universal and a smile so welcoming. happiness so open and simple: a game of badminton glimpsed in the back alley, sharing a packet of sweets excitedly and later seeing grape flavoured candy wrappers strewn across the floor, gathering to watch brave souls make the dive into the unbelievable step well like it was a football game, good-natured strangers exclaiming ‘happy holi!’ and giving us purple smears across our cheeks to remember the festivity by. pastel façades not postcard perfect but lovely in a worn, warm sort of way, cracks creeping up walls and discoloured structures, rugged and natural, not artificially conserved. a beautiful water body behind all the buildings like a hidden gem, an unexpected break from the sandstone sights, sitting there a moment to take it in. what strikes me is how time slows down and how everyone is completely alright with the gradual moments- no rush here. the locals are spectators with the day off and they watch us play our game, scurrying around, perpetually pressed for time. people leave their doors and gather outside, revel in each others’ company in noise and in silence. nobody is using their cell phone and there is no hurry at all.

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India is so incredibly stunning, a land of warmth and vibrance.

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on streams, people and friendships

I’m lucky enough to have met so many kind people and wonderful friends in my life that I think I begin to expect a sort of permanence in every close relationship. If we clicked so easily and were so attached for those few days, sharing our pasts and bearing each others’ secrets, shouldn’t we have remained friends longer, extended the veins of our affinity further?

Yet, thinking about it now, I’m convinced that not every friendship is meant to be like that. Not every friendship you encounter and person you meet is destined to be a lifelong friend and pillar of support, people you go back to and want to meet through the best and worst days. And I’m not saying that impermanence is bad; rather, there is a beauty in temporality, moments you cherish by the seconds like sand falling through your fingers. Just because you couldn’t keep everything doesn’t mean you weren’t happy then, doesn’t mean that all your memories are not worth it. Thinking back now, our time together shines in a golden light, those moments we lost ourselves too much in to ever consider a future past them. Carefree, happy, worry-free, laughing for the sake of it. The people you meet along the way, the people you remember, the times you spent together: all these coalesce and crystallise into memories you hold dear to you, experiences that never would have been as perfect had the characters been altered. I still believe that every human you encounter along your path was placed there for a reason; fate carefully considers its every orchestration.

The perennial streams are lovely. They are always filled, always reliable. You can whisper your secrets into a bottle and set them afloat on these waters, cry tears that will be washed away by the constant currents, let the coolness of the waters rejuvenate you and remind you what it feels like to be alive. These waters will always envelop and surround you like a velvet blanket, they will always be waiting for you to come back- calming and enduring rivers.

The ephemeral streams don’t stay… they disappear after a while. And though you can’t hold on to their fading waters, they too are beautiful. The moments may have been fleeting but they too have washed your skin and heard your deepest fears and thoughts through the bubbles. Long after they’re gone you’ll remember them there in their most beautiful frame, gleaming and flowing through the rocks, with you. Long after they have dispersed into the air and infiltrated the grassy earth, the memories remain, interspersed with your own.

it is by retracing the past that i retrieve my privileges like lost belongings and remember how blessed i am. i firmly believe that what is meant to be will fall into place; it may not seem like the best thing now but it will work out the way it should in due time. looking back now, i can pinpoint exactly where the train deviated from my intended, expected track. but the destination still is, and will be the same.

before

it’s fair to say that i’ve settled into a sense of peace and comfort in my post-school life. this peace of having nowhere to go at times, accepting that some days are meant to be without plan, allowing aimlessness the occasional visitor to rest its arms around my shoulders. forgetting that the whole notion of school still exists, that life goes on normally for everyone else, seeing tired grouchy faces trudging home in the evening when children are screaming in the playground, reflections of my own life just months ago. a floating, untethered existence, having no institution or organisation to bolster my identity- i’m just me, not the me from so and so school, no labels and names for people to judge me by. not exactly studying, not exactly working, caught in in-betweens and uncertainties, sporadically entertaining thoughts of the future but simultaneously curbing my imagination from getting too carried away. uncertain is the word for everything. everything is a likelihood, a possibility, a dream we are given months to craft. feeding these illusions and unrealities to adults who enquire about my plans and future paths incessantly, but then again perhaps they only know to ask me what they’ve been through themselves. it is difficult to work on the intangible but today reality will be served up, piping hot or stone cold. feeling irrationally old. been praying for the uncanny peace i found this day of sorts two years ago, and I think it’s here today. haven’t written in a while and it feels good to move my mind again, even if through the slush it can only make up a jumbled paragraph. my go-to question has been: ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’, and I guess it could be pretty bad, but no matter what i know that i’ll have a road to take.

things i’ve learnt/ want myself to accept and understand (work in progress)

i don’t consider myself to be a reflective person, because i mostly let experiences drift and float around in my head. i don’t consciously try to catch them and plant them in the ground; let them grow into lessons that i can understand and bring with me. this time i’m going to try and make sense of it all and maybe list a few things i’ve come to realise and believe (although some of them still don’t come instinctively to me, i choose to believe i’m on my way there!). enjoy 🙂

  1. in school it seemed important to be somebody and know everybody, but all you really need is a few close friends you know you can rely on; friends you wouldn’t have to worry about losing even if you were a nobody.
  2. at some point, not giving a shit about anything becomes a survival skill. it’s too difficult and tiring and unhealthy to care about everything, what people do/ say, etc. sometimes just letting things go and not allowing yourself to bother is the way out- JC taught me this.
  3. learn not to be envious of others but look to your own life and appreciate the wonderful things you have. it’s always easier to point out what you lack than realise what you have, but learning to be grateful and thankful is so important. in a way it paves the path towards contentment and satisfaction which after all, is basically the grand goal and sustainable state of life.
  4. emotions can be within your control: it all depends on perspective!
  5. everyone has something special that only they can give the world. never compare yourself to others or feel that you fall short because they too lack something, that only you, as a unique human being, can offer.
  6. kindness and affirmation can make the world a better place.
  7. there is absolutely no point in worrying prematurely. i’ve let millions of ‘what if’s cloud my mind and crinkle my forehead (such a worrywart) but these are possibilities that may happen as much as they may not happen. why let yourself lose sleep over something unpredictable and unguaranteed? today has enough for you to worry about, and tomorrow will take care of itself! (or you will take care of tomorrow, but that’s when tomorrow comes and it isn’t here yet.)

atlas

this is where it begins: where our paths stop crossing (i hope not permanently) and we go out and forge new roads, discover roiling seas, set foot on never-before-seen lands, start to truly map out and extend the atlases of our lives. from here we will sail the seas of strange, selfish, beautiful people, explore lands echoing a different reality beneath each pair of feet- little christopher columbuses in our own rights. one day the experiences you speak of may be too vivid, too large to be contained in my little atlas, my understanding of this world. i will watch as you sketch out new terrain, outline the lands you’ve found and forests you’ve fought through, extend the boundaries of what you know and understand and have experienced onto a scroll which has your whole life to unfurl.

and even though our rivers run and meander through different lands, distributaries stretching out in every imaginable direction, i hope that somewhere or other they meet and overlap again, as they did at the source; the beginning.

a haiku

how weak our minds are
resolve dissipating like
sugar in hot tea

passages of stillness

on 8.43am buses filled with adults on solitary journeys to work
composing intermittent melodies of footsteps and card beeps
the sigh of windowpanes supporting weary heads

old draft featuring confusion

these days the days are no longer the distinct black and white stripes of a zebra crossing, the boundaries are no longer tangible. more often i find myself struggling to remember what i did yesterday, what day today is (saturday) and what day yesterday was; these things don’t seem to matter or register much anymore when you have escaped a consistent schedule and routine. these days the days are a mass of marble, melded together into swirly patterns in which the days and nights become confused and memory is charted more by events and people and conversations than what i did on mondaytuesdaywednesdaythursdayfriday.