Down Those Dusty Lanes….


(This Post is written for Dahlia’s Story Club)

datarfcsdfnz0lfprhsm0ublxdzhdrdfhtmhhn1u-gmvvuquyxcisfp2-rkq4yfb2xjtgiiak8vcdpjyy3vhd9qm-13tzyinp2es8c-j-2rrdw_a9gxewwaygaqjiyliltr7m8jitr6tctct26howq7klzuhsev6-2jarfgdyvf8f4swsgmc5qbjefyb0fxk3it2ovHave you ever been to Deoli? Made a stop at that ‘lonely little’ platform on the way to Dehra where the train waits for a whole ten minutes although nobody gets in or gets off ? datarfcsdfnz0lfprhsm0ublxdzhdrdfhtmhhn1u-gmty19covzfsrqxl1n2huebvdwxharocuvxtshibhfj1roko8s8cd-9rftxiottv-8vhpdckqj3r7jiwd_h2is6l7grb2wm3dtewpl_ypw8jjxpdlpl-g3yy-mklzgshpuwfi6orf9be6k1or9jfxajyndbsNo, is it? Even I have never been  there and when I tried to locate the spot on Google Map this is what I got. Just imagine! And then I almost pierced a hole through Dehra’s  and lo! Not a single dot  I discerned which would help me find the place. Now, you may ask why are you all of a sudden so keen on Deoli? Well, I am keen on all those lesser known, desolate stations where the train stops or passes by rapidly without bothering to ask the far and few  gazers whether they were interested to cross over the threshold of their insignificant lives and jump into the speeding carriage to some place else teeming with excitement and fun hitherto untasted by them. But the train does or does not stop and no one hops in or out and I keep on resisting the insane urge to pull the chain to de-board and jump over the station wall to find out what lies beyond.

img_20160204_134004-1Once I did pass a few such stations on my runaway trip to Shimla. Picturesque corners with one or two passengers here and there, a tea-stall selling hot tea in plastic cups and stale snacks and a few stray, lazy mongrels sleeping dangerously close to the tracks. The attractively painted cabins of the stationmaster however looked uninhabited. But wild flowers grew randomly on the window sills and butterflies flipped about – a reminder that God’s grace abounds even in the remotest of remote nooks of this planet Earth where perhaps even humans have not placed their ungainly feet. The picture on the left is just an impulsive click of one such station where the toy train halted during its laboured glide up to Shimla  and not to be confused with that deserted station called Deoli on the way to Dehra where the girl with the soulful eyes sold baskets and stole hearts and made promises of being there always but never kept the same. And the robust boy of ten and eight, who fell for her frivolous words, would scan the platform eagerly always whenever he passed by Deoli by the night train puffing and panting its way to and fro his grandmother’s place at Dehra.

ruskin_bond_7758-1Now that you know what is Deoli all about or why I am harping on Deoli for so long, ye must have gathared that its just one of those short stories by none other than the master-wordsmith, Mr Bond – Ruskin Bond (as Dahlia so endearingly puts it) – The Night Train At imagesDeoli. But please do not go by the length of the tale as in its minimal format it encapsulates a timelessness which perhaps transcends human existence. How can one obviate that perennial and primordial pang of waiting from one’s existence? Hasn’t the entire cosmos been holding breath from inception in waiting of that ultimate intervention which will put an end to everything that has remained undone? Is there any other way to explain that thin thread of wistfulness that weaves through this ever-expanding Universe – that wordless yearning from time immemorial for something that is beyond accomplishing?

Remember this all-time classic from that beautiful movie Uphaar, a remake of  one of the stories of  Satyajit Ray’s film Teen Kanya adapted from Tagore’s short story “Samaapti” (The End).  Those beautiful lines from the boatman’s song echoes that eternal truth: “Aisi koi mauj nahin, jisko koi khoj nahin…..” Not a single wave in sea, Is free of  quest for Thee..

Its difficult to talk about RB’s writings let alone a review. Why I wonder! Probably the reason lies in his simplicity and matter of fact style of telling a story. Had he cloaked a cauldron of sizzling emotions in verbiage it would have been easier to deep-dive in and unearth what lay beneath and in-between. But he being an ace storyteller leaves no scope for unnecessary dissection. I have always quoted him generously whenever I have dared to speak of my feelings about his creations because it is far easier to explain him in his own words than vainly try a hand out to do so in my limited capacity.

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I decided that one day I would get off the train at Deoli, and spend the day there, just to please the town.” What an innocent wish! But while reading this line how I recalled that one statement by Imtiaz Ali, the Director of Jab We Met, his maiden venture which broke all records, which went something like this “A story begins when you get off the train and follow the tracks…” Had that firebrand Sikhni from Bhatinda not got off the train at an unknown station in the dead of the night to extend unsolicited help to that poor rich guy who was off his mind with anguish and despair there would not have been any beginning to a stormy search for the right path!

But here RB’s tale veers to a different alley. “Somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to break journey at Deoli and spend a day there. I think I was afraid to do so. ” And it is herein that reality takes over and the boy who has been besotted with a forlorn lass with eloquent eyes, selling baskets on the platform of Deoli station, cannot bypass the set norms of society and go in search of his muse jumping over the station wall. Come to think of it how often have we got off life’s well trodden tracks and taken a course less travelled?

And he is afraid to do so….why? Don’t we all dread to venture into the unknown? Aren’t we all fearful that our quest may land ourselves up into something less adventurous, less gainful, more disastrous and more ordinary and foolish? A stupid extravaganza that we could have best not invested in?

Yet, we have all along repented that one single step that we never took throughout our lives. “Had we not followed what came our way things would have been different” is an easy and oft-repeated lament. But do we have the strength and the courage to follow our dreams?  And it is this not-doing that has more than often made us wistful and sad on lonely evenings when the sun has set forth westward.  It is this undefined longing for every those bits and pieces of life not experienced and earned that has been so well brought forth in Tagore’s inimitable style:

And therefore, ” In the last few years, I have passed through Deoli many times, and I always look out of the carriage window, half expecting to see the same unchanged face smiling at me, I wonder what happens in Deoli, behind the station walls. But I will never break journey there. I prefer to keep hoping and dreaming, and looking out of the window up and down that lonely platform, waiting for the girl with the baskets….I never break my journey at Deoli, but I pass through as often as I can.”  

At times, I feel, we humans have this incorrigible tendency to play games with our own selves. We aspire but do not go that extra length to possess what we aspire for and then we keep on hoping, dreaming and pining for what we never achieved but aspired for throughout. And at others, I also have this secret thought that perhaps this not getting what one wants has given that extra bit of mournfulness to life which is so essential to creativity. Similar to this thought comes this odd appreciation of the author’s sadness for this strange estrangement from the object of his teenage fascination (?) , whom had he united with, such a romantic story would not have ever been born! And this deliberate clinging to its memory …..adds exponentially to the poignancy of this love affair with a wistful ending.

……Its this one element of nostalgia that threads through most, if not all, Bond stories. You end up with a lump in your throat and a heaviness in your chest which trickling tears would somehow not dissipate but rather deprecate in worth and extent. So, all Bond fans learn to live with and love that feeling of deprivation which cynics may ridicule as masochism.

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Yet, one day I would love to locate unbeknown that obscure station at Deoli and reach there by taking that night train which stops at the platform ten whole minutes in the stealthy light of dawn when I shall longingly look out of the window through wisps of thinning fog for that one glimpse of a dark beautiful young girl with doleful eyes selling baskets of the finest cane and who by her own confession does not have to go anywhere but is still never found there…..

And the memory of everything that is heartfelt and beautiful but ephemeral shall live on…..

The Tranquil Tavern


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The Stately Guard of Anandgram

As you reach Ghitorni Metro Station on Mehrauli-Gurgaon road, start counting the Metro Pillar nos.  After the 165th -166th Pillar take a U-turn. The Highway forks into a narrower road to the left. The signage on your right modestly announces the way towards Anandgram. The Security Guard directs us to Farm House No. 7 – the Caretaker’s Office. The road rushes in through a motley of green foliage on either side. Gated farm houses, line the boulevard, numbered for convenience. At the far end the road merges into the boundary walls of our destination, which upon literal translation means, the Village of Joy. One wonders how such an oasis of serenity and solitude is tucked right in the midst of a bustling cyber-city.

As we enter the premises, a stately, ancient tree welcomes us with solemn dignity to the Village which is the temporary residence of many artists and artisans from all over the world. We reach the Office of the Caretaker which overlooks the open-air amphitheater spread out on the lush lawns. A bamboo wind chime hangs on the window. Sparsely furnished with cane and wooden furniture, the office is a contrast of modern amenities (PC on both desks) and ethnic comfort. Right outside the Office, a pair of Indian terracotta horses look down on us regally from imposing height.

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Clusters of Indian Terracotta Figures

The ambience is one of relaxed creative solitude. Spread over three acres of verdant well-manicured land   dotted by leafy trees, fashionably pruned bushes, flowering hedges and blossoming beds, Anandgram capsules with deliberate care the ethnicity of our rich cultural heritage. Strewn all over the pastoral landscape are priceless artifacts of indigenous origin – cluster of terracotta figurines here and rolling brass wares there and earthen pots artistically placed by the shallow steps of the garden.  Hut-shaped pavilions with attractively decorated exteriors, framed pieces of hand woven embroidered textiles, colorful artworks, abstract paintings and intricately crafted hangings adorning the interiors, random architecture showcasing the Moghul influence, glass-painted windows swerving back to the present – at every turn and bend one stumbles over the diverse facets of Indian art and architecture sprawled with studied carelessness all around.

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The Decorated Walls of the Museum

While talking of heritage, how can one overlook our deeply revered spiritual inheritance? So there is Mind Space an all sides open shaded nook for body-mind-soul confluence.

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Mind Space

Anandgram is open to residential and non-residential workshops, training programs, seminars and conferences. Of course, noisy gatherings are absolute no-no in the Village – an unwritten rule to be adhered to scrupulously.

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The Dormitory – Inside

A conducted tour of the make believe village reveals much more. There are dormitories, twin sharing as well as single occupancy rooms. All the rooms are air-conditioned with attached bathrooms. However, the best are the studios which are allotted to the artists who come to stay and work on their chosen projects. It is a duplex arrangement where the ground floor is designed to be the work station for the artist. The stairs to the bedroom above rises straight up to a kind of loft supported by a very interesting banister of polished wood – a sturdy angular structure bordering the high cemented steps. The studio is minimalistic in its furnishing. A mosquito-net hangs from a makeshift four poster single bed.  The slender balcony outside the bedroom is a Naturist’s delight – as the trees branch out towards it – a perfect spot to enjoy the umbrella of green outside.

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The Dormitory – Outside

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The Residences – The Studios Far Behind

Anandgram was completed in 1993 and is still growing under the aegis of the Sanskriti Foundation which was established in 1979.  Those wishing to stay and work in Anandgram have to get their projects approved by the Foundation. September to March is the busiest season when the international artists prefer to put up in Anandgram.  Notwithstanding, the Village is teeming with activities throughout the year. As summer sets in Anandgram vibrates with fresh energy as then the domestic entities (NGOs, Schools, Institutions etc.) take over the premise. The Village is also a bird watcher’s paradise.

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The Old conference Room

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The Seminar Hall

The place is not available for holidaying. The stay and conference charges are very reasonable and inclusive of all meals (strictly vegetarian). The best part is, you are free to invite the visiting artists to your workshop for knowledge and craft sharing. Participation of the invitee is, however, on voluntary basis. While conventional seating arrangements (class room, round table etc.)  are available in the halls, one can also opt for the traditional Indian seating style (i.e. squatting on durries with cushions for support). The other conference accessories like Project, Screen, White Board etc. are available on actual basis.

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Way To The Museum

The tour ends with visit to the Museums – (1) Indian Terracotta, (2) Everyday Art and (3) Textile which house the workmanship of the artists and artisans of this ethnically diverse country.

The Village is taken care of by an army of around twenty five workmen. Except the Kitchen and Pantry staff, all are day workers. As evening sets in, silence solidifies. Excommunicated from the rest of the world, the inmates, absorbed in their solitary pursuits, get their meditative moments. As a core-urbanite it is hard for me to image a life without the routine   noises of hectic living. But Munnilalji’s (the Caretaker) smiling reply, “Madam! They come here because they get what they want…” is I think an apt summation of what Anandgram holds for its ‘seasoned’ dwellers.

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An Ongoing Pottery Class

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The Decorated Hut Wall

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The Intricately Patchworked Windows of the Pavillion Behing

My Two Bit ”Gyan” On ”Gaan” Part I


Bengalis have this genetic hook-up with ”Gaan”…..sorry ”Gaan” is actually Bangla for Song. A person who cannot hum a tune properly and  speak two words on the same is not human enough is what Bongs believe wholeheartedly. So being a quintessential specimen of the race I had to know and learn what ”Gaan” was all about from my infancy. It was a compulsion. There was no alternate choice for me, more so, being born in a family of self-proclaimed musicians, it would have been akin to sending my parents to the guillotine had I not been able to  figure out , during my very  formative years, what micro-tone, tune, pitch, scale, harmony, melody, rhythm, voice throw and all such other subtle nuances of the Discipline meant. So, whether I had a knack for singing or not, I had not only to sing but also look knowledgeable about a subject, oceanic and layered. Needless to say, the training had to be rigorous in order to make a peacock coo like a cuckoo. Having underwent that what best could have happened was not the modulation of a mellifluous voice but development of an ear for melody, which can be as technical as Rocket Science. Believe me!!

Having said all that, I implore you all not to nurture any misconception even for a nano second that whatever little have I come to pick-up with diligence in due course is by any measure encyclopaedic in dimension. It is certainly NOT. Why? Because I very firmly hold that music is Nature’s Gift and therefore comes naturally to those who are endowed with this blessing. One who has to sweat over it is not actually meant for it. I had to so let’s not waste time on that….

However,  DNAs being DNAs, music has always been an integral part of my life and played varied roles ranging from being enjoyable to motivational to exalting to cathartic to therapeutic…..in short catalytic. Now, as the prompt requires, it is very difficult to put a finger, metaphorically speaking, on one particular song  which has moved, inspired, uplifted or influenced me to no end. In fact, there have been and are many which at different points of time in life have been instrumental in maintaining sanity and keeping me afloat. I guess that is what maturing is all about.

But today I think the one song which I must speak about is this one that has kept me going in the most turbulent and trying times of my growing up and to be very honest I am still growing…………….up……………..

For those who are alien to the language, let me try and translate the lyrics, though not in absolute exact way, but in a manner that retains and conveys the essence:

How long shall darkness bewitch the heart

These wistful days shall someday be past

Life is a matrix of sorrow and joy

This barren season is a moment’s ploy

Fresh blooms shall blossom again in the path

These wistful days shall someday be past

Howsoever strong the wind be that blows

Let the flame of faith in the heart burns so

Together be joined those who  journeyed apart

These wistful days shall someday be past

Truth is that may what anyone say

The tides of love  that swirl and sway

Shall touch the shore someday sure and fast

These wistful days shall someday be past

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Lyricist Yogesh

Though quite close to literal translation yet I have taken a few liberties here and there, albeit minimal, to preserve poetic cadence and beauty of the lore. However, it is quite evident that the song exudes undying hope and incurable optimism which are so very necessary at times when everything seems dismal around and no flicker of light shines, ,even in the distance, to illumine vision and mind.  At many a times like this, I have found strength and the will to move forward listening  to or remembering this song.

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Singer Kishore kumar

Penned by my all time favourite lyricist Yogeshji and composed by one and only Rajesh Roshan Sahab (known for his offbeat scores), this song sans percussion instrument(s), glaciates seamlessly in the sonorous voice of the inimitable Kishore Kumar who has sung a scale lower than his usual  to underscore the sombreness of the notations. Nonetheless, the flow of the song glides the same way as life does through the peaks and troughs of time. Here, Kishoreda’s voice takes on a rich-in-conviction yet soothing tone. Even the high notes have been wilfully pitched a tad softly such as not to jar nerves distraught with frustration and failure. Almost like croons of a lullaby falling on the ears of a distressed child, the notes fall and rise in waves, drizzling the soul with solace and tranquillity. My restive battles within have often been put to a truce of peace and harmony, however short-lived that be, humming this song. And God knows there have been a number of occasions  when I have had reasons to sing this song to myself.

Interestingly, like all other, this number from the film ‘Baaton Baaton Mein’, has an unmistakable Western flavour  in consideration of the script’s social milieu. The film pivots around the unambitious love story of a boy and a girl belonging to the  Anglo-Indian community of  thriving middle-class Mumbai.

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Composer Rajesh Roshan

I dedicate this song along with this post to all those who must have also been through what I have been. Fact remains that this matrix of angst and elation, hope and desperation, success and loss, achievement and failure are intrinsic parts of existence. My late father  had often advised us to be stoic in the face of adversities. “Life”, he would say, “Is 3/4th sorrow and merely 1/4th joy just as our planet Earth whose 3/4th part is  covered by water bodies, thereby rendered inhabitable and only 1/4th is covered by land which is habitable.” Odd analogy yet strangely comprehensible as to how little we have with which to create, hold on to and be contented with.

So, sing along………….

All images from Google

This post is in response to Word Press Daily Prompt : Song

From Wish To Will


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Corruption is a malady which eats into the very foundation of an Organization rendering it weak, inadequate and ineffectual. Its corrosive impact is all pervasive which in the long run debilitates the very fabric of society. The demon of corruption can only be defeated by putting fair and equitable systems and procedures in place and garnering public support and participation.

An efficient and effective Organization fruitfully integrates personal growth of its workforce with the organizational goals. A corruption-free environment enhances this integration, which in turn, facilitates the Organization to reach out to a wider customer base and sustain growth amidst stiff competition. Therefore, a well-meditated campaign against corruption can never be exclusive of the people manning the organizational machinery.

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Corruption is covert operation which can only be debunked by drawing the areas most prone to it within the purview of public disclosure. Dissemination of information increases awareness and empowers people. Whereas an Organization committed to transparency strives to make as much information as possible accessible to the public, conscious effort on the part of the recipients is required to make use of the same responsibly and constructively.

In this age of digitization, there is no dearth of user-friendly systems and procedures devised by Organizations to minimize delay and maximize result. However, continued      effectiveness of these systems depends   on how diligently the operators within the Organization ensure adherence to the same and how committed the end-users are to not to give in to the urge to secure selfish benefits bypassing procedural requirements.

The combat against corruption is a two-way process combining action with introspection. Corruption is a state of mind. Corrupt thoughts instigate corrupt actions. Thus, to counter corrupt thoughts it is essential to condition the mind to think transparently, to ask one’s own self whether and how more transparency can be infused to better a job and scale higher and higher levels of fairness and equitability. It is with this self-motivated mechanism of checks and counter checks being constantly operative within can we function transparently, vigilantly and with integrity.

A vigilant mind is the one which is alert, aware and ever ready to take initiative to thwart all such evil strikes which are detrimental to the growth of a corruption free environment. Integrity is a reflex to undividedly converge personal values, moral strength and honesty on the task in hand to produce the desired output. While corrupt thoughts weaken our moral fiber, it is personal integrity, vigilance of mind and an instinctive desire to perform selflessly that subvert actions spurred by selfish motives.

In the final analysis, battling against corruption is much more an internal warfare than an externalized endeavour. It is a constant effort which requires strengthening of the inner core and values that prompt us to rise above the narrow confines of petty gains driven by vested interests. When such individualized efforts graduate into collective will to foster a global community cleansed of all the pernicious designs spun by manipulative minds that public participation to eradicate the ills of corruption elevate  to a truly meaningful and sustainable movement.

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All images from Google

Temple Of Silence


The Lotus Temple From Afar

The Roots :

It was Shashti – the first day of Durga Pujo. There is something about autumn (Sharad or Sharat Ritu in Hindi/Bangla) in which season we Bengalis have our Durga Puja for four days at a stretch starting with Shashti (the Sixth Day), Saptami ( the Seventh Day), Ashtami (the Eighth Day), Navami (the Ninth Day) and of course the fifth day i.e. Dashami (the tenth Day) when the majestic idol of Maa Durga with all of her four children (two daughters,  Lakshmi and Saraswati and two sons, Kartik and Ganesh) are immersed in the waters. The Bengalis worship Devi Durga as the Eternal Mother, the Eternal Bahu or daughter-in-law and the Eternal Consort or Wife (of Lord Shiva). However, amongst these three Roops or versions of Durga, it is the Matri Roop , i.e. the Eternal Mother, the most revered. In quintessence, Durga is the Mother of countless mortal children who are constantly looking up to her for her divine love and guidance – Devi Praseeda (O Divine Lady! Be pleased with us, the incorrigible sinners that we are!) is a plea that is intrinsically woven into the prayers that the Bengalis chant on these four to five days. Of course, the Aabaahan or the Welcome during the Mahalaya, preceeding the main Puja, wherein her devotees plead with her to come down on planet Earth from her celestial abode, amidst her mortal children in all her splendour and glory, depicts her as Shakti, the Eternal Warrior or Mahishasuramardini, the valiant destroyer of all Evil and the harbinger of the Ultimate Good, has a different Mythological lore to boot.

The Architecture Of The Temple Is That Of A Lotus Opening UP

The Visit:

However, this time there was no pandal hopping, as is customary, for the true Bongs to do these four/five days of Poojo, offer Pushpanjanli (pay obeisance with flowers) and feast around in general. As I said, in this season, due to the Pooja or not, a kind of detachment creeps into the system. You feel wistful and not exactly lethargic but definitely apathetic to work. So, pandal hopping or no hopping, sitting and working in office was not at all on my daily planner. On the 7th  of last month (i.e. September 2016), I decided to spend the day differently and left early to reach a place quite near to my office which I had been planning to visit for a long, long time. In fact, I had seen photographs of this place in the evenings when it is all lit up and heard so much about it that my curiosity was piqued to no end. But as they say those who stay in the nearhood never get an opportunity or make it to visit the places of historic/religious significance there. It is only when you take on the role of a tourist that you really cross over the thresholds of your homestead and venture out to far-off places to whet the appetite of the traveller in you. Such is human nature!

So, coming back to site visiting. It took around thirty five minutes to reach there. It has extensive grounds including a paid parking lot on the opposite side but on that day no one actually charged us for the same. As I crossed the road to enter the premise I was instantly disappointed. It was not what I had expected. Not at all! Here was I standing in front of the Bahai Temple at Nehru Place near Kalkaji Metro Station (exact landmark!!) which is famous for its lotus-shaped architecture, being the only place of worship for the Bahais in Delhi, also well-known for its prayer hall where complete silence is supposed to reside but the throng of crowd that was moving in and out of the entrance gate made it quite clear that solitude was not what I would find here.

One has to walk for almost fifteen to twenty minutes before  reaching  the main prayer hall. The grounds have been maintained meticulously and the greenery that abounds is soothing to the eyes. Commonly known as the Lotus Temple, it is surrounded by nine artificial lakes, which keeps the place cool and hydrated. However, the lakes require a little more maintenance and cleaning. At one point, much before entering the hall,  the visitors have to take off their shoes and put them in a plastic bag handed over by the Temple administrators and carry along inside the hall which idea did not appeal to my Hindu Sanskaar at all. Why carry the shoes inside a place of worship?

Inside The Temple – The Artificial Lakes

Visitors are not allowed to take shots inside the prayer hall. Therefore, no pics. But let me describe the interiors for you. Rows and rows of stone benches positioned around a podium kind of structure wherefrom  perhaps the priest recites the sermons when it is prayer time. Though mikes are installed on the podium, the accoustics of the hall is such that even whispers can make the place noisy. As such, mike seems unnecessary. The hall has a dome-like structure rising from the grounds in the shape of the petals of a lotus which is just about to open or opening up. The ceiling of the hall therefore tapers upwards and the workmanship has more geometrical precision than aesthetic beauty. Austerity abounds in every nook and cranny of the temple which gives a glimpse of what Bahai Faith must be all about. There is a kind of scientific temper about the place and it is quite obvious that with a lot of systematic and rational  thinking  the Faith  has evolved. I suppose this aura of austerity must be taking on pulsating vibes when multitude join in prayer inside the hall.

Right Outside the Prayer Hall

It was late noon when I reached there and the sun shone brightly inside (the surrounding wall of the Prayer Hall is of glass and wood). Though the crowd was generally obedient and followed instructions of the boys who doubled as guide-cum-security-personnel, yet given the reverberating accoustics of the place even shuffling feet had disturbing effect. After coming out of the hall, one is allowed to wear one’s footwear and deposit the empty plastic bags to one of the caretakers stationed outside. (The administrators appeared to be quite possessive about the plastic bags and a few of the junta quite absent-minded about the same which resulted in loud reminders/hollering to the tourists to return the bags before leaving :)) . Even with the kind of crowd around, the tour was orderly. I saw that no one was allowed to loiter in the sprawling lawns around the temple which actually helps in keeping the gardens  spic and span.

The Well-Manicured Gardens Were A Delight!

A Little of History :

A little about the Bahai Order.

The word Bahai is derived from the Arabic word Baha which means splendour or glory. The Bahais believe in Unity of God, Unity of  Humanity and Unity of Religion. They believe that there is One God who is the source of all Creation. Thus, according to them, all major Religions have the same spritual source. All humans, though diverse in several ways,  are born equal. The crux of Bahai Faith is to learn to know and love God through prayer, reflection and service to humanity. They do not believe in idol worship.

The Bahai Faith was founded by Baha u ullah in 19th-century Persia. He was exiled for his teachings from Persia to the Ottoman Empire and died still a prisoner. After his death, his son, Abdul Baha, spread the religion  to Europe and America. The Faith supposed to have consolidated in Iran under acute persecution. The Bahai community is spread out all over the world – more than 5 million in more  than 200 countries. The Bahai Faith said to have its origin in Indian Religions as well as Christian beliefs. According to them, the evolution of humanity is founded on global peace, justice and unity which is the need of the hour too.

The Bahai Faith in India can be traced back to the Babis in 1844. Professor Pritam Singh is believed to have been the first member of the Sikh Community in India to accept the Bahai Faith, According to Mahatma Gandhi, “Bahai Faith is a solace to humankind.”

The Lotus Temple was compelted in 1986 and is the Mother Temple of Bahai House of Worship in the Indian Subcontinent. It has won numerous awards for its architectural precision and grandeur and is the most visited site in India surpassing even the Taj Mahal.

My Feelings :

Given the genesis and evolution briefed above, it is not surprising, therefore, that the rational thinkers around the world, irrespective of creed, caste, community and religion, have found the core tenets of the Bahai Faith appealing to reason and intellect. It is the very idea of praying in silence that had attracted me to this grand site in the first place. However, it is my personal opinion that a centre of worship should be maintained as one, i.e., as a place of solitude and introspection and not for sightseeing. I was quite taken aback to see the congregation amassed there which, no doubt, speaks of the popularity of the place. However, the same crowd had a ruinous effect on the atmosphere of the Temple where many solitude-seekers like me might have visited to reflect in quietude and feel the Divine presence in absolute silence.

Lotus Temple——-

I walk with the crowd

in search of silence

The Distracting Crowd At The Temple

Hiccupping Over Haiku


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(Haiku is simple to read but difficult to write. I was introduced and immediately attracted to this form a couple of years back. Though whenever I tried to write one the stalwarts bluntly told me that it was anything else but haiku. To get a fair idea of what haiku is all about I kept on bothering the best known haijins of this country, lucky that I came across them and they so indulgently gave in to my innumerable queries and countless questions. As it is an experiential form of poetry one has to be initiated into the world of haiku in a gradual and guided manner. However, my hiccups over haiku came to a sudden halt as I came across a few books on the subject. I am thankful to those who directed me to these treasure troves. One such priceless find is ‘Naad Anunaad’ about which this post is all about)  

I was wondering whether it was proper to write about a book which I was in the middle of. But then there are certain books which you can never finish reading and keep referring back because of their Biblical proportion in terms of their  encompass, the enormity of content and what they teach you without attempting to do so. And then there are those wave-like feelings which rise within you when you come across creations of exquisite beauty! Yes, this was my experience when I was going through “Naad Anunaad”,  a collection of 746 contemporary world haiku penned by 231 writers from 26 different countries, edited by the internationally acclaimed haiku poetess, Kala Ramesh assisted by Sanjukta Asopa, a well-known journalist and haiku poet and  Shloka Shankar, a freelance, writer, poet and visual artist from Bangalore.

This triveni of haiku exponents have created a tome-like referral (not in terms of size but again content) for all haiku learners and lovers across the world.

The book begins thus: “In Sanskrit, the primordial sound in the cosmos, referred to metaphorically as AUM, is known as naad, and its resonance as anunaad.…..In silences between notes, between words, between lines, the emotion that arises is known as Rasa – the aesthetic essence – which gives poetry, music or dance, a much greater sense of depth and resonance.”  This is also that defines the ethos of the book itself.

Haiku are word paintings. In film jargon, we could refer to them as shots frozen in time.” The images absorbed by our indriyas (five senses) are momentary, therefore, ephemeral. Haiku intend to immortalize these trickles of time. These Japanese form of short verses conventionally adhere to the 5-7-5 syllabic meter.  However, the word limit is not an encumbrance but an enhancer. Come to think of it, how can you imprison a moment of exquisite beauty within the bounds of verbosity? Words fail when you confront the beauty of truth. The minimalism in haiku, thus, belies the resonance of epiphany therein.

I dip my feet

in a river the river

joins the sea

  • Kala Ramesh

falling blossoms

the breath between what was

and what will be

-Kala Ramesh

The resonance of haiku is a derivative of what remains unsaid between the words said. These silences between the words and between the lines and between the images lend endless scope for personalized interpretation as well as introspection.

the ocean in a raindrop inside my womb a heart

-Kala Ramesh

after the rain

in each hanging droplet

the world upside down

-Kahinath Karmakar

deafening rain_______

to think of it has no sound

of its own

-Kashinath Karmakar

Needless to say, its zen-like quality which compels an awareness of the moment, haiku are therefore never in the past tense. And how can one visualize the larger picture if one is not deeply entrenched in the very now ______

rippling laughter

face to face with myself

on water

-Minal Sarosh

For me, haiku is nostalgia personified. The beauty of resonance is in its ringing pathos. The form eloquently brings forth what was, what is and what will not be….. and that is the reason why perhaps one can never get over a haiku…it deftly holds on to the wispiness inherent in the cosmos…..a wondrous feat in terms of word capture, to say the least…

autumn morning____

my shadow now

has a slight hunch

-Kumarendra Mallick

autumn wind

the slant in the handwriting

of my former self

-Polona Oblak

It is difficult to address the idea of abstraction in haiku as its dominant visual impact apparently overshadows the subliminal terrain which philosophises the futility of life.

between the sky

and the spin of the earth

this falling leaf

-Laryalee (Larry) Fraser

The esoteric splendour of haiku is in the interplay of sharp contrasts. The contradictions of Nature and the paradoxes of life delicately balanced on the fulcrum of unfailing precision and undiluted crispness.

this puddle

what my paper boat knows

of the sea

-Sanjukta Asopa

the gravedigger staring

into space

then back at the grave

-Rebecca Lilly

As once the internationally acclaimed haiku poet Ramesh Anand had veered my attention on the ‘wow’ factor essential to a haiku, fact remains, that it is the most inexplicable and at the same time the most adorable ingredient of this form which with ease flummoxes as well as fascinates a reader to no end. This undiminishing awe is what epitomizes the perfection of a haiku.

temple ruins….

an eroded Buddha

still in meditation

-Ramesh K

The minimalism in haiku lends it an abruptness which is engaging as it is intriguing. It is also this element that draws the reader into a collaboration with the writer to impute perhaps greater meaning to an open-ended summation. And therein lies the charisma of haiku.

galaxy…

just a lily-pond

will do

-Sanjukta Asopa

gossip column

only the ink remains

unsmeared

-Carol Raisfield

breakfast together

silence about things

that matter

-Carol Raisfield

this world

is a dewdrop world

yes…but…

-Kobayashi Issa

Translated by David G Lanoue

starry night

what’s left of my life

is enough

-Ron C. Moss

However, in its incompleteness is there a complete story…

dad’s house

I unbutton a shirt

that no longer fits

-John Mcmanus

Nonetheless, there is a timelessness about haiku and every time you read the same one you are never tired of it. I have already gone through the book twice perhaps thrice yet every now and then I come across a haiku which has a newer meaning, a fresher presentation and a novel touch which I had not discerned before. And I know a decade hence when I again pick up this book I shall find similar engrossing haiku which will again mesmerize me with their contemporaneity and relevance.

yard sale

the empty fish bowl

still wet

-Peter Newton

Haiku is suggestive – it shows and does not tell.. The form though rigid has an ingrained flexibility thereby leaving huge scope for innovation…There are some exquisite one-liners here for all to relish and muse over…

iampackedelevatoreverybuttonpushed

a man in a crowd in a man

-John Stevenson

At the cost of lengthening the post, I cannot resist giving here a few catchy and thought provoking haiku…the various rasas depicted in their symbolic best…

There’s an odd underlying pathos in haiku which is at times hard to fathom yet extremely palpable pulling the chords of the heart with a maestro’s touch –

city park bench

sitting briefly beside me

the midday sun

-Samar Ghose

salt free diet

somehow I knew it would

come to this

-Samar Ghose

Humour –

Wa    i  ti  ng fo  r   the  ne  xt      SNE     EZE

-Shloka Shankar

Satire –

orthopaedic clinic

a three-legged chair

outside the entrance

-Johannes Manjrekar

traffic argument

the camel’s sneer

is impartial

-Johannes Manjrekar

Nostalgia –

garage sale—

the flowered couch on which

I became a woman

-Carol Raisfeld

Haiku is multilayered lending varied interpretive scope to its readers.

Relatable –

year’s end—

only the sound of mouse clicks

from every desk

-Kashinath Karmakar

cricket fever

the CEO talks batting order

with the peon

-Quamrul Hassan

Evergreen romance –

sharing an umbrella

your wet left shoulder

my right one

-Angelee Deodhar

Picturesque –

window moon

an imperfect circle

in a perfect square

-Kashinath Karmakar

And here’s a yummy one –

New Year’s Day

the centre of the chocolate

not what I expected

-Carolyn Hall

In order to pick these haiku from a big bunch of beautiful ones I had to flag the pages of the book and now it looks like this..

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I am sure with the next reading the number of flags will grow and so will the colours….which implies not one reading is enough. You need to savour each and every verse longingly in order to soak in the undercurrents beneath the strings of simple words.

Haiku is really a word picture. By spacing of the letters and the alphabets the abstraction of idea finds vibrant imagery.

speeding along the awning’s edge

raiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin

-Anita Virgil

As Kala says haiku has changed forms over the years and the anthology does not only include traditional haiku but also modern haiku (gendai), senryu, border-line haiku and the new ku without grouping them under various categories in order to retain the rasa.

Kala hopes that  Naad Anunaad ‘will draw a new generation of readers and authors into the kind of intimacy with nature that our grandmothers enjoyed…..Nature here does not mean just the hills, rivers and forests – it includes cities and the life we live, our day-to-day activities, taking in stride the agonies, failures, successes and idiosyncrasies intertwined with the natural world.’    

Thank you Kala for giving us such a literary treat.

Clumsy


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Cervical Collar – Google

 

Cervical Collar

I crane my neck

Inside the car

To see the sky

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From Google

This post is written for WordPress Daily Prompt : Clumsy

Of Love Lost And Regained


fatmagul

Fatmagul & Kerim

The good thing is that I am once again hooked to Zindagi Channel – the one that airs Pakistani TV Serials (now nomore). But this time it is the Turkish Serial “Fatmagul”which has caught my fancy. Dubbed in Hindi, it is one of the best TV serials that I have watched in a very long time, aired on Zindagi, Prime Time 08.45 PM (changed to 09.00 PM) to 10.00 PM.

Fatmagul,  an innocent and beautiful village girl from Ildir (in the province of Izmir)  is betrothed to Mustafa the handsome fisher boy. She stays with her loving brother , Rahami and cunning sister-in-law Mukaddes. Kerim Ilgaz, the adopted son of Meryem Aksoy, known affectionately as “Ebe Nine” (“Granny Ebe”), is also attracted towards Fatmagul. Kerim is apprenticed to the village blacksmith while his mother is the village hakim. The richest and the most influential businessman of Izmir, Reşat Yaşaran’s son Selim is going to get married to Melteme,  the daughter of a powerful politician, Turaner Alagöz. Kerim is friendly with Selim and his cousin Erdoğan. After Selim’s engagement, all three of them along with a common friend, Vuraal, get high on drinks and drug. That night Fatmagul sets off to meet her fiance Mustafa who is leaving for the high seas for fishing. On her way, she is accosted by Kerim and his friends. In a Bohemian mood , Fatmagul is  raped by  Selim, Erdogan and Vuraal while Kerim looks on.  Next morning, a devastated Fatmagul is found in the fields by Ebe Nine who reports the matter to the local police.

The news spreads like wild fire. Mustafa’s family breaks their son’s engagement with Fatmagul.  Mukaddes, Fatmagul’s sister-in-law, takes advantage of the situation and starts blackmailing the Yasarans whose name and prestige are now at stake, more so, because they are on the threshold of being associated with a powerful political family by way of their son’s marriage. They pressurise Kerim to take the blame upon himself. As he has no recollection of the incident of the previous night, Kerim thinks he is also guilty of the act. In order to protect his friends and assuage his own guilt he agrees to marry Fatmagul. Both Kerim’s and Fatmagul’s family sell their properties and shift base to Istanbul to start a new life. Kerim falls in love with Fatmagul and avows to take care of her. While Selim and Erdogan carry on life as though nothing has happened, its Vuraal who is tortured by nightmares and is unable to pardon himself of the heinous crime that he has committed in a state of intoxication.  However, as the name suggests, the televized drama pivots around the psychologically shattered Fatmagul, who tries to cope with her life against all odds and inner dilemmas. Eventually, to prove his love and empathy for her, Kerim lodges a police case against the Yasarans to save Fatmagul’s name and honour. The court case, that follows, takes interesting and unpredictable twists and turns ramifying the age-old struggle of the under-privileged to get justice against the clever manoeuvres of the rich and the powerful.

Does the story ring a bell?

Yes, the story has an incredible universal appeal – innocence versus villainy….exploited versus exploiter….victim versus victimizer. The narrative outlines a plot which is not unknown to the Indian psyche. We have heard and seen many such dramas. However, the difference lies in the directorial touch and treatment. The ultra-sensitive portrayal of a girl savagely gang raped and traumatized who pines to lead a normal life, regain faith, nurture dreams and pull on in life, is moving to say the least. Her love-hate relationship with her husband Kerim. Her brave attempts to surmount inner fears and insecurities. Her indomitable spirit which  motivates her to educate herself and last but not the least her woman’s heart which pursuades her to fall in love again.

I guess a story teller is always on the lookout for good stories whatever the medium be. With Fatmagul, the stigma attached to soaps that they are just teer jerkers with loose scripts, dragging episodes and dull performances is obviated. It is a multi-layered narration which dwells on uncommon precincts – not only psycho-social  rehabilitation of rape victims but also  sensitive portrayal of the inner turbulence of the rapist who has unthinkingly given in to the spur of the moment madness in an inebriated state of mind and is in a mode of repentance and self-castigation. However, while portraying the ”other side of the story” nowhere does the Director incline towards justifying or undermining the heinousness of the crime. With similar sensibility, the Director Hilal Saral, frames the desparation of the parents (Yasarans) who leave no stone unturned to save their only son, Selim, from being disgraced and doomed. Their concern is understandable if not appreciable.

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Mustafa & Fatmagul

Created by Vedat Turkali and written by Ece Yorenc and Melek Gencoglu, Fatmagul boasts of strong, relatable and complex characterizations  evolving episodically. Each has his/her own pasts and own personal struggles and weaknesses which ultimately define their carmic path. There is no rigid demarcates of good and evil, black and white or vamp and villain. The note ‘we create our own hells and heavens’ flows through the entire narrative which in itself is a refreshing change in comparison to what our indigenous televisations flood us with. Thus, Kerim’s tireless efforts to woo Fatmagul’s trust and confidence and his, at times, uncontrollable anger at being snubbed by her seem as justifiable as the disturbed state of mind of Selim and Erdogan when they have to spend days in judicial custody with cell mates who hate them because they are charged of rape and those who consider them in their league being perpetrators of similar crime. The most pitiable is, of course, Vuraal who is haunted  every moment by his own misdeeds till he is nothing but a living dead.  There is a point when you feel sorry for the sinner while hating the sin that he has to carry the curse of.

However, it is Mustafa, the simple village boy transforming, in due course of time, into a shrewd and suave operator taking advantage of every opportunity to put the Yasarans into trouble while working for them and later the Turaners, who notches up villainy to a level of sophistication hitherto unseen and unscaled. Yet his heart longs for his childhood mate Fatmagul whom he is guilty of deserting when she needed him the most. There is a Heathcliffian element in his character sketch which has been brilliantly contemporanized.

And then there is Munir, Selim and Erodgan’s maternal uncle ( mother’s brother) with whom one can easily draw a parallel with Mahabharat’s Shakuni. A parasite who can never be anybody’s friend bleeding the Yasaran’s of their empire and complicating the case against his nephews, he is also their defense lawyer and confidant in crime. Mukeddes (Esra Dermancioglu), Fatmagul’s sister-in-law, is another loud-mouthed gossip and troublemaker who thrives on scandals be it of her own. She is the only character who can make your blood boil and nose cringe with disgust. Her Shashikala-esq wickedness makes her stand apart as a performer in a negative role.

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Erdogan, Selim & Vuraal

Fatmagul is a fast-paced serial based on a movie by the same name. On its national turf, it had rocked the viewers with its explicit picturization of the rape scene, which for a TV Serial, exclusively meant for family viewing, is a very bold attempt. However, nowhere does it seem unnecessary, imposed or an attempt to sensationalze or gross on bare-dare frames  as the script very much requires this pivotal scene to bring forth the brutality and gruesomeness of the misdeed to justify the progression of the drama, the manner in which the story subsequently unfolds  and the life changing impact the mishap has on its characters – their trauma, their inner battles, their loneliness, their bottled-up grief and their ocassional joy of achievement.  Mainly a Family Drama it has the garnish of gripping narration, tense moments of suspense, thrill of romance and topping of murder mystery. Beren Saat, recipient of numerous awards for her various other performances, as Fatmagul is the rightest choice as she enlivens the character as though it were her own story. Engin Akyurek as Kerim Ilgaz is a heart stopper (I know many who watch this serial just to ogle at him. Needless to say they all belong to the fairer sex). Sumru Yavrucuk as Meryem Aksoy reminds me many a time of our own adorable Farida Jalal. Bugra Gulsoy brings to life Vuraal Namli’s agony on screen to perfection. It will be too lengthy a post to discuss each and every character as they look and feel as real as they can get to be. However, it will be an injustice to the review if no mention is made of the camera work immortalizing  the scenic beauty of the countryside and Istanbul, the largest city of Turkey, against the backdrop of which Fatmagul, the girl in her late teens and early twenties grows into a woman of substance. The intelligent use of percussion as the solo instrument for background score to heighten suspense and thrill is novel and scores high on intriguing and engaging the viewers. I am glad, while dubbing the Serial in Hindi, the catchy, croon-worthy folk songs have been left untouched to retain the flavour of the soil giving music lovers a taste of ear soothing world music, which to my mind, transcends the boundaries of language and region.

In the final analysis, this limited-episode serial is as much a mainstream entertainer as it is a social commentary of our times. It is really heartwarming and consoling to find that though we speak different languages, follow different religions and reside in different parts of the globe, yet when it comes to a tale of salt and tears we are one, our values are the same and the adhesive that binds us cohesively with society comprises  nothing but of love, care, compassion and humaneness. Thus, howsoever be the divisive forces work day and night to seggregate us, we foreever remain forged to a single fraternity that is humanity.

Forbidden Path


At this present moment if I were to define my state of mind it would be a simple one-word summation – confused. Yet I press on because that is what life is all about. You may be shaky  and sorrowful inside yet you have to pull on…..

Refuting the evergreen optimists, I’d say, life, as such, is not a propellor. It may provide you with motivating and catalytic opportunities , however, there are times when best of efforts towards a set direction come to naught. Going by the divine machination, if nullification evinces a process of elimination then the obvious question that props up is: “if this is not, then what?”

I know I am not to fathom or judge the Divine Will. I agree that is exactly what I am up to and that is perhaps why  I am more baffled and dejected than ever. But in the final analysis I am human and I want to hold on to something in life, even if it is a mere illusion. And illusions being illusions, they can be as wispy as ever.

So, the stark reality is that I am back to square one. And when I try to decode God’s encrypted message in-between the steep declines of failures, I come to a dead end.

Perhaps the answer lies in the quest itself and not in the despairing dilemma.  Yet…..as I trudge on in search of the next milestone, bewitched and befuddled, the blinding signages beckon me with witchy guile and the ghoulish wind almost throws me out of path with a satanic hiss,”This is not for youno….. not for you…..no …….never for you.”

And I, like the one possessed, lurch on forward with that same ancient query on my querrulous lips, “if this is not, then what…….then what……then what?”

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From Google

This Post is in response to WordPress Daily Prompt : Dilemma

And Then There Were Words


phobias

From Google

Ahoy! I am back. While going through my blog I realize that I have been absenting quite a lot and therefore want to make up for the lack of posts in between.

At times, it may be difficult to find interesting topics to write on and at others, you are bubbling with ideas to put forth in black and white. During those dreary stretches of disappearance from blogosphere, I often wondered whether the ink in my quill had dried up untimely. The thought made me feel empty. And sometimes gave me the jitters.

It is at this bleak point in life of diffidence and doubt that I chanced upon this loooong scroll of uncommon words at the back of an ordinary Register. Just imagine! A delightful find indeed, more so, because these were inscribed where they were least expected to be and that upped my spirits no less. Now, here there was a treasure trove worth sharing. For the scholarly, these may not be serendipitous revelations but for me they were an enchanting and valuable addition to my vocabulary.

So, my friends here they are. Let me know how many of these were already known to you and how many expanded your lingual horizon:

S.

Word

Meaning
1. Globophobia Fear of balloons popping
2. Ombrophobia Fear of rains
3. Geniophobia Fear of chins
4. Tetraphobia Fear of number 4
5. Tryophobia Fear of holes
6. Pogonophobia Fear of beards
7. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia Fear of long words
8. Lipophobia Fear of fats in food
9. Genuphobia Fear of knees and /or kneeling
10. Sanguivoriphobia Fear of vampires
11. Ergophobia Fear of work
12. Emetophobia Fear of vomiting
13. Triskaidekaphobia Fear of number 13
14. Arachibutyrophonia Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your month
15. Nomophobia Fear of being out of mobile phone contact
16. Ancraophobia Fear of wind
17. Ephebiphobia Fear of youth
18. Xanthophobia Fear of the colour yellow
19. Myrmecopobia Fear of ants
20. Turaphobia Fear of cheese
21. Anthophobia Fear of flowers
22. Hylophobia Fear of trees/forests
23. Omphalophobia Fear of belly buttons
24. Scriptophobia Fear of writing in public
25. Pentheraphobia Fear of your mother-in-law

To think of what all humans are fearful of!! But I guess the most relevant are the ones at Sl. No. 15 and 25. Trust me to come across and be intrigued by all sorts of phobias and fears. My young colleague thought I was endowed with, what she called, a khurafaati dimaag. Now, that’s quite a non-translatable phrase! The closest will be weird brain?  I am not sure. So let’s drop that.

Coming to phobias…Google aunty defines it as an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. While overpowering dread can take a turn towards insanity, short lived fears can be situational, conditional and may be considered normal. For example, if you are nauseous you may suffer from emetophobia. I do whenever I have to travel to the hills.

Triskaidekaphobia is quite common as the number 13 is considered ominous and harbinger of ill-luck. I think ergophobia is our national trait.

When I was young, I remember I used to feel vulnerable of my youngness now whether that is tantamount to ephebephobia is a call that a shrink needs to take.

Sanguiphoriphobia? Now who would love to have vampires around?

While I won’t rule out a tinge of madness in meself I’d be no less happy to know what of the above phobias you think you are suffering from or trying to fight with.

Lemme know…..even in whispers will do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So long……………..sleep tight!!