A celebration of average

These days it is all around us - the words inspiration & motivation. There is no dearth for books , articles, videos , audios ... on how to reach the pinnacle of the best version of yourself. Real life success stories can and ought to motivate even the most laid back among us to change our lives and reach for our true destiny. That is what we are fed day in and day out, whichever setting we are in.

We can talk about Motivation and stories about Michael Jordan will flash before our eyes. How he was rejected for being shorter than the required height at 5'9" and how he worked hard , practiced every day , day after day and shot up to 6'3" and made it to varsity basket ball team to script history thereafter.

" I can accept failure, everyone fails at something, But I cannot accept not trying " - Michael Jordon.

We can talk of Inspiration and stories about Lance Armstrong will spring up. How Armstrong diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer at age 25 , with less than 40 percent chance of recovery did not let his spirit die. How he came back with his sheer will power and dedication and turned odds in his favour when everyone thought that his life was over.

" Make every obstacle and opportunity - Always work hard and good things will happen - Don't believe it when other people say you can't. " - Lance Armstrong

We can talk about changing our lives and reaching for our true destiny and stories of J K Rowling will fill our ears. From living as a single mother on state benefits to a multi millionaire , she has come a long way from her early days of struggle and is the true epitome of the classic rags to riches story. She has always attributed her success to her ability to focus all her attention on things that mattered most to her and a gentle reminder that everyone has a hidden talent within him or her.

" We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of that power we need within oursleves already " - J K Rowling

Now statistically there are about 7.2 million people on this planet and really only about 10,000 of them have major worldwide  influence at any given point of time. That leaves 7,199,990,000 of us to come to terms with the limited scope of our lives and the fact that the vast majority of what we do will not likely matter long after we have died. This is not a fun thing to accept or think about.

So we are actually left to think about whether being mediocre, being blase, boring and average is okay. Not pursuing or advocating medicrity mind you - because we all should try and do the best we possibly can always - but rather accept mediocrity when we end up there despite our best efforts.

So let us accept some raw facts. Everything in life is a trade off. Some of us are born with high aptitudes for academic learning, others are born with great physical skills. Others are athletic. Yet others are artistic. In terms of skills and talents humans are a wildly diverse group. Sure, what we end up achieving in life ultimately depends upon our practice , perseverance and effort, but admittedly we are all born with different aptitudes and potentials.

Let us consider this bell curve. Those who have taken statistics and loved it , survived , or plain hated it would understand.

A bell curve is quite simple. Take a population of people - say those who like to cook. The horizontal axis represents how good they are at cooking. as we move to the right we find people who are really good and as we move to the left end we find people who are really bad at it. You would notice that it gets really thin at either ends. Which means that there are a few people who are really really good - the masterchefs and all and a few people who are really really bad - those who can't boil a pan of water if their life depended on it. The majority however fall into the mediocre middle.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. But the fact is, most of us pretty average at most things we do , no matter how hard we practice. Even if we are truly exceptional at one thing we are pretty average or below at others. That is a fact of life. And because we have limited energy and time few of us ever truly become exceptional at more than one thing , if anything at all. It is the extremes that get all the publicity. The vast majority of us will never be truly exceptional at anything perhaps. And that is okay. Should be.

Which leads us to an important point - Ordinary as a life goal - sucks . But Ordinary as a result is okay.

Few of us get this. and even fewer accept it. Because problems arise - serious " My God, what is the point of living " type problems, when we expect to be extra ordinary. Or worse we feel entitled to be extra ordinary. When in reality it is not viable or likely. For every Michael Jordan there are 10 million people stumbling around parks and playing pick up balls and ... well losing. There are a million dads playing the game in their back yards with their kids and being the hero. For every Lance Armstrong , there are millions of people out there who cycle to work , hard and fast , hardly recognised for speed and endurance. There are a lot of people who pursue it as a weekend hobby and are happy and healthy about it. For every J K Rowling there are millions of creative people out there sharing their ideas and thoughts through social media - FB status, blogs, twitter feeds etc etc. And then there are a lot of , well me , scribbling and playing at writer.

And yet there is this psychological tyranny in our culture today , a sense of needing to prove that we are special and unique , exceptional all the time. No matter what. An urge to have that moment of exceptionalism which eventually gets swept away in the current of all other human greatness that is constantly happening. For instance ... think of that perfect selfie we get to see on the social media. What we see is perfection. What we don't see is the time spent in perfecting it. Shots and reshots - lots of practice clicks. We're merely exposed to a persons absolute finest moment . We watch it and  forget about it within minutes . Because we are onto the next. And then the next.

It is an accepted part of this psychological tyranny to believe that we are all destined to do something truly extraordinary. Celebrities, Tycoons, Politicians say it, Even Oprah does. Each and every one of us can be extra ordinary. We all deserve greatness. The fact however is contradictory. If everyone is extraordinary , then by definition there is no extraordinary.

So the best thing to do is accept and celebrate being ordinary and average. Because a world enthralled to best , a world that is increasingly equating being extra ordinary with the right to exist is disastrous. The push /pull to be extraordinary , the madness of practice till you perfect works for a puny minority. What it does to a vast majority of others is it breaks or squanders our individual gifts  when we need them the most.

If we believe being average = being nobody then we never develop the gifts we have. We think who cares ?

If we believe being ordinary we can't impact this world we fall into resignation , bury ourselves into shadow comforts.

If we believe being ordinary and average no one will love us or everyone we meet is ordinary we are condemning us to loneliness.

Perhaps most tragically we end up working so hard , practicing relentlessly to be special to reach Carnegie Hall that we do no really have time or energy to be alive !!! No time to open  our arms to  the simple, the average , the everyday. Which is where 99.99 % of life happens and where we get to be who we are.

As for me ... I work hard, I have a multitude of interests ranging from reading , writing , dancing , occasional singing, gardening , cooking, sketching, painting  and so on. I do not exceptionally excel in any - the proverbial jack of all trades, master of none. But I do not let go. I constantly try new things and am so happy with my attempts.

I am average. I am ordinary. And I am wildly proud of it.

( This is my entry for LJ Idol Season 10 - Week 3 of Second Chance. The prompt given to us was Getting to Carnegie Hall. If you could connect to my opinions here ... do give your opinions and comments ... concrits are as always accepted. )

No longer a dream

Tanya was at her desk when she heard it. It was late and she wasn’t expecting anyone. She opened the door and walked out to the front porch. The garden was unnaturally lit up. She looked around and that’s when she saw the shadow move across in front of her.

She felt compelled to find out who it was today. Tanya followed the shadowy figure. She walked faster as she realized the figure was well within her reach if she only could lean forward a bit more, stretch her hand a little further. And then she fell.

Face Down.

Tanya woke up from her dream at this point - Always. The setting was different on most days but the composition almost the same. The shadowy figure, her going after it, and then her fall. She wondered if there was a way to knock some sense into yourself in your dream.

Her day at the office was routine. But her job as junior pleader under a well established senior Advocate was one that kept her busy. She had no time for idle thoughts which she knew could creep in otherwise. She was just about to leave office, when her senior buzzed her in. Tanya was in awe of Chaya Mathur. As she walks in she realizes that Chaya is unusually worked up. Tanya is then briefed, very briefly on a new case. A high profile meeting was scheduled at the Crowne Plaza and the Viral Flu has chosen today of all days to pin Chaya down. She looks a mess and feels even worse. Chaya tells Tanya in ‘no other option’ tone that she has to be at Crowne Plaza at 8pm sharp.

Chaya gives her the luxury of the office car to make sure that she reaches on time. She had enough time to go home and freshen up , change into something suitable and go over to meet the client. As she finished her bath and opened the chest of drawers to pick a clean pair of undergarments, her hand touched the small album at the bottom. The fingers lingered over the album for more than necessary as flashes from the past appeared before her.

At 17, Tanya loved to escape to the Municipal Library to devour law books. She aimed at and dreamed of getting into the top law school of the country at Pune. She tied up her hair in a pink bandana and rode her yellow cycle to the library every day. Every day that was proclaimed to be a holiday. She planted herself on the floor at the back of the library, under a window, and dreamed of being a lawyer. The more she read, the more she noticed her vocabulary and writing improving and her love for the subject growing.

She noticed something else, too: a boy a few years older to her with double shaded hair and intense brown eyes stealing glances at her through the shelves of books. He was there to read to a story-hour group, and often stayed late. Day after day they found themselves both sitting in the same spots, but they never exchanged a word. One day—she couldn't remember why—she didn't make it to the library. After that, she never saw the blue-eyed boy again for quite some time.

Tanya picked up a navy blue knew length dress in chiffon. It accentuated her curves and flattered her skin beautifully. But more than that it seemed perfect to keep in tow, the ageing balding business magnate she imagined her client for the day was to be. She tied her hair up in a loose bun and instantly had curls falling all over framing her face. A dash of lipstick and eyeliner around her eyes and she was happy with the face in the mirror. She took her keys and rushed out through the front porch.

The traffic leaves her mind wandering. People in cars , buses, scooters were rushing home to the comfort of their families. Tanya was all of 30 and yet to settle into family life. Professionally she was doing well for herself but going home to an empty house pinched her once in a while. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. If she couldn’t have it with Aman, she wasn’t prepared to have it with anyone else.

3 years later … her library trips had ensured she was on the path to get her dreams fulfilled. She had gotten into the Las School she dreamed of. One seemingly ordinary day , her friends had thrown a party , no grand reason and yet not completely devoid of reasons either. Tanya had planned on studying for her semester exams and reluctantly nodded a yes to promise her attendance. She walked in and found celebrations in full swing. She wasn’t the partying kind and her mind had fixed it that she would leave as soon as possible after an early dinner. The Party animal sort of party wasn’t her taste at all.  Leaning against a counter in the kitchen was this guy, with blue eyes, whom she somehow started talking to. "It was a very comfortable conversation that came around to 'What do you do?'" she recalled. She told him  she was studying to become a lawyer and had just picked up a law firm for internship. He immediately said he worked in the same building, an intern at a construction company. So there it  was …  an instant connection. Tanya found him interesting, intelligent and really but she just wasn't interested in meeting anyone.

Aman, however, was a little more smitten. Tanya had a total soft loveliness about her. She was authentic and grounded. Maybe it was his feeling that destiny brings special people into our lives at the right time. He left the party with her number, sure that he had met his special person and that his time was right.

Their first date was just as pleasant as their first meeting. They quickly learned they had much in common: the movies they liked, the type of food they enjoyed, their sense of humor. They even solved the mystery of the sense of familiarity they felt. The blue eyed boy and the girl with the pink bandana and yellow bike from the library had walked into each other’s life. More outings followed.
She was surprised, then, when six months into their relationship, Aman proposed. She was so not ready and wanted to focus on her career that she thought he was joking. But it turned out he was quite serious. He took her home to introduce her to his parents. She loved them.  When he popped the question, she turned him down flat.

Aman never mentioned marriage again, a fact he attributes more to economics than to reluctance. He'd finished his internship and was freelancing, which led him to feel less financially secure, so he couldn't afford a ring and didn't want to enter a marriage on unsure economic terms and doubtful love.  He left town a few months later. She remembered that day … she had so wanted to ask him  to stay and yet she didn’t. She didn’t think it was right to hold him onto a future she hadn’t thought off as yet. She cried and he held onto her , kissed her tears before he turned and walked away.

The car stopped and she woke up from her reverie. She wondered where he was and what he was doing as she entered the Lobby.

She walked into the Restaurant and asks for table No 22. Waltzing towards the table and realized that the client wasn’t an aging balding business magnate. She crossed the table and turned around to greet him, and stared open mouthed a pair of big brown eyes, those painfully familiar eyes. AMAN. He rose from his chair and they stood face to face for what seemed like an eternity. The 10 long years that had separated them suddenly disappeared. Tanya felt like her body was being spun in a washing machine. She felt giddy and tipsy when Aman reached out and balanced her. The touch was as electric as it used to be. He gave her the smile that had always made her want to do anything for him. The twinkle in his eyes were still the same. He looked the same except for his salt and pepper hair.

He looked calm and composed. Had he set it up? It wasn’t possible. For heavens sake he couldn’t infect Chaya with a flu. She saw him looking at her ring finger.
“What would you like to have ?“,he asked very obviously amused.
“Anything“, she replied curtly.
“You haven’t changed a bit… “, he replied cheekily.
Nothing seemed to be going right at the moment. Aman for some reason seemed to be pleased with her agony.
“How have you been ? “he asked her gently in that raspy voice she realized could still make her melt.
“ Been ok “she muttered. “ Busy “ she concluded.

The main course was served and they ate in silence. As he ordered the desert, she realized he still remembered her favourite dishes. She looked at him and knew love was still there. Atleast she felt so. As if on a cue he turned and she blushed wondering if he had read her mind just then.

She looked at him “Are you settled in Delhi? What about uncle and aunty ?Family,Kids ? …. She trailed off.

“Whoa! That’s a whole lot of questions Tanu “ , he replied. Do you want the last 10 years of my life in a capsule? “he mocked.

The desert was deliciously sweet. So was the moments with him inspite of the terror growing inside her at having to face Chaya. He paid the bills and they walked out of the hotel.

“Can I drop you home ?“, he asked.

“I have a car” she replied. He opened the door and as she got in he said, ” Don’t worry about the meeting. I will have it covered for you tomorrow. Get home and sleep well.”

The car sped off almost immediately. She didn’t get a chance to reply. The journey back home left her weary and forlorn. Things with Aman had again ended abruptly.

She reached home and changed into her night clothes. Took a book from her bookshelf, turned on the music and settled into her chair with the book on her lap. She closed her eyes trying to make sense of the day today.

She heard the faint knock at her door. She went to open the door. There was no one visible. And then as she was about to close the door in frustration she sees the shadow on the right side. She walks out to the front porch and turns her head to the right, when she gets pulled into Aman.

“What the ... “she starts to say, as he puts his finger on her lips.

“I have recently moved to Delhi. My parents are still in Mumbai. And I haven’t been married.“ he says pulling her closer to him. “How could I let you go without answering your questions?“ he added with a twinkle in his eyes.

“Why haven’t you married ? “Tanya questions feeling warm and secure in his arms.

“It took me this long to find you Tanu, that’s why… “, he whispered into her hair.

He kissed the trail down her cheeks.

“ What are you doing ? “ , she asked , her voice barely a whisper.

“ I was curious , “ he replied in a tone that was sexily hoarse.

“ About what  ? “

“ If happy tears taste the same as sad ones “ , he said with a wink as she closed her eyes. He brought his mouth down on hers and kissed her softly, teasing her with his lips. Her body responded and she wrapped her arms around him. His kiss got deeper, harder and he backed her into the wall. He smelled like leather, spice and soap. She breathed him in, savoring every complex note.

The shadowy figure was finally within her reach. As he lifted her to cross the threshold, she thought to herself “It was No Longer a Dream “

( This is my entry for Week 2 of Second Chance - Lj Idol Season 10. The prompt was Front Porch and if you do find my take on it worthwhile do know that I appreciate concrits and comments and open to suggestions too. )

The Awakening .....

"And it's 9 pm again - time to serve the dinner!" As usual, I got 5 plates and 4 katoris ( small bowls for currries ) from the kitchen rack, served chicken curry in all the 3 bowls and the special vegetable curry in the fourth and 2 rotis each in all the plates. The fifth plate remained empty."

Nothing was different that day, this is how it has always been and nobody ever noticed or realised that something there required a change. But suddenly everything looked different and a little unjust when her 6 year old spoke up that day. She had opinions, at times quite sensible and strong ones.
The 2 boys were sitting at the table discussing parts of the PS4 games in their own world, a conversation none of the others at the table could join in or contribute to. The man was engrossed in the prime time news that was being aired in the tv in the living room. His position at the table conveniently arranged to permit this viewing. Servings were refreshed and the fifth plate remained empty. Suddenly she wanted to know why are they all treated differently in such a small family of only 5 members - her dad treated like a king, brothers like jacks ( later corrected to jokers ) she the princess and mum the maid.

As everyone was leaving the table, she asked ' why aren't you eating mamma ? ' There was just one roti left in the serving bowl. Her question came as a bolt from the blue for all of them because no one had never thought about it ever before. Suddenly she wasn’t much happy with the way her mum would work at the office or work for office from home till 5 pm , then cook, do sundry household chores the rest of the day, have no time to watch television and no energy to read the piling books on her bedside and yet no one made sure she ate with them if at all.

A woman is like water and she readily moulds herself in the shape and situation she is in. Kindness and Empathy define her. No matter how confident and strong she is , she herself doesn't know when and why she gets ready to scarifice herself for others. By OTHERS I am actually referring to the ones who are supposedly her closest like her husband, her in-laws, parents and even children.

In an attempt to keeping everyone happy, which comes to me naturally, I let my dreams and desires take a back seat. Just to gift them one smile, I was ready to take the world by my stride and cross any barrier that comes my way. The only thing that mattered to me was their happiness and I wasn't scared of making innumerable unnecessary so called sacrifices for this.

But does that make her really happy or fee heroic ? Is she doing it willingly in all her senses ? Or is it years of trained subconsciousness that tells her this is the way it is done and there is no other way. Maybe she is scared of being abandoned by her loved ones. Worse still the fear of being judged as a selfish wife, careless mother , irresponsible daughter also probably acts as a catalyst.

Where was that confident, outgoing and sanguine girl lost? The one who would never care about what others think, the one who knew her goals and the ways to achieve it.  She wanted to change the lives of all the women she had ever come across, she wanted to motivate them, liberate them and make them understand they are worth much more than this, that they are humans and it's perfectly alright to be outspoken, aggressive and selfish. I never realised - when I turned into one of those many women myself; when I lost myself totally in the process of winning over others.

My eyes were moist, though I wouldn't agree, my soul was bruised thought I wouldn't accept. I actually had nothing for myself except a constant yearning to find my lost self , to live the life of my dreams , to feel alive.

I had kept faking happiness and contentment, not only to my family members but even to myself. But it was time I accepted and changed it. I had a daughter who would follow me blindly, knowingly or unknowingly, and this is what I  was suddenly scared of. I didn’t want to raise another ME but rather a woman of substance, who knows her worth well.

And for this to happen, I needed to change myself first, I needed to set some good example for my daughter to follow. Change doesn't happen in a day but I was finally determined to bring it in our lives. I started loving myself, counselling myself, because who else on earth knew me more than me myself. I kept talking to my dormant inner strength, persuaded it to leave the cage and come out, actuated it to face the world with aplomb.

It took me a few months, it was a very slow growth but a mostly consistent one. There were days when it seemed easier to go back to my inconsequent self. There was no one supporting the change and yet no one actually opposing it either. Indifference ... years of it could not be broken down or melted down with the snap of a finger. But slowly I started standing up for myself, holding my head high and letting my voice be loud and clear - not just be heard but listened to.

I finally discovered myself, I knew my vigour and strength, I also learnt about my flaws and how to overcome those. The world that looked like a prison all this while suddenly turned into an open theater where I could write my own scripts and play my favorite roles and create my own settings.

"What is this hullabaloo about women empowerment? What does it stand for? Is it derogatory or is it secretive? If the name itself suggests POWER then how can it be gender specific? Isn't strength a universal entity and every being on earth is entitled to this?"

And finally I had the answer to all our queries ! I now knew women empowerment isn't about changing how a man thinks but it's about changing yourself, it's learning to love and respecting yourself because that is the only way to make others understand and support you.

You get married to another human, a man to be precise who isn't God and unaware of your perspectives and goals and unless you tell him about yourself, he is going to treat you the way he thinks is right, which might be exactly opposite to what you expected. So it's important for us (WOMEN) to have our visions clear and try and make others respect it.

Everyone is born special and it will be injustice to underestimate oneself. To keep your near and dear ones happy, you first need to be happy yourself. Forget what the world thinks , it will always try to pull you down but it's totally upto you to know and believe that the entire universe lies beneath you, you can achieve anything with your indomitable spirit only if you let go of your fears and inhibitions.

My 6 year old gave me a lesson on what was going wrong in my life. .... If not for her, I wouldn't have ever realised any of this. In her words I deserved to be Queen.

I had gathered my 3 shots. My shot at rebirth, awakening.My shot at happiness in small ways and some of those big ones too. My shot at a life sans regrets when I wake up one morning 10-15 years down the line. I had spent 40 years living for others, the remaining 20 and beyond had to be mine. I wasn't going to throw away my shots.

( This is my entry for Second Chance - Week 1 - LJIdol Season 10. The prompt given was - Not throwing away my shots. Concrits and suggestions are always welcome. )

Sometimes love is all you need ......

Diya opened her eyes , squinting , as the brilliance of the afternoon sun hits her glowing face turning it a pink shade that Albert so loved. She smiled, as he brought the book forward to block the rays that threatened to disturb her afternoon siesta. It was their favorite weekend routine. The garden bench, Albert reading out her favorite books as she rested in the warm comfort of his lap, her hands wrapped around her beautifully pregnant belly. A few feet away, Jiya bubbly and all of eight played soft ball with her friends.

She loved hearing him tell her stories. He loved narrating stories from movies and reading it out books to her. During their courtship days he could spend hours well past midnight telling her stories from movies. She loved movies and books. Back then it provided her the escape she wanted from the reality of her life. Back then she hadn't imagined the road of her life would take all those curves and bends and rough roads and even speed through hairpin turns without crashing over. Back then she had reconciled to a life that was centred around her blessing , her daughter , her life. Back then it was just the two of them and they were as happy as they thought they could ever be. Back then she didn't know there could be life happier than that.

She looked up at his face. He looked at her quizically. And then smiled before raising his thighs slowly towards his chest, her head moving closer to his. He bent over and kissed her. She closed her eyes. She was grateful, so grateful. Al was someone who was comfortable with her silences. She had fallen in love with someone who didn't need her words to know it was time to kiss her.

Jiya came running towards them at that moment. She quickly came and placed her little hand on her mama's tummy , her baby's home and asked " Did baby call for me , Mama ? " Diya slowly lowered her feet and straightened herself. She caught Jiya's hand and moved it over her bump , "Let's see if that happened baby. " And together they explored, anticipation rising up in both their eyes. Al joined in and just then the baby did twitch. Diya's tummy skewered to a side deviating from its perfect round mound. They all squeeled with happiness. Diya closed her eyes, resting her head on Al's shoulders - a precious moment, a blessing that had sought her out.

A year ago .......................

Al had asked her out for a beach date. They had met so many times there. Everyone had their place of escape. A place they went to escape the chaos of life. That one place that could give them the perspective they needed and untie all the knots in their mind or soothe all their problems for a while atleast. The beach was that place for her. She loved the feel of the smooth sand beneath her feet. She loved absorbing the rays of the sun and believe it transformed into energy in each and every cell of her body. The sounds of the ocean she believed could restrained all her worries. She knew today was going to be decisive. It had been a year since she had seen Al. It had been a year since she retraced her steps. She hadn't wanted to prolong the agony of indecisiveness. She didn't want to be in his way of a life he so deserved, dreams that he had carried in his heart. The past year she had been trying to find her peace in the fact that as much as she wanted him to be happy and content more than anything in the world , it might just be that she would never be a part of it.

Diya had always loved sunsets. She walked down the beach , climbed up the rocks. She jumped from one rock to another till she came upon the biggest rock and sat down. She decided to enjoy the view of the bright orange sun just as it was about to hit the water on the horizon. Those few moments as the ball of fire rushed to oblivion and the moments after that when the sky was coloured with an intense assortment of orange, yellow, red and pink quietened her palpitations. The ocean water now mirrored the colours of the sky. There was a small boat in the distance in the exact same path as the sun. She smiled for it did look like the sun was sitting on top of it like a cup on a saucer , even if for a brief moment. "Beautiful isn't it ? " , the voice that could calm her as well cause a storm in her jolted her out of her reverie. He sat down beside her. " Hey ", she said her eyes still on the horizon.

" I missed you ", he replied as he reached out for her hand. All storm broke out inside of her. The longing, the love she had tried to keep under covers, the tears, the confusions, the feeling of loss, the gap between them - the age, pressures from his family, stress of the separation from her marriage, the overwhelming feeling of being passionately desired for a few years but not being good enough to last a lifetime. She didn't want it to happen, but the tears flooded out as soon as he said those words. The words that echoed her emotions for the last one year. She kept looking at her hands as she fumbled with them. He came and sat in front of her and cupped her face in his palms. She closed her eyes. " Look at me ". he said softly.

" I love you. A lot. I realised that I love you enough to fight for you.. compromise for you and sacrifice myself for you if need be. I love you enough to miss you incredibly when we are apart, no matter what length of time it is for and regardless of the distance. I love you enough to believe in our relationship , to stand by it through the worst times, to have faith in our strength as a couple and to never give up on us. I love you enough to want to spend the rest of my life with you, be there for you whe  you need or want me, and never ever want to leave you or live without you. I love you that much. " Diya shivered as she opened her eyes slowly letting the words sink into each and every cell of her body and taking in the face she loved so much and had yearned for in the past one year. A tear rushed down her cheek at that very moment. His eyes conveyed his truth.

" I promise to love you at 6 am when you wake up in the morning, when your hair is messy and your eyes are sleepy and yet to greet me with a good morning smile . I promise to love you at 8 am when we say good bye to each other for the day and you are rushing out the door with your lipstick, hair brush  and car key in one hand, three files in the other , your laptop bag and hand bag dangling on both shoulders each , yet stopping at the door for a moment to tell me you love me. I promise to love you at 6 pm when you are exhausted from the day, and people have worn you out and you feel like giving up and yet your eyes light up as soon as you see me and ask me how my day was. I promise to kiss your forehead then and wrap you in my arms. I promise to love you at 8 pm when we have finished dinner, whether it is one of those exotic dishes you cook from those innumerable recipes on the net or whether it is the pizza delivered home, and you look at me with those big eyes of yours letting me know what is to follow. I promise to love you at 10 pm when we are in bed , a human knot wrapped up in sheets and kisses. I promise to love you at 3 am when you are consumed by unexplained sadness, doubts or confusion, when you want to weep for reasons unknown to you. I will kiss your lips slowly and tell you you are the absolute best and that everything will be fine. " Diya had wanted to hear these words so much.  " I will love you when you grow old and I will love you after that. I will love you if I am no longer here too. " he continued. She put her head on his chest and wrapped her arms around him. She had missed this so much. Her Home.

He moved away and looked at her. She found strength to look at him too.

" Diya Rao ...

Marry me. Let's have the church wedding you always wanted.

Marry me. Let's spend our week nights eating chapatis on the floor even though there is a perfectly fine table with chairs behind us. Give me the chance to take you out for movies , every single one , where we sit in the back row and laugh our heads off or cry our hearts out.

Marry me. We will build our tree house as you visioned it. We will paint our walls and get more paint on us than on the walls. I will help you in the kitchen as you attempt those exotic dishes and I taste the delicacy you are and always will be. We can hold hands in public and I will proudly show you off to world. We can go to parties or we can end up drinking wine in the bathtub.

Marry me. Slow dance with me intou our bedroom, with an unmade bed and candles on the nightstand. Give me the chance to wonder at your blah blah after you have had a glass or two of wine or beer and let me love the innocence that is you. Let me satiate my never ending hunger for you with music in the background.

Marry me. Let me love you forever. "

365 days before that day ...

" I can't do this anymore Al. I love you too much. You are the second most important person in my life, second only to Jiya. Do you even know how it used to feel when I am with you ? It used to feel like I am safe. Like no one can hurt me. Your warm enbrace was all I needed to be relaxed. Your muscles around my waist, my body pulled close to yours. The feeling is indescribable. When people say its the best feeling ever, they arent kidding. Because in every moment ,when I am with you  when we are sharing body heat, there is no other place I would rather be and no thought crosses my mind that doesn't involve you. When you held me close you , so close I could hear your heart pounding against your form chest, I believed it was beating for me. I believed that heart was mine ... for always forever "

" I feel the same way Diya. " , he countered.

" No you don't Al. If you did, how can you even think of moving away from me and settling with someone your family choses. How can you tell me you will cut off all ties with me, all the memories of the last 2-3 years when you commit to someone you just met briefly before everyone decides you have to marry her. " Diya was hysterical and incosolable. " I know I am wrong for you in so many ways. Society approval is never going to be on our side. But for some time you led me to believe we could have a world of our own. I believed you didn't care what people thought and said. I believed age is just a number when you kept telling me it was so. I believed I could have a happier life.", she whispered.

" We can still have it Diya. Nothing in life is permanent. We do not know how long anything in our life will last. My marriage as decided by the family might or might not happen in the future. I cannot let go of my responsibilities to fulfill my parents dreams and desires. But that doesn't mean we have to give up what we have now. It is beautiful and rare. Let us be together for as long as we can. Don't give up on me now Diya. I love you damn it. ", he explained.

" I am sorry Al. Do you know how it feels when I am with you now ? Everytime I see you I do not see the Al that is mine. I see someone who belongs to someone else and someone I have borrowed. Well not even borrowed, someone I am stealing. I see someone who cannot chose me. I see someone who wants me till he finds someone else. I see myself as a temporary filling in a temporary gap. When I see young girls on the road, in shops, my mind goes haywire thinking one of these young girls could be the one for you. One of these girls will have your ring on their fingers. One of these girls will be your documented partner. You will raise a family with lots of children as you always wanted with one of these girls. You will make love as we made, with one of these girls. You will care for one of these girls as you cared for me. You will build your life and grow old with one of these girls. And do you know what hurts most ... you will do all this without remembering me. You are ready to forget me , erase me off  from your life , a chapter not to be revisited when you meet this girl. "

" Don't say such things. ", Al reached out to her.

" It is true Al. I was in wonderland for the last 2-3 years. I refused to look at reality and practicality as what I had with you was what I had wanted all my life. Parts of me have died now ... knowing that inspite of me giving you the best of me, you will still chose someone else. The reasons may be many and genuine. But they do not cover for what I will go through. You have to chose between all your responsibilities, family, your parents, sisters ... Five members on one side and me and the love we have for each other on the other. You have to decide what you will give up and I know what your choice is. I know what you are willing to give up and put in the line of the speeding trolley.", she said sadly.

" I have been planning my escape from my marriage for ever since I can remember. There were times when I thought I was making a mistake. The time I separated friends and family shut me out. I was isolated. I had always been told that women are responsible for holding the family's honour . A woman living alone is a sin. A woman travelling alone is a sin. A woman who gives up on the sacred ness of her marriage in search of her happiness is devil incarnated. When every one around you says you are wrong , that your dreams aren't valid , you start to believe that. When you skateboarded into my life I was in one of those sinkholes. You put out your hand and pulled me up. You didn't have to, yet you did. For a very long time, I didn't understand what your role in my life was.  And then gradually your words and actions led me to firmly believe you were my life itself. I believed everything in my life led to you. All my pain, my choices, my regrets. And when we are together nothing mattered anymore, it was all worth it. Because I realised that if I had done one thing differently I would never have met you. "

" Al,  I have put you up on a very high pedestal. The last 2-3 years have been the best in my life. I can live with the memories of those years for the rest of my life. I can accept that you changed, life happened to you while I made plans for us in wonderland. I can crash land back to Earth now. But what I cannot bear is the thought that you kept me with you only because I was available. I was convenient. I wasn't going to hold you to any commitment. It kills to know I can never be your choice for life. I do not want to have any sort of negative feelings about you or us at any point of time. Right now  I feel like I am on that out of control trolley. I know it is going to crash land somehwere and I have to chose between staying in the trolley and crashing or hurt myself trying to jump out of it. Its a no win situation either way. I lose either way. I have to chose ... and I chose to jump now rather than prolong the agony."

" Sometimes Al , Love just isn't enough " , Diya slowly let go of the hand that held her and walked away.

( This is my entry for Week 9 of LJ Idol. The prompt given to us " Trolley Trouble" As always concrits and comments are always appreciated )

Soyons Amoureux

i'm fine                                                                     i'm just cold
please help me                                                                                                                                               please put your ams around me

i'm just tired                  i already ate
i Can't take this anymore        not feeling hungry

i'm better i promise never felt so bad before

you can go, don't worry
           show me you care enough to stay

i'm okay
this is

The flowers were carefully chosen
and woven into her long flowy dress
decorated with sunshine's golden rays
leaving sweet scent and warmth on the trails of her caress
Everywhere the girl went
she chased away the loneliness
out of every dark room
she ousted the sadness

A frozen heart she knew to thaw
she smilled and painted with bright colours
the sky that no one really saw
the night had changed to day
that seemed enough to be in awe
a world that snatches what it receives
reality that really is a flaw

No one thought to appreciate her
for the warmth on their skin
for the comfort of her smiles
for the protection she wove
for the demons she chased away
for the parts of her she gave away
for her heart her treasure trove
for the company she gave for miles
for the support that made them win

So she thought she was not needed
she could leave and they would not care
but she was just taken for granted
for light was always there
because you never thank the ground
until you know how it feels to fall
and you never express how much you need the sun
until it fails to rise at all.

And then she understood -

When they ask you if you are okay - they dont expect you to say no
                                                          so you must just smile and nod
                                                          while thoughts of jumping off a  building riot your mind

When they ask you if you need help with anything - what they have in mind is simply solved stuff
                                                                                   like project assistance and shopping guide
                                                                                   they don't want to touch your 3 am haunting demons

When they say they are always there for you - they mean if you need a ride home
                                                                          or if you need someone to hang out with
                                                                          they don't expect to be there when it feels like your world is crashing.

When they say you are too good for them - they acknowledge your goodness
                                                                     they appreciate what you have given
                                                                     but they need something better and that is definitely not you

And just this one time , when she gave her all , completely ,
when she opened her heart to love you when it was already broken
when she was brave enough to risk having her life shattered
she hoped you would understand that there is always -

some truth behind her ' just kidding '
some emotions behind her ' i don't care '
some pain behind her ' it's okay '
some knowing behind her ' I don't know '.

And just this one time , when she gave her all , completely
she hoped she was special and unforgettable
she hoped life didnt prove it was all about learning to say a better good bye
she hoped you would stay around to hold her and say ' I Know You '. And mean it.

But reality is flawed and pain is meant to be revisited

( This is my entry for Week 8 of LJ Idol where the prompt given to us was " No Comments ". I have used the prompt to comment on how we tend to walk the same path and talk the same words when it comes to love even when we know the end result is pain. We hope that the memories ae worth the pain ... But really is it ever so .... No Comments !!!

Concrits and comments are ever so appreciated )


Every woman in the world or Me

Diary Entry , 21st Century , Present Day

" I am not meant to be alone. I am destined to be with you. One of the most beautiful and particularly lovely design feature of being human ... we fall in love. When I loved, I grew, I flourished, I fell, and I learnt. Relationships can bring out our best or bring out our worst. And sometimes they’ll do both before breakfast. I know you are my best yet, best ever, because you inspire me to explore the way I am with people and the world, in a way that’s safe enough to own, experiment with and change if I want to.

Being with you feels a bit like magic and a lot like home.

I have had my share of relationships before you came along. Nothing lasted and now I know why. I actually met you a good three years after I knew you. What is this if not destiny ? After those first few meetings and talks it seemed like we had travelled across the oceans of time and depths of heavenly dimensions to be together again. It took us 2 weeks to forge a bond which was beyond understanding and any good sense. The feeling of safety and trust built up in far greater proportion than the time we reached out to each other. A sudden feeling of familiarity of knowing each other at such depths far beyond what the conscious mind could know. Our heads interfered, but our hearts knew. The hearts remembered holding each other in the moon filled river side of Macedonia and the ancient plains of Mongolia. We might have lost each other to the armies of forgotten warrior-generals and might have lived together in the sand covered caves of the Ancient Ones.

After I met you I have felt bonded , a bond strengthened through eternity and ever since I have never felt alone.

I do not understand the circumstances surrounding our meeting. Life as I know it today does not make sense. The head keeps interfering while the heart remains unwavered. I do not know what future brings us. I know as of today it is nearly impossible that we be together as we should be. And it scares me ... will I have to part with you in this life time to search and find you yet again in another. I know my soul mate and I do not know what to do. "

19th Century, A day in a year

Maria was in her 70's now. An elderly woman. Her weathered skin told of a story on the streets, living in shelters, and foraging for what she could. Her grey hair had been falling out, but there was a pattern to it. She wore a cap or hat most of the time. What was left of her hair was matted and knotted.

Her body was frail, a small hump in her upper back, just below the neck. Arthritis more than likely, her hands also showed signs of it, the fingers becoming curled and painful looking.

Her clothing was layers upon layers of shirts and sweaters. It had been long since she touched her skin under those layers. Too Long.

She looked down at her feet and picked up the small bag that contained her belongings. Most of the contents made little sense. Rocks, thread and yarn. Twisty ties. A cough drop wrapper.

Between all the nonsensical things, however, was a locket.And at the deeper end a note book. Maria picked up the locket carefully. She looked over the frail chain, opening the locket. Inside was a single picture. It was old, cracked and faded.

The picture was of a ballerina. The woman seemed almost unrecognisable. A stranger , perhaps a woman from another life. But Marie knew better.

She was a beautiful young dancer with the Russian Ballet. Dark hair and light blue eyes, skin so white like cream. She was a crown jewel. Loved by all. Her fluid grace enchanted theater goers. She headlined several ballets.

She remembered how matters soon became bad in ways of politics.The performing arts kept the young ballerina quite busy, for a while until things went out of control. She fled the country with her manager. There was no chemistry , no love atleast on her part. He pressed to deepen the relationship, to have sex, to make commitments.

She gave in - she wasn’t the crown jewel anymore. The competition for headlining performances was too strong.

She was failing. No longer the Princess Ballerina.

He drank too much. He became violent. He was selfish and she cursed the marriage. But she lived with him. She had no one else. He beat her once in a while and then regularly. She winced , tears streaming down her lined cheeks.

He died in a fight, stabbed in the chest with a long knife was what she was told. It must have pierced his heart. She had been told there was blood everywhere.

She then met John. She fished the tattered diary out of her bag. The story of her life as she wanted to remember it. The only memories she wanted to keep. She opened to the page , the day John had died at war. Love story for 4 years, that would last her for the rest of her life.

" I love him so much. I've never met any man I could love like that. And he loved me back the same way. And without that love how can my life ever be complete ? How can I ever be happy. "

She closed the book with a sigh and opened the locket. She removed the picture and underneath was his picture ... hidden from all and safe just for her. She closed her eyes , put the chain around her neck. It was time ....

13th Century, Long Long Ago ....

The era of the Sung Dynasty Rule is widely considered to be a high point of classical chinese civilization. The Sung economy, facilitated by technology advancement, had reached a level of sophistication probably unseen in world history before its time. The population had soared to over 100 million and the living standards of common people improved tremendously due to improvements in rice cultivation and the wide availability of coal for production. The capital cities encouraged vibrant civil societies unmatched by previous Chinese dynasties. As land trading routes to far west were blocked by nomadic empires, there were extensive maritime trade with neighbouring states, which facilitated the use of Sung coinage as the de facto currency of exchange. Giant wooden vessels equipped with compasses travelled throughout the China Seas and northern Indian Ocean. The concept of insurance was practised by merchants to hedge the risks of such long-haul maritime shipments. With prosperous economic activities, the historically first use of paper currency emerged in the western city of Chengdu, as a supplement to the existing copper coins.

The advances in civilization during the Sung dynasty came to an abrupt end following the devastating Mongol conquest, during which the population sharply dwindled, with a marked contraction in economy. Despite viciously halting Mongol advance for more than three decades, the Southern Sung capital Hangzhou fell in 1276.

A year that marked a great transition for Empress Ai, concubine of Emperor Xian chosen to be wed at age 13 by her parents, and mother of successor Emperor Tong. With the annihilation of the empire the young widow and her baby was forced to surrender to the barbaric mongols. She was kept in prison and used as the leaders pleased. Her baby was snatched away and she never knew what became of him.

She had shut out that dark phase of her life after being rescued by a Samaritan nomad NaranBaatar. He had taken her to his home among a group of nomadic people who hunted and raised cattle. His parents were leaders and he was a string and skilled horseman and hunter. She stayed as a daughter to his parents and life turned around once again. She slowly learnt to put her torments behind her and at the same time accepted the new way of life. Everyone was more than pleased when NaranBaatar professed love to her. He had taken his time and given her time to heal as well. She was silently grateful. Time blessed them with a beautiful daughter. Life had come full circle.

The quests for new land brought some ruin to the clan. Families were separated and chaos, destruction and ruin prevailed. Her ethnicity made her a prime candidate for captures , taken away for the rest of a life time , never to be held in the strong arms of her Mongol husband. All he had was a letter she wrote to him on books introduced by the traders instead of the scrolls. He kept it safe as the sole reminder of the love they shared.

She had written " I do not think a day can pass by without being able to see your smile. Without telling you things and hearing your voice back. Even though I am unsure of most things in my life, I am certain that I love you and will love you till forever. "

330 BC .... A very very long time ago

Lady Helena loved her play time with her maidens by the river Jhelum. It was fate that brought Rana Udayapratap to those parts. He was mesmerised by the Greek Beauty and fell in love with her instantly. He sent her messages through pigeon carriers. Though she had not seen him , she had formed his image in her mind through his letters. It was his thoughts , views and outlook that eventually won her heart and she started developing feelings for him even though she had not seen the mighty emperor. The emperor expressed his desire to take the Greek Princess as his second bride. His minister advised him to wage a war against the macedonian empire and thus put pressure on the King. As expected the famed Indian warrior won the war he declared and when he asked for the princess hand in marriage the King refused and offered parts of his kingdom captured in war. After all Udayapratap was a heathen , a person who neither followed the greek religion nor acknowledged the same. Helena however was so besotted in love that she managed to convince her father to the union.

The Greek empress loved India and the marriage made her happy. She learnt classical Indian Music and started taking classes to learn the Sanskrit language. However their story was not the forever kinds - 4-5 years after their marriage when she was 8 months pregnant the King converted to Jainism , took sanyas ( hibernation ) from active politics and died in the forests soon after.

Historical Scrolls have recorded Lady Helena as saying " I loved him with sincerity. We do not give people we do not love the power to destroy us. He had wrapped his warm hands around my cold waist and assured me that I would be safe in his arms, that he loved me too much to let me fall. One day he let go and I was left there wondering where the warmth had gone. "

Back to the present day ....

I knew John, I knew NaranBaatar, I knew UdayaPratap. And I knew YOU. I also knew where I was from. My soul was riddled with Toska.

There are no coincidences in love and it is possible to love and lose across lifetimes. Love stories such as these happen every now and then ... silently ... stories of hope and destiny. This is one such story.

( This is my entry for Week 6 where the prompt given to us was " Where I am from " I have explored the possibility of reincarnation and soul recognition. As always concrits and recommendations are appreciated )

And then ....

I promised myself I wouldn't love again
And then I met you.
It is 4 am - the time when my thoughts work hard to keep me awake
And then we were talking and chatting.
I was happy for the first time in a long time
And then I knew I had fallen deep.
It ought to have been difficult with my life a scattered thousand pieces
And then you showed me every piece need not be in place to be beautiful.
I didn't even know if my pieces were all there
And then you made me believe love can be found in imperfect, lost and broken people too.
It was a lonely island this life of mine , where ships were forbidden to touch the shores
And then you crash landed on the beach.
I had fought so many battles with pirates that everyone seemed to be one
And then you appeared as an adept sailor.
It was an instant feeling of inevitability when I met you
And then we crossed the threshold from friendship to love.
I believed you were destined to know me better than anyone else ever did
And then our lives conspired to converge into a cosmic dance.
It was not easy to hold onto me with all the scattered thorns piercing my heart
And then you carried me in your arms oh so gently.
I was quiet so many times and kept tripping over my own feet so often
And then you gave me the look that stole my heart and dragged me out of the labyrinth of my weeded thought.
It was beautiful and magical that of all the people in the world your soul met mine
And then it happened we were one - mind and body.
I had finally found the love that I had waited for all my life
And then you let me believe we could make it even against the odds.
It was ironic - you were my sunshine, my joy, my dreams , my cure
And then you were also my darkness , my tears, my fears and my illness.
I was found shattered and you took time to patiently fix me
And then you turned around to break me.
It isn't easy to love someone who the world doesn't approve of
And then you realised you couldn't kiss me on the streets or show me off to the world.
I knew you were someone I couldn't be with forever
And then you spelt it out that our time was now and limited.
It wasn't easy with the brain telling me one thing and the heart another
And then I wished circumstances were different.
I wanted your last name, your lazy sunday mornings, your laughs, your arms around my waist, your belonging
And then I wanted to do your laundry, cook romantic dinners with scented candles in our tree house and discover the world with you.
It was my dream that the other side of my bed belong to you , our fingers intertwined
And then you loosened your fingers and made way for my hands to slip away slowly.
I was reminded that I had a past that didn't have you
And then you remembered you had a future that couldn't figure me.
It was the best phase of my life and would always be
And then it wasn't meant to be.
I was the ocean with stunning mystery and deep secrets
And then you were just a boy who loved the waves and knew he couldn't swim.
It was true love I knew and believed you knew it too
And then suddenly it wasn't that simple - it was Ephemeral and had to end.
I knew he was my head
And then he had to turn heel.

( This is my entry for LJ Idol - Week 6 where the prompt was Heel Turn. As I always say concrits and comments are always appreciated. )

Fear is the Heart of Love ....

Love is what we make of it. Nothing more and nothing less. Having said that my theory of love goes like this - we ... all of us people ( well atleast most of us if we want to get a bit argumentative ), only fall in love with three people in our lifetime. Anything more ... well needs to be studied further and anything less ... you are damn lucky I say !!!! And yes each of these loves are needed in our lives for a season for a reason.

Most of our first love happens when we are very young , too young even. High School Love - the idealistic love that is so very often just what floats into our life from the pages of a fairy tale book.

Most of the time this is the kind of love that appeals to what love should look like and what we should be doing. We enter into it with the belief that this will be our only love and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel quite right, or if we find ourselves having to swallow down our personal truths to make it work because deep down we believe that this is what love is supposed to be.

This type of love is mostly based on curiosity about the opposite gender, need for diversion from the the then real pressures of studies and building up a future, the necessity for an outflow for raging hormones that break out every now and then , the firm belief that no one understands us except for this one person we have found or has found us.

Because in this type of love what matters is not what we feel but what looks right. It's a love that most of us out grow.

Our second love is supposed to be our hard love—the one that teaches us lessons about who we are and how we often want or need to be loved. This is the kind of love that hurts. The kind of love based on who would be acceptable to us, our parents , the society even probably.

So more often we think we are charting a course different from our heart breaking first. But in reality we are still making choices out of the need to learn lessons.Isn't that what life is all about. Our second love can become a cycle, oftentimes one we keep repeating because we think that somehow the ending will be different than the first time. After all we are no longer giggling , awkward , inexperienced youngsters we were back then. And yet, each time we try, it somehow ends worse than before.

This type of love will most likely entail high levels of drama. And this perhaps is exactly what keeps us addicted to this storyline - the emotional rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows and like a junkie trying to get a fix, we stick through the lows with the expectation of the high.

With this kind of love, trying to make it work becomes more important than whether it actually should. It’s the love that we wished was right.

And then our third love is the love we never see coming. The one that usually looks all wrong for us and that destroys any lingering ideals we clung to about what love is supposed to be. This is the love that comes crashing in so easily that it feels almost surreal and impossible. It’s the kind where the connection can’t be explained and knocks us off our feet because we never planned for it.

The soul mate theories would blend in perfectly in this type of love. This is the love where we come together with someone and it just fits—there aren’t any ideal expectations about how each person should be acting, nor is there pressure to become someone other than we are.

This is kind of love that gives us the awesome feeling of simply being accepted for who we are already—and it shakes us to our core.

Maybe we don’t all experience these loves in this lifetime, and perhaps that’s just because we aren’t ready to. Maybe the reality is we need to truly learn what love isn’t before we can grasp what it is.

Of course there are those love stories that didn't have to pass through all these stages. The first time that took their breath away passionately lasted till their last breath.

When we talk of love we have to talk about monuments of love. Atleast I have to because I finally reached that stage where my theories on what love ought to be have been proved in practice. And so I finally made the trip to see the most famous monument for love in the world ... The Taj Mahal at Agra in India.

The Taj Mahal is a dedication of love by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The story goes thus - Like many of his predecessors, Shah Jahan married several wives over the course of his adult life. Although Shah Jahan spread his heart around, none of these ladies found quite the same favor as his third wife (but first love), Arjumand Banu Begum, more famously known as Mumtaz Mahal. History says he was so enamoured by her that he killed her first husband in war to take her as his bride. She was his wife , friend , lover and companion. It is said she was by his side at all times. Their union lasted 19 years and led to the birth of 14 children. Complications during the birth of the final child led to Mahal’s untimely passing at the age of 39. Shah Jahan was so stricken by the loss of his longtime companion that he decided to memorialize Mumtaz Mahal with a spectacular tomb. Construction on the Mahal and its surroundings began in 1632, one year after her death, and continued for just over two decades. It was completed in 22 years and involved effort and labour of 20,000 men and 1000 elephants at an astronomical cost even by the standards of those times.

The Taj Mahal being the dedication and homage of Mumtaz Mahal, it has calligraphy all over the interior and exterior, which, among other patterns and holy inscriptions in a variety of precious and semi precious stones fixed on the immaculate white marble structure, also has calligraphy on the tomb that identifies and praises Mumtaz Mahal. Another interesting fact is that there are 99 names of Allah found on the sides of the actual tomb as calligraphic inscriptions. After all, Shah Jahan did envision Mumtaz’s home in the paradise, and Taj Mahal was that imagination coming to life.

The Taj Mahal is any obsessive’s dream, with meticulous symmetry across its long and wide diameters. The sole exception to this otherwise uniform aesthetic scheme lies, again, in the gravesite. Taj Mahal was not originally designed to entomb a second person other than Mumtaz Mahal. Aurangzeb, son of Shah Jahan, instead of building a new mausoleum, buried his father next to Mumtaz Mahal. So while Mumtaz Mahal’s casket is located in the exact center of the palace crypt, it is Shah Jahan’s grave — introduced to the mausoleum following his death in 1666 — that rocks its artistic equilibrium with a west-of-center resting place. This is the only part of the entire complex ( including the gardens / mosque ) etc which is not in symmetry.

The Taj Mahal takes on different colouring at different times of the day, from a pinkish hue in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden at night when lit by the moon. They say the changing colour resembles the changing mood of females - in particular the Emperor's queen.

My first view of the monument from so far .. at the first gate. It is often said that hype creates over expectations and that over expectations often kill the joy of our own experiences. But the beauty of the monument left me overwhelmed inspite of my huge expectations. Right from the moment I laid my eyes on it from a distance there was magic that left me stumped.

The makers employed an optical trick in the construction of this monument. As you move closer to the main complex, the Taj keeps getting smaller.It seems to grow bigger as you walk away. The guides here say when you leave,its impact on you is so big ... you take the Taj with you in your heart.

My lesson from the Taj Mahal - Even with all its beauty and depth, true love can seem inappropriate to many. The circumstances bringing two souls together maybe conventionally unromantic or unacceptable. But it can't be ignored. Even as we strive for perfection and acceptance in all our relationships - a pure union can be imperfectly perfect.

And this then brings me to the reason for my visit to the Taj Mahal. I have personally lived through and loved all three stages as theorized by me earlier. I had deemed myself unlucky to find or unworthy to experience the love that I thought I deserved. That was until he crashed in as my third love, the perfect for me love. I had promised myself I would visit the Taj when I found love or vice versa.

Love as I now know calls me or messages me the first thing in the morning
Just to say Good Morning
Just to hear my voice.

Love as I now know asks if I have had my breakfast,
If I have gulped my mandatory 4 glasses of water,
Knows how to make me the perfect cup of black tea that wipes my frowns away
Asks about my Lunch and Dinner too
Knowing very well I have the tendency to skip them more than occasionally.

Love as I now know does not hesitate to hold my hand,
As we walk into a room of people we do not know.

Love as I now know has helped pick up and fix my broken pieces,
Is persistently healing my wounded soul,
And never tires of building up my person.

Love as I now know has convinced me to choose growth
To not be held hostage by the person I was yesterday
last week, last month , last year, 20 years back.

Love as I now know encourages me to make art, pursue my dance,
follow my passions, listen to my heart and bury my fears
Travel alone and see the World through my eyes - my lens
With assurances that his heart will always keep open
the arms that give me the warmest embrace ... My Eternal Home.

Love as I now know listens to everything said and unsaid,
His attention span being longer than the last word that exits my mouth

Love as I now know appreciates the beauty on the surface of the ocean that is me
He doesn't shy away from riding the waves that come along
He dares to dive down to discover treasures that are so deep under
Treasures he believed to be there,
Treasures I didn't know existed.

Love as I now know is open like a clear blue sky.
And understands that most of me
Is in the stars shining through the dark sky that is my past.

Love as I now know loves me in the way I always dreamed of
in the way I had stopped hoping I would ever find,
For the love I had before now found, were on shaky ground
that fell beneath my hopeful feet.

Love as I know now is a heart that shines so bright
that the sun blushes in admiration
And the moon repents having moved to the other side.

Love as I now know has made me come face to face with another phase -
Emotions that hold me back ...Urge me not to move ahead so fast
Fear that recalls childhood wounds, doubts of worthiness,
And threatens to drown the pedestal of self esteem under construction.

Love as I now know makes me predict an uncertain future
Search for probability that I will be alone again
Try and find methods for self preservation in the wake of a storm that
may or may not come
Fear that is building up several layers of self sabotage and confusion
that covers the heart that is beating for him.

Love as I now know still convinces me to choose moving beyond fear.
Love he says is on the other side of fear.
He says he doesn't have all the answers right now, but neither do I
And that he says is perfectly alright
Love as I now know doesn't make sense for its crappy timing
and for being so unlike the picture I had painted in my head.
But he forces me to trust our feelings are valid
And that to understand it,
We have to surrender to it. Accept it.

Love as I now know is the once-in-a-lifetime kind of love
It is dancing wildly around me and tempting me with promises
That I have to believe is fated
Love as I now know still remains just far enough out of reach
But not elusive ... and it is worth the fight.
Love as I now know can be my new beginning,
This moment is important not how things might play out in the future
All along this was where I was being led
Love as I now know has shown me to trust in my destination as much as the journey

Love as I now know tells me there is a reason for everything.
A season for everything.
Love as I now know tells me it is the season to listen to my heart.
A heart that should give up

( This is my entry for week 6 of LJ Idol - where the topic given to us was Fear is the Heart of Love. Concrits as always are welcome as also suggestions for improvement. )

200 years and we still go where the puck has been .....

The year 1799 - The setting Rajashthan in India - The image Kings, Palaces, War Heroism , Courage & Chivalry

The local tour guide says " Yeh Mahal Raniyon ke liye banaya gaya tha " ( This palace was made for the royal women ) and the pride in his voice cannot be missed. Hawa Mahal- the palace of winds- is a palace in Jaipur built by SwaiPratap Singh in the year 1799 . In fact, Hawa Mahal was a continuation of the Royal City Palace and extends to the " zenena " ( women's chambers ). It was built on the edge of the City Palace at the heart of the city.

The first question that came to my mind was why this palace is specially built for the queens. I asked the same to our guide and the answer from him increased my respect to SwaiPratap Singh. During that period, Rajput women, including the royal ladies, had to obey a strict Purdah system. A Purdah system prevents a woman from going out or see outsiders specially men. Being a woman, I felt their misery immediately. The royal women of that period were unable to see the daily life outside their palace rooms; even they couldn’t see colorful royal processions in the street. In one word, they missed all the fun out there.

But here was something different. Purdah at that time was a common fact. What was uncommon was a king felt and understood the restrictions, the sufferings which were created only for his queens. What was commendable - The poet-king SwaiPratap Singh not only built this palace for the royal women he also took care of their comfort here. The articulately created " Jharokhas " ( Home Windows ) provided Royal ladies view of the day-to-day life of the city while unseen from the public outside on the street. It is also a Palace which is airy even in hot summer days. The framework also allows cool air from the Venturi effect to pass through the complex design creating an air conditioning effect to the whole area during the hot and humid summer days.

Most of the Rajput kings in that era were unaware of their queens’ sufferings. Standing at that time it was a revolutionary work of the Poet king to give a change to his queens to view the outside life.

The facade of the palace ( Image Source - Google )

A view of the Interiors of the palace ( Image Source - My Camera )

One of the innumerable windows that let the air from outside come in - the relief to the inside world
( Image Source - My Camera )

One of the many windows that let the eyes inside go out - the escape to the outside world.
( Image Source - My Camera )

# NOT ALL MEN - # Some didn't follow the tide - # Some thought to stand apart

The year 2017 - The setting - The so called cosmopolitan city Bangalore, India - The Image New Year's Eve Shame

Bangaluru (Bangalore ) is traditionally thought of as one of India's safer cities for women. The southern megacity—sometimes known as the Silicon Valley of India—is the epicenter of India's technological revolution. Young, educated professionals from all over India and surrounding countries have moved to Bangalore to work in the rapidly growing IT industry, causing the city to double its population in the last 15 years. As a result, the women of the city have long enjoyed a degree of freedom not afforded to their sisters in other cities.

All this makes the events of New Year's Eve more shocking. The events began to unfold at around midnight. Women out celebrating on a main street at the heart of the city's festivities, MG Road, Brigade Road, have reported being groped and sexually assaulted by groups of men forcing some of them to literally take off their stilettoes and run for help. Photographs showed visibly distressed women being comforted by female police officers; in another, a group of men were seen surrounding a frightened woman.

And thus New Year began on a horrifying note for many women. Now what sparks outrage is the comments that followed where politicians and moral police continue to blame everything and everyone." These kind of things happen on New Years Eve. What do you expect when people follow the Western Culture not only in mindset but in clothing too. " , " Women wearing short clothes are 'naturally' inviting trouble. They must not create situations that force men to attack them "

Given that clothing doesn't cause sexual assault any more than burning toast contributes to air pollution—the only thing ever responsible for a sexual assault is the assailant themselves, ridiculous responses and the evident lack of action that makes it so difficult for women to breathe in this highly masochist society which places the onus of not being assaulted on them. As the news gained momentum on the social media another section of people joined in to make one thing clear. In case the women were forgetting , they wanted everyone to know # Not all men are depraved predators.

It isn't the first time that when women bring up instances of sexism in everyday conversations, their male friends jump in with " I have never done that. Not all men are perverts. " The instinctive behavior is never to hear the woman out but to clarify that they aren't one of those who molest. Every single woman knows that not all men want to hurt her, just as every single woman knows that at some point atleast one man has. Whether it be groping , cat calling, flashing , sexual abuse, rape. That gives her the prerogative to be angry, to talk about it and to worry about it. That's it. They are not talking about every single man on the planet wanting to hurt women. Then why are random men trying to prove their sainthood because they never molested anyone. How is this even relevant ?

What do the # Not All Men - ers want ? A medal for being decent humans ? For standing apart - for being different ? For being a minority among a majority that still follows a sexist patriarchal mindset that might have suited the life 200 years ago ? For being evolved from caveman practices and thoughts ? What they forget is that while they may not be rapists or assaulters ... by derailing a conversation about women's safety they are gaslighting women, dismissing their feelings and concerns, and thus pepetrating rape culture.

( Image Courtesy - google )

We continue to travel in the path where the puck has been for ages and it continues to stagnate at the same spot. We give credit to men who stood apart 200 years ago and we are continually expected to do the same after all that time. Can't it be the done thing for men to be empathetic ? Are we not supposed to move forward in thoughts and actions. Are women supposed to be confined to their homes ( even that isn't safe by the way ) or rather some unventilated room to experience safety ? Are we supposed to be elated that some men are gentlemen while many beasts are out where we want to be ?

It is time all men and women skated to a place where the puck is meant to go. A better a safer place. A novaturient generation is much needed.

( This has been my entry for Week 4 of LJ Idol - I don't skate where the puck has been. I skate to where it is going. Concrits as always is appreciated. )