Eucalyptus Walk or how to Survive Among the Ten Million

Our family discovered an eucalyptus grove not very far from our neighborhood. It takes us quick twenty minutes to reach the place in a car along a well paved road.

I love the surrounding area – it has vast areas of vineyards, fields with carrots, cucumbers, pumpkins, wheat and ragi, and some flower fields. A small beaten up road curves and leads into a small hill, going further through the village and the chicken farm. It was quiet a surprise to discover this place – a treat- being in such proximity to the stuffy and overcrowded city.

We walked along the road, admired the pink and yellow flowery bushes and the chameleons hiding on the branches, little lizards sneaking out and jumping on the grass and away from our looks. I could hear the birds twittering and my sons’ happy voice and singing. I think even this little child of mine finds it refreshing to run through the mud, find a centipede, splash the rain puddle and rush away into the grove between the lean trunks of the eucalyptus trees, chasing after the dinosaurs.

I am enchanted and disarmed. I think my heart grows cold in the city, I build up the walls to protect my inner city, that feels like a little town, shanty house, a tent, and I am scared that the mega buildings will crush me, squeeze me and ask me to vacate, and once again I will have to pick up my suitcases and move to search for a place to settle. I like the word ‘sedentary’ because at this point in my life it gives me a sense of security, rest, stability and comfort. At the same time – it seems I am on a move to reach that state – in my five years of marriage we changed four houses, shifted between USA, Kyrgyzstan and India. It was all fine and now I need that rest and peace. I want to settle, even if it is for just a short time.

On the left side of the road, close to the orange temple, I saw two graves, probably that of the priests who attended to the temple. Nearby was another fresh grave covered with garlands of flowers. Usually I am not ‘encouraged’ or inspired by the death markers but today it also brought some sense of peace, in the landscape of all that surrounded me and I was not troubled or disturbed, on the contrary, it gave me some food for my thoughts.

We reached and as I walked through the grove I breathed in the tang of the soil mixed with the pungent eucalyptus scent. I lifted my eyes to the grey evening sky and felt my cup was full to the brim, I stood in that quiet moment, to connect with myself and strengthen the poles of that little tent of my inner self. After a short time, as it was getting dark, I could leave to go home to continue in a crowded city.

I am glad I found my hiding place, a sacred place where my cup can be filled, a sanctuary where my soul can rest and recoup.

Let’s leave it!

                                                                                   Let’s keep it as it is. Now.

Like the river that froze under the layer of ice, let us leave all that we had and built through the years, in trust.

Let us not make things what they have not been, no need to colour leafs once they have fallen.

Let me keep the memory of those good old days, where it all was simple and true.

Let us not give life to words that might hurt of things that no longer matter, we each have our way to go, our life to live.

Nothing will take away thankfulness for the things that you have given, for the things you have taught, for the time you have invested, for the faith you had and shared, for the kindness you showed, for the patience …

Ears that hear

 

We all need someone in our life who can listen to our story, some days we are ready to tell our story to a wall. The deep desire is more than just narrating to a person; we look for compassion, understanding and acceptance. We also look for a companion on our journey, and some lucky of us find it in our spouse, who is both a friend and a partner, who can hear our heart, who is strong and able to stand with us when we are weak and fearful.

May we never find ourselves so lonely that we have to talk to a wall

You’ve got mail – Guest Post from a Russian friend

There are few memories that make me feel butterflies in my stomach – a postman and letter mail era memories are one of it.

I remember the lady but not her name, who carried newspapers, journals and letters for us. I remember her huge brown leather bag hanging over her neck down the shoulder. Some days she came by the bicycle. Sometimes our neighborhood dogs chased her and other times they did not bother.

I ran to her each time it was around the time to bring “Murzilka” for me. It first was published in May 1924 and Soviet children around the Soviet Union could enjoy its illustrations, stories and poems. I loved to read the stories about nature and cultural practices of other regions. I also enjoyed the puzzles and other entertaining tasks.”Kolokolchik” was also one of my favorites. Later when I was a little older I educated myself on “Sem’a” magazine and laughed at “Krokodil”.

I loved to receive letters from my extended family in Belarus, cards for the New Year, the 8th of March, the 1st and 9th of May ,and the 7th of November and the 23rd of February. I liked to collect the postcards and in summer with my friends we sat on the grass and looked at each other’s collection, sometimes we exchanged it.

I also was very expectant to hear from my brother who was in the soviet army in Hungary and managed to send me chewing gums along with the letter! Sometimes we had only the letter inside with the smell of the chewing gum – someone on the way -in the post office- took the gum. That was a tragedy for me!

I loved to take a 30 minute walk with my mom to the post office, in the snow with the slide, to pick up the parcel from my aunt and uncle and cousins. They would send us dried blueberries and dry pork and few Belorussian dresses for me. I still can remember the smell of the parcel on my dress. I loved it!

I remember one summer when I went to a pioneer camp for three weeks six hours away from home, and I received at least two letters from my mom saying that she missed me a lot and hoped that I had a good time and updating me on the neighborhood kids. I cried as I read and kept the letters for the longest time.

I also remember that when I grew a little older and was around 9 or 10 years old I had a correspondence with a girl whom I met in Issyk -kol resort. She lived in Bishkek, the same city, but those days we did not have a phone and so we wrote to each other and it was also special. Near our house we had a big blue postbox, where our boys through the rocks and stick too and I felt so bad! I even had a fight once, trying to protect the safety of the letters.

My mom also was a post-woman. I heard some of her stories. It was not an easy job and one had to walk for many kilometers. One day mom told, another post-woman was discovered to dump the letters into the canal because she was too tired to carry the huge bag. So not everyone got their letters.

I feel nostalgic of the post-man era. These days communication is so much faster, so much easier and so much casual that sometimes one does not bother to open the letters because there are just too many to read.

Do you think we still have the hearty letters these days? And what are your memories of the post-man era?

The Last Flower Walk

The road was blocked with the people – most were the guests and relatives with the sullen faces, who threw the flowers on the ground and directed the traffic. Others were people from the street, strangers, gapers, shopkeepers and residents like me, who came up close to the road to say the farewell to a stranger. I even don’t know if it was a man, a youth, or a mother.

India is a very colorfull, many-sided, a country of contrasts, cheer, sounds and smells.

If it is not a Hindu festival, a marked Muslim holiday or a wedding, or a religious procession, most likely it is a funeral with the firecrackers, shouts, drums and a trumpet.

In the noise of the street full of buses, honking auto-rickshaws, bikes and cars, shouting man and drums – my heart found a very short moment of silence, where I pondered on life and death.

We, as a human race, may represent different political views, religious beliefs and practices, may have very opposite perspectives on life and how things should work – but these two- life and death – are the two constants that will always keep us so similar, and so human.

This diseased stranger was carried on a truck, completely covered with hundreds of flowers, with a toll flower frame over the body, that touched the electric wires on the streets and became the cause of the traffic jam.

I don’t know the story of the stranger, nor the cause of his death, but I said good-bye for his last walk on this earth.

I turned back to return to the yard of our Petra Park residence. Life kept going. The gardener worked on his lawns. The guard watched the gate. Kids were running. I was sure that very moment a new child was born into the world. I prayed and walked with my baby, holding him tight to my chest. I will long remember the strong aroma of the flowers that surrounded the ‘dead life’ and I wished that my life was marked with goodness; goodness towards others, understanding and forgiveness.

Liberty

There is liberty in being honest, when we face the world without the pretense. Most of the time our culture and experiences teach us the tricks and we lose our true selves, in a race of competing with others, in longing to be accepted.

We cant always afford ourselves to be just what we are, and we often get stingy to offer grace to others. There is that place for the change, when we have to learn new things, when we have to improve the things we already learnt, and always we have to strive for the better – but honesty should not be our price.

Honesty is not only to tell the truth about our feelings and matters of life – it is also a defining position from where I stand equal without demeaning the other and say that he had failed me but there is another chance, it is not finished, there is always hope, there is always spring after the cold winter. It is also ability to accept my own failure, to mend the broken trust and bare the consequences.

Life waived in with honesty is liberating, I don’t have to be frightened that I might loose my step and get confounded by the puzzle I have created. I walk and breath freely, when I remember the three core-values: love, honesty and forgiveness.

Death by selfie! Killfie!

With electronics all around us, experts are warning us that it could be dangerous for us. Texting while driving is a major reason for fatal accidents. Now a new

 phenomenon – Death by Selfie!!

A Mumbai youth died taking a selfie of himself kissing a snake. Somnath had a hobby of rescuing snakes and on this occasion decided that after he rescued this one he would take a selfie with the creature. The snake did not take too kindly to the affectionate gesture.

Date Night

Yesterday was Monday. That means it was our weekly date. I took my wife to Ulsoor Lake and we walked and talked for an hour and then we went to a cake shop.

Ulsoor Lake is one of the last lakes in our city that still holds on against the unchecked construction that has destroyed close to 500 lakes and the ecosystem they provide.

Bangalore is said to have been called the city of a 100 lakes. So last night we walked on the banks of one.

It was a pleasant evening.

Kayaking on the lake
Ducks enjoy the evening sun
The army canoe team practising

Coracles

The Army boat house
Life guards on patrol
An island that is home to hundreds of birds

After The walk around the lake we went to a local bakery to have some baklava. It was tasty and a good finish to a perfect day.

Baklava