Saturday, June 26, 2010

30 minutes from 09:00 PM

I have been staying in Kota, Rajasthan for the last 5 years, far away from my native place in Bengal.  My relatives back at my natives have a general misconception that Rajasthan never receives any rainfall all round the year. Well the truth is that there are a few places in Rajasthan which receive very less to almost no rainfall. I stay in none of them.

After 4 full months of scorching heat, Kota saw its first rain of this year at 09:00PM, June 25, 2010. It lasted for a little more than 30 minutes.

This year particularly, Kota was unbelievably hot. But I guess we all say that for our own cities, every single year. Hot and humid weather is not uncommon in India. And one could find very few people who said that they were, actually, fond of the Indian summer.

People from the hotter regions of India are generally fond of the winter. However, my fellow Indians from the North-eastern part of our nation would contradict them, and favor the summer. My friends from the southern part have a great fascination for the Rain. And everybody likes the spring season.

I have wandered a lot. I have spent a lot of time in the south. I have also been to the North-East. And now, I am in the West. And I have come to like all the seasons equally.

I agree to what many of you might have in mind at this moment that the summer sweat is unbearable. Winters are so dry, and dull, and too freezing. There are more than many reasons to hate the rain; least of them would be the dirty potholes filled with slushy mud, or ‘keechad’.

But think of these things the other way round. Nature, as believed, is very intelligent. It has its unique way of displaying its beauties and wonders. One can but be astonished by what nature has to reveal to one who ‘dil se’ admires it.

Take for example the Indian summer. It is hot. And sweaty. Not to miss, very uncomfortable. But what about the early mornings? Have you ever witnessed the rising Sun? I bet it’s a sight to marvel at. The perfect disc of radiant orange glow, with a sky-blue backdrop! The soothing first sun rays of the day, delicately mixed with a light breeze! As if the Chief-Chef up there is letting all his imaginations go free and delight us mortals in every possible way. I know that the day gets hotter, but what about the ice-creams (or should we say, the ‘Kulfi’), the refreshing home-made lemonade (wow, that rhymes!), our very own Lassi; ‘Malai maar-ke’ and the lazy afternoons!

And the first rain! One would not deny that the first rain would not be as much thrilling if not for the heat. In fact, I would dare to say, ‘The hotter the summer, the better the First rain!’

What better than a very hot and humid day, with lots of sweat, and queasiness, ended by the First sight of the Water from the heavens, accompanied by the remarkable smell of the Earth? Ah…It is liberating!

I was talking to a dear friend of mine over the phone, when I heard the faint sound…and my subconscious mind said, ‘RAIN’. I immediately excused myself from the friend (I know this friend will read this and curse me), threw my cell on the bed, helped my upper half with a Tee-shirt and sprinted in full-speed to the terrace. The cool breeze hit me across my face and the first rain’s first droplet landed on my forehead.

I felt as if I was in a trance, induced by the heavenly droplet that hit me. Soon after an army of droplets followed, and I got all drenched, readily soaking in all of the happiness around. The streamlines of rain water flowed down the contours of my face making a sound that I had waited for such a long time.

The long and extremely hot summer had dried, and parched the Earth. The first rain quenched all the thirst and emanated a smell so unique and relishing, it beats any other pleasant smell. Standing on the terrace of my apartment, which happens to be the tallest building around, the Kota I saw was beautiful one.

My five senses had a feast, all at the same time. My eyes saw my city happily receive its first rain. A tingling sensation ran all over my skin when the chilling water hit in droplets. I could hear the strong sound of the wind accompanied by the naughty clicks of rain, and shrieks of joy and relief from the people around. My olfactory lobes were filled with the smell of the first waters on the parched Earth. As for my taste buds, it tasted the rain and broke into a popular bollywood number, ‘On the Roof, In the Rain…’

After a long…long time, I opened up my voice and screamed out loud, out of happiness. I was, in fact, startled by my own intensity. I took off my Tee and ran all around the terrace. I jumped. I sang. I danced. I laughed. I cried. Every single emotion hit me hard and for a moment I felt like a 5-year old, happily walking the rain with all his friends, splashing water on each other and making merry.

The dance I do is a special one. Yea…It has a name and I do it very well. It is called the Haka Dance. Look it up!

The 30 minutes that the rain lasted flew away quickly, but they were enough to forget all the bad that the summer had given. The rain ended brilliantly, and so did the day. The waters promised that they would be back soon. For now, they left me the cool breeze and the absolutely elegant night behind. Makes me wonder, yet again, at all the beautiful recipes that the Chief-Chef has to reveal.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Freedom Lesson...from 'Chico'...

One of the first things I noticed about my newly purchased parrot was that he couldn't fly. Chico's wings had been clipped and he was stuck here on earth just like us humans. Once the weather turned nice I took Chico and sat him on a branch of a tree in my backyard, hoping to make him happier. At first he seemed confused. He walked back and forth on the branch looking like an agitated father pacing back and forth in the maternity waiting room. I was surprised to see that he didn't flap his wings in an attempt to fly. Somehow he knew he was incapable. I always wondered how he knew such a thing.

One day, while sitting on his branch, Chico got way more agitated than he had been when I first took him outside months ago. He was pacing back and forth and talking up a storm. Then all of a sudden, he stopped pacing, let out a spine tingling scream, and started madly flapping his wings for the first time ever. About three seconds later, he lifted off from the branch like the space shuttle at Cape Canaveral! I was amazed and shocked. Little did I know his feathers had been growing back in, and just like a sly convict, Chico had been biding his time until the moment was ripe for escape!

Chico made his break for freedom on a late Monday afternoon, and by late Monday night I knew he was not coming home. Surprisingly, on Tuesday evening Chico returned, but stayed way out of reach. I talked to him and showed him some food, but to no avail. Then I took his cage inside so he would not relate coming back to getting locked up again. Finally, I made him a firm promise that if he did come back I would let him out every day the weather was nice. Shortly after making my solemn oath, he flew onto my shoulder and I took him upstairs.

From that day on, whenever the weather was good I would let him out early and he would fly around and be back before dark. This routine lasted for about two months and then suddenly Chico became ill. The vet said that he had contracted a disease from the pigeons in the neighbourhood. Within a few days he died, and I mourned his loss.

Just once the thought crossed my mind that if I had not set him free to fly every day, he would still be alive. It was then that I realized that the quality of one's life is much more important than the number of years one lives. What sense is there in being a bird if you can't fly?

Chico made his initial break for freedom on a late Monday afternoon in April. When will you make yours? You too can take a chance when the conditions are right, knowing you too in your own way, were built to fly. If you don't set yourself free, what will be the purpose of your life? I would suggest that the quality of one's life is dependent on feeling one's essence, and living the design that is you. If you are a fish, your life needs to be all about swimming. If you are a bird, your life needs to be all about flying and spreading your message to all whom you meet along the way. What sense is there in being you, if you don't really let yourself free and express your heart?...

Intriguing know...I was amazed at myself too after I spread my wings to leave behind what appears to be a fairly good 'post'...