HELLO, GEORGIA! (PART 2)

I’m late. Tardiness has become second nature to me these days. And yeah, yeah, I’m not proud of it, now don’t give me the look.

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Alright, back to Georgia. My second day started on a bad note. You know, I’ve become so prone to mood swings that it’s hard to predict whether I’m actually in a foul mood or it’s the hormones doing their job.

I sulked throughout our excursion at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the largest religious building in Georgia. It was a sight to behold. As we enter the gates, a large archway provides a scenic vista of the gorgeous structure of the church. The many steps that need to be climbed might seem like a downer but you would be so pulled by the allure of the erection that the steps would actually seem like a fun activity.

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The interiors were astonishing and the intricate paintings of murals left me wide-mouthed in awe. A few tourists lighted candles and offered prayers to God. We explored the surroundings for a few more minutes, admiring the multi-coloured flower garden, bell tower and a small pond.

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I was still deep down in the dumps by the time we exited the church. But an instant uplift showed up in the form of an adorable duo, monkey and macaw.

Ah, animals just make my day.

Then we took a funicular to the Mtatsminda mountain at an altitude of 729 meters above sea level. There we went on a short hike to see the statue of Kartlis Deda, also referred to as the Mother of a Georgian. On the way, we also tried out local outfits in which we looked like lost tribals.

Next, we climbed down hundreds of steps to get to Narikala, an ancient fortress overlooking Tbilisi. There wasn’t much to see and do as I was advised against climbing rocks. But I would highly recommend prospective tourists to climb the rocks and take in the breathtaking view of the city from the top.
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From there, we went to see the famous heritage site, Jvari monastery. Perched at the edge of the well, you can have a clear panoramic view of the vibrant city of Mtskheta. There we also realized how small the world is when we caught the filming of an Indian movie. It was probably a regional flick since we couldn’t recognize any of the actors. But excited tourists clicked pictures with them, giving them ample confidence boost.

The tour guide gave us an insight of what to expect the following day, which would be the last day of our trip.

When I heard the word paragliding, my heart sank to my feet in disappointment as I was advised against that too. For a second I thought, ‘What am I even doing here forgoing everything I love?’

The third day passed by swiftly. It was a long 4- hour drive to Gudauri, the famed ski resort. But there was no snow since it was summer, and hence no skiing.

But what we saw in Gudauri, we wouldn’t have been able to see when it’s covered with snow—the verdant valleys, hills dotted with many-hued cottages, chirping birds in the tree hollows.

As we went further along, we were able to see remnants of snow on the mountains. There were beautiful streaks of white running down each of the mountains as we passed them on our way up to Gudauri.

When we got down from the car, a cool gust of wind stabbed us like the sharpest knife and sent us running back into the vehicle scrambling for shawls and cardigans.

It was so cold that even fifteen minutes of picture-clicking seemed impossible. But the views were too awesome to let go. We tried our best to get some credible snaps and left the place huffing and puffing. As soon as I was inside, I noticed that my nose started running. So predictable. Slightest provocation, it starts running a marathon. From then on, I continued sneezing, blowing, sniffing . . . it got converted into a serious cold and that was the only bitter memory of our remarkable trip to Georgia.

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Now I can rest for a few months and let my husband breathe easy till the time comes (very soon hopefully) when I start chalking up another trip.

Toodle-oo!

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HELLO, GEORGIA! (PART 1)

Well, well, well, look who’s here with a shiny new souvenir.

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Yup. I am here with yet another travelogue. Surprise!!!

It’s nothing major. Just a short 3-day trip to Georgia. But the memories we gathered are sure to last longer.

So many of my friends and cousins have mistaken the country Georgia with the state Georgia in the United States that I felt bad for the small but stunning country.

Well, I’m certain that one day, its repute will spread and the scenic locales will put the country on the map.

So while we were at the airport, I couldn’t stop myself from jumping up and down in excitement, as if a spring had been attached to my feet.

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It was just a 3-hour flight from Doha. As soon as I settled down in my seat, I decided to play a movie so that I won’t feel the travel time.

Of course, movies don’t engage me. Of course, I got bored as hell. Of course, I felt if this trip was a mistake just because I was bored and couldn’t sleep smushed in between my co-passengers. Oh, the drama!

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Aerial view

When we landed and proceeded towards the exit, I was first and foremost caught by the beauty of the people. Their sharp features, flawless skin, captivating eyes, seemed like a sharp contrast to the covered faces in the Middle East.

We were hit by a gust of cool wind as we stepped outside. Again a contrast to the hot climate in Middle East, given that it’s summer.

After exchanging pleasantries with our tour guide, he drove us to the hotel. The roads were quite bumpy and reminded me of our village in India. After checking into our room, we agreed to wake up by six so as to have breakfast and begin our tour by ten.

The first day started with a bland breakfast. We Indians need the spices and salt and the absence of any one element would result in our tongues recoiling in distaste.

We had to make do with some plain bread and a thick omelette. We carried snacks in our handbags, wore hats on our heads, and sported bright beams on our faces, excited to begin our first day.

We were headed to the magnificent town of Sighnaghi, but not before stopping by a large winery en route.

First, when I entered it seemed like a wine shop where a vast array of wine bottles and flasks was put on display for nominal prices.

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But as we moved further, we were taken into what looked like a huge factory where the ambrosia is manufactured. Gigantic wine tanks surrounded us, and the temperature inside dropped by several degrees, making me shiver with cold as a result.

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The guide offered us plastic glasses and made us taste the fresh wine from each of the tanks. Here, I must add that it was a truly unlucky day for me as I couldn’t taste a single drop of wine (again, given the circumstances) but I did derive vicarious pleasure from seeing others do so. Oh, who am I kidding? I wanted to smash their glasses on the walls.

Anyway, so next, we arrived at Sighnaghi, which was a cute little borough with colourful buildings and people. Down the road, we could see most of the ladies dutifully knitting and crocheting vibrant articles of clothing so as to sell them to the swarming tourists.

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Tourists fascinated by my sari-clad mom-in-law

After a not so satisfying lunch (like I said, we need our spices), we made our way to the Bodbe Monastery, which was two kilometres from Sighnaghi. Girdled by clusters of Cypress trees, the pilgrimage site looked more or less like a miniature Hogwarts castle, minus the many spires.

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It also provided a picturesque sight of the vast Alazani Valley, best viewed from the beautiful flower garden a few steps beyond the structure.

 

After the exhausting walk back to our vehicle, we began our journey back to the hotel room, already anticipating the wonders waiting the next day.

And sure, it turned out to be better than the previous one.

But why don’t you guys wait till you find out next week? I promise I won’t make it longer than two parts. Haha!

And oh yes, there are animals this time around too. So stay tuned.

PERFECTION IS THE ENEMY OF GOOD

It’s been one year already! April 13th. The day I started this and vowed to continue for as long as I can.

Unfortunately, we all have those days. Days when no matter how badly you want to go ahead with your work, you can’t because of the state of affairs. It could be anything from a cyclone or hurricane to mood swings or morning sickness. I’m not gonna say which and will let the suspense hover for a while. I have made a very bad utilization of the long break and spent it rolling on the bed and lazing on the couch. The party’s over now. Although I can’t promise a weekly update like before, given the circumstances, I would try my best to do it biweekly.

Coming to the topic for today, these three months have served really well for rumination of past events, which made me realize that till this day, no matter what I did, I could never win the appreciation of people. They always end up pointing out the faults even in the good things I do.

For instance, I learn to make a complex dish and cook it for a dozen people. Instead of appreciating for all the hard work put in, I would be met with snide remarks that I’m a slowcoach.

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Essentially, no matter what you do to please others, no matter how hard you try; you WILL be met with criticism. And you can do nothing about it. Because that’s how most of the humans are programmed.

And what better way to make the most out of our twisted minds than the big fat Indian weddings.

The mandap, the food, the seating arrangement, flower décor, warm welcomes, jewellery display, assortment of goodies, plush rooms for guests, euphonious background music, not a detail spared and hundreds of thousands of rupees spent lavishly. But what else would the guests notice but the overgrown lawn or a broken chair in the back?

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The world is bestowed with so much goodness and positivity. But where there’s good, there will be evil too.

No human is perfect. Especially since perfection is a matter of perspective. What’s a perfect cup of coffee for me wouldn’t be the same for you. Your “perfect” chicken curry might be totally unpalatable for me. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong and I’m right. It just means we each know different versions of a perfect chicken curry. If we get that into our thicker than a rhino’s skin brains, then life would be so much easier for us as well as the ones around us.

Finally, here’s a tip on how to handle arm-chair critics. Gather their advice, digs, remarks, and statements into a large garbage bag and throw it out of your brain.

Real well-wishers don’t mock your resources and act like numero uno. They voice their opinions as a side note not as a primary rule.

And here’s a quote to wrap this up:

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”

― Donald Miller

LITTLE THINGS THAT MATTER

“I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than fatally disappointed.”― Julia Glass

You know what’s bad about expectations? They suck you into this world of fantasy where everything is how you want it to be and everyone is dancing to your tunes.

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Expectations also make you blind enough to not recognize what makes you happy. They just show you what you want and ignore what truly fills you with joy.

We all have expectations, of course. Even animals do, probably. Dogs want us to give them food, shelter and lots of love. But the difference is when a dog gets a pat instead of a hug, it’ll still be happy.

While longing for something big and grand, we miss out on the little things that actually matter.

Back in the days of yore, Mom used to pack lunch for school. One day, while kissing me goodbye, she whispered, ‘There’s a surprise in the box.’

I couldn’t contain my excitement and curiosity. I wondered what it could be and made a thousand guesses. During the school prayer too, I mulled over the various possibilities—the creamy cupcake she might’ve hidden underneath the sandwich or my favourite strawberry frozen yogurt or oooh it could be a Nutella sandwich. My mind worked relentlessly to produce new guesses, and when the bell finally rang, the teacher barely exited when my hands automatically went under the desk in order to release the lunch box from the confines of my bag.

A veggie sandwich lay in one compartment, a little soggy, while the other compartment was taken up by a small snickers bar.

Given my imaginations and expectations, I should’ve been a little underwhelmed, but I wasn’t. Nope. My face broke into a huge grin and I hid the bar under the desk lest my friends see it and ask for a share. That day went along like a festival. Not that chocolates were a rare thing for me but it was a surprise. An unexpected gesture of love from Mom.

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The size of the gift doesn’t matter as long as it’s wrapped in love.

A bear-hug from a usually reticent dad, a surprise visit from your darling sister, favourite dish cooked by mom, grandma’s bright beam after winning a single game of ludo, grandpa’s ecstasy when his grandson jumps with joy on seeing him, an impromptu candle-light dinner arranged by husband, a single text message from wife asking how his business meeting went, a son’s success visible in the form of pride in the mother’s eyes, a daughter’s accomplishments making a father say, ‘That’s my girl’, a brother’s watchful eye, wiping out all the libertines surrounding his sister, with his death stare, best friend knocking on your door the moment she receives a distress call from you—it could be as massive as a breakup or as trifling as a pizza craving.

These are the moments that make up our lives. Not the money we splurge or the flattery we shower.

So the next time Mom forces you to finish up that giant glass of milk, do it because you only have so much time together. Now separated by thousands of miles, what I wouldn’t give to eat her food.

BUCKET LIST

Don’t leave a girl alone with depressing books about death and doomsday for more than a few hours.

These days I’ve been contemplating life quite deeply. It could be the effect of recent tragic occurrences or the consequence of being in the company of my mind (and only my mind) for one whole week.

When someone like me is left alone amidst grim literature and melancholic thoughts, the result would be, ta-da, a looong bucket list. Take that, husband (who will shortly begin his venture of checking each box on my list before I grow old and can’t walk anymore)!

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So there I was buried in the pages of “The Book Thief”, which I must admit wreaked havoc on my mental state. I get intensely emotional when it comes to Holocaust books. I also get distracted from them pretty easily in the presence of a cheerful human. During the past one week though, the only social contact I had was with the characters of the dark books discussing doom, and a cloud of gloom hanging above my head like a chandelier.

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It’s an amazing book by the way. A must-read.

One thing led to another and the next moment I was putting together a list of things I want to do before I croak.

Prior to revealing some of the items on the list, here’s a word of caution. Don’t leave a girl alone with depressing books about death and doomsday for more than a few hours.

Difficult but doable . . . I guess:

  1. World tour, including/especially Antarctica. Get up close and personal with seals, dance with penguins, and watch a male penguin propose to its mate with a beautiful, shiny pebble.
  2. Play with any/all big cats. Wouldn’t it be fun to get locked up in the cage with a lion that would probably jump with elation on the arrival of its potential meal? Honestly, my love for big cats might someday put my life in danger.
  3. Hold a reptile or two. Probably a snake and an alligator/crocodile. I know, I know. My list looks like I want to end my life early rather than live it to the fullest.
  4. Read about twenty thousand books in my lifetime—which sounds tough and scary at the same time because to accomplish this I might have to forgo rest of my pursuits.
  5. Conquer Mount Everest. Yeah, I aim for the moon so that I could at least get the stars. Or the clouds.
  6. Win a Nobel Prize. This is highly unrealistic and not even remotely doable but it feels good to have it in this category.

Realistic:

  1. Go on a wildlife safari in Africa– Done. Done. Done.
  2. Kiss a giraffe – Done and done.
  3. Gatecrash a wedding – Done. Although getting caught wasn’t in our plan, it happened. We weren’t arrested or anything. Just got dirty looks on our way to exit after a scrumptious dinner. Yum-yum.
  4. Devote a certain amount of money to charity.
  5. Meet J. K. Rowling, my idol. (very important)
  6. Swim with sharks and/or dolphins.
  7. Go on the scariest high thrill rides. And puke on my fellow riders, which isn’t something I want to do but is inevitable.
  8. Own a mansion. The size of Buckingham Palace. Hee-hee.
  9. VEGAS!!!!!!!!
  10. Stay fit and healthy for as long as I can. Which means I have to exercise every day. And have to quit chocolates, ice-cream, and pizza. THE MOST DIFFICULT THING ON THE LIST.

Unattainable:

  1. Watch a horror film alone. In a movie theater. (And probably die of heart attack)
  2. Cut off my hair and see if I could rock the pixie cut. Or perhaps find out how bad I would look in it, given my unruly curls.
  3. Double as a superhero and fight crime.
  4. Stay away from gadgets for one month. One week? At least a day? Yeah, that works. I should include this in the ‘difficult but doable’.
  5. Assemble all the cast and crew of the worst Indian soap operas (almost all) and give them a piece of my mind. Or rip them into pieces.

Phew!

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Folks, my list is much much longer actually. But let’s call it a day and save it for another blog post. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll check out the prices of the Antarctica cruise and will prepare to break the bank.

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WHAT’S THE WORLD COMING TO?

What is happening to my world? 

You know what’s becoming extinct these days—besides, tigers, rhinos, payphones, and privacy? Humanity.

Every news headline that pops onto my mobile screen upsets me. Each time I log in to Facebook I’m bombarded with posts about various crimes against humanity.

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Why is the world turning into a hellhole? We are going to gift this to our future generations? I can’t even describe the fear that grips me whenever I think about the survival of my kids, grandkids, and so on in this barbaric world. My whole body shudders at the thought of the ever-escalating violence in our society.

There was a time in my childhood when I used to think that abominable acts like terrorism, murders, dacoities, female infanticides would gradually reduce as the countries develop. Now I’m realizing that I have been illusory.

Watching little babies gasping for breath as their mothers wish swift deaths upon them; feeling helpless and hopeless about the situation; inability to do anything but shed silent tears while viewing the videos of the people begging for help from other countries . . . the state of Syria shook me.

What did they do to deserve this?

That’s one question I want to ask anyone who is willing to provide me with a fitting answer, including God.

Why?

Children losing their fathers, mothers reduced to hapless spectators as their kids perish due to hunger, and the world simply looks on.

*

We go to a concert in Vegas, sway to the music in trance, and suddenly the tranquility is disturbed when some maniac opens fire, shooting everyone in range like they are game.

Another lunatic turns a school into a burial ground and young students with countless aspirations lay on the ground next minute, defunct.

A gun happens to be the trigger to a psychopath’s twisted brain. And easy access to weapons will obviously turn them into killing machines.

Basically, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is—the culprits’, guns’, laws’, leaders’—but once a life is lost, it results in a ripple effect, leaving so many people shattered.

Again, I want to ask—Why? What is happening to my world?

*

Now, coming to India, where crimes against women—um, actually crimes against every female creature—are so rampant that I wish all girls could flee the country to a place where they don’t have to fear their mere existence.

I mean it’s a shame, really. Okay, some people are forced into depravity due to vile upbringing and environs but that is in no way an excuse for their deeds. They should either seek help or adapt to a better way of living by observing the normal people around. If they resort to crime, then they ought to be inflicted with the harshest of punishments because if they’re released back into the society after serving the term, sure as the wind blows, they will destroy many more lives.

Monsters are meant to be confined.

*

Here I am fantasising about flying cars, lesser diseases, and a world without crime in a decade or two, and the humankind is doing everything in its power to prove me wrong.

Nevertheless, I’ll keep holding on to the hope for the proverbial world peace and wait for the day I could view the world with esteem instead of disdain.

For that to happen we must do our part too and ensure that our future generations imbibe moral values and are raised to be compassionate towards fellow humans.

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CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC

I. Need. To. Stop.

Just. Stop.

Tring tring!

The taxi driver’s here. He’ll charge extra if I make him wait. I need to take a decision. Fast.

Oh, wow. You’re about to spend a bomb on clothes you don’t need and you’re worried about the extra ten bucks the driver might charge you. You stupid . . . 

‘Enough! I can’t take your abuse anymore. I’m super stressed as it is. I said I wouldn’t buy anything. Why are you fussing?’

Because I know that when you say you won’t buy anything, you will most likely return with an empty wallet and zero bank balance.  

‘Sniff, sniff! You will never understand me.’

I tore myself away from the place and hopped into the waiting cab, ready for my next shopping trip after a long gap of four days.

‘They said sale! How can I ignore that?’ I whined.

The driver looked at me suspiciously. He probably wondered who I was talking to. Of course, he wouldn’t have guessed that my mind was torturing me with its hostile libels.

I had to pause the introspection but my merciless Mind kept going on with its taunts.

You’re such a dumbo, always on the prowl for new clothes as if that’s all people care about. 

My eyes prickled with tears.

That’s right. Cry. Later you’ll cry because of poverty. Wait, I just came up with a tagline for you.  

She’s just a bimbo

Who waits for sales on Crimbo

Strutting with her limbs akimbo.

‘Sniff, sniff, I hate you.’

‘Sorry, ma’am?’ the taxi driver spun around to look at me despite the traffic.

‘Queue,’ I lied, ‘I hate queue. You know, the traffic. Jam.’

‘I too hate traffic, madam. It’s so irritating. One day when I was . . .’

I wanted to jump out of the running car because the driver’s irrelevant anecdotes and Mind’s brutal bashings began to take their toll on my mental health. I was filled with a sense of despair. It lasted for about twenty minutes until the car halted near the mall gate.

There! With its palatial structure standing in all its imposing glory like a majestic castle, welcoming me with jumbo banners advertising huge discounts on all items, I saw imaginary hands stretch out of the cornucopia, enticing me to enter and precluding me from leaving.

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Okay, I have never considered myself a shopaholic. Until recently. When I realized that my closet looked like a vacuum storage bag—all clothes, no air.

And worse, I discovered that I needed more space (like a whole new house for my commodities) to accommodate the truckload of shopping bags waiting to be emptied, in the other room.

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Oh, what have I become?!

It’s not like money grows on trees for me. I think twice before buying a freaking avocado for crying out loud. Why can’t I resist the urge to buy a stupid cold-shoulder dress that fits me so nicely and looks so good that even motorists turn their heads to see who the beautiful girl in black is . . .

Oh, God there I go again. Falling for the charms of clothes.

But girls, let’s be honest. Is there anything in this world that makes us as happy as a gorgeous dress does? Or an elegant pair of pumps? Paired with a designer sling bag? Along with chandelier earrings?

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Damn, I’m doing it again.

Anyway, what the world (and parents) don’t understand is shopping is like therapy. It rejuvenates us. But it also burns a hole the size of a Grand Big Mac in our pockets. Who cares though? All we need for a contented life is a gigantic wardrobe full of clothes . . . and maybe matching accessories. It doesn’t matter if we are wasting away the hard-earned money of our parents or spouses . . . or ours, right? Right?

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THE BLAME GAME

A hundred lashes wouldn’t hurt someone as much as one false blame does.

‘Mooooooom……!!!! Where’s my super-cute headband that I asked you to look after?’

‘I don’t know. I gave it to you last night,’ Mom shouted from the kitchen.

‘No, you didn’t. How can you be so careless? I’ve been planning to wear it today and now you just lost it. Great! You have ruined my day. My dress would look so lame without the matching band. Argh…!!’

‘Stop hyperventilating. I clearly remember giving it to you yesterday. Anyway, let me search,’ she said and combed the whole house.

‘Every time . . . every time, Mom. Can’t you take care of one small plastic object? I don’t understand how you manage to keep your things in place with your poor memory and organizing skills. Ugh,’ I nagged.

‘Did you search in your handbag? You packed it last night.’

‘I’m not an idiot to put my headband in the handbag. I just packed an extra outfit since it’s a pool party.’

‘All right let me check then. Just to make sure,’ she gently lifted the tote from the closet shelf and unclasped it.

Voila!

The lilac coloured headpiece that had been the source of tension for about an hour showed itself in the climax like a villain in a Bollywood movie.

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Of course, the real villain in the scene was me. Since I threw the blame on Mom so easily just because I could.

We are all guilty of scapegoating at some point in our lives. We just can’t bear to perceive that we are capable of making mistakes. We love to think that we are perfect little snowflakes. We are not! We make mistakes. Mistakes are what make us humans. But what makes us worthy humans is owning up to those mistakes instead of finding someone else to throw the blame at.

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We make enough mistakes as it is. How does it feel to carry the burden of others’? Have you ever thought of it that way?

That day, I fell on my Mom’s feet and pled to forgive me this one last time. But the drama usually repeats.

Although I’m pretty determined to not let it recur this time.

Not everyone is as forgiving as a Mom. Once we lose respect, it’s pretty hard to regain it.

It feels good, I know, to blame someone else so that we could feel a little less pathetic about ourselves. But do we ever think about the person on the other side holding themselves responsible for absolutely no fault of theirs?

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Let me put it in another way. Have you ever experienced the embarrassment resulted from a false blame? Yeah. It’s excruciating. You can’t face the person again. Hell, I couldn’t even look into the eyes of my own mother after that episode no matter how used to it I was.

Do we need that kind of mental agony? Can’t we just make a clean breast of our sins and project a decent character?

I’ve seen so many people pointing fingers at someone just to escape the momentary brunt. But sooner or later, they will have to bear the force.

Let me narrate another incident before signing off.

At a family get-together, my little niece toddling near me slipped on a tiny puddle of water and fell down. My aunt came running and started blaming me for not supervising her. She led me to believe at least for a minute that I was the reason behind the girl’s fall. Although I never harbored any ill feelings towards her post the incident, the unwarranted blame stung me.

What if the girl ended up with a sprain or something worse? Would I be held responsible for it for my whole life?

A hundred lashes wouldn’t hurt someone as much as one false blame does. I hope we realize it before it’s too late.

 

BEHOLD THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

This morning something strange happened. It shook me to the core and forced me to hide under the covers for a very long time until the episode repeated in my own room and threw me into a blue funk.

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Donning my new walking shoes that I vowed to use till they wear off, I set out on the trail around the many blocks of the apartment complex I was staying at. Although I start out fast, I usually begin to slow down as the surroundings come alive with hollers of playing children and screams of tantrum-throwing toddlers. But nothing of that sort happened. The evening climate was perfect, the lighting was good, and I was waiting; yet, not one human came into fore.

During my third round towards the playground, I got exasperated and turned my eyes towards the bench in the shade and saw a boy hunched over. He wasn’t moving. My curiosity propelled me to explore.

I slowly walked in his direction and noticed that there were two more kids—one boy and a girl—seated by his side, stooping in the same way. Then when I moved my eyes towards the figures standing behind, my heart dropped to my feet. There were two ladies, probably the kids’ mothers, standing in the same position. I decided to investigate and moved closer.

‘Um, hello,’ I said, hesitatingly.

No movement.

I cleared my throat and tried again.

‘Hey!’ I wrung my fingers in nervousness.

Five angry faces turned to face me and I scrambled from the spot like lightning.

I went in to find the room where I was staying with my cousins empty (for the sake of anonymity I’m gonna use only cousins in this article). I hopped on the bed and draped the blanket around my body like a mummy, trembling underneath.

The bathroom door clicked and I was relieved that I would have someone to share my horror story with.

Out came another stooped figure mechanically gliding on the floor like a spectre. The scream that came out of my mouth thereupon shook the whole building and virtually split my eardrums.

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It’s not a virus. It’s not a parasite. It’s a small contraption that has been made by humans and is controlling their brains now.

Here is the device that’s guilty of starting a pandemic.

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We all carry smartphones these days. We can’t imagine a day without the device let alone our lives.

But we have let the machines control our entity to such an extent that we have become the living dead—drifting away aimlessly, eyes on the screen; hands holding the shiny glass instead of being entangled with the partner’s fingers; mind pondering about the next message to type to a friend staying 5000 miles away rather than concentrating on the conversation happening with the person who is two feet away.

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Phone zombies have become so rampant that I’m scared to step out or even stay in for that matter.

Cousin 1 sits on the chair holding the phone attached to its charger. Can’t afford to lose a second even if there’s a possibility of the battery heating up like a volcano, thereby destroying the phone.

Cousin 2 walks back and forth from the charging point like I do an emergency walk from the bathroom and the couch when the former is occupied. Charging your cell phone a hundred times would only deplete the battery, you moron!  

Cousin 3 forgets manners and courtesy when at relatives’ place and checks Facebook notifications. In the end, all you’ll be left with are virtual friends.

Cousin 4 barks like a rabid dog when you disturb him/her while chatting in the whatsapp group. Bite me!

The means of an end to this apocalypse is literally in our hands. We just need to realize it before it’s too late.

Drop the phone. Prop your face.

 

LAST WORDS

Don’t take life and relationships for granted. Appreciate everyone and everything.

It was the first time I’ve lost someone close to me. It was the first time I saw a strong man become fragile and collapse in front of my eyes. It was the first time ever I contemplated the consequences of a loved one’s departure.

All I felt was misery. The painful thought that I would never see my grandfather ever again, the traumatic realization that the toothless grin and innocent, baggy eyes would never be there to welcome me, the depressing knowledge that his tall, stooping form is gone forever, has made me become cognizant of the ephemeral nature of life.

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An old bad quality picture that has become priceless now

Last week, I couldn’t update my blog. My eighty-year-old grandfather, who actively played cards and gambled like Archie Karas, breathed his last right after winning a fair amount of loot. So essentially, he was happy until his last moment arrived and when it finally did, he took off like a flash.

We couldn’t perceive what was happening. Family and friends encompassed him soon after the symptoms began to show and when he glanced at each of us with those glassy eyes, no one guessed he was just registering our faces for one last time.

And before the men carried him to the vehicle, his heart bowed out.

My grandmother crumpled to the floor in despair and the rest of us were too shocked to even shed a tear.

After a few seconds, all hell broke loose.

But all I could hear was a beep.

My mind played a video montage of all the endearing moments I hold so close to my heart—right from the day when he roved the streets of the town in search of colored chicks that I took fancy to; to the day when he was on bed, unwell, and spoke what would now become his last words to me, “You’re leaving already?”

I played the phrase repeatedly in my head as a continuous stream of tears began to flow down my cheeks. When I arrived here four months later last week, I didn’t get to talk to him due to the overflow of guests given that it was festival time in India. And within a few hours, we lost him—before I could ask how the turkeys he recently bought were faring, before I could buy him his favourite snack from the roadside stall, before I could play one last game of ludo . . .

Grandparents are a treasure. If there could be anyone who can love us more than our parents do, then it’s them. They shower us with unconditional love and ask nothing but acknowledgement in return. They just want to see us smile.

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I will cherish the mythological stories my grandmother used to relate, planting herself between my sister and me.

I will forever remember their far-sighted insights and worldliness as lessons.

And I will preserve the memory of my grandfather’s last words spoken in a downcast voice, deviating from his usual baritone.

You might have left us already grandpa but you will always always be in our hearts, dreams, and memories.

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