DOWN THE MEMORY LANE

It is said that Paris is the city of romance and fashion capital of the world.  I agree with that.  It’s been eight years when I first visited this city just a month before my first wedding anniversary as we were supposed to celebrate our first anniversary with family in India.  I was very excited (who won’t be) after all it was my first visit to the French capital which I have been seeing only on television and the first time comes only once in life.  We boarded Thalys, the superfast train plying between Brussels and Paris and the duration of the journey was about 1 hour 15 minutes.  After reaching there and checking in our hotel room we chalked out a plan for our three days.  Prepared a bucket list, which place needs to be visited first and so on.  We decided to take the metro to reach various destinations in the city.  Talking about the metro, the very look of the stations and the metro trains looked very old which meant they were running since ages. But we had a comfortable ride, in fact taking metro is the best option.  With a guide (book) in hand, we were all set to paint the city red.

(The fashion hub – Champs Elysées)
(The Sacred Heart Basilica)
(Museum de Louvre)
(Louvre, picture from distance)
(Arc de Triomphe, which I sarcastically call India Gate of Delhi as they are similar structures.)
(Moulin Rouge)
(River Siene, picture from Eiffel Tower)
(Guillotine, the execution place)

Hope you enjoyed Paris with me… 😛

AVOID DEPENDENCY TO HANDLE PRESSURE WELL

I am worst at handling pressures. Yeah, you might think how I can say that being a leader. But it is a truth about me that I shout a lot, get bogged down a lot and get stressed out easily when I am under a pressure situation.

Yet, in certain occasions I am very strong and handle the pressures much better than how other can handle in the same situation. So my behaviours vary from different pressure situations. In some cases I struggle and in some other I show the real character.

Negative life situations always have negative or positive effects on a person. It will either make you or break you. And it is different than daily pressures of life. I am good at handling long term pressure situation but not well at managing a daily one. The reason could be that I am accustomed to doing things slowly and when a pressure situation demands to do things or accomplish something quickly I tend to get worried or stressed out. When I am asked to do things or decide things right away or quickly it’s very difficult for me to come to a conclusion or manage it. And it is more pathetic when your decision is dependent on people. I love to do things at my own pace and deciding on my own. I hate pressure cooker situations. So I take precautions. Let me give an example…

It was last Sunday in the afternoon when I received the news of my granny’s death. And there are very few tickets available next morning on Monday and if we had to travel in the same night we had to catch a bus as there were no train tickets available. Now I was depending on three persons around me to take a decision.

First one was my wife who was confused whether to go with me or not.

Second one was my brother who was confused when to go considering his hospital duties.

Third one was my uncle who actually was ready to help me out but wants to go according to his schedules.

My wife knows how irritated I was that evening. I was scolding and was frustrated and the whole evening I kept discussing and struggling to take a decision till I decided I will go on my own and bought the ticket by-passing everyone else. I travelled to Cuttack comfortably and alone at the end.

I learnt one lesson from the whole pressure situation – “Never to be dependent on others when I can accomplish something very important on my own.”

MORE THAN AN ACQUAINTANCE…

It struck twelve. ‘Twelve in the night is an odd time to be in a small village, especially for a girl’, a man whispered not very far from me. I cringed at the shaky voice. It heavily smelt of booze. Suddenly, I was not alone anymore, and that frightened me more. The man moved away paces but I could feel his eyes on me. The ramshackle bus-stand grew eerie as I stood restless. I cursed the cabbie of my earlier ride once again for leaving me in such a state of panic. Why can’t they check the tanks for sufficient gas before having a passenger aboard? And just how conveniently, he dropped me off to the nearest bus station about 2 miles from the breakdown, to which, quite surprisingly his cab did not resist at all. Exhaling heavily, I tried to concentrate on my book.

‘But surely, he lived in the nearby village, and wanted to make what little fare he could make out of you,’ said Jessica. ‘How can you be so dumb as to not understand their tricks,’ she fumed over the phone. It was not like I was having the time of my life to endure her reprimanding now. ‘Relax, Jess. I’ll be fine,’ I said and cut the call. Well, quite obviously, I wasn’t all right and quite naturally scared of the man on prowl. I pulled the travel bag closer to me in a hope to shield myself and just how in vain! Right then, I wished to vanish inside it.

The waft of hot boiling tea from the tea-stall across the street made me want to run, grab a cup and drown my worries with the beverage. But a quick glance around, registered what little the secluded bus-stop held. A couple of men talking animatedly in the regional dialect. A man who seemed foreign in the land, was busy reading a book. An urchin was pestering an elderly for money.  That’s all the audience I had around me. And then there was the man casting dirty glances at me. Oh, how long, before the local bus picked me up. I didn’t care where the bus took me; I just wanted to get out of that place just then.
Once again, I tried to not be intimidated by my circumstance and struggled to find the lost thread from the book. Noiselessly, the creepy man came and stood right next to me, barely an inch away, muttering, ‘Can I take you somewhere?’ I was so absorbed in my book that it took a second for me to notice that it was the same man. I flinched and moved away. For some reason, the man who was reading a book at the far corner left his stance and came and took a seat on the broken bench, poising himself between me and the local creep.
If it was his gesture to shield me, I hardly realized and almost burst out shouting. But something about the book that he was reading delivered a different message altogether and I held my words back. Invisible Cities. The same book as I was reading. People who read are a lot better than people who don’t. I always believed that. Quickly, wiping away the tears, I looked up at him. He wasn’t more than thirty and with his glasses, he looked a lot younger than that. In a casual black tee, faded denims, and with a backpack, he looked like a budget traveler. He didn’t look at me first, but when he did, I knew that that look and that smile would change everything. ‘Don’t worry, he wouldn’t dare any more,’ was all he said and was consumed by ‘Invisible Cities’ again.

Twenty-five minutes later, the groaning, screeching bus pulled into the stop. I didn’t look back not until the bus had pulled away and all I could catch of his fast fading figure was the patch on his backpack that read Keith Martin. I wanted to say goodbye; but it could’ve been the start of something, or perhaps a thank you; but that would’ve sounded too needy. So, I gave up and maybe because I was too subdued to attempt, I just left. I will keep him safe in the recesses of my memory from that night, that village, but will I ever meet him again? And more than that, will I ever forget that look, that reassuring smile that became my sunshine on a dark eerie night?

Certain circumstances happen for you meet certain people. You may never cross paths again, but you can’t stop reminiscing about them every now and then. Whether it was a minute or a miraculous month, they’re inseparably linked to you because of that one incident that made them mean immensely much to you.

A LETTER FROM A BROKEN FATHER

Radhika, a 25-years-old marketing professional recently shifted to Delhi as a part of her career decision. She convinced her parents about  her safety and took the big plunge. She was happy about her new project, new house, excited about life in new city.

Delhi – city famous for its mouth watering street food, high street fashion and zest for life also has a shoddy picture when it comes to the safety of women and that made Radhika a bit apprehensive.

But that it didn’t stop her from beginning her journey.  She used to take a bus daily to her workplace and back. On one such fine day she noticed a man (must be in his fifties or early sixties) in the bus staring at her constantly. She turned her glare the other way and ignored him. But not for long. She saw him again, again and again consecutively and every time she noticed him staring at her. It was getting on her nerves. “It’s so irritating, am I a piece of meat to be served as his eye candy? His age and acts have no correlation whatsoever!”, she despised him so much. As if it was not enough she found him following her. After repeatedly ignoring his acts she confronted him when she could take it no longer. “My silence is only strengthening him and I won’t let it happen”, she said to herself.

“What is your problem? Why can’t you mind your business? Why do you stare at me?  When I ignored your acts you have started following me? You must have thought that I am going to take it lying down and you can get away easily. Come on speak up now”, she roared. The man was taken aback and soon few people gathered and anger poured in demanding a legal course of action to be taken.

Radhika interrupted and said, “let him go considering his age. What if his family comes to know about his lowly acts, they will break down. Let him go with a warning”, and she turned to the old man and said, “I am letting you go now not because I fear you but I am worried about your family more than you. I am thinking what if you have a daughter of my age and she faces such harassment, think about it”, she blasted him and left from there and the gathering dispersed leaving the old man with a drawn face.

She thought it was over.

Next day morning she received a letter from the guard at the gate which read –

Dear Radhika,

Don’t be afraid thinking how I got to know your name. I overheard it when you thought I was following you.  But you only thought I was stalking you. My intention was never so. You asked how my family would feel if they come to know about my deeds.  But I wish I had one. The day I saw you, you reminded me of my family. You reminded me of my daughter! She is my family – whom I lost in an accident two years back. I was not following you as I stay in the same area in the building opposite to your society. But I can’t deny the fact that I stared at you as I was searching for my daughter in you. Wish I spoke to you earlier, but along with my daughter I lost my speech too in that dreadful accident! You don’t have to worry anymore about this old man stalking you as I am shifting to a new place. My best wishes are always with you, daughter!

A broken father.

Radhika was shameful about what she did. “How wrong I was in being judgmental – why I was so apprehensive”, she kept pondering over and over again.

HOW YOU HANDLE AFTER YOU’RE BROKEN!!!

It was in the July of 2014 that I was fortunate enough to visit Darjeeling, the land of the thunderbolt. Mirik followed suit. A lover of scenic beauty that I am was enthralled at thought of capturing spectacular scenes of nature. When we arrived at this lake in Mirik I was completely bewitched by the surroundings that it had to offer. Amongst many other elements of nature that I came across at that destination I came upon this scene that stood out to in the midst of all the greenery.

Capturing our undivided attention here is the image of an almost fallen tree. A tree that has succumbed to the pressures of the change in the phenomenon and which looks like it has given up its life to fall to its death into the lake. It is this lone component in the entire forest-like backdrop that has fallen to its glory, an unprecedented survivor who seemed to have gone through a lot before submitting itself to the dominance of the stronger powers. The other trees around it are standing straight resembling each other in appearance and posture, showing no signs of uniqueness in them. It is this fallen tree that I assume tried to show its different nature and thus as a result has been stubbed to its end.

If we look closely we may find out that though the tree seems to have fallen, it has not stopped to thrive. Its leaves are as green as its straight colleagues. It still has life left. It still has a long way to go and survive. The very fact of its brokenness has made it stand out amongst others and has charmed viewers to praise its scenic beauty. The tree seems to be showing strength of character.

So relatable to most of us, isn’t it? Often we find ourselves in circumstances similar to that of this tree. We get eroded by numerous storms that are raging outside and try to burn us in the inside but we buckle ourselves up. Even though we feel broken we try to put up a fight like a warrior. We have to encounter numerous forms of discrimination while living in this present society. Racism, stereotyping, gender discrimination, and exclusion regarding disability, impairment, economic injustice, religious discrimination and what not we confront on a regular basis. I am sure you will be able to name quite a few other than this. Issues like this manipulate and manoeuvre us into thinking that we are its slaves. The prevalent systems of patriarchy and matriarchy (in some other places) make our lives all the more strenuous. Privately we wish for a change to sweep up our country and make life different for us. We view ourselves broken while fighting and battling against the torturous society and its filthy mentality. We feel defeated.

They say one who has the strength of character can withstand the fiercest of storms and thrive just like this tree along the Mirik Lake. It’s not about how you can handle before you break but about how you handle after you’re broken. Our brokenness should not be as such that kills us from within. But make sure the ones watching you see the light that is within through the cracks that have been formed. Imagine the life of this tree and how it is still thriving in spite of its brokenness. It is because the seedlings that are going to come from it may find a stronger ground to dwell upon. The seedlings that would thrive from the tree in future would use the moisture from the lake itself to strengthen themselves.

In the similar fashion when your situations make you fall to the ground use the very ground as a leverage to fly and soar high as an eagle. Keeping your head up in the present society is very necessary. The hardest battles are fought by the strongest soldiers.

MEMORIES OF A TASTE BUD

food-878445_1280What is the tastiest food you have ever eaten? Well, I certainly can’t forget some dishes. They made an unforgettable mark on my taste buds. It’s not that I start salivating when I think about them, but I certainly remember them with a certain fondness. They say best things in life are unexpected and so it happened with me.

LUNCH IN SONADA:

I was travelling to Darjeeling with my parents in the year 2002. We got down at Sonada which is about 20 kilometers from the famous hill station. Dad knew a few people at the novitiate there so we tagged along with him. The novitiate was located on a hill slope. A thin veil of fog covered the basketball court outside.  It was afternoon and yet there was no sign of the sun. We were hungry and one of the Salesian fathers led us to their cafeteria.

The beef I ate there was out of this world. Soft and succulent, my taste buds relished every piece of it before swallowing. I don’t know how they prepared it. It wasn’t spicy (which is the way I like) but it had an incredible taste. It wasn’t fried as much as I can remember. I have asked mom to prepare beef in that particular fashion but she never perfected it although once she came fairly close. May be it is something to do with the altitude of Sonada and the air pressure there.

DINNER AT A PUB IN SALUGARA:

It was my friend’s birthday. We went to this small pub in the northern edges of my home town. I was not sure what to expect in that place. The waiter, a young Nepali boy served us plates of “chilly pork”. I am not a big fan of pork. Although, in my childhood days I used to have plenty of it at my aunt’s place. It usually contains lot of fat and I had grown out of it eventually. This preparation seemed different. They had removed the extra fat and the garnishing of onions along with the spices made it yummy. It was better than any chilly chicken I had eaten before. I have not eaten much pork after that except for pepperoni on countable number of occasions. That has been the tastiest pork yet.

HOT GULAB-JAMUNS:

I was with my parents again as we strolled through the crowded Hill-cart road. The Durga Puja celebrations were in full flow. The drums were beating loudly from the various pandals. The strips of decorative lightings hung over the roads and the bamboo structure with lighting patterns marked the edges of the small streets leading to another pandal.  The festive atmosphere kept everyone in high spirits.

 After a long walk we stopped for dinner. I can’t recollect what we had in the main course, but I certainly remember the dessert. The medium sized gulab-jamun took the tongue by surprise with its amount of warmth.  It was delicious and the taste spread as it gradually melted in my mouth. I took another piece and it certainly felt heavenly. Even mom and dad liked it a lot. From then on I have always preferred hot gulab-jamuns.

Enjoy your food and cherish the foodie memories. Like they say, “best things in life are unexpected” and sometimes you will find out that the best food in life is unexpected too.

Peter Minj