Posted in Article, People

Two Months Of Foreplay

I am five minutes late and almost sure that this is going to be one of those dates where I end up without any story and not liking the guy anyway. He had been a gentleman and waited outside the metro station. I knew it was him but I call him up anyway just to make sure. He recognized me and smiled. He offered me a ride on his bike which obviously had to be Royal Enfield for this 6 feet 1 inch tall guy who had shed enough sweat at the gym. I made a pass and we walked around trying to find a place to grab some coffee. Finally, I took him to a cafe I had been to several times with my friends or by myself in the unavoidable urge to get some coffee. He sat right across me. Almost blushing and barely looking up. When I point this out to him he says, ‘Well, ammm, actually this is my very first date’. What?!? Listening to this my eyes open wide with excitement at the thought that finally I get to be a senior in dating in front of a guy who would be otherwise deemed as a hunk with the typical men-like traits.

He’s beautiful. I tell him. I know he wanted to kill me for saying that out loud and his big ego was crumpled but he could do nothing at all except controlling the expression he almost allowed to spread across his face. I was at extreme pleasure and to add cherry on top of the cake I made him accept the compliment and taught him to say thank you. He obeyed the lady! Oh man. He’s really a gentleman or just new to the whole dating game? I was too busy acting like a senior/pro and interviewing him on the DATE but later on I was left wondering beyond what I had expected. This man looked 28, dressed like 25, his tinder bio said 24, turned out to be 23, behaved 17, smiled like 15 and laughed like 12. What? What are you gawking at? The tinder date or the fact that I was pretty much going to be head over heels for this otherwise substitute date for the guy who was too hungover at new year’s to make it to the venue the next evening? The waiter arrived at our table. My date at that moment ordered cappuccino and I went for black coffee, extra strong. He stared at me. The way he looked at me made it clear that he was astonished by my answers and also the questions. He was letting me be the boss and I was savouring my fair share. The coffee arrived and the waiter mixed up our orders. Looking at this he remarked while making a face and mocking me, ‘Who drinks black coffee this bitter at this time of the day?’. ‘Duh! I do’, I rolled my eyes, laughed and got my order straight. Now out of the two options on the table- coffee and him, the former was more tempting. Since the date was sudden and neither of us knew much about each other we started discussing about education and career. I mean why not! He told me that he had applied in universities across Europe for Master’s programme and to this I almost yawned and started lecturing him how it is not a very wise choice to go to foreign land just for the sake of degree you are not even interested in and the “hip” lifestyle. That is when he stops me saying, ‘Excuse me! I might look like I don’t study at all but I am quite motivated and intelligent enough. I stood first in my class just because my mom asked me to study and give up on the brawls I picked up in college’. A show off, but cares about his mother so much- cute! I think. After the coffee I made him walk again. While exiting the cafe I held the door for him. This added to a bit of his dilemma but I was so happy and excited about being the chivalrous one that I couldn’t help my silly yet sophisticated gestures. I even mentioned this to him. I also told him that I am seeing a friend of mine afterwards and he’ll be coming somewhere around here itself. This friend of mine was actually a back up to get done with an otherwise boring date early and still get back home late. Somehow the date turned into something nice and I ended up liking to know about this new guy a bit more, so I forgot to pick my friend’s call and he was now running late. Anyways, the date decided to wait for him with me. A bonus I guess, this was the time when I got to know “in theory” that he cooks well and we had a little talk about the world war, Nazis and Mein Kampf. Now that is a subject that I picked up to read long time ago but had to give up in between due to some deadlines. It was really impressive that he knew so much more about the world war than I did. Plus, he wasn’t anti-Hitler. This was the time that the nerd in me got glitter in her eyes. Damn you, world war! Damn you, Hitler! I was looking at his lips a little and he was taking glimpses of mine. We knew what we wanted but it would have been too early and awkward to state that already. So, we kept talking.
Finally, my friend arrived. I introduced the two out of general courtesy. My friend started asking him questions like a big brother would and I had to interrupt him in between reminding him that we two just met so he needs to shut up. This put my date to relief. Let’s call him Willy Wonka for now. So, Willy Wonka hugged me and we left. My friend stated, ‘looks like your date went well’. ‘Yeah! It was fun. I had a nice time. I might meet him again but I am not dating him’, I replied.
‘And why not?’
‘I don’t want to be in love. It’s a weird feeling. It’s just not meant for me.’
With this we made sure that we never talk about this again.

When I reached home my inbox had a text from Willy Wonka that asked if I was home. We spent the night talking and texting and even confessing that we wanted to kiss each other. We were up for a second date. I made him walk, again. He was sick of it but had no choice. I told him, ‘You know I really like to walk while talking to new people. This wades off a lot of awkward questions and unnecessary eye contacts’.
‘Oh, so you think this is awkward.’ He laughed, now able to figure out that I was just pretending to be the senior earlier.
‘No no! Not at all. This is very comforting rather which makes it really awkward for me. I mean I have been acting like myself all along and I don’t feel the urge to impress you or something. Like this is coming out so naturally. Otherwise I give guys a really hard time.’ I made a morbidly honest confession.
‘So comfort is awkward for you?’ Man, Willy Wonka was witty. Let’s call him Johnny Depp now, not that he looks anything like Depp.

While we were walking across the most cliched but we-got-no-other-option place in Delhi- CP- we took a hault at the Oxford bookstore . That is a place which comes along with abundance of memories for me. He took me there accidentally and I just wouldn’t shut up from telling him about all the friends and people I had been there with and for what all reasons. I even went through a few books and that is when boredom dawned across his face. Realising this, we moved to Chai Bar across the room. He liked his tea and knew how, so I decided that he should order for both of us. We kept on talking. My intelligent talks had turned to playful babbling by now. This is how comfortable we were. Plus, Johnny Depp didn’t speak much- which is always a bonus. The GUR chai arrived. The city girl in me brimmed with excitement at the thought of trying something that came from Haryana. Well, yeah he was from Haryana and I found him being “desi” attractive. I could not drink beyond a sip. I pretended it was alright when it wasn’t. He laughed and told me to stop drinking it. I couldn’t have been more grateful! While he had a good time with tea I had great time holding his pretty hands. His were much stronger than mine. While walking around circles we poured our hearts out. He told me that he was coming this close to someone after his ex-girlfriend for the very first time which was a thing long ago. We should have stopped right there.

I turned out to be his first kiss. We started dating each other. We even had our “Jewish foreplay” during which he went for push ups to enhance his chest muscles. This charade of beautiful little things continued for two months. Then one day his love faded. May be it was just infatuation on his part. Two months is enough time in today’s fast paced dating scenario but it doesn’t suffice the old school romance. It isn’t enough for me to fall out of love and start with a new story right away. When he came- he gave meanings to a few songs, and when he left- a lot more songs started making sense. Some of these are even unbearable now. Well, I am left with questions that I’ll never find answer to. One of them being what was it? Why was it? His pictures that once made me adore him now leave me angry, confused and with a bunch of feelings that I don’t understand. It is said that embrace the good moments and also break ups happen for good reason. Plus, breaking up is a real phenomenon. This is exactly what I plan to remind myself each and every day until I finally stop thinking about him and the time we had together. I am sure that once Willy Wonka and Johnny Depp, now turned into Mad Hatter will definitely become the invisible Man soon. But how soon is the trouble!

Posted in Article, Artwork, comic, Doodles, Experience

The Travel Tale: Solo vs With Family 😎🤗

TRAVELING SOLO VS WITH FAMILY
Traveling always brings out the unexplored tales whether you travel all by yourself or with the entire family. Here is a summary of that experience!🌸

The artist life is poles apart. *shrugs*

The battle of getting everyone in one frame!


Gotta fill that bag!!!
Battle between pocket and choices🤷💆💇
Am I even allowed to be in the picture?!!!🤦
The two aspects of my own self 🤷
Bwahahahahaha😜
Choose your tools wisely 😉
Yeah! Their perception changes🙄
Each night has it’s own tale😅
To love and to be loved…. Takes a real toll🤗
Barely managing vs the love and comfort🌸

Posted in Article, Experience, People, Photography

“Toffee Tureshi” Taufiq Qureshi Mohammad

Taufiq Qureshi. Have you heard about him? Well, I was fortunate enough to meet him in person very recently. No, I don’t talk of the Indian classical musician Taufiq Qureshi. Instead, I am talking about Taufiq Qureshi Mohammad- a ten year old guide. This little boy in pink shirt and green sweater has a lisp and I almost mistook his name for “toffee” but that is worth the sweetness in his story. Taufiq means the ability or opportunity to achieve success and this comes handy with education, knowledge and passion. Knowledge and education are yet to embrace him, but passion is what he beholds.

As I stand with my family in front of the Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri he approaches us and asks us if we need a guide. We stood there half astonished, half doubtedly. Astonished about a child his age being confident about showing us around while my nine year old cousin is still being taught the basic manners and he still got nothing! Well, being a resident at Delhi and facing and hearing about crimes such as pick pocketing each day- the doubt part is obvious. Anyhow, the child urges us to take him along and says he would charge whatever we feel like giving him- rupees 10, 50- whatever! Does he really need the money or is it something else? I ask him if he goes to school. He does. He studied in 5th standard during the day and comes at the Buland Darwaza around 3pm everyday after school. He spend weekends there itself. “But why?” I ask him. To which he replies ‘Bas ese he madam ji, mujhe acha lagta hai yaha, muje acha guide banna hai ek din ( no reason mam, I like it here, I want to be a good guide one day)’. His dreams are different from the ones the kids in metro cities babble about. Astronaut, pilot, engineer, doctor, artist, scientist, model, designer or guide- I don’t know which are realistic or unrealistic, which are better which are worse. All I know is that these are innocent and tender dreams influenced by a difference of situations off course.

As we move forward he brings the horse shoes adorned on the massive gate to our notice which were otherwise being ignored by the designer’s mind. ‘These are for good luck, madam ji’ he educates me. The monument itself is magnificent and has a story of its own, but somehow it is Taufiq whose story tickles not just my brain but also my heart. As we move forward we come across a wall pointing at which Taufiq remarks that Anarkali was punished there. It is a plain grey wall in front of the graves that belong to Akbar’s descendants. Taufiq elucidates that Akbar’s family members rest in peace beneath those graves. Listening to this my 9 year old cousin asks, ‘Are they all dead? All of them?’. He goes through this bewilderment at the thought of loss of an entire family. He is too young to know about adversities that life has knocking on its door but he isn’t naive enough to be unaware of emotions and belonging. Anyhow, the guide replies with a sense of wisdom and a bit of indifference in his tone, ‘ Nahi. Abhi kuch zinda hai (No. A few are still alive)’.

Taufiq further leads us to the mosque. He ushers all of us inside but remains outside himself. Doesn’t this little fellow has prayers to offer? Doesn’t he wish for fancy toys? Inside the mosque a man continuously asks people to leave offerings (materialistic) for baba. Religious places- they all are the same! We return our white caps as we step out of the mosque and find my 19 year old brother cherishing the Sufi music being played right in front of the mosque. He chose to stay outside and listen to serenity over the shenanigans of worshipping and all the unwanted squalor religions invite. Meanwhile, Taufiq was joined by his little friend Faisal who was 9 years old. I asked the same question to Faisal that did he go to school and with great pride and confidence he replied, ‘Everyday, madam ji’. The two boys are friends but competitors too. Competition does start early in life! Taufiq tells us that there are 84 doors and 200 minars. As my 19 year old brother asks him what comes next Taufiq fails to count and I am obliged to ponder if the lessons at his school are being taught well? Does Taufiq prefer learning in the open neglecting what books and institutions have to offer him?

Taufiq draws our attention towards a chandelier which looked familiar. He then adds that this is the larger version of the one at the Taj Mahal. At one of the gates with honeycomb my father questions Taufiq about the bees frivolously. He fails to answer. My father remarks how will you become a good guide Taufiq if you won’t be able to answer what people ask you! This rings a bell in his head. He digs deeper, applies logic and unknowingly knows it all.

As we reach the central face Taufiq points at the religious harmony appreciated by Akbar and my father elaborates about Hinduism, Islam and Din-i Ilahi. A professional guide dealing with a group of foreigners stood beside us. Glancing at him Taufiq got on his feet in an envious manner and he took cues from his senior. He taught us to take a selfie that could include all the family members along with the dome at the central face. Now Taufiq sounded a bit different- professional to be specific. The tour to Buland Darwaza ended and Taufiq took us down the flight of steps after we collected our shoes from the shoe counter run by his colleagues. Our next destination was the Jodha Bai’s Palace which was adjacent to the Victory Gate. Impressed by the little guide we asked him to accompany us to the next destination but he refused due to the fear of police. The policemen often harass these children at such monuments. Anyhow, he dropped us till the entrance of the palace. My father tipped him and my brother handed him a pen from the set of embellished pens he had just bought from another child outside. I hope that someday education helps Taufiq and he could focus on his childhood lessons and not just the survival necessasities. Several thousands of children redeem with their mirth everyday in unusual ways in order to let the ends meet. The sight is always heart touching and beautiful, but do they provoke any thoughts in your mind?

Posted in Article, Photography, Poem

Colours

They split, they splatter- throwing away a bit of dirt
They tell stories when the days are lonely
Create a few when nights are mundane
They gorge upon the masochist dreams
Speaking while holding hands of the beloved nightmare
They make me cry-
That is when I drift towards something that wasn’t ever seen
And now that couldn’t be unseen.
These- these are my colours,
Fairer than any lover
Leaving me gobsmacked at every inch of canvas that is meant to be imprinted in my skin
They go deep beneath the surface
Not just incidents, they talk of narratives
Narratives that are too speculating to be known-
Even more sad to understand
Devastating to feel

Alas! These are my colours.

Posted in Article, Artwork, Doodles, Experience

DON’T TRAVEL! IT’S A TRAP!

All those people mentioning “TRAVELLER” and “DREAMER” with brimming pride in your tinder and Instagram bio- you need to bring it to hault! If you think that traveling is about climbing the rocks, trekking the Himalayas, diving in the ocean and being lost amidst the desert, then let me introduce you to another lesser acknowledged dimension of traveling – the journey from home to work. If you believe dreaming is being high “allegedly, on life” then your’s are in a desperate need of being shattered. The journey to the workplace may sound monotonous but it is a real kind of adventure minus all the fun. My dad just won’t agree to drop me to work (he even shouldn’t) and I fucking didn’t bother to learn to drive (I should have), so here I am stuck on a daily voyage of 2 hours all by myself but never quite left by myself (introducing the public transportation!). The schedule says- 10 minutes of walking from home to bus stop, 1 hour 15 minutes in bus, 40 minutes in autorickshaw and 15 minutes in another autorickshaw. It doesn’t even sound simple no matter how hard I wait to reveal the adversities, but it also leaves me awestruck at times.

Okay! Talking about the atrocities first- the crowd. It is impossible to board at first and once I manage to hop on I am welcomed by really irritated gaze. The reason behind this kind of acceptance is that the men might need to give away their seat, the women find a fellow competitor to get hold of a place to sit (challenges start early, don’t they?) and the crowd inside gets one more face to bare. Anyhow, ignoring the glare I push through the crowd and manage to find a place to stand. There is no space to breathe. Strangely the fresh air of early morning or the petite dusk is replaced by the stinky armpits. Buy deodorants people! I would not be making my point clear if I don’t mention the continuous gaze at boobs (by both genders) and the occasional boob grabbing (men, majorly) followed by “Oops, sorry madam. Bheed bhot hai!”. In that crowd more men have secretly grabbed my thighs than I ever plan to be with. Astonishingly, I can’t ever find out who these jerks are. I have not adapted to this yet. No woman ever can. It makes me extremely uncomfortable and figedty to an extent that now I jump a little even when someone taps my shoulder and asks me to get a little aside.

Well, it is said that when in darkness look for the stars. I think I’ve found mine! I have made a few friends. These are the people who themselves travel to work around the same time as I do. If I manage to be in time, I get to see them and these are the only faces that smile at me. Their smiles make my day. My first friend is a fifty-ish uncle who lives somewhere around my house but I had no clue. He helps me find a seat everytime he can. He has told me a lot of stories about his daughter and shares life lessons occasionally, especially the things his daughter wouldn’t listen to. Another friend of mine is a woman in her fifties (I guess). She is loud and cranky and mocks everybody on the bus occasionally, except me. I think she loves me. She is lonely. Her only son lives in US and cannot return due to certain circumstances and her husband left her long time ago. She is strong and independent. She whines about people in the bus and the conductor but never had she bickered about her life. She narrates her sad tales to her only audience but with a strange sense of pride. She never hesitates in yelling. Surprisingly, her sarcasm amuses the entire bus, except the frequently targeted conductor and driver. One conductor in particular never says anything at her face but bursts out the moment she steps off. That is when I know she is impactful. She doesn’t need her son to support her. Her persona is her rescue from oldage.

During the initial days of traveling a guy pushed through the crowd for me when he saw how much I was on the verge of panicking. This makes me believe in kindness and look for hope. I asked for the directions so as to reach the destination when I get down and a lot of people were willing to answer my query way better than google maps. That makes me trust people. The next day, a girl who’s face was covered by a dupatta to keep away from the tan asked me if I reached the place the previous day. I couldn’t recognize her at first but then she mentioned that I was reading a novel sitting next to her and had asked for directions. This teaches me to care and also to observe.

I started writing this piece with a grumpy face and in a fuck-this-challenge mode but right now I am ending this with a smile. The journey makes me realize that I am growing up and so are the people around me. I never thought this is from where I’ll be picking up my life lessons!

Posted in Article, Artwork, Poem

Imprints Of The Old Playlist And New Songs

Imprints of the old playlist and new songs.jpg
Amidst a subtle chaos in my mind
I saw it, I heard it
I felt it, I visualized.
It spoke of some long lost memory,
Daunted by sudden misery
I agonized the mundane and the dreary.
It was a sweet little melody
A tender gripping hum
But the words- the words were brutal
They were unkind
They unveiled my deep seated fears
And curtains fell on the long guilty strolls-
Because I now had company.
It was music that took me on a new journey
While I peeped through what was I leaving behind,
It left an impression
And more was yet to imprint.

Sometime back I was wondering what my playlist has to say about me. This dilemma finally made its way out of my head when I came across the song ‘Walkashame’ by Meghan Trainor whilst I was biting my nails over an embarrassing incident. It’s a song I used to listen in my late teens after being an imprudent child who now needed to make sure that no matter what her daddy is going to look at her the same way. As I lip synced the lyrics the guilt seemed to descend to a path trodden by none- not even by the darkest memories with a snooze button. This sudden realization accompanied by huge amount of relief urged me to go through my old playlists. Barely a music person but I was shocked to see the variety of artists in the list. As the song ‘Up and up’ by Coldplay started playing my face had a calm smile and singing along with Chris Martin’s voice and visualizing the creative video instilled some hope in me. Exactly the same reaction every single time! The song ‘Anna Sun’ by Walk the moon tempts me to be at that house falling apart and never return. Oh! the teenage love I had for Katy Perry now seems to be a weird phase but worshiping her back then brought a friend and me together. Every time I listen to her songs I end up in nostalgia. The entire album ‘Some Nights’ by Fun had its artistic as well as realistic quirks that made it a mandatory on my playlist back then. ‘Seasons’ by Olly Murs was added when I was caught fidgeting and I needed another chance. I started listening to James Blunt when life was mundane and I longed for the years behind me(can’t make it sound more juvenile). The song ‘Gypsy’ was heard on repeat on a trip when I was learning that everybody is a wanderer on the inside. The song ‘Rude’ by Magic was an influence from people listening to it in college. ‘Comatose’ belongs to the time when I had long talks with an EDM lover friend. His persona suits EDM well but me choosing those songs is probably an old habit of showing care by sharing music. The songs by Lorde are extremely relatable and empowering. Her song ‘Royals’ felt like she just said everything I was thinking about. George Ezra’s young face and mature voice is probably the most melodious irony I am aware of. ‘The Script’ is probably a band that is never going off my playlist. I remember listening to them and wondering how can every line leave such an impact. The recently added album ‘Cleopatra’ by Lumineers is the most beautiful ballad to me so far; may be because I admire the story as well as the protagonist behind those songs. ‘Happier’ by Ed Sheeran  acknowledges a silly yet secret desire. The list is endless. I might cringe when I listen to this music yet I fail to delete these songs. May be it is hard to give up on some songs because now they are a part of me or simply a reminder of an event in past. The list will keep on adding new songs but the old ones are now imprinted on me.