Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Unsung Heroes

We can all sing peans to our moms. From , “My mommy is the bestest” , to, “my mom’s awesome” and on to, “she is my best buddy.” In every stage of our life we appreciate our mom. How many of us have really gone , “ My daddy strongest?”

No , we are not ashamed of our dads. Just , perhaps, don’t appreciate them as much. These are the guys who are strict, who make the decisions we may not understand and hence like. But they, like Calvin’s dad, build our character.

let me share some memories I cherish. When we were in Islamabad, we made a lot of trips to India. These were always on the train. And what I remember from these trips is the mango dad fed us. One dussheri mango green at its pointy end and yellow at the top. He’d peel it with his small swiss knife kinda thing and then with the same knife make these little cubes . Me and my brother were still small enough to go wide eyed at his finesse. And he fed us the mango cubes straight off the mango.

Fast forward a few years. for as long as possible we’ve had our own rooms. But for some reason I don’t remember now, I’d sometimes fall asleep in my parents bed. And dad would let me be. Of course, he’d pick me up and put me in my own bed after sometime, but made sure I did not wake up in the process. Of course he put a stop to it some time later. Told me I was too heavy :(

Well fast forward a few more years. We are now all in the habit of sleeping in our own rooms and no messing around in our parents room. But every night when dad gets up to get a drink of water, he also makes sure to check on us . He also makes it a point to tuck us in if we’ve kicked the blanket. As a result , the best sleep I get, is at home. No where else. And all my friends say the same thing. They get the best sleep at home.

So thats me celebrating the hero in my life.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

A day of halves

Originally uploaded by bilbobaggins.
Almost a year back................some random musings.

I am sitting on the edge of the window out of my parents room. Half in ...half out. Half in the sun ...half in the shade. There's also a cool breeze.
I can see the rooftops of all my neighbors' houses, Can hear the birds and the insects.
Pencil and a notepad in hand.
No hurry to write down anything.
Just random thoughts.
My hair are clipped in a ponytail loose enough for the breeze to rustle through.
After almost six years, I am back at my parents place. Its a weird feeling. Its like everything is there and I don't want to touch it or mess with it in any way possible.
I have my own room but I haven't decorated it yet. I've been here 20 days. I never take this long to set up my room. Don't know why I am not doing it now.
Its a beautiful day out. Clear sky after two and a half days of incessant rains.
I can hear my mom frying something in the kitchen. She just got done making gulab jamuns. I wonder what she is making now..............
Let me go check.......
Am back. Made one dish. Half actually . Seems to be a day of halves.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Of verses and rhymes and poems that are neither

in their myriad hues,
are penned down here.........
so that my heart,
that carries their load ,
may relieve itself for a while
and then get prepared
for another day.

Rest not your eyes on these.
There is fire here,
smoldering between the words.
It has scarred my soul,
and etched itself on the paper.
It’ll blaze into your heart,
and leave its soot on on your dreams,
just as it has darkened my nights.


We are all lost
in the catacombs of our memory.
Life is a saga of
you remember when.................?
and questions like what if.........?
Etched in our memories,
is a map
of what our life has been.
And may be , a clue
to what it’ll be.
We all traverse these dark tunnels often enough.
At times, lost,
and at times, sure of the rhythm of our feet.
But, travel we must.
For these lanes of our past,
beckon us again and again.
And even as we walk towards tomorrow,
in our minds eye,
We are looking at yesterday.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Aum Shinrikyo &Tokyo subway- Looking past the paranoia

Monday, 20 March, 1995 was for most a normal workday, though the following day was a national holiday. The attack came at the peak of the Monday morning rush hour on one of the world's busiest commuter transport systems.

The liquid sarin was contained in plastic bags which each team then wrapped in newspapers. Each perpetrator carried two packets of sarin totalling approximately 1 litre of sarin, except Hayashi Yasuo, who carried three bags. A single drop of sarin the size of the head of a pin can kill an adult .
Carrying their packets of sarin and umbrellas with sharpened tips, the perpetrators boarded their appointed trains; at prearranged stations, each perpetrator dropped his package and punctured it several times with the sharpened tip of his umbrella before escaping to his accomplice's waiting get-away car.

Been using the subway system ever since I got here. See people relaxed enough to sleep. They miraculously wake up once their destination arrives. Myself have been relaxed, at times, to wander off

The Tokyo subway system transports millions of passengers daily. During rush hour trains are frequently so crowded that it is impossible to move.

I have friends asking me if I have yet been pushed/stuffed inside the subway by the white gloved attendants. Lucky me, not yet. Though somedays in the morning, I have a feeling my luck might be drawing to a close. A friend also forwarded me a link to the gropefest that apparently goes on in the subway. Lucky me again. ( Won’t say more about that , don’t want to push my luck.). So yes, the tokyo metro system is crowded. The only time its not, is on national holidays. And, an empty subway is the only indicator of a day off for me. But by then , I am already halfway to work so I get in there and do my stuff. There goes my day off :)

Some days back, I got honked at by the subway driver. I thought nothing of it then. When the train stopped, I got in. An elderly japanese gentleman ( btw, am most of the time, the only foreigner in the area.........gets a lil disconcerting at times), made his way to me and asked to be excused. I took out my earphones and smiled. He told me (in english) that I got honked at because I was walking out side the yellow line on the track and its not safe to do so. He also advised me to walk inside of the yellow line, in future.

Today , as soon as the train stopped at a major station, two attendants who had been waiting, rolled out planks which then made a platform between the train and the tracks. There was a disabled person on board who needed to be helped out. The entire thing took less than a minute and and train was on schedule. ( The trains here run on a frequency of one every 5 mins or so and are fairly punctual). And just yesterday my boss was talking about cities in japan not really well planned to accommodate the needs of disabled people.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that there are problems in every system. life is a lot easier if people accept that but instead of being complacent about it, actually do something positive about it. Drastic changes do need to be made, but while we wait for those to take place, can we be human, reach out , even beyond artificial barriers of language and just help. Japanese people are doing it and it is a way of life. So much so that a gaijjin (foreigner) like me notices, and adapts it in her own life.

Did some one say hope floats?

Monday, March 14, 2005


Originally uploaded by bilbobaggins.
Japanese people are well known for viewing nature in the season when it's most beautiful. In the fall, when the leaves turn red and yellow, it is a popular pastime to view the colourful foliage.The most important element is the maple tree or momiji which turns bright red and yellow in the fall. Since the maple trees are the most important, the practice of viewing them in the fall can also be called momijigari,which literally means hunting the red maple leaves.
So , when in Rome, do as the romans do.
This fall, I was in Japan, and did I go to town with the momijigari or what!
The maple was all around me and it was majestic. In contrast to the Ginko that just turns yellow and falls (all though the yellow littered floor is an awesome sight itself), the japanese maple displays its full spectra of colours from a bright green to a vermillion red, and all the shades of Jenson and Nicholson in between. (Btw, am not getting paid for saying this......I wish I was though , Tokyo is expensive.)
So yeah, as I was saying, I went nuts.I Visited a lot of parks and took pics galore of maple. Green maple, red maple, orange maple, maple with a drop of water waiting to fall from its tip, maple fallen in water, maple covering the surface of a pond, fish peeping from under the maple, maple and lotus roots...........you get the picture.
Even took one of a yellow maple leaf in the snow. My first maple picture of the year. Had to really trek for this one. Took it at Takao San which happens to be a mountain in the hilly western regions of Tokyo.
For all those interested in the pics, take a peek at


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

And the leaves started it all.................

Originally uploaded by bilbobaggins.
I picked up my first fall leaf today. It brought back memories of my first fall in New York City.
One fine day, while coming back from a shopping trip, with a friend, I'd picked up a few fall leaves. Call it a weird sense of decor, but those leaves went on my wall. That's when I started the transformation. Changing my room from a bare walls bare floor place to something I could call home. Someplace my friends could come and feel comfortable. Gradually, I bought some furniture and a rug. Off course the Place of pride was always natures. Some berries and stalks I got from my first trekking trip joined the leaves. Later around Christmas a few buds were added to this collection. Flowers from a date were dried and these were added. Gradually the room got there. It was not home yet, but was comfortable to come back to. And the leaves started it all...............

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Originally uploaded by bilbobaggins.
Hina means small.
Dolls, which are shaped like small human beings are used to pray for peopleĆ¢€™s happiness, have been made throughout the world.
In Japan, the practice of giving or displaying Hina dolls to pray for health and happiness of small girls began in the Edo era (17 th Century).
Ohinasama is the symbol of parents wish that they could load the dolls with evil and trouble so that their daughters grow healthily.
I have a pair of these little dolls sitting on my headboard. Mom gave them to me, the second day of my stay in Japan. Symbolic- but true. Is that not what moms do? worrying about their kids day in day out. Though I do wish that dolls like these worked. Take all the trouble lil daughters may come across on themselves. Instead, moms do it. Worry and suffer. I have seen my mom go from a really pretty young woman to a lady who though looks dignified, wears years much beyond her true age. She has aged not because the years have been rough, but because she worried each time any of us took any exam, or made a career choice. She has taken pride in our successes but has taken our lows worse than us. That has taken a toll on this spirited woman who cannot make the ride smooth for us, so she does what she has done best so far. Given us good shoes but still worried about each bump.
I wonder why they make the dolls for the daughters. Should make them for the moms. The daughters have their ohinasamas. Moms need them more.


Originally uploaded by bilbobaggins.
The best time to view the TAJ is not on a moonlit night but on a misty winter morning when the sun is just coming up. Get there early morning in January or February, stand by the gate and grab a cuppa of tea. You have the best seats in the house for the best views in the world. When the sun first starts coming up, the Taj is not yet the poetry in white, it's a mirage in grey that hangs in the sky. You might as well have dreamed it up; so ethereal is this vision of an emperor's love. Few minutes pass by, the suns a little higher the tint has changed from grey to yellow, but the vision has yet to descend to earth. Do linger, for more awaits you. As the sun rises a little higher in the zenith, its rays filter across the various treetops in the vicinity and are reflected off the marble, which now acquires a pink hue. It is also more grounded now. You now know its not a dream but reality etched in stone. The higher the sun rises, the more directly do its rays hit the Taj to make it finally appear white in its pristine glory. The show is over. Grab another cuppa or leave for your hotel room. You have just witnessed something god orchestrates every morning.
I have never seen the TAJ as I have described. I heard this view being described on the ride back from a party. Was half asleep but felt like I cud almost see it. I hope you guys can too.