An Open Letter to My Sweetheart

My Sweetheart,

I have written you numerous letters before this one but today’s is a special one. Though we were in the courtship for more than 4 years before our wedding; on 27th November 1998 we entered into a wedlock and formally vowed to be with each other forever, may whatever come our way.

We-Together.jpg

It is hard to believe; so many years have passed since we have been together, yet our marriage is so fresh! 😀

Today I want to thank you for being my other half. When I share my problems and concerns with you, they no longer remain only mine; they become yours too. You always stand by me and help me to get rid of them. You always support me actively in whatever activities or hobbies I pursue. And I like to support you the same way; though I get worried about you due to your  adventures sometimes. 😉

Everything seems clear, straight, and untangled when you are there with me.

Apart from our own respective interests, we both also do what the other half likes. I learned to clean the greesy electric toaster though I find it complicated and you lit up the oil lamp though you don’t like handling the messy oil… 😀

We click pictures and visit places in our special way. We find chances to sing and cook together, and share even the silliest thing happened each day.

In our journey together, I have learnt so many things from you, which I wouldn’t have learnt with any other person. May it be as small as eating capsicum (you know, I couldn’t stand them) to as big as recognizing a person’s motives by his body language and eyes. I trust you also must have learnt a few good things from me. 🙂

We had our bad times too. Our life as a couple was not always lovey-dovey; no couple’s is either. But the best part of our relationship is, we never stop caring for each other even if we are upset because of one another. However rough the days can be, I trust the grip of our hands held together will never loosen.

Down the timeline, I wish to visit the world with you. I wish to spend more and more time with you. I wish to flaunt my grey hair with you when we go to places. I wish to sip evening coffee with you in our yard revisiting all the bittersweet memories we have been creating all these years. Most importantly, I wish to see you happy.

I am glad that we were destined to be together. We would continue growing older together; enriching each other’s lives for looking ahead with you has always been wonderful. 🙂

I Love You, my dear!

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Reliving the Nostalgia

It was a cloudy and humid noon of Saturday when I was at my mother’s place.

It was as warm as an oven! The fans also didn’t help. I changed my thought of turning on the AC and went up onto the terrace to get some fresh air. It was warm outside too.

The sky looked grey and the clouds had masked the Sun completely. The birds remained quiet. There was hardly anyone on the road. The clouds growled frequently with the streaks of lightning. The trees stood so quiet as if they were punished to stand still. Especially the erect Indian Cork tree at the corner of the house caught my attention… How tall it had grown all these years!! It was adorned with the bunches of long creamy-white flowers. The women folk of our house could create long garlands of those flowers without using a string.

A sudden cool wave of breeze brought an immense shot of petrichor from elsewhere. It must be already raining somewhere. I closed my eyes and inhaled as deeply as I could.  Something familiar and amazing happened.

The Indian Cork tree swayed. Its long flowers glided down swiftly to the ground. I descended the stairs almost running and went under the tree. My childhood moments were around the corner. 🙂

It started drizzling. Now, the mother will call me while collecting the clothes from the clothes string for she fears the lightning, the father will collect the coconut-halves kept on the terrace for drying, and they both did.

I paid deaf ears to her call and took the opportunity to pick up the Tree Jasmine flowers till my both hands could not hold anymore… The flowers and a few yellow, lemon-green colored leaves rolled on the ground due to the wind.

The Flower Shed

I waited in the drizzle for a little while holding my bunch of flowers till I could feel a chilled raindrop straight on my tongue. My age, social status, and location became insignificant to me for that moment. A couple of ladies passed by hurriedly holding their flat folded bags overhead. They gave me a dirty look, which didn’t bother me. Then I rushed into the house before getting drenched.

Now, the mother will scold me a little for getting wet, the father will take my side, and they both did. 😀

I overlooked what they argued among themselves and I made her sit next to me. Then emptied my wet palms in front of her and held both her palms on my cheeks to feel the warmth. I tried making a garland of the Tree Jasmine flowers without using a cotton string while she brought a dry towel. After a couple of attempts, I realized I couldn’t…

Now, the mother will demonstrate the beautiful arrangement and I will carefully watch her twining the flowers one-by-one, then I will hastily take the garland halfway from her to complete, and we did.

The Flower Garland

I had found it. I had relived it. 😀

Think Good, Get Better!

Sometimes we get better than what we wish for.

I and Arun planned to take a scooter for me. I already have a car but a scooter would save me from Pune’s congested traffic during busy hours to some extent. After a lot of homework, we decided to buy TVS Jupiter ZX: A flawless mix of beauty and power. We both decided to go for the glossy wine color.

Soon after the following couple of days, I went to the TVS dealer’s showroom near my office to book the scooter of choice. The sales lady asked me if I would like to go for a fancy number. I knew that the Regional Transport Office (RTO) conducts auctions for giving a fancy number one wants for the new vehicle. People can choose the vehicle numbers they want but they have to pay an extra amount of money.

I: “I don’t want any fancy or choice number such as 8055 that looks like the word BOSS when printed in a particular font, or the number 4040 that can be calligraphed to look like the word YOYO… But, can you get me any number, which could be memorable easily…?”

The sales lady: “I can definitely, but you still need to pay extra fees because even if I mention on paper that you want any memorable number, the RTO will consider it as your fancy number requirement.”

I thought for a while and decided that I won’t mind going for any other number that the RTO issues for my scooter.

I: “Okay, then leave the column for special instructions regarding the RTO number empty.”

The sales lady: “Okay, I will call you once your permanent number arrives. It will take a week’s time. Till then we will give you a temporary number and try to process your order as fast as possible.”

Thus, I completed the transaction of booking the scooter and stepped out of the TVS showroom.

The next day I received my brand new scooter with a temporary number. For the entire following week, I was busy like anything. I thought about the permanent number occasionally. I was not anxious about it, but I was curious. After all, it was going to be with me for next good number of years. I just wished I should get a good one.

In the following week, I received a call from the TVS for informing that the permanent number for my scooter had arrived from the RTO and the dealer would now fix the number-plate with the permanent number on the scooter.

I took the scooter to the dealer. I seated at the TVS customer-waiting area browsing through the e-newspaper. No sooner than I waited for ten minutes, the dealer while handing over the key to me told that the scooter was ready.

My week-long held curiosity came to an end. TVS ZX Deep WineI went to the scooter and saw… What a surprise! 😀

I got the number 7075! What’s more; the first half of the number depicted Arun’s birth year and the other half depicted mine!!

I had only wished for good but I received better! 😀

 

Namibia: The Haunting Country

Travelling back to my homeland.

Though I have seen and went through numerous good-byes in my life after being a part of Indian Army; I find it totally different this time.

Every time our new posting comes, we pack the stuff and shift to a different place. Initially for few days it is hard for me to adjust to the new place. I tend to see only the rough part of the life and honestly, at times feel little agitated if the residential accommodation or weather at the new place are not fine.

After spending some time there I start getting used to it. I start liking the weather and knowing the people and the place around. I start enjoying everything about the place. The new place starts becoming old for me and then while I am deeply into the moments, again the time comes to take leave from that place and move to a yet another different place. It becomes difficult to untangle all the invested emotions then. 😔

The sad part is, there is no choice but to leave. It is inevitable.

The best part is, I get to see different places, people, cultures, and make friends. As we all know, both the sad and the good parts of our lives help us to grow :).

Unlike before, this time my heart is full of sweet pain yet contentment. I visited various places in this beautiful country. I saw scenic landscapes, deep-blue skies, starry nights, colorful birds, unparalleled fauna, and most importantly; I met warm-hearted people and made new friends. 🙂 I am taking with me a stash of memories and fond associations.

The other day I met David in the morning and Betsy in the evening on the same day. They both said that in Namibia, you cry thrice: Once when you arrive, once while living there, and the third time; when you go.

In my experience, it’s true. When I came to Namibia, I cribbed about weather, dryness, scroching Sun with very high UV, and less socialization. But when I went around various places in this beautiful country, its rustic beauty started seeping in my mind and I didn’t come to know this, till the time I left that wonderful piece of mother earth.

Namibia haunts. 🙂

Even when I have left it, it is not leaving me.

A Guest in the Backyard

Winter is settling down in Windhoek. Days have shortened. Early mornings and evenings bring cold winds. At times it blows really hard to bring down the wires of electric fence or dry branches, and to create loud banging music by slamming open doors or window panes.

The other day, the windy morning was quite agitating. I went in the backyard as usual to access the clothesstring. While I was putting the wet clothes one on the string, I heard some rustling noise in the nearby bushes. I stopped for a while and tried to follow the sound. But as I kept quiet, the rustling also stopped.

After a long pause I continued my work and the rustling started again. Someone was surely there around. Could it be a snake? I knew the snakes also liked basking in the morning. 😮 The thought of having a snake nearby brought goosebumps on my neck. There were some clothes still in the bucket waiting to go on the string. I left them as they were and moved back as slowly as I could. There was no rustling for a few minutes. I decided to wait.

Rock-Dassie

The rustling started again and this time I could follow the direction of the sound. All I could see was a little wondering face behind some succulent plants. 🙂 I had never seen him before in the backyard though I had seen numerous birds and a couple of mongooses there. It was somewhat like a hare and a rat. Thank God, it was not what I thought to be!! It appeared slowly from behind the plants and I understood it was a little Rock Dassie 🙂 It went to a stone and sat on it to bask in the warm morning Sun. It was staring at me with all the curiosity in the world gathered in its glass-bead-like pair of eyes. It was the first creature I found super-cute while staring!! 😀 Yes, only while staring.

When he yawned, I could clearly see its sharp incisors. Then I decided to keep distance from it. I stood there for some time. It must have become tired of sitting there. It went towards the fence, and climbed the wall. The neighbouring dog started barking as he must have noticed the Dassie on the fence. He jumped into the yard of neighbouring house. He must have managed to escape the ferocious dog as the barking stopped and the rustling of the dry leaves too.

I couldn’t see him again for long since then.

San Village: The Land of Plenty

Who doesn’t know the English classic comedy of 1980, The Gods Must be Crazy? The innocent, credulous, and curious face of Xi only brings smile on our face. 🙂 The Namibian actor late Mr. N!xau Toma, had played the character of Xi, a man from San community. The actor himself was a San Bushman. We were fortunate to meet his grandson Dao when we visited San village.

Ju/’Hoansi-San is the first living museum of Namibia. Run independently by its own, this living museum displays traditional hunter-gatherer culture of San, one of the oldest cultures in Africa. San are the first people living in Kalahari desert since last 1,00,000 years. Out of more than 90,000 Sans existing in Africa today, only 3,000 Sans are following their traditional lifestyle.

Sans move around places in search of natural resources such as water, resourceful plants, and game animals. They speak Khoisan language in which some consonants are spoken with clicking sounds made by tongue. It sounds so rhythmic! 🙂 San people wear just adequate clothes to cover the waist. They are mostly made of antelope skin.

San Community

The San men prepare bow-arrow, traps, and spears for hunting. They flay animal skin and season it by sun-drying. They also make bags and belts out of the seasoned leather. Recently, they have started helping the academic visitors by being forest or poacher trackers. The San women look after their kids and gather natural resources such as water and firewood. They use beads made of ostrich eggshell and various wild seeds to make ornaments. Sans eat ants, various other insects, mice, squirrels, as well as large antelopes.

Our guide Steven was a man of 30 from San community of Grashoek village. He had learnt up to grade 10. He spoke flawless English. He changed his dress to a waist-wrap and joined us. First he took us to Dao, the senior man and the medical healer of the community. When we asked Dao about his late actor grandfather, he proudly said that he knew his grandfather was a regarded actor of Namibia. Dao himself was too young then to understand his grandfather’s acting skills, and movie picturing. We asked Dao how old he was then. He told that he doesn’t know his current age but only remembers that he was born in summer.

Dao the San Medicine Healer

Dao, the San Community Senior and Grandson of Xi

We started out tour with Steven and Dao from a place where they had made a San hut. The hut was very small. It was made of dry sticks, which provided a very basic shelter. Just in front of the hut, Dao took two straight sticks of Mangetti tree, one of which had three holes in a line. Dao demonstrated how to create fire with those sticks. He first took a bunch of dry grass. Then he held the stick with holes horizontally on the grass gripping it with his big toe. He placed one end of another stick into a hole and swirled it hard in a whisking action. While doing so, he was speaking to invoke their fire-God. He said he never used Firestone for creating fire. Soon we could see some smoke and then the fire came in full flames. He lit up his smoking pipe filled with dry local tree leaves used as same as tobacco.

San People Creating Fire

The Sans, Dao and Steven, creating Fire

Steven and Dao then lead us to bush-walk. They showed how various medicinal plants that cure common illnesses such as cough, cold, fever, toothache, and common wounds as well as blood pressure, any problems with eyes and ears, tuberculosis, and even infertility. Steven showed a Ration Berry plant on which ladybugs go through their life cycle. He also mentioned that the ladybug larvae are so poisonous that they can kill an animal as big as an adult giraffe. Their poison was very resourceful in hunting. They applied it on spearheads or arrowheads while hunting large game animals. San Drinking Water Accumulated in Tree Trunk.jpg

Dao showed how they find out the sweet water collected into the tree trunks and drink it with the help of hollow hey straw. Soon we came out of the wilderness and Dao started creating a bow and an arrow. Seeing him make it traditionally was very interesting. He took a couple of long leaves from Sisal plant, which provides fibers. He tore the leaf into small parallel portions with a sharp blade. He went on breaking those portions of Sisal till they came out as thin strings of fiber. Then he took small bunch of fiber and rolled it with the support of his lap. When it was half done, he joined another bunch of fibers. Thus he made a long seamless string that was as strong as a nylon string. He selected a thin and flexible stick for making a bow. He then chiseled its bark away and made the bow. San with Bow and Arrow

While Nishant and Arun were taking bow-arrow-making lessons, I sat next to a San lady, Naomi, who was busy making ornaments from beads. San people make disk-like beads from Ostrich eggs. They break the shell into pieces and rub each piece against stone to make it roughly round. Then they pierce holes into them.

San Jewelry Bracelet

The bracelet gifted by Naomi

They roll the beads into ash or soil to color them brown and heat them directly on fire to color them black. That is why, their collection of ostrich bead jewelry had so beautiful earthly colors! They also collected various colorful seeds and made beautiful neck-pieces, bracelets, headgears, and anklets. I learnt to make beads, string, and bracelet from her.

Sans follow a few hunting rules religiously. Steven told that there are few words of wisdom shared in his community. San always considered quick and quiet hunter to be successful. They never hit a human being and consider that such kind of act always would bring pain and bad luck to all involved. They also believed that after death the soul of a person is transferred to the supreme God and continues influences the mortal lives.

Shortly we arrived at an open area to view their traditional dance. They dance at the time of wedding ceremony and at the end of the effortful day. They also dance while seeking guidance on medicine from ancestral spirits. I joined them in dance, which was a very joyous experience. 🙂

San Women and Children

A Cherished Moment with San Women and Children

San have so small dwellings and wear so little clothes… They eat limited variety of food and are happy with their bare possessions. These warm-hearted people believe that God has provided plenty for them. 🙂 They are most close to Mother Nature. They don’t know about any soaps or expensive face creams; yet their faces glow. They are the perfect balance of aggression required for hunting and cordialness needed to stay together harmoniously. They lead simple lives years away from civilization, free of any law, complications, or speed… It’s not that everything is wonderful with them. Average lifespan of Sans is just about 45 to 50 years. Today they find it difficult to maintain their traditional lifestyle because of land encroachment by local farmers; still they are contented.

After spending around half a day with them, we took leave of the community seniors and other members. On the way back, Steven’s words were lingering on my mind. As he said, “Nothing or none is really good or bad here. Everything or everyone just is in its own form. Created by God.”

The Sans are truly living by this statement. 🙂