Thursday, 24 March 2016

17.03.2016 Kashmir

The Mesmerizing muse for the hopeless romantics - Kashmir!

My first visit to Kashmir, and always an honest opinion about the place follows below.
Unfortunately, I picked a rather wrong time to travel to Kashmir, and my views may be biased due to the unexpected cold welcome I received. I do not by this mean that the people are cold, the temperature was 4 degrees when I arrived on 17th March 2016 at 8.30AM and to top it, it was pouring and while I was getting off the aircraft, I felt a wee bit dizzy; for those of you who do not know, I detest cold weather, I am a chirpy little bird in the spring and summer but I am quite an annoying complain freak in the winters! I really abhor chilly winds and times when I want to cover my body like an Eskimo and shut off– No offense!
Well, the driver was there to pick me up on time and he turned on the heater in the car after I was comfortably seated and I felt fine.

Now, the honest opinion, Kashmir is filled with beautiful, men, women & children. Perhaps the area renders a lovely glowing skin to each of them and they all undoubtedly look lovely! But unfortunately the place isn’t as well kept in terms of beauty. There is an old world charm about Srinagar, but the garbage thrown in callous disarray is distasteful, not to mention quite a bit of the road is not put to complete use and broken vehicles lie there, almost orphaned!

Now coming to the good side of things (I always save the good for the end!); the Dal lake looks absolutely ravishing! Even though there are a ton of houseboats on the ghats, the lake with its glass like water surface, almost looks holy and heavenly! The small Shikara boats moving about, a few carrying happy tourists or romance stricken couples on their first or tenth honeymoon, a flower man, or simply locals going about thir chores, well the sight is gorgeous! The lake is truly one of the wonders of Srinagar.
A Shy Rasheed, the Boat Driver
We arrived at Ghat No. 19 and the speed boat was there waiting to pick me up and take me to Sukoon Houseboat, the place where I was to stay. The 5 minute boat ride was chilling, as it was still raining and of course was very cold, but when we reached Sukoon, the warm welcome I received made me forget the cold and I felt at home. Tastefully created with walnut wood, the ceiling and walls carved out by different sets of local Kashmiri Artists was quite a sight for the artist in me. It was warm and cozy inside and I was offered the traditional Kashmiri Kahwa tea made of Saffron and almonds and I was ushered into my Suite at the end. The Suite was large and comfortable with a couch and sofas to relax, a large amazing double bed with 8 inch mattresses, luxurious duvet and two windows offering a beautiful view of the surroundings. The bathroom was large with a shower cubicle and a bathtub, a large mirror and extremely tidy & fresh linen. I just dropped on to my bed and fell asleep like a baby. There are no TVs in Sukoon Houseboat and it is an epitome of quiet and peace as the name says! The food is good and the service is genuine.

Sukoon - Peace, Wisdom & Contentment

While Sukoon itself is quite a destination, during my stay I visited several places of which I highly recommend visiting a few rather unique places.

Aru Valley, just a mere 13 kms ahead of Pehalgam, is a darling of a place where I found fresh snow, but the weather was pleasanter than Srinagar and I had a jolly time looking at the local children playing and the men and women basking the sun.

Fresh Snow at Aru Valley, a camping site in the summer

Another experience that I would recommend is the Old City Walk at the Old Town. I shall leave some things for surprises.

Vintage love!

The Old World Charm

I also recommend the Shankarachariya Temple for the glorious views it offers and a Water Safari on the Dal Lake, crossing over to the Manasbal Lake through the river Jhelum and camping over night on the gorgeous banks of the Manasbal lake with live barbecue under the stars!

View from up above!

The Amsterdam of India!

The Floating Vegetable Markets - Dal Lake @ 6.05AM
Finally an early morning visit to the floating vegetable market and partaking in the naptol that happens there shouldn't be missed for the world!

I am told that the best time Kashmir in its full bloom is from May to September, so plan your trip wisely unlike me!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Changing the Verbose

It has been a while since I blogged and a dear friend of mine pointed out that I am very ‘verbose’ and tend to write very long blog posts. Of course at that point, I defended myself rather aggressively, arguing that that is the style of my writing and so be it; if people do not like reading it I quite don’t give a fig.

But no sooner did I delve deeper into what had been critiqued about my rather flowery long writing, than did I realize that this was the reason I don’t write that often, out of pure inertia, because I had taken for granted that I have a particular style of writing and that I shall obstinately stick to it followed by bouts of laziness to actually write a blog post.

My critic also pointed out that the name of my blog is quite contradictory to the posts in it; Panchee Chirps are perhaps short little chirps and not long ‘verbose’ rants. Nonetheless, I am a human-bird, I chirp, but am human and to err is to human and you my dear readers are absolutely divine to forgive my obvious shortcoming. However having said that, I shall endeavour to write shorter pieces, after all, embracing change graciously while keeping ones originality intact is freedom.

This I’d say is a good start! Would you say that too?

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

She's Corrosive!

Warning Dark poetry..
Yeah, if you want to judge me for writing dark words, I don't give a fig.
White or Dark, they are words, they are a reflection of my rather arduous life.
Most of you may have had an easy life, but I have depth, and let me tell you, I can always count on darkness, because 'He' never lets me down, always guides me to light.

So those of you, who care to judge me as 'mentally ill', back off, for 'He' and I don't care to listen to your shallow words or your shallow life story.

And for those of you who are interested in reading further and like my writing...
This is also being worked on with a tune and rhythm for a gothic number, which I will embed here once we are through recording. There you go:

She doesn't leave my side,
And now am so used to being spied!
Due courtesy am silent, at other times am violent

Is it the blood slipping down my 'Coloured' Wrist?
Or is it the Mesmerizing Pills that cause the Twist?

Oh She's Corrosive and I've begun to rust!
She's taking over me with her immortal lust
She wants to be one with my soul
and influences me to take on that role!

And alas! I am holding on to this fickle life
As do those thoughts when I see that knife...

Oh She's Corrosive and I am rusted
Can't find my soul, a while since its been dusted!

And if you are in the dark about what I mean by this piece of poetry, let me guide you to light.
I hallucinate, almost always. I hear voices of a middle aged woman, asking me to become one with her, basically, she wants me off this world, and the reasons she quotes are that she is outside this life/world and is in need of a soul friend, and she and I can truly befriend each other only if I quit this life. She tells me she is desperate and needs a partner. My constant question to her is, 'Why me?', for which I do not get a reply. She's unreasonable I guess, as are most women (pardon me my feminist friends)!

I have struggled with this over the many many long and painful years but I am stable now. I have been under several anti-psychotic drugs to 'treat' this rather frightening disease, but none of it has really helped (hold on, I don't need your pity, I am quite alright. If you meet ignorant of my world and history, you will see me displaying no signs of any insanity and will quite like my person). 

What has helped is an imagination of the true blissful feeling my mum and dad would have had when I was born and that keeps me going. I endure all this for them, for those happy faces, for all those amazing moments I have had with my family, with both my siblings.

Don't intend to make it more melodramatic, my only point is, no matter how painful it may be to live, one can always find an inspiration to go on, if one is willing and a wee bit selfless. 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Storm

Recently I created my own storm,
And these heavy clouds darkened my world around.  storm as ruthless stripped me off my sanity,
And my world from then has been devoid of all serenity.

Yes I been seeking out for shelter
How many times I knocked on his door
But it seemed to me that I was 
knocking on heaven's door.
Yes! I was knockin' on heavens door!

But a lightening of a revelation struck me,
Bought an umbrella for am rich in vanity
Now am standing under it, I feel no rain
The storms may have gone, but I feel no pain

Convinced that I am, need no shelter
I shall seek to knock on the real heavens door
With apathy am knockin' on heavens door

I came alone to this gloriously deceitful land
The more I held on the more it slipped away, the sand
Folks are sand, admire, love but never hold tight
Nay, you disagree? they are out of your sight

Not astray but in my own shelter, a smile on my lips as I knock on heaven's door
I hear the Man behind, while am knockin' on heaven's door!
PS: this is going to be shortly made into a song... Perhaps progressive rock. Stay tuned

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

My Suicide Story

This is not ‘Gyan’. But this is my Suicide story.

I write this with a very heavy heart. Not that I knew Jiah Khan personally. Not that I thought she was a fabulous actor, she was decent but very beautiful, she'd do very well indeed if she had  willed. But she was woman, like me. She was a person like us all. She was struggling with life and she gave up, she quit.

Her suicide story took me down memory lane. Not a pleasant one of course. The darkness is mostly never pleasant. I certainly find it addictive and I have witnessed its malignant face too. I have been there almost looking death in the eye, and trust me ‘he’ looks hideous! I was not sure if I was running towards him or away from him. It was too painful to live. It was too painful to breathe. It was too painful to struggle. And I did attempt it, several times. Sleeping pills (tonne of them), anti-psychotics overdose, all that I could find and buy, blades slitting through the veins of my wrist, asphyxiation with my inhaler, I have tried it. But what surprises me now is that I always called out for help at the end of it all. If I had not, I would not be alive to write this very post.

It is not that my suicide story is a foolish one. I was terribly depressed as is evident! I would ‘see’ people who did not exist. I would hear voices of a lady, never obliging silence. I would quite simply hallucinate. I was heavily drugged with anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. I had dropped out of college. I attempted going back a couple of times, in vain. I failed all the time I attempted to even read a line from a book. I lost everything I had ever dreamed of doing. I would look at the ceiling the entire day or just sleep because the pills made me. I had no hope of recovery. The doctors had even suggested ‘institutionalization’. It lasted for over 4 years. 4 years of my adult life, from 18 – 23 years of age, when any girl is expected to touch the brink of beauty and social life with beaux & flirtations, I was at home almost weighing 85kgs with no hope of recovery, completely cut off from the outside world.

One day I got tired of it all. I just got out of home and got a job as a ‘hostess’ in a restaurant close to my house. I realised one thing that day. No ‘job’ is small. Every job has a value to add to one’s life. When I was studying Physics back in Bangalore, albeit doing terrific at it, I hadn’t imagined that, say, 4 years from thence I would greet guests at a restaurant and pick up empty plates and glasses. I hadn’t ever imagined working in the Hotel industry in 2007. But today I am here. I work for a Hotel Brand. I am happy. I have fallen in love with it. And the work I do adds immense value to my existence. As is evident from my post ‘Another Cinderella Story’, it does certainly feel like fairy land. Here comes the ‘Gyan’, I did not (and still do not) weigh a job or a situation in life.  I did not judge it. Judging a situation makes us weak. It makes us pity ourselves and this pity is the ‘adder’ that spills venom into our existence.

Whatever you may be, be it a Mechanic, a Cobbler, a Steward, a Caller, a Sales Person, an Executive, a CEO, a Managing Director, a House Wife, a Cook, a Maid, a Dog Walker, all you need is to be passionate about what you are doing, to love your work, to give it your 100 percent. It is not impossible. I do it. There are days I do not give my 100 percent. I forgive myself for it. But I never stop loving what I do.

I have come a long way from wanting to do theoretical physics to marketing hotels. But I do not judge myself. I do not judge the path my life has taken. I only am proud that I am happy; that I have made a commitment to happiness. All suicide stories need not end at suicide. Mine began with it!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Key

There he is, quite a far from where I breathe
Those blithesome days, locked in the chambers of memory
They are chained, almost obscenely painful, for they won’t go
Urging them to leave, to unlock and be set free
Yet they won’t go

In them lives a young maiden;
Fearless & Shrewd
Hypocrisy runs in her blood. Too Cowardly for admittance.
Too drowned in her own image
Dissembling her heart, masking her passion, too conceited to stare at
Truth’s face

A few months of union failed to uncover his letter.
Though it read in stark words, ‘not a love letter’,
The foolish maiden, bought those words, for she was rich in vanity

The brunt of fait was borne by both
She took to black and he took to silence.
They say silence compliments black;
Fair job that it did and blew them apart
There was more silence, an awkward silence, a painful silence
And then came the master of all, the apathetic silence.

Apathy was the dagger straight into the maiden’s bosom
Murdered, silently. Pray, may this a secret stay!
The maiden long gone, was then born a Madam
Who stares in the eyes of truth, walks before any man unscathed

He smiles at the madam again, but tainted smiles don’t last
She smiles at him, bluntly, albeit will always
And thus it continues, the saga
He disappears, he appears, and in all these games,
He is the only player, for the madam retired,
Her attention is captured by the endeavour to seek
The Key, and be set free

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Another Cinderella Story, a true story..

I had to write about the organization I work for. I had to! It would have been unfair to miss that out!
Let me begin with saying that this organization has been my fairy Godmother, with a magic wand!

When I joined this company in 2011, I was Cinderella, only sadder, fatter, weaker, useless, and directionless and drowned in my illness. I was far from being of any real worth. As it is evident from my previous posts, I was unwell. I got this job through a reference of an ex-employee who is a dear friend of mine. I would like to think he was more like the ‘announcement’ of the Ball for our little sad version of Cinderella!
I was hired as a sales co-ordinator. The first words of my boss during my interview still echo in my ear.
He said, “Don’t worry, sales co-ordinators do not have much work, most of the time, you will be just helping around, doing some data consolidation, may be even idle sometimes, nothing to worry about, it is a very cool job”. I was fine with it. I did not quite want a job with too much work at that time. My friend even assured me later that if I do get hired, the person who took my interview is a rather ‘cool boss’, and I certainly agree with him on that! This gave me a tiny ray of hope as I had just been fired unreasonably from my previous job and I was quite tormented about working all together!

I got a hired a week after the interview, and mind you, I wasn’t even a graduate then. I had dropped out of college a long time ago. The first day was smooth. I got introduced to a couple of colleagues who worked at the office. I was asked to come up with a few theme ideas for the coming New Year Party, as it is a Hotel I work for. I did a google search and came up with some extravagant ideas, my boss very kindly told me ‘You are thinking global, it won’t work, think local’. That was my cue, my learning cue. Next I was asked to work on some emailer design. I used the online ‘picnik’ software back then to create some ‘so called’ creative designs. I did conjure up something, and when I look at it now, I can almost burst out laughing at how juvenile a design it was. But my Boss never said so, all he said was, ‘That looks nice, see if you can do it this way, change it a bit, may be change this colour’. He was so encouraging. I, at that time, wasn’t quite aware that my design skills were horrendous, but he was humble and kind enough not to point that out to my face. He is a Gem of a person!
Encouragement and kindness are the beginning of learning. I took up Corel Draw. I decided to experiment with it. In a short period of 20 days, I had learnt how to use the software. I started making emailers, flyers, and other graphics for the Hotel, with tremendous encouragement. At that time, I got introduced to my Super Boss. I might add he is a man of such positive aura, that just one meeting with him boosts us all up and charges us with immense energy. He has multi-dimensional persona. Words would flood my post if I begin to describe him. He asked me to work out some designs for his sister concern companies. I was so thrilled to be a part of it!
I knew then that Cinderella had found her Fairy Godmother! This organization was most certainly my Fairy Godmother, with a magic wand comprised of kindness and encouragement.
Just shortly afterwards, both my seniors mentioned above, decided to make me a part of the pre-opening team of a new property in Goa. I cannot word now the bounds of my happiness. I could feel that I was on a pathway to recovery. We went to Goa to see the property, and the places around so as to market it. That was my first trip away from home. My parents were a little worried for I was still under medication, but one of my colleagues assured my mother that he will take the responsibility of my medication. All went smooth and the trip is still very vivid in my memory! That colleague is one of the few people I trust; despite several differences we have learned to be good friends!
When I got back, my Boss asked me if I would just work out a website for the property. I had experimented a little bit on Google sites, but, I couldn’t do a good job of it. This created verve to learn website development! I started experimenting with Dreamweaver and HTML coding. I learned how to make a decent website in about a month, and I designed the official website for the property in Goa. Everybody gave me their words of appreciation and the Magic wand had begun working its magic sufficiently well. Cinderella had her pumpkin turned into a beautiful carriage!

As time marched ahead, I marched with it. My Super Boss realised that I had a knack for economic studies and market research, and thus made me a part of the Hotel Feasibility Report team. Cinderella’s beautiful gown was in place and it fit her so very well! She even went to the grand Ball, and met with her Prince. The Prince was a Charming man. They danced together not realizing the clock was about to strike twelve.
I wasn’t completely fit yet. And there was a major setback. I had a relapse of psychosis. I became too ill to even communicate properly. For a few days I wasn’t in a condition to even report to work. Generally, organizations would term such a person as ‘mentally unfit’ to work, and would have terminated the services immediately. But this was not the case! The management gave me another chance. My Boss spoke to my parents and insisted that I work from home for a few days until I felt better.
I knew the Prince had Cinderella’s glass shoes, and he would come looking for her. She had already won his heart!

I think second chances or may be more than second chances are very important for longevity! And I had mine and could thus sustain it. Cinderella’s second chance was her Prince coming back to her with her slipper. I transformed. I had strength and abundant confidence all juxtaposed with humility and faith.

One fine day, we had a woman join us at the organization at a senior level. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t very comfortable with a lady Boss. This was also because at my previous job, a lady was my boss, and she had unreasonably and mercilessly fired me. I was prejudiced ever since. But I must admit, I was in for a surprise. She is nothing like my previous experience. She is warm, kind, loving & genuinely caring. She gave me a few words of wisdom, the best I like is: “If I want to borrow money from you, and if you don’t have it then how can you lend it to me? The same goes for happiness, how can you give happiness, when you yourself do not have it?” I have etched it into my soul. I decided I want to create as much happiness in my heart, so that I never run out of it.

Today I would like to believe that I add value to this organization. To come from absolutely nothing to an object of value certainly needed a fairy to use her Magic Wand!

The Prince sought Cinderella again and the glass slipper fit her so well. They had been carefully made for her. This organization is certainly my fairy Godmother. People I have mentioned in this post have certainly left a mark in my life; they all have their magic wands, still creating magic. And last but not the least, my Prince is my long lost self esteem, confidence and a passion for living and he has been sought & conquered!