Thursday 6 November 2014

From the erotic remains of Khajuraho!

What comes to mind like a film flash are vivid images of stone carved male and female deities, lost in passionate hunger for sex, striking various poses of love making and ready to take us under their esteemed tutelage.

"Then Almitra spoke again and said, 'And what of Marriage, master?' 
And he answered saying: 
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. 
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days. 
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. 
But let there be spaces in your togetherness, 
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you." – Khalil Gibran

Khajuraho was a much awaited destination for us to visit and what better a day than our 10th wedding anniversary! So we packed our slimy luggage and boarded the train to Khajuraho to celebrate a decade of nuptial bliss and satisfy our greed to explore the places of historical and archeological significance.

It was six in the morning when our train gushed in at the famous Khajuraho’s  railway platform. We’d heard of the town as one of the most solicited tourist places in India which driveled our expectation to find a big crowd of people but lo and behold! To our amazement, only six passengers dropped at the platform which was nearly empty. As far as we could see was a blanket of fog and no one, not even a single stray dog around. For a moment I looked at my husband’s face and got a ditto zapped expression in return, ‘Did we drop down at the wrong place?’

Boarding an auto rickshaw we moved towards our stay arranged at a cottage booked from Madhya Pradesh Tourism. It was a cosy little private cottage away from the hustle bustle of main town, also pet to white rats, rabbits and peacocks.

Our cosy cottage at Khajuraho

The Hotel's reception had a vintage village look

Within few hours, we set our foot to the remains of the lofty temples of sculptural grace and architectural splendor. The Khajuraho Temples were built by the Chandella rulers between AD 900 and 1130, and it is presumed that every Chandella ruler built at least one temple in his lifetime. Complex monuments of the site were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986  for its ‘outstanding universal value’ and ‘human creative genius’. Despite the tourist traffic, Khajuraho preserves the ambience of a village and at the same time offers the most modern facilities to the visitor. The local tradition lists eighty-five temples out of which only twenty-five are standing examples scattered over an area of about 9 square miles. So we decided to take five in a day to manage complete site visit within the little time we had in hand.

Our first was the Kandariya Mahadeva temple of Lord Shiva on the western side of the site, also the most popular and important one. The temple measures about 30 metres in length and 20 metres in width. The lofty temple shikhara rises 35.3 metres in length.

Since it would not be the least possible to put in words what we experience of the splendor and vastness of Khajuraho, given below is points worth mentioning from the site remains.

Like the tiny nuances of the temple that took us by awe. Look at this map of a temple carved on the ground by artisans and the writing of architects which are still clearly legible.


Many carvings on the temple wall show unnatural sex behavior either prevalent in the society those days or intending to be tutorial to one. Threesome, foursome, animal sex and mutual masturbation are clearly (and in some ways sickening too) boisterously displayed.

It makes us wonder why when a temple which was supposed to be a forbidden place for lustful thinking, been adorned like a book of sex-making on most of the walls. Was the Golden era too forward an era of thinkers? Was talking of sex within the premise of God and religion not a taboo then? Why was unnatural sex so endorsed? What was about ‘tantra vidya’ involvement in love making between kings and queens as in many places the role of a ‘tantrik’ and ‘yogini’ helping couples for the sexual acts prominently exposed.

Tantrik: The one with a beard and a carved headgear

This beautiful statue of Shakuntala is like some marvel of a rock. Here she’s shown taking out a thorn from her feet. One look at her expressions would make you feel the connect the sculpture must have made with the character at the time of rendering his job with a spindle. Another is one f in which she tries to arrange her dress after it  is disheveled by some love making act. 


The beauty of Khajuraho sculptures lies in the endearing manner in which expressions of characters have been captured. For example, in the picture below this surasundari (beautiful lady) looks at her image in the mirror, finds a gray hair and sulks. Now who’d think of depicting such an emotion that on a temple wall!!!

Here’s the sculpture of a Chandella queen putting surma (kohl) in her eyes.

Statue of Varah is the heaviest piece of rock in the site, a colossal monolithic image of the boar incarnation of Vishnu. The sculpture is carved with 675 miniature figures in twelve neatly carved rows on its body.

Varah: The boar incarnation of Vishnu at Varah temple, Kahjuraho

On the open terrace of the temple lies an important sculpture of Shardula (a warrior and a lion), a favorite theme in Chandella time.

The Eastern temples are though lesser known but just as important because they reflect a very different side of Khajuraho. The Brahma Temple is actually dedicated to Vishnu. There is also a stark difference between this and the typical western group temples, devoid of the ornate carvings, sensuous sculptures and elaborate architectures. Instead, it is a simple structure and is made of granite along with a pyramidal spire made of sandstone.

Evenings at Khajuraho turns into some romantic fiesta. Street side restaurant begin to shine with folk decoration, fairy lights and candle-lit dinning spaces. Display of clay sculptures and paintings adorn the market. Not to be missed is the two hours cultural programme full of folk dances, martial arts and songs organized by Madhya Pradesh Tourism in the town’s only auditorium.

M.P. Toursim Cultural Programme

One of the most memorable and heartwarming trips that I took with my soulmate. Discussing, researching, wandering through the remains from the past, mesmerized by sculpture art and debating over lustful interpretation of love the trip was a complete rejuvenation. We winded out trip with a light and sound show in the voice of Mr. Amitabh Bachchan at the Kandariya Mahadev underneath the moonlit sky.


 As the tale echoed in the remains of Khajuraho walls, it forced us to bow down before the architectural grace and say, “Long live creativity”.


This was about my soulful experience from the remains of an ancient erotic site? So what allures you about Khajuraho and the mystique behind it the most? Do let know. 

Wednesday 22 October 2014

The Bugs Of Negativity

Eeewww! What the hell! Get these bugs off my hand.’

Anything other that you felt looking at this picture?

Just in case you happen to be amongst the exceptional lot who don’t mind such a creepy sight, let’s be honest enough to confess – “For how long?”

Not even a day!

Why when we hate the idea of black ants clinging to our body for long, we so easily permit the real black bug of ‘negativity’ stick to us like it was always there, like our closest mate, like we were born with it!

It is time that we rub it off our mind and body. But the big question is ‘how’? Here’s the list of solutions that could help us get rid of it, coming to mind:

1)   Shout your lungs out for help
Really? Hahaha..!
All the help that you are likely to get is a roar of laughter from the nearby public who’d be finding your panic situation an entertainment promo of a reality TV show. Doesn’t work at all! While you’d be running with the ants of negative thoughts on your mind all around the market, it won’t be funny to rule out the option that the ants themselves are laughing back at your stupidity.

2)   Pray, the bugs run away.
Oh My God!!
The mighty merciful God will descend from Heaven above and stroke your hands with some feather of love, thus, healing the soft flesh of your tiny palms? Wake up my dear, for the Lord is as merciful to ants as He is to you. He’d rather smile and pray for you instead so that you may to get the wisdom back to deal with this ‘petty’ situation. God and prayers have better work to do than just dealing with your self-nurtured fanciful negative thoughts.

3)   Shake your hand for the ants to drop off
Getting to some action – Good Idea.
Getting to some panic action - Bad Idea.
While few weaker thoughts get dropped off, the strong become stronger and tend to cling to skin more fiercely. If you think you can take a break from the routine of life or go through a transforming or short term counseling session to get rid of negative thoughts, there are chances that the most threatening ones appear stronger once your action is over.

4)    Use the other hand to ward the ants off
Works! Only so far both the hands are ready to share the burden of beasts together.
While you use the right hand to throw the ants off from the left one, half of the beasts will land up on your right. So you again reverse the cycle and use your left until they get back to where it was. Oh, let’s not forget that few of the rapid moving thoughts may spread from your hands to the entire body and even to the dearest of your body parts. Basically what happened was that your whole body, like some metphysical synergy shared the burden and pain of your single hand and relaxed your nerves a bit. If this synergy continues, possibly you will get rid of your negative emotions completely. All you need to do is find out who in your life are your right hand, body and intimate parts ready to share your pain.

5)   Use soap and water, vinegar, salt or pepper to cut them off forever
The common property in these items is their ability to break down the waxy layers of the pest’s exoskeleton, causing dehydration. Devoid of necessary ingredients they require to feed on, the black bugs will leave your body either dying off in the process or begin looking for some other vulnerable prey. The only way to get rid of negative thoughts and emotions is to stop playing a ‘sponge’ that attracts everything negative from nearby surroundings, absorbs the negative emotions and lets the thoughts stay there for ages. Take the responsibility of saying “NO!” You and you alone!  Of telling the bugs that “They will be washed off forever and I will not let you FEED ON ME anymore.”

6)   Put baking soda, powdered sugar, lemon, cornmeal, mint and lavender sachets near drains, in chests, closet, pantry etc. to repel ants
You’re a wise one!
Block their way for any future entry. Once gotten rid of, the next step is to repel these ugly white creeping beasts forever from your life. Use a barricade of defense in your life which the ants can never dare to cross. Draw a circle of positive people, helping hands, smart and wise individuals, good books, genuine friends and lots of love around you. Let all those who spread negativity, pull your mood down, underestimate your strength, annoy or even colour your mood stay out of the barricade. Don’t let these bugs enter your home. It isn’t difficult at all. The bugs know where to go. They will find their new life in some other weal vulnerable ‘sponge’ and spare you.

You’re done!
Clean Hands!
Cleaner Life!

Give yourself permission to immediately walk away 
from anything that gives you bad vibes. 
There is no need to explain or make sense of it. 
Just trust the little inner voice that is telling you.”

Monday 13 October 2014

The Lost Tranquility

This story 'The Lost Tranquility' is my first piece that got picked up by Writing in 2005 and was listed as winner in Contest 3. It was viewed 1117 times and is thankfully, still a part of noteworthy archives. Not that the story is great or is a chosen-one but that it managed to fire the writing spark in me after which there has been no looking back.

The story is being reproduced ditto (without any grammatical corrections or editing, however badly needed) for the sake of innocent naiveté.



This post has been selected for:

It was raining heavily. The pitter-patter of the raindrops seemed to break away all the windowpanes. Never before had the winds blown so strong and never before my heart wept so bitterly. I was feeling butchered, as if my own body had deserted my soul and I did not want to live any further.

Daniel was getting ready for office. Dressed in the lovely grey suit with a crimson checked tie, my only son looked as handsome as ever. In front of the mirror he sprinkled some cologne, gelled his hair, straightened his tiepin and flashed a brilliant smile onto his image. I looked at him getting dressed up and smiled to myself, without him noticing me. How well did I remember the similar way he used to dress himself up for kindergarten? At that time he knew nothing of cologne or a hair gel or a tiepin, yet he adjusted the school batch, neatly combed his hair and tied his shoelaces in the salmost the same manner. Nothing except his age had changed. My son was still the same baby with similar innocence.

“Daniel, Daniel…how many times have I told you not to put that silly cologne on…. it intoxicates me…change it for heaven’s sake…and look at you…. your tie in crimson looks horrible. I wonder how bad a dressing taste can it be!”. As always, this was Samantha shrieking.

Samantha is his beautiful but arrogant wife. I mean, my daughter-in-law. Though she seldom behaves like one. I often get the feeling that she does not like me. But since my husband Neil passing away, I have preferred staying with them than putting up all alone. I had already exhausted all my savings for Daniel’s higher education and now could no longer contribute in their living. Besides my paralysis had left me a lifeless soul.

“Its 8 already and you are getting late Daniel. On way to office do you remember what are you suppose to do? You have promised me this now…you cannot back out or else I’ll leave you. Fuck off now and don’t be back home without doing my work.”, she grumbled.

I did not know what Samantha was talking about. All I could see in front of me was a lovely pair fighting like kids…nothing new…in fact; it is typical of a married couple. I had so may fights in my life with Neil. We fought on our anniversary when he came home late, fought when I was pregnant as he kept insisting his presence in an important office meeting even during my last days of delivery, fought when Daniel was to be sent to a school that I thought was just too far away and even fought when Samantha was to be Daniels wife as Neil thought she was not the right one for him! At times it’s hard to believe but we even fought on the last day when we were together. Neil wanted to attend “The Eagles” sing live and despite the heavy tornado he was still was eager to drive uptown. I requested…insisted…stopped. And fought…yes, fought for the last time. That evening as Neil went out, he never ever returned. Doctors say it was a major accident that broke off his ribs to trashes. I did not weep at all. I froze!! And that was all I did for the entire year to end up in partial paralysis of limbs.

By the time I came to terms with Neil’s death, I found near me a yet another reason to live. This was a priceless gift that Neil had left for me. Here stood in front of me my only son, Neil’s shadow and my heart, our Daniel. He was a reason geed enough for me to live on another few years.

As Samantha spoke to Daniel, he looked perturbed. I saw that worry in his eyes, I saw him trying to convince her in private and I also saw him failing to do it.

He moved towards me.“Mum…would it be possible for you to accompany me to office today? I want to show something to you. I have specially ordered it for you. Please! Come along. I am waiting for you in the car…and yes…its cold outside. So take an extra shawl to wrap around you…. come soon…………”

I wondered. What was it that Daniel wanted to show to me? What was it that he had brought and Samantha was furious about? What day is it today? Good Lord! How could I forget this? Its my wedding anniversary!! So what if Neil isn’t here…. this day is still a testimony of the fact that we ever were together…. that we ever made love....that we ever together brought this gem to the world… I suffering with amnesia? Why did I forget this date…. To Hell! Daniel remembers it …he has even brought something for me…I only wish Neil could be here to see all this.

Daniel drove off the car and did not utter a single word out for quite some time. The weather seemed to go ghastly. There were dark sinister clouds surrounding all over and it could rain any moment.

The wind had already begun to blow hard on the car's window pane and it now began to give jitters to me. “What is it that you want to show to me???” Silence engulfed me again and he ignored. He seemed lost.

“What’s it dear…. what is worrying you…speak up!!"

He looked back at me…. his mute eyes told me that something did disturb him….“Keep patience mum…I am driving you to a place…it’s a surprise…”

Our car stopped at an eerie looking place. A forbiddingly looking house in bad shape, amidst untrimmed bushes surrounding it, stood tall but horrific. It filled me with discomfort. Nobody was around. Not even a bird, as if even the vegetation had abandoned the place. Why had Daniel brought me to this uncanny place? The question troubled me.

“Step our mum…we have reached…wrap your shawl.” He held my hand and helped me step out of car.

He then took me inside that house that from inside seemed to be a rest house made away from the arduous city life. But who would come to rest in this shit? I wondered.

Daniel introduced me to a grim old man who sat at the reception of the rest house and made me sit while he clandestinely talked to him.
“Mum, Please be seated here for about twenty minutes. I would attend my friend hospitalized nearby and be back. I will then take you to my actual surprise in store for you.” I wanted to leave the place immediately but I understood Daniel’s commitment and conceded to stay back.

While Daniel went out, the old man offered me tea. I sipped it and watched the dreadful rain out side as it reminded me of the day when in the similar weather I had lost Neil.

One hour passed. Daniel was not back. I got petrified. What was it that had stopped him to be on time? I looked for a telephone around but lost hopes as I was told it was out of order. The electricity had gone off and the battery backup for the day was coming to the point of exhaustion. Two hours went by and the clock was still ticking with no cues of my son coming back.

I prayed and prayed hard. It now filled me with weird and undesirable fears. Had my son met with a similar accident as his father had? No! No! For heaven’s sake…I will not be able to bear it anymore…. What else could be the reason…I only wish that there was any reason other than this…. Amen.

A car stopped outside the rest house. A man in his mid forties entered the reception room.
“Mrs. Joan …Hello…. You are Daniel’s mother. Are you not? Well I am here to talk to you about your son.”

I crossed my fingers. I did not want to hear what I should not.

“Please go ahead…” I reluctantly said.

“Well, your son had called us up about a week back. He felt that you are too old enough to stay with them and that they would no longer be able to manage your expenses. You seem to be too tough and stubborn to be handled and taken care of by them…so they entrusted you to us. Welcome to this “Old Age Home” for senior citizens. We run this on voluntary charity and let me frankly tell you that we will not be able to suffice your luxuries here. But we do promise you a safe life with people less butchers than your son…”

Someone pinch me…. what piece of trash was this man speaking?
“Please send me back Home IMMEDIATELY..I don’t want to hear any thing else.” I lost my temper and infuriated.

“ I know it would be hard for you to believe it in the first instance”, he continued impersonally, “ but let me put it hard across you. You cannot move out of the place as per our deal…you will have to serve this home for a minimum of three months just as nine other unfortunate older people like you in this house are. Thereafter it will be your wish to stay or leave. Trust me, nobody does leave. After all, where will you go? You don’t even have a house and not a single penny either. Your health and paralysis, I wonder will allow you to work anymore…I suggest you stay with us. Spend the hardly leftover years of your life serving a cause…. we will take care of you…at least we are not that wicked and unfaithful like your son…so go to your room, will you? Take rest and we will see you at the dinner table…” He turned around and curtly left.

The winds blew harder, the night deepened and the battery backup exhausted darkening the place completely.

Daniel had ripped me apart. He had indeed given me a surprise on my anniversary. It was in the morning that I had seen the “innocence” in the eyes of my baby…seen him like a ‘gem’, seen him the same way when he was a little child….as a testimony of the love between me and Neil… and now…every thing had changed. While the winds banged the windowpanes, I cursed Neil for the day. I wrapped the shawl around me firmly, went up the stairway to my room, wept and thought…. I know why the rain had worsened today. That fearsome night two years ago my husband died and today, my son did.

Friday 26 September 2014

Munnar, Kerala: Of mists, mountains and waters

We are typical North Indians. Very used to hot summers, less waters, spicy food and speaking Hindi-English-Punjabi-Bengali-Gujarati-Bihari-anything but the Southern State languages. It was my sister who fell in love with a Malayali guy and married him. Did not even realize when in this entire process did the whole family, of elders, my daughters and a quondam maturing couple (My husband & I) also fell in love with a clan whose language sounded all-Greek, whose food was stark opposite of what we’d been having back home and whose land is a green-misty State full of rain, water and coastline. Love knows no boundaries. It just beckons like hell. A Malayali family of a newly acquired relative’s wedding called us back to Kerala and this time, we didn’t miss the chance to cover the misty hills of Munnar apart from the Arabian sea shores. Ah Kerala! Wish you were a stone’s throw away from our land.

This is a small piece from the Munnar memoirs.

Set at an altitude of 6000 ft in Idukki district of Kerala,  Munnar was the favored summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days and is now known for unending expanse of tea plantations - pristine valleys, water, Kannan Devan hills fully blossoming with exotic species of flora and fauna in its wild sanctuaries and forest, aroma of spice scent and mists that falls on your cheeks to rest in romance. Munnar, supposedly, has to have all of it.

Beneath is a view of the Haripad railway station from where we boarded a passenger train to the nearest junction of Ernakulam from where we would get a taxi for the uphill climb. A strikingly clean platform, quite unlike the Northern Indian railways where dealing with filth and dirt have become a man’s daily habit.

We began ascending the slope of Munnar at around four in the evening. While we meandered through the narrow roads, mist fell down blocking the driver’s view and the jungle around made creepy sounds fueling our appetite for adventure. By eleven in the night we were almost there. At 5000 ft. above the ground, near to our coy little resort, Aryanka, beside a huge waterfall. The invisible dark misty mountains had almost possessed us in its beauty by now.

Early in the morning, we started our escapade to the mystique of tea plantations. You know why Munnar is so different from other hill stations? Because it is not as much about the nature’s upbringing as about the sweat, labour and toil put in by thousands of labourers over generations (since 1870s) who’d put in their energy and soul in creation of tea estates. Munnar is but an impeccable example of man and nature culminating into one another and making lives of each other beautiful.

En route to topmost point of Munnar, we spotted the Kundala lake, an idyllic place in Munnar located Surrounded by rolling hills and valleys of dense forests, Kundala is known for the Kundala Arch Dam or Sethuparvati Dam and Kundala Lake. This was surreal! Like the one from some Hollywood movie shot. You've to see it to believe it.

Further on the way was the world famous Echo Point, behind a scenic lake bank. The children had a gala time shouting their lungs out to hear the hills reverberate your sound back to you.

"As a child, I would sit and ponder,
at the wooded areas, 
for their beauty relaxed me. 
The sway of the branches and whistling of the winds, 
as if they were calling my name.…"

Mattupetty (the Cattle Village) is a small town which has become a popular picnic spot among tourists visiting Munnar. Mattupetty is located at an altitude of about 1700 m above sea level, at a distance of 13 km from Munnar. 

After a day's hard work, we were almost there. At the Top Station, situated about 1700 m above sea level at about 41 km from town, on Munnar – Kodaikanal road and perhaps at one of the most scenic points of getting a breathtaking view of Munnar.

The place is bestowed full water, water and water all aroundn and through the forests. Elephant Lake or Anayirangal, Sita Devi lake, Attukal Waterfalls, Cheeyappara Waterfalls, Lakkam Waterfalls Pallivassal waterfalls, Thommankuthu waterfalls are among the prominent few. 

Standing somewhere tall in the vastness of plantation, underneath patches of torrential downpours are some soulful ladies. They take me awestruck with their determination, hard work and skill and I ask, “What’s it like to stand in rain for ten hours a day, work like machines, look out for leeches and still keep singing?

Owing to the conducive climate, resource and vegetation, the place is home to variety of rare and endemic species of animals. One can get a glimpse of it at Rajamalai National Park, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the rain shadow vegetation of Western Ghats and Thattekad Bird Sanctuary. 

Finally, reached Pothamedu! Trekker’s paradise! Standing in the middle of all shades of green colour, brushing the skin with feathers of cool air and bidding the day a goodbye, the feeling is something like this -

"Have you seen the Sunset and Sunrise

And the Horizon that's a prize

How the colors mix and melt

And look as soft as felt…"

Munnar, my love, you keep beckoning!!! 

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