Indonesian Intervention

16 Jan

I felt like a sore loser. I had gulped enough sea water to be a threat to underwater life. I couldn’t keep my head under the water for more than two seconds. This, mind you, is despite being inside a life jacket. Bright orange isn’t my colour, I must say.

I was in one of the most beautiful beaches in Indonesia. The white sands of Sandranan glistened against incredible gradients of blue. And there I was, in the middle of that incredible blue, in a not-so-flattering snorkling suit. Futile attempts to breathe through my mouth wasn’t helping my ego. Or my nostrills. For a while I just buoyantly remained at the same spot. Just, you know, floating. Helpless. But hopeful. Hoping that noone notices me like this. “Are you from India?” A young girl’s voice burst my thoughts of doom.

I paddled around in penguin-style to look at her. “Yes”, I replied. Partly guilty of defaming my country. We struck a few minutes of broken-English conversation in mid-water. But she din’t need language to understand my state. “Hold my hand” the teen offered with a smile. Her friends and I giggled as we formed a human chain and moved around the sea for a while, before we parted ways.

I remembered my mission was not yet accomplished. “C’mon, Diana! You din’t fly all the way here for this!” I told myself. With renewed zest, I put my snorkling mask back on, and dunked my face into the sea. I tried a few times. And then – at one of those attempts that lasted more than a second – I saw it! I saw a glimpse of the majestic underwater world! There was no turning back now.

I did SO much during this holiday. Road trips, street food, historical spots, art galleries, museums and many many more. But this beach-snorkling incident left a mark in me. The best part of this trip was losing track of time immersed in the miracles below sea line. Swimming with bright finned friends. Touching the coral reefs. Feeling, accomplished.

As we enter into a new year, with new missions to accomplish, let’s be cognizant that we may have similar moments. Where we start off feeling like a sore loser. Helpless, and without a direction. Look around, and you’ll find someone to offer you a hand. Or maybe, you might be the one who gets to offer. But trust me, once you get a glance of how success feels like, you will be unstoppable. May 2017 give you opportunities that help you discover new strengths.

When I landed back home, my friends eagerly asked, “How was your holiday, Diana?”

“Breath-taking,” I said.

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More thoughts: https://dianathinks.wordpress.com/

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Hello, Himalayas!

24 Sep

Baby steps. The last time I heard this, it was with reference to a baby. But this time, it was with reference to me. “Take baby steps, everyone!” I heard my trek leader say out-loud. We were on the final lap. The last two thousand feet of our twelve thousand feet journey. And for me, it was turning into a gruesome test of will power. I was no longer climbing up using my trek pole. I was fueled on emotions. And that too was running low.

We had started at 3.30 am. When the sky had covered itself with a thick black blanket, and tiny twinkles were generously sprinkled on it. If I could run my hands through that starry sky, I would have a handful of sparkling glitter :) At one point, we all switched off our torches. We just stood there in darkness, in the middle of nowhere, gazing up, starstruck. I soaked in the silence, and the shine. “I could do this for hours,” I thought to myself, as I immersed myself in the quiet silver light. It was a plethora of stars, a massive celebration going on up there.

It had taken us four days to get where we are – almost ten thousand feet from our base camp at Sari, Rudraprayag. We had hiked through dense forests, vast meadows and everything in between. Flawless scenery flowed continuously, changing by the hour. It was like being inside a real-life Windows Screensaver.

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The squishing sounds from muddy forest pathways were strangely comforting. Tall trees, thorny bushes and slushy grounds. We were tiny ants making our way through a humongous green world. A few chirps were heard at a distance, while a few other feathered friends were spotted. My excitement peaked at the foot of falling water. It was yet another first for me – Not seeing Spring Water in a plastic bottle. But in its’ native place. Pure clean water flowing from nature’s lap. We never saw their origin, never saw their end, but those sparkling streams fresh water quenched the thirst of body and mind.

Do not trust meadows. Yes, those vast, serene-looking unending stretch of open space. They look nice and welcoming. But I swear they are not easy to hike! Their breath-taking look literally does take your breath away. Huffing and puffing all my way, the more I climbed up, the more they suspiciously grew bigger. To baffle me further, I saw buffaloes double my size leisurely race me to the top. I must admit though, the pleasure of seeing vast grassy area gave me some kind of kick. It also kicked the city-lover in me.

img_4733-copyI thanked the Quechua Gods who created my trekking shoes, for keeping my grip and my dignity. Each terrain was a different chapter in ‘How To Trek Without Slipping and Falling’. With a few excerpts from ‘How to Deal with Embarrassment’. Also recommended is ‘Trekking for Dummies’.

There is special joy trekkers experience close to sunset. This feeling arises when after hours and hours of walking, somewhere in the near vicinity, we spot our next base camp! The sight of those multiple bright orange tents is an instant boost to our climbing speed. Being a first-time trekker, my biggest apprehension was about living in the woods. Tents, to be precise. I later realized that I got better sleep in my sleeping bag, than on my own bed. (Sorry, bed). Make-shift bathrooms served their purpose. Torches gave enough light. Changing clothes inside tents improved your acrobatic skills.

But none of this passed my mind while I struggled to reach the final destination – the summit of Mt. Chandrashila. My vulnerability had reached a greater summit. I could feel my calf muscles stretch with every step. My heart was throbbing at a rate I had not felt before. My throat was dry, and my lungs felt heavy. Despite the chilly breeze, I was sweating. I cursed the hyper-excited Diana who signed up for this a few months back. I paused. Tried to calm the chaotic voices in my head. It’s too late to give up now, I thought. I did not trek for four days to quit so close to the finish line.

“Baby steps”, I told myself. Let’s do this. One, small, baby step at a time.
And that’s how I touched twelve thousand feet.

***
In the darkest hour,
Saw an endless tower
The quiet stars,
Gave us gentle power.

The ascend begins,
With creaking crickets
Pacing footfalls,
With clinking trek poles

On stony ground
We climbed up proud,
Stretch of height
Was in a shroud.

An hour has passed,
Expectations surpassed
Rays of dawn,
Subtly brushed the clouds.
We were merely mid-way.

Sky grew lighter,
Body felt heavier
With sight of summit,
Eyes were brighter.
Mountain top moved like a mirage.

Unending ocean of grassy green,
Waded through its’ high and low
Steeper steps gave quite a blow,
Yet we soaked in scenic glow.
To reach the peak are miles to go
Let us for now take it steady and slow.

At the zenith awaited a dream,
A breath-taking soulful gleam
Cotton clouds a touch away,
Snow-capped mountains there it lay
Misty magical hills and valleys,
At the height of nature’s glory.
Oh, the view from the top!

The peace of simple solitude
Was to me a promising prelude
The quiet kiss of calmness
Covered me with gratitude
These emotions and sights of stunning beauty,
Will you stay, forever with me?

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***
Epilogue: I am back home, from a trek I will never forget. And now, when I see a mountain of challenge in front of me, I say to myself, “Take baby steps, Diana. One, small, baby step at a time.”

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Oh, Mumbai!

27 Mar

I landed. The race had begun long back. Hypnotically, I joined in. And from then on, there was no looking back.

I could feel it in every step. A spring of rapidly converging ethos. Minds that exuded volatile visions. Ancient analogies of architectural amaze. There was an unbelievable descent of stupefying valor. Focused. Distinct. Dynamic.

My palate touched paradise as ethnic sauces slurped over my tongue. The taste of traditional cuisine augmented the authenticity of Indian spices. The street food had me floored. There were chances that the Power Puff Girls would’ve made an appearance with this perfect blend of sugar, spice, and everything nice. Chaat, Pav Bhaji, Pani Puri, and related desi cousins, turned out to have a long lost connection with me. I subconsciously enslaved to those heart-warming flavours served hot.

A girl like me could not but stare, gape, and most unfemininely jaw-drop, at the unending array of all things girly. At this shoppers’ oasis, I offered the last ounce of my dignity as I bagged the lowest prices. Every bling, every texture, every hue of rainbow on cloth, bag or shoe caught my eye twinkling. Precautionary Warning: Shopping at Colaba Causeway, Linking Road, or on similarly tarred nature, may result in mild vertigo due to over-exposure to mind-numbingly attractive articles. Side effects include related monetary loss.

Majestic. Built, style, architecture. They weren’t buildings, they were history. As I unknowingly played the role of a wide-eyed tourist, I learnt what differentiated old from antique. Everywhere, I saw stories on stone. Be it at the steps of the Gateway of India, the luxury of The Taj or the massiveness of CST, which, I have to brag, was an absolute vision under a gleaming full-moon night. The sights quite simply said: there was an era before this, there were people before you, there were unforgettable incidents here before you reached. I was humbled by the magnificence of the structures. And the insignificance of our accomplishments.

Any Mumbaikar would undeniably agree that a walk along Bandstand or Marine Drive is a highway to attain your Zen moment. The Arabian Sea welcomes every thinker on it’s stony lap with fresh breeze and fine waves. Land’s End (self-explanatory) has secretive powers to put an end to your most existential questions. Just being there, soaking in your silence, listening to the waves hit the rocks, letting the gentle wind brush your tress, can cool your mind like mint leaves on a summer noon.

Personal space is a dream. Being seated is an achievement. Get out scratch-free, and you’re a winner. The local trains gave me more adrenaline gush than I would’ve got being on any survivor reality show. Repressing the memory of multiple high-decibel female voices ranting into my ears an assortment of sour words, this is probably the most adventurous ride of my life. Amusement parks can take the back seat. (Maybe even literally). The 0.032 milliseconds that I took to get off at the Bandra station, cost me heavy uncontrollable incoming women’s traffic into that Ladies compartment. After an almost-Olympic jump, I felt accomplished I landed on a platform I hadn’t caught a glimpse of earlier.

Once again, almost hypnotically, I joined in to the race. The continuously flowing crowd. The constantly bustling movement. The supremely active citizens. Overflowing, exuberant energy, everywhere.

We all have different stations to be in at different times. New locations to go. Strangers to befriend. Initiatives to take. Experiences to gain. The idea is to look forward. Keep moving. Keep going. Be, Unstoppable.

***

The sea waves waved at my wandering thoughts,
The ocean looked like my mind.

Buildings built-up inspiration in heights
Heightened my dreams and aspirations.
Aspiring artists and talented tourists
Tour the city in amuse and wonder.
Wondering the secret of this land’s life
Life bubbling in every person
Personal pride being city’s child
Children of glorious past and present
Presented a view of bright sapien minds
Mindful of all the place offers
Offerings of wisdom, talent and experience
Experiences, oh, unforgettable ones.

And as for me, I returned anew
Renewed, refreshed, recharged
Sights opened my eyes and thoughts
Expedition excited every sense.
A joyous self returned,
Filled with memories to linger.
Somewhere during the journey,
I felt belonged.
Somewhere during the journey,
I left a bit of my heart behind.
Somewhere during the journey,
Mumbai,
You changed me.
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https://dianathinks.wordpress.com/

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From Delhi to Goa

21 Feb

I froze. Not in shock. Not in fear. Not in disaster encounter. But in drop of temperature. At 3 degree celsius in Delhi, with the multiple layers of wool on me, my resemblance to a stuffed toy was the least of my concerns. My futile attempts to hide were mocked by the smog. My attraction to bright burning coal almost seemed hormonal. Hazy mornings put me in daze. Cloudy evenings chilled my brain. And yet, it was never too cold to suppress my mind – of fascination.  The Capital City. The undeniably magnificent antiquity. Tinted with glossy class.

Fast forward one week. Humidity dripped from every forehead. Breeze brushed my hair. Sun kissed my skin, a bit too much. Ton of tan. Lots of sand. Sea and land. Evidently, I’m in Goa. The smell of seaweed was strangely soothing. Waves of heat warmed by heart. I heaved a deep breath of exhilaration. Ahh, there’s something about beaches.

May crushed spirits arise
At breath-taking sights
May music find its’ tune
On tourist maps anew.
With sun and moon as witnesses
Watch your brightness outshine,
Let your hollowed heart transform
Into a spring of soulful twilight.

Every step on new land
Is part of a dexterous plan
Behold the journeys ahead
Preserve the ones that’s sealed.
If not for undiscovered destinations
What joy would travel bring,
If not for the unknown future
What life would we be living.

As I seek solace in silent words, I cannot but await, the path that lies forth. With a sail that’s drifted to places old and new, experiences that’ve been bitter and sweet, I realize with childish contemplation – everything is unique. Each second is so intricately woven we cannot relive it.

Every city, every person, every situation, has something different to offer. And its’ dynamicity is your ultimate tutor. As none of it ever stays the same.

Therefore, Seasons change. Temperature varies. Culture collides. Body ages.

And People, they evolve.

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We Live. We Learn.

10 Dec

I have an event I’m organizing, starting in less than two hours. I have a work submission in another few hours. Meetings both scheduled and unscheduled coming up back-to-back today and the rest of the week. My to-do list runs into pages. Some get the honour of getting ticked. A few unfortunate others don’t. My typing skill has drastically improved. So has my ability to gobble up lunch when on the run. I have already got three notifications that my laptop battery is about to die. In the middle of all this chaos, you know what my mind tells me to do? Write.

Therefore I submit to the greater will. The one that keeps me alive. The affair that keeps me going. The secret that spills when I type. I always wonder when people say, words fail. Maybe verbal words might. But written words win. All. the. frikkin’. time.

Catastrophe comes unbidden
Caressing uncalled sentiments.
Hammer on a wooden plank
The crack refuses to budge.
Shadows pounced. Vultures circled.
But I am nobody to judge.

Sunshine shyed away,
Clouds cried all night,
But the moon never ceased to shine.
Thunder struck strong,
Earth split footlong,
But the lightening was always bright.

It pains when bones start growing
It hurts when wings start sprouting
Beating wings against strong winds,
Crushes you inside out.

But that’s how you learn to fly.

We humans have innate incredible strength. Our mind has this supernatural threshold for pain. It surfaces only when the circumstance seeks it. It is then, we realize, how powerful beings we are. We are born to understand, cope and create. Absorb what you see around you. Soak in words from the wise. Treasure your mistakes. Inspire. Be inspired. And march forward.

We live. We learn.

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The Mystery of the Manhandled Manuscript

21 Aug

Something. Write something. Anything. Really, anything would work right now. Two months of not blogging has bogged my mind, heart and soul. In this cumbersome zone I stagnate in vain waiting for words to ooze through my fingers and rescue me from expression-deprived distress. At this peak of hyperventilation uselessly fuelled by malnourished thoughts, I would like to board my imaginary train to oh-so-real Lala land. Where thoughts flow into words, and words flow into minds. Ah, bliss! Allow me bask for a while in this delightful disorientation of word-surfing. Carefully, very carefully I lean forward to maintain just the right balance to keep me flying on the wave. The balance between losing my mind and being myself. Welcome back :)

As always, my life continues to reel on the thriller-mystery-adventure genre. Being the protagonist, antagonist, cast and crew all at the same time, it brings to me soul-deep satisfaction as a poet with never-ending soliloquy. A pinch of narcissism never hurt an optimist. Someday they will say. Or maybe they would just quote Diana Vincent. (As a writer with questionable quotes.)

Excuse my flair for digression. I take great joy in collecting co-passengers in my travel. Come along, and I will take you places.

In a cluttered mind with mindless thoughts,
Hay-stacks of muddled concepts surfaced.
Twisted and turned, complex and rapid,
Spreading like a fiercely contagious catastrophe.
Skimming through the sea-sick souvenirs of silence,
A treasury of amusement unfolded
Deep down in a cob-covered attic
Lay the untouched manuscript of her life.

Let me pause for a moment here. It is to be duly noted that out that her life has not been completely written down yet. For now let’s just say it’s a work in progress. Ok let’s get back:

Ruffled pages and overused cover,
Unattended anecdotes with parody,
Concentrated caffeine rimmed curiosity
Cascaded through condescending chapters,
All with a scent of self-discovery
Over a burning incense of sensitivity
It lay there untouched,
Awaiting it’s divine apocalypse.

Spiritual breath enflames the brightest creativity. It bridges the human with the superhuman – the possible author of countless manuscripts. The sole proprietor of the character’s characteristics. Not everyone who reads you will understand your plot. Your actions, or your thoughts. That is fine. It’s not theirs to make sense of. It is yours.

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By the way: You’re never gona know what was written in the manuscript.

Neither was she.

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https://dianathinks.wordpress.com/

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Being Alive

11 Jun

Growing up. It was so much easier in my imagination when I was a kid. Little did little Diana know what adulthood had in store.

Adventure. Drama. Laughter. Tears. Experiences.

Dreamers dive into star-filled skies,
Comets strewn over moon-lit nights,
Chronic drive for fear-fuelled trips
Breathing right into ultra-charged paradox
That’s when life began. All over again.

Outer space and inner peace have incomprehensibility in common. Our quest to find ourselves is bestowed in journeys. And that journey comes in small packets of days and nights. Light and darkness.

I am not the same person I was a decade ago. A year ago. Hell, even a day ago! Ironically we were all born the same. With a mind as blank as snow.

Fresh-sprouted wings flew into mud
Bright-feathered thoughts sparked in grub
Callous creativity scoffed courage
At strength surged by a new-lit cauldron
Rising a little. One tide at a time.

It is the extreme dynamicity of life that fills it with unprecedented apprehension and ecstasy. Unknowingly, we are subject to evolution. Of what defines our very being. Every person we meet, every situation that’s new, every obstacle we deal with, leaves it’s stamp. A seal of survival, a mark of success, a hero’s scar. All this sculpts us into humans of immense strength, unlocking unearthly potential that we never knew existed. We are built to inspire.

Winds blew strong and oceans roared
Seasons changed, soldiers fought
Floods hit hard to break all laws
Ground cracked half, shattering hopes
But at dawn-break the war-cries died.

Smartest breed arose to shine
Breaking chains, stomping cage
Resurrection from blinded side
Sliding past hidden traps
Spiraling up in sun dance notes
It has begun
The win of the man
Defiance to ruin.

What is life if it stays the same? What is it that makes us alive?

Change. That’s what makes us who we are.

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