Monday, September 26, 2016

Summer woes get a green fix -- in Cyprus and in Doha

Photo coutesy: Archana Bahukhandi
Blades of grass
tickled my naked feet
this morning.

The expanse of green
at the local park
was too luscious to resist.
I yanked my shoes off without untying the laces.
Socks followed shoes
as I stepped on the grass
and let the swords of green
succumb
to the grey weight of my dark thoughts.

Yes, summer in Doha
gets to me.
I feel trapped
in the oppressive heat of forty seven degrees.

Soaring mercury
imprisons
humans in air-conditioned cages of homes and offices.
Cold and lonely
feels summer.

I rise before the sun
to go out,
to breath,
to walk,
to think
and to feel alive again,
despite the seventy percent humidity.

The green rapiers
rip through the web of negativity I've entangled myself in.
A smile escapes.

"Thank you, dear grass."
I say.
"I trample and yet you give.
You are awesome!"

"Spare a thought for the dew drop."
grass replies.
"She touched you too, you know.
I'm here, but she's no more.
Did you feel her cool embrace?"
************
There are people around us who are like those drops of dew-- people who do their 'jobs' without ever being noticed or appreciated. 

Today. I want to thank all the people who tend to the public parks and gardens in Doha-- all those hard working souls who work, despite the heat, so that people like me can enjoy a morning stroll. Thank you tree-pruners, water sprinkler-operators, grass-shearers, rubbish-pickers, park keepers--thank you all for making the summer bearable.

If this scorcher of a poem has made you hot and bothered...let me cool you down with some green pictures from Cyprus.

Natural shade makes all the difference.
Car park: Omodos
Destination: Lefkara
Road-side refreshments. 
No vendors -- a sign, a tin can and bags of oranges from nearby orchards...

We brought a few back home with us--the juiciest, sweetest oranges I've eaten in a long time.

Nature's bounty is common to spot;
 driving down a highway or meandering through a village.

Blooming Rosemary
The sun beats down on green doors

 Bougainvillea strikes a pose 
Lefkara is famous for its lace and silver, but it was this quaint backyard garden at the back of the shop that pulled me in. 
I wasn't planning to buy any more lace, but the lady who owns the business was so kind and her love for her garden brought out the sucker in me. (it's not that tricky, let me tell you:)
While the husband paid and waited, I explored this little gem.

A note for all those who garden in hot and arid places: 
Most of the plants in this little garden are drought resistant. I love the way they've been grouped together for impact.
The terracotta pots are sublime. More about Cypriot pottery in my next post. 






"It's not the best time to visit, you know. It's so hot." said another smiling lacer, sitting under the shade of a fig tree, on the street outside her house.
She wanted us to come in but I had just bought lace and I know me -- I cannot resist handmade gorgeousness.
So, I declined politely and nodded.
"You should visit in spring. It's beautiful."
Perspective, I thought.
The 47 degrees we had left behind was hot. 30 degrees in Lefkara was balmy.
But, not a soul (except us) was out at mid-day.
Except the Bougainvillea, of course.
Crunchy and tangy Greek salad and scrumptious doner kabaabs were relished under the shade here, before we bid Lefkara adieu.
I have to thank my friend Monica, a Cypriot whose grandfather comes from Lefkara, for her priceless travel tips. We managed to explore so many aspects of Cyprus in just four days --thanks to her.
I know I will be heading back someday, hopefully in spring.
It's a beautiful country.

Till we meet again:)
Leaving you with a beautiful prayer by Rupert M. Loydell

Prayer

Teach me the value
of what I own,
of what I eat,
of this earth
and of its people.

Help me to remember
whose world it is
why you created it
and why you created 
me.

Rupert M. Loydell

*******

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Dew drops

Photo coutesy: Archana Bahukhandi

Blades of grass
tickle my naked feet.

The expanse of green
at the local park
is too luscious to resist.
I yank my shoes with untied laces.
Socks follow shoes
as I step on the grass
and let the swords of green
succumb
to the grey weight of my dark thoughts.

Yes, summer in Doha
gets to me.
I feel trapped
in the oppressive heat of forty seven degrees.

Soaring mercury
imprisons
humans in air-conditioned cages of homes and offices.
Cold and lonely
feels summer.

I rise before the sun
to go out,
to breath,
to walk,
to think
and to feel alive again,
despite the seventy percent humidity.

The green rapiers
rip through the web of negativity I've entangled myself in.
A smile escapes.

"Thank you, dear grass."
I say.
"I trample and yet you give.
You are awesome!"

"Spare a thought for the dew drop."
grass replies.
"She touched you too, you know.
I'm here, but she's no more.
Did you feel her cool embrace?"

Friday, September 2, 2016

A trip to Cyprus and post holiday BLUES.

What's the hardest thing to do when you come back from a holiday -- a family holiday?

Unpacking?

Laundry/Washing?

Getting on the weighing scales?

Getting up the next morning to go to school, work or to drop children off to school?

I'd say all of the above, but NONE of the above are as hard as the one I struggle with the most. It's
picking the perfect picture to post on facebook. A picture that shows all of us looking our best at the same time, in the same shot. It's almost impossible.

So long and arduous has been this quest that I recently updated my fb cover photo( with a family shot) after more than two years.

It's all my fault. Really. I make the most fuss about how I look in photos. My family and friends know this.

You see, my idea of what I look like and the camera's idea of what I look like do not coincide.

For a good decade, I hid behind my Vitiligo patches to avoid being clicked sans camouflage. This could be make-up, long sleeves, turtle necks or scarves or night shots in dark corners. Now that I'm out of my closet, I create the fuss before and during and after the photo has been clicked on account of my prosperous physique (hum khatee peete ghar se hain bhai, kya karen?) My body subscribes to the Punjabi notion of being 'healthy'.

This is what goes on inside my brain when I'm about to be shot: the bossy little voice takes over...

Don't grin too wide-- it shows your creases. Suck in that lower belly, suck it IN I say...suck it in till you can't breathe. Oh! shoot! that makes you look like a rooster who's about to cock-a -doodle-doo. Okay, let out a bit of that air but hold onto that udyana bandha for your sake. Oh! And turn, stand at an angle...remember that's how all the women you know stand in all the group shots these days? And what about that chin? Should it be up or down? What did that article say? And look at the camera...not the sky. Oh! I give up...hang on, pop those shades on...you know they're a God send. 

'I tried.' whimpers my bossy little voice. 'I give up!'

While this battle is raging inside my head, my children are informing me that the camera is NOT in the direction I'm trying to half-grin at. Aaaahhh!!! At moments like these, I feel that models deserve every penny they get for posing.

BUT, hang on...there are non-model friends of mine who can pull off a pose or a selfie before you can say 'cl' of click with such ease and aplomb that I can't help but admire their grace and poise.

How do they do it?

'It's easy.' said Sukku (a pro at getting clicked) while we were camping in Bedni in June . 'Turn your shoulder like this, jut out a hip like this, throw your head back and pose. simple.'

You have to see how quickly and effortlessly she strikes a pose-- every time!

A dear friend tried to follow her advice recently. The result made us all roll on the floor with laughter,

My conclusion, therefore, is that some of us are just born with it. I'm not one of them.

That is why, being behind the camera is so much more fun and fulfilling for me than being in front of it.

A quick and short escape to Cyprus a few days ago gave us that elusive family photo-- yes, I have my shades on! Laugh, if you must. I'm a vain Jain.

Doors, walls and windows have no such vanity issues. They are perfect subjects and when the light is Mediterranean, the blues blow you away with their brilliance. And the doors don't shy away from extreme close-ups, either.

Doors and streets of Omodos.







The blue walls of Lefkara Museum (in Pano Lefkara) made a hot afternoon cool.
The entrance

Going upstairs
The sun peeks through shutters, lace,
windows
and windows.

Blue -- inside and out.




Where does the wall finish?
And the sky begin?


Why are all the walls blue? 

If you are planning a trip to Cyprus, a visit to this beautifully curated museum will make you very happy.
For more details, click on:

Cyprus is beautiful, no doubt. But, the MOST precious part of Cyprus is its people and their hospitality. More about them and their warm hearts and their delicious food in the next post.

Have a wonderful weekend.
And admire the blue around you.
xx