Saturday, 29 August 2020

Dubrovnik: A bird's-eye view

Dear Readers,

I hope you're all well and healthy.

Re-sharing an old post today.

A friend shared some photos of her trip to Croatia recently on her Instagram account. Her clicks put me in mind of the time we'd marvelled at Croatia's cerulean skies in 2017.

Here it is then--an old post with travel pictures.

The poetry in the end that I wrote three years ago put a smile on my face today:) It seems like the 2017 me knew I'd need to read these words today. This is time travel in a blogger's world. I sat down  with an agenda for the day: a tad worrisome: mired in a to-do list of sorts; but after reading the post, all I can do is smile. The birds in the garden who have been singing all morning are sounding clear and chirpy now. The fog has lifted. 

Wishing you all a sparkling day wherever you are.

Much love

Arti xx
My morning routine has adapted itself to the hot summer of Doha and the holy month of Ramadan. I don't have to drop my son off to school first thing in the morning, so I find myself in my garden at six: watering, pruning and clicking pictures (when I remember to bring the phone with me). By nine am, the mercury is shooting to reach above 44 degrees, so I cherish this short window of time in the morning when the grass feels cool.

Gardening duties over, I make  my way back to the kitchen. En route, I pinch a few tulsi leaves to boil with fennel seeds and grated ginger to prepare my chai. The husband is packed off with his sandwiches and the son is yet to wake up. I am left with the gift of twenty minutes--too short to sit and mediate or practise yoga or run a wash cycle, but long enough to meet my feathered friends. I cradle my garam, garam chai in my hands and go back out to sit under the fragrant blooms of frangipani and the shade of the mulberry leaves to have tea with the birds.

A mishmash of house sparrows, Spanish sparrows, mynahs, doves and even the odd bulbul play their orchestra of notes while hopping from a branch here, to a leaf there, then to the moist ground to pick juicy breakfast. I've often thought of buying some seeds, but the birds seem content with berries and worms. Sipping tea, while squatting on the grass, trying to be invisible so that I can be part of their world for just under twenty minutes or so is the most special part of my day.

The birds gather here everyday like it's the first day. Their songs herald every day with the same magic, no matter the news, the changing temperature or the moon cycles. I sit and look at them and sometimes my heart flies around with them--free and fabulous.

It's been over a month since I've  blogged. I've been busy doing nothing--yes, that's the best kind of busy. Cleaning, cooking, reading, yoga and walks in Aspire Park have kept me occupied. I've been in a questioning mood (more about it in a later post--maybe:)

Today, after a long while, I feel like I'd like to write and share again. Birds sing, hoot, squawk and squeak.  They hop, skitter, skip and then fly off. I sit and watch and wonder what they make of what they see. So intent are they on their business of being, that they don't seem to have the need to question anything. No purpose needed other than the joy of living. Oh! how blessed are these feathered friends who have no mind to calm, no hearts to open, no chakras to align, no breath to focus on--they know how to be.

Bird's-eye view -- a term used for when you look at something from above--physically removed, detached, like an observer. Maybe that's the secret of the birds' lightness--they observe from a distance, they don't mire themselves in situations and reactions. Maybe one doesn't have to fly to detach, maybe one can sit and close ones eyes and let go. Maybe. Let's see. It's early days, but the journey to be has begun. 
April, this year, saw us exploring Croatia and one of my favourite walks was: walking the walls of Dubrovnik. I urge you to do it if you're able to. The views were stunning, of course, but the peace and quiet up here (at least when we were there) takes you back in time and space. You can be a bird, an ancient warrior fending your kingdom, a princess or a washerwoman waiting for her lover, or a mother carrying a camera:) Up here, your imagination and your eyes will keep you occupied for hours 

All these photos were taken from top of the walls that surround the Old City. 
Dubrovnik: A bird's-eye view

One never knows when ones seams  may come undone;)

And here's a view that's been painted by many artists:
Back down in the old city, who should I see? 
A bunch of birds--colourful, but not free.
Summer heat and political news makes me want to read poems like this one by Emily Dickinson:
Photo courtesy: Google Images.

This is my hope for you dear readers, and in this hope lies a prayer that I send out for me.
Have you noticed how the words our hearts seek
 are the ones our fingers type so our eyes may peek?

I wish you a summer such as this.

May you smell the flowers 
and always caress the grass

May books be read under trees 
laden with summer fruit or leaves fluttering in balmy breeze

May much-too-juicy mangoes quench your thirst for childhoods gone
and may those fleshy cherries make you cherish the lands to which you now belong

May lemonade infused with mint and thyme
fill you up with still and sparkling bubbles of tender travelled time

May jamuns and black berries colour you in their darkness so deep
that you may frolic in merry mischief of those once-upon-a-time afternoons 
when you hoodwinked sleep

May cold and creamy kulfi held with both hands on sticks
melt more rapidly than your greedy, clumsy licks.

May white kurtas and cream dupattas bear stains plenty
of tumbles and first kisses when lovers had wished for public parks to be empty

May ice-cream carts ring in all your summers from before
through gates and gullies and welcoming open doors
of orange bars and shared bites
and bursting into neighbours' houses to claim reclaimed kites

May you sing with birds and fly with them too
May you remember to wear sunscreen, shades, hat 
and let not your smile go askew

But, whenever you step out
May you be you this summer
May you always be you

May you always be you: 
the sum total of memories, dreams and dew
Enjoying every now and then --
your own personal bird's-eye view



  1. Ahhhh - just what I needed today. Thank you Arti.
    You have been on my heart and mind for these past days as news of the impact of the Arab nations' decision on Qatar ate up the news cycle. I am so glad to read that you are at least coping. I am reading between the lines here, but that is the heartbeat I'm sensing through your writing. Thank you for that reassurance.
    I too have been away from the blog for a month. I too have been busy doing nothing - much. Your words today told me that was okay. Thank you for easing my guilt as I take time out for questioning. Must be something in the air, you think? Uncertainty, calamity, incredulity, instability abound. Our world is in a very unholy mess. Yet there are still quiet spaces, fragrant flowers and birdsong to soothe us as we sit with hands embracing a warm mug of chai.
    Thank you, Arti.
    Big hugs to you.

    p.s. I too loved the walk along the walls above Dubrovnik.

    1. Hugs to you too dear April. I think there is some cosmic energy at work. It's almost like the dark forces are getting stronger (all one has to do is to turn the news on to know this). BUT, the silence and serenity of good is growing in equal measure. I've come across so many souls recently who are questioning and resting. Perhaps, the sensitive kinds like us need to fortify our energies--I don't know. But I do feel like slowing down a bit. So, here's to going slow:) Enjoy your summer and hope to read your words when you're ready. xx

  2. I'm all for that melting the snows of discontent thing...

    Gorgeous as always.

    1. Cheers Jz.
      Hugs from a grateful heart. xx

  3. Good to know you are doing okay as Qatar reels and deals with the local politics there...
    I too hear some very sweet bird sound in Kolkata in the morning just before the cacophony of traffic picks up .... and am coping with the miserable heat and humidity by eating jamuns and litchis and chhas (not chai) !
    Stunning photos of Dubrovnik .... putting it on my bucket list right away....
    Always so nice to read your blogs ... keep em coming ...

    1. I'm missing jamuns Ketaki. I have planted two jamun trees, but don't know if I'll be here to see them fruit...gosh, I'm sounding so dramatic! You know what I mean-- it's the fluidity of expat life.
      Hugs. xx

  4. Very well said, Arti! It's a different level of existance and not at all easy to achieve.

    You are lucky to get to meet and hear these birds in your garden. I remember shopping at the now-closed Dasman Hypermarket in Doha with the chuckling of the birds and crashing of the ocean waves being played constantly on the speakers:-)

    Wonderful images, as usual.

    1. I missed that! The 'loudspeaker' birds chirp at night in parks:)
      We need to meet up soon in real life--not just here.

  5. Cleaning, cooking , yoga and reading... a lot like my life here in Bangalore and it's giving me time to enjoy the birds and nature at play from the balcony. Should I be worried that I'll get used to the nothingness?!
    Lovely pictures as usual Arti👌🏻

    1. Oh! Apu....I worry for those who don't get used to the nothingness:)
      We come into this world with nothing and we leave it with nothing. They why do we spend all our lives fighting this nothingness? How beautiful life would be if we could embrace it, no?
      Yes, yes, I know...I can think all this and write it, too. But put me in a saree shop--and whoosh goes the concept of 'nothingness' out of the window. Then I want everything!!!
      So, here's to experiencing 'nothingness' more often and more regularly so that it becomes as natural as breathing.
      Enjoy the birds.
      hugs. xx

  6. Another lovely,heartfelt blog Arti -dil khush hua ��
    While you write about a bright,sunny day and your time with your winged friends,I'm sitting all warm and cozy under a razaai with the rain pelting outside !
    Hoping the hubby decides to make me a garam,garam adrak chai !
    Your pictures- as fabulous as ever .
    Hugs my friend .

    1. Did you get your adrak chai Sharmila? Razaai and rain sounds like heaven right now.
      Hugs to you. xx

  7. And I thought it was hot here.... Beautiful description of the morning, and you photos are stunning as always.

    1. Thank you Phillip. The A to Z seems like another age ago:)
      It's so good to see you here.

  8. Precious 20 mins window can do wonders to the soul...specially when one is busy doing nothing for long while...and I can 100% relate to it...coz most of the time I end up being so!
    Dubrovnik seems to be one awesome place on earth. The window that you provided in your frames of the city made me go ga-ga over it! Sure would love to get lost in the labyrinth of this charming world city!
    Anagha From Team MocktailMommies
    Rewind - Back To School

    1. Hey Anagha. So glad you like the photos:) Thank you for your kind words. How have you been post A to Z?

  9. Oh Arti - your writing and reflections (and photos!) are such a heart treasure for me. I find I've been moving so slowly this month, so I'm late to coming and visit your beautiful post. But its beauty is exactly what I needed to discover this morning - thank you!

    1. I've been away from the world of blogging for a few weeks Deborah. Thank you for visiting:)

  10. Beautiful writing Arti. Sitting among birds doing nothing is one of my favorite activities. 44 degrees is SO hot - I feel like I am melting at 34.

    1. My car dashboard read 53 degrees the other day and yes I drove for almost an hour --by the time I reached home, the temperature had gone down to 51. Phew!
      Yes, Emily, it's HOT here.
      Thank you for visiting and commenting--I've been an absentee blogger. Need to pull up my socks:)

  11. Arti there's so much beauty in seemingly mundane things in life. As I read about your involvement in the daily chores I just thought how beautiful simple things in life can be. As beautiful as your words. Just that we don't think them to be such. And the bird's eye view. How true. Detachment is almost a survival tool today. May you be you... Well that one I'll never be sure of.

    1. Thank you Sonia. Like I said, words written three years ago came to my rescue when I had well and truly forgotten to look at all the blessings that shower upon me every minute and every breath. It's so easy to get riled up by 'moh-maya'. I'm guilty of going on ego trips recently--attaching too much importance to my name and not finding joy in the doing --so this distance, this detachment really does give one that much needed breathing space and calm. May you find the you you're seeking. Much love. xx

  12. Wow, this post reminded me of my visit to Dubrovnik.... What a walk that was on those walls... An experience of a life time indeed! Even I haven't been blogging for some time now... Well, looks like even I have been busy doing nothing too :)! I love your garden and your Chai and I love to sail through it to your posts. I wish I could be one of those birds too then I could come down to sit on the grass and see how it feels in real :)! But we humans I guess need to just satisfy with the word coined by us that is bird's eye-view as we can never be those birds nor ever have their views!

    1. Thank you for joining me Ira. I'd love for us to meet in my garden in person and watch the birds. I can hear them chirping even as I type this out:)
      Have a beautiful day. Hugs. xx


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