Tuesday, June 20, 2017

There is this one other person you must trust your life with!



We have been told, all along our growing up and grown-up years, that we must trust two people the most in our lives; much more than our parents, our children and our spouse. They are the family doctor and your legal counsel. 

They both must know everything about your life, your lifestyle, your secrets, your clandestine rendezvous, your excesses and at times even your abstinence; for them to be able to help you have a smooth ride on life’s highway.

The other person to be placed on the same plank of trust and reverence just has to be your hairdresser. 

As you close your eyes and entrust your crowning glory unto him, you must have faith that he will never be careless, disinterested or otherwise engaged to snip the glory off your crown – billowing or receding, black, white or grey, straight or curly, long or short. That he will pool in all his years of experience to give an independent identity to your hair and the style it embodies.

You must have a mutual admiration society going on with him so much that he teases and cuts, snips and coiffeurs your mane in such a manner as to frame your face in the most suited manner. That, with just a few rapid strokes, he makes you look younger, thinner, prettier in real time much more than Photoshop would virtually.

And once you find such a superstar, never ever lose him. 

You can still replace that doctor or the lawyer!!!




Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day to all the great fathers out there!


Fathers are meant to be those rocks who we can lean on with all our troubles.

Fathers are our spot of Sky who we can look up to for all our personal philosophies.

Fathers are the solid ground, the foundation which our identity stems from.

Fathers are like the big ocean into whom we can drown all our sorrows and who in turn will always promise that tomorrow will be a better day, regardless.

Fathers are our first dance partners, our first playmates, our first story-tellers, our first teachers - for all that school stuff and for the lessons from and for life.

Fathers are the buffers who come between us and the strict, disciplining Tiger Mom telling us that "Mom is right" and telling Ma "to cut us some slack."

Fathers teach us all the games - Football, Badminton, Carrom, Chinese Checkers, Dumb charades, Tennis and more.

Fathers buy us our first costumes, order the bespoke velvety wine-coloured one-piece that we had set our hearts on and take us for our first swimming lessons.

Fathers take us to their offices, on those 'Daughters Day outs,' and lending their stationery and their coloured pencils allow us to spend a delightful day drawing our funny looking creatures.

Fathers take us out to our favourite places, buy bagfuls of our favourite eclairs and chocolate gold coins and jujubes and cold drinks, even when they are on the last dollar at the end of the month.

Fathers take us for walks and holding our tiny hands in their giant palms teach us character and confidence, telling us there is nothing to be afraid of.

Fathers learn to make those late night fluffy omelettes for us when all the cooking they know is how to boil water and poach an egg.

When coaxed, fathers belt out a ditty in their rich baritone, making such wonderful music that will stay with us for our life.

Fathers, as the real Superman of our lives, stand between us and all our fears - rational or irrational - of heights and darkness, of inner demons and outer villains.

When alive, Fathers are our pillar of strength and sustenance - emotional, physical, psychological.

When retired to that place beyond, fathers are our guiding light and the lucky star who we can wish upon and seek light from each time we hit a low!!!


Friday, June 09, 2017

Ma - the ingenious Service Wife!




She had the "winner's" DNA written all over her. I wonder where she got this zeal to ace anything and everything she undertook. But Ma was numero uno most of the time in the family, in her circle, dammit, in my circle too, in the Services Wives Club, in the whole Cantonment during Dad's tenure at each station and so on..

From my toddler time memories I remember Ma's Garden being the best, laden with fresh organic vegetables and a smorgasbord of such a variety of flowers that her friends were always taking tips from her, and the GOC's wife would send her Assistant to Ma knowing that even when there were no flowers to be found around, Mrs. Dhir's garden would not disappoint. Early on, I saw Ma being invited to hold special classes for Army wives on how to make jams, preserves, pickles and spreads.

And boy, was she ingenious! With fruit from the Guava tree, for instance, she would get down to make Guava Jelly, Squash and round it off with Guava Cheese so that not much of the fruit went to waste.

The same story went on with all her other pursuits - cooking, baking, knitting, embroidery, photography..... She could pick up a weave just by running her two fingers for about two minutes on the pattern on a Pullover worn by a co-passenger.

And she was a big one on Creativity! She liked being inspired, but I think she liked being inventive far, far more. What's more, her takes and versions always paled the original.

In the early 70s, at a time when we as a society were still not particularly inclined towards letting a lot of air, sunlight and the outdoors come in and blend with our home architecture (particularly in the North of India), she designed her dream house with beautiful grills and big, big windows.

Amidst all this, I think the finest lesson that Ma left for me and one that I should endeavour to make my own is that; Mrs. Dhir seldom let her spirit settle down and sit smugly on past laurels.

She had this childlike curiosity and enthusiasm that made her try new things, create magic in her soul's sandpit and yearn to fly off to such wonderlands where her imagination took her.

Remembering Ma for her sheer brilliance that shined through a persona that was steeped in humility!

Today, I try to keep the memories and her memorabilia alive!





Monday, June 05, 2017

The Cuckoo song sung this Afternoon!




There was a duet being sung, up the Fir Tree this afternoon.

First I felt there was just one crooner singing aloud her Noon song. But then, a set of lovely sounds seemed to be coming from close quarters.

I looked hard to find a Cuckoo couple sitting on two parallel branches, attempting to compose their love ditty.

One, presumably the male Bird, kept trying to keep himself camouflaged and hidden from my gaze. The female Cuckoo bird was more responsive to me and would, now and then, stop her singing to throw a look or two at me.

I requested her to show me her face. I urged her, "Please baby, let me see you." And I kid you not, she moved a little, showed me her face, looked at me with her red-rimmed eyes and went back to giving out her cuckoo call!




Monday, May 29, 2017

The Cuckoo Alarm!




I am a late sleeper. A very late sleeper; keeping at it till the wee hours.

So imagine my annoyance upon being woken up by the extremely shrilly natural cuckoo clock by my Bedroom window.

The offender is this shy Cuckoo Bird with red eyes and shiny black feathers, sitting atop the Indian Gooseberry tree.

How do you get angry at a marvellous creature such as this? Sleep be damned.



Friday, May 26, 2017

Rain Dance of a clutch of Crows!






When the Sky opens up to suck up the heat, cool down the earth below and give a good, hearty wash to everything in sight, it indeed becomes a fascinating picture to behold.

The Shower, that has been pined and prayed for, after a scorching sizzle under the relentless May Sun, somehow manages to cleanse not just the surface but also the soul.

What a wonderful scene these crows created after getting drenched in the Summer Rain. I have never seen such a happy dance in the sky before!






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Asian Pied Starling protects its home and hearth!








So there was this noisy commotion, this high-strung Drama this afternoon at Lucky Manzil!

The incessant, high-pitched twittering warned that there was danger close at hand. It was a matter of survival. It was about guarding one's home and protecting one's hearth.

I was out in the Front Garden doing what I enjoy the most these days. Armed with my Camera, I was engrossed in capturing my animate and inanimate objects into frames of unbridled fun and immense pleasure.

One of my subjects was this lone bird that sat atop the giant light pole outside the main gate. To begin with, she was oblivious to my intruding gaze but soon the Bird’s eye fell on me and she started to play the tease with me; sometimes looking directly at the Camera, other times turning her back towards me, at one point she got busy preening over herself and picking her feathers, at another moment she wished to hide herself from me and my weapon of disturbance.

Suddenly, she lost interest in me and straightened herself out in sharp attention. There was an unwanted Stranger, a giant threat inching close to the nest she had built on top of the Pole. It was the Cable Man who had come to put up the cable for houses on the other side and he had to get to this Pole to finish his task.

The lone Bird, seeing the looming danger let out loud, rapid shrieks calling out for her family and friends to come and help her in this time of duress. No sooner had she made the first set of calls, there appeared another bird, probably male, who began to raise the alarm along with the first one. Within seconds, there were an army of initially four or five and then about eight to ten birds who flew in to address the situation. They let out loud shouts and chirped in a half-angry, half petrified tone. They all crowded over the head of the man in the hat strung along the Pole. They all flapped their wings and shrieked at him to scare him off.

I sent out my companion to tell him to be mindful of his movements and to be extremely careful of his tools so as not to displace the painstakingly built nest. He assured us that he would not let anything happen to the Nest; but the birds were difficult to pacify. They refused to calm down and let go of the situation till the time the man climbed down and took the ladder and his wares away.

Once the man had moved off, the clutch of birds went away as soon as they had appeared, leaving two birds on the wire; presumably the Man and the Lady of the Nest. They inspected the Nest from all angles - top and bottom, one from the upper wire and the other from the lower one. Once assured that all was hunky dory at the home front, they moved up to the top wire and sat close and looked at each other, and kissed a few times before one of them flew out to finish some business before the Sun set over the horizon.

Sometime later, the other bird moved away too, leaving the Nest safe and secure for now, and to come back to it before the night fell!

And I turned back to get into the house with a disturbing thought needling me. We, in our Bungalows, are in any case far removed from others. But in high rise apartments too we do not care for others, being self-centered, self-consumed and utterly callous about what happens around us.

There are cases of people lying grievously injured on the roads with no passer-by stopping to lend a hand. There are cases of people being found dead in their homes after four days because nobody bothered to check on them. A crime or an untoward incident happens in the house next door and we are, either too busy to look up or too unconcerned to even care.

And here were tiny birds, far lower to us on the Species Pyramid, who within minutes were by the side of the troubled mates, doing their utmost, in their small little ways and showing us that love, caring and bonding is not a matter of size. It always begins with the intent!!!

The birds in this story - Asian Pied Starling.









Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Poser!






This happened the other day, on a late afternoon. It was the 12th day of hot, searing May when we experienced the first Summer Rain in Doon.

I was in the back Verandah craning to capture the beauty of Lucky Manzil in the pouring rain and its aftermath when all the flora and fauna and the giant trees glistened with raindrops and shone a sparkling green with their faces freshly scrubbed.

There was a symphony being played by a combination of bird sounds - crows, the lone Hawk, doves, mynahs, koels, sunbirds and others were all playing their gig for the divine conductor.

My eye caught a Spotted Owl sitting atop the Mango tree in the centre of our orchard-like Backyard. As I got busy shooting him, I heard an incessant hooting sound coming from a few inches below. And it seemed to be calling out to me. I looked closely to find another owl - of the pair - perched on a lower branch and seeking my attention. It saw me clicking it and began to preen and sit pretty. The more I clicked the excited bird's pictures the more it posed for me - first looking at its left, then gliding its neck to the right.

And the charade went on for sometime. You may not believe my word. So here's the proof through the sublime pictures!