Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spice it Up!

2k10 is history, and people from Fiji to Hawaii have welcomed 2k11 with open hearts..The Aussies set their Sydeny harbour ablaze,the Chinese did their part with Hong-Kong, the sheiks followed up suit with the Burj carrying the arsenal, the London-Eye witnessed a brilliant spot of pyro-technics and so did the streets of New York. If I have to pick one I would take Aussie this time..simply loved the show..And while the world kissed and made-up,drank to their hearts-fill and blew up their skies, I drank in the 0000hrs IST on Jan 1 2011 with a pinch of solitude and a pensive mind on what was to come ahead.

Strangely enough I didn't feel a need to take any resolutions. Whether it was the biting cold or a sense of loss that muted my senses I can't tell, but this I know-I welcomed this year in a way very different from the average Yankee at Times Square. True I don't hark in the New Year every year with a kiss and a bottle, but nor have i ever welcomed it by staring at the wall..What clouded my mind more than the heavy mist outside, was the feeling of what was new this time. All my twenty-three years of existence-didn't  flash before my eyes..only one thought lay firm...what is new?

The wall didn't answer my thoughts. And then I looked at my options-what did I want to do that I hadn't done already? And even that didn't help..I remembered the words of a poem I had almost forgotten
GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
  Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
  To-morrow will be dying.
                                                                                -Robert Herrick (To the Virgins,to make much of time)

I looked at my hair, were they graying? Why would I in my youth have the musings of an old man..of not having anything to do..The poet's words stung..I felt I had done it all. Had the good life and the bad times, played pranks, repented for mistakes, made friends,lost some, tested in faith, waged battles in life-won some lost others. Where was the spice of life?

It was then that I remembered a face from the past. It belonged to an old man who had a mill near my mom's place. Nice guy he was, and never short of stories. He would sit there on his rickety,old,chair and talk of the past. Of when time was slow and life held a meaning. He drew his favourite audience of the neighbourhood kids in the afternoons when he was free, and churned out stories..He spoke of the 'white man', the green fields that he had, his big family and the games they played when he was a kid. But in all his stories there was the unmistakeable love of the life he had led. The shadow of  times when life held a meaning. True they had to work hard to make a living in those days. But life was a lot simpler he would say. And there was time to stop and savour it. To love and be loved in those days had a charm. The love-letter was in vogue and poetry abounded. There were things to write about you see, so many a maiden found herself compared to the flowers, the beautiful streams and what not. There was beauty in the country-side and the mood of the people reflected the land they had been born into. Sturdy and cheerful they were and forever helpful. There was hardly anyone you didn't know when you walked around your village. The bicycle was a prized possession. The t.v hadn't yet been born and the kids flocked to the one house which had a radio. Over tea and 'beedis' the local elders discussed the news they had heard and of the town 'far away'. And the kids listened to chatter until they were shooed away. Their games were simple. Cricket hadn't yet found its way here. The local gymkhana and martial arts were coveted. And for the kids there was seemingly endless land in which to play in. There was livestock in the houses and the lives of the inmates revolved around their land and animals. What, and when to sow was probably the biggest question they ever knew, followed by a look-out for the monsoons. The monsons oh, the life-vein of this land. There is something about that rain that captures the mind. Even after seeing it every year, you end up looking out onto the courtyard, down the lane and beyond, forever it seemed.There were strange diseases and dear ones lost to the struggle. But life as they knew it rolled on..There were big families,kids sprawled all over the place,cousins,friends,siblings-everyone was part of the throng. And the farmhouse was huge with an attic and cellar, and nooks and crannies where 'beasties lived'. There were big lamps and creaky stairs and the wood on the roof played patterns in the candlelight....Its been a life to remember..." he would say..

As I ended my 'day-dream' in the early hours of Jan 1 thanked the old man silently for his memories and prepared to sleep. Could I snatch a bit of that spice from the heydays. Would I be able to have a whiff of that aroma in the life that I own?......