The one who cleaned…

There was a woman who used to clean our hostel; a sweet lady who was really passionate about her job.

Whenever she came to clean the washroom, we were doomed. She would sweep and wash, scrub and mop the floor, and take an eternity to either come out or even let us in.

If we tried to enter while she was cleaning, she would first scowl. If the person entered, neglecting that grumpy face, she would shout out loud in Marathi; and if she found out that the concerned person doesn’t understand the language, immediately her tone of voice would come down (I have seen that some people in this city has this strange feeling of awe towards students from far off cities from outside Maharashtra. The farther it is, the greater awe it evokes). Politely she would tell the person not to step inside, since she’s cleaning. She was not bothered at all by the fact that the person concerned might wet her pants. She also overlooked the fact that the washroom would get mucky once she leaves.

She was also a concerned person. Sweetly she would ask you ‘didi, aap gussa to nehi ho gaye?‘ (sister, you’re not angry, are you?) How can you remain irritated after that!

Once I went to the washroom while she was cleaning the floor. Irritably she asked, “what do you want?” In my mind I answered, “to enjoy the weather, to see the blue sky…!” Probably my sarcasm reflected on my face, because she didn’t say anything except, ‘didi, aap gussa to nehi ho gaye?’

She used to scold us anytime, any place. Whenever her magic broom was sweeping and girls were stepping close by, a strange scowl used to be drawn on her hardened face. A sharp remark essentially followed on how clean she has to keep the building every single day. But one fine day, the girls in the hostel collected signatures of every hostelite to replace her with the former cleaning lady. I also eagerly signed.

After two days, that woman was nowhere to be seen. Now, the former person comes and goes silently. I haven’t even noticed her face. A tingly feeling of guilt overpowered relief. Due to our petty problems, a woman lost her job in this ever hungry world, and I lost contact with another amusing person.


Fleeting thoughts…

There’s something really really wrong with people. Yes. “Wrong” is the word. People are becoming really passive. A growing apathy, like a worm, is eating our heads.

We hear something wrong, we see wrongs happening all around us, and yet remain passive. Maybe we post something on facebook, or tweet something, to voice our opinion against injustice (and of course, we need to get more likes and comments than others, so we have to say politically correct stuff that we mostly don’t follow in real life!) We don’t actually do anything in the real world. We don’t even try to make a difference…

We are bombarded with so many distractions in the form of imageries via media; we get to know too many things all at once. We come across disturbing visuals that might force us to think; but, honestly, for how long? We know so much, yet not at all indepth. We don’t think too long on one issue. Too many things are at hand that forbid us to ponder upon just one.

I came across a post that went on somewhat like this –

Religious terrorists are killing people.
State perpetuated terrorism is killing people.
And atheist terrorists are posting scientific journals online.

How can we be this passive? There’s this growing depoliticization of masses via media and social media. One spends so much time in trying to know what is happening in others’ lives that s/he fails to see through things.

For e.g. during the Indo-Pak world cup match recently, my ‘news feed’ on Facebook was overflowing with memes suggesting how ridiculous it is for the people of Pakistan to even have a claim to victory against India. A person I know even made a conscious statement like ‘Pakistanis are born terrorists’, implying that they have absolutely NO right to win!

Unfortunately India won, leading to flooding memes on Facebook; the newspapers the following day were filled with headlines glorifying India’s win. The excitement of people, all those headlines, all the sound of crackers, all those posts made me wonder, has India actually won the World Cup? It hasn’t, right? Someone then pointed out, ‘who cares about World Cup immediately! At least India has defeated Pak! That was the most important concern.’

But how many did actually think that all those posts, all the glorification of ‘Indian victory’ were racist? It was just for ‘fun’, wasn’t it? ‘Don’t think too much, these are jokes after all’! But how else does a feeling of nationalist superiority set in? As I saw, the game didn’t remain a mere fair match between two nations, but much more. It transcended to a fight between nations who are instilled with hate for each other. And this hate culture is perpetuated through circulation of ‘mere’ jokes/ memes.

In short, are we seriously talking about things? Maybe via social media we can reach thousands at one go. But who remembers us? And how long are we remembered? It is like a never-ending virtual space gaping at us like a black hole. You love to be liked by thousands who are not really concerned about you!

But do we think? Or do we go with the flow?

I think we still choose the easier second option.

Messy life in a messed up space!

You wake up one fine day and find pegion poop all over your bedroom; you desparately look around in search of the culprit. And of course! You find the daunting pegion waggling its behind at you and flying away. Your mistake!  You had forgotten to close the skylight, silly!

Right when you’re about to sleep, someone nudges at the door. As it opens on its own, you find a four legged creature’s silhouette, wagging its tail in a friendly manner. Don’t you worry, that’s our everyday visitor. The dog is really friendly. It comes in the night only in search of food. Poor thing!

She’s harmless except the times she overturns all the possible dustbins around, scattering the stinking garbage all over the place!

Every morning, when you’re just about ready to bathe, you take your bucket to the washroom, and behold… there are atleast fifty buckets standing in queue in front of you! Well… today atleast is not your day!

You’re going to brush your teeth. You start brushing. In the end, you want to rinse your mouth with water… behold again! The water’s gone!

Oneday before the exam, suddenly your lights are gone. You lodge a complaint. Both you as well as the authority hope that the electrician will come on time. Later you realize that it’s not a problem of your room. It’s some loadshedding business. So you chill. A couple of hours later the lights come back. You start preparing for the exams.

Two days later, someone knocks at the door. You open it.
A man is standing outside with one woman guard – “You lodged a complaint. What problem is there in your room?” – looks inside the room from over your shoulders.
You, with a lost-faith-over-authority’s-ability look, say ‘thanks, but the problem is solved already!’

Yes! This is the hostel life that I’ve been blessed with. Such a bliss!

Exotic Ajanta

Exotic is not the word which can describe the majestic charm of Ajanta. It is bound to leave a person breathless. The caves of Ajanta are like a moving canvas – holding the moments in those paintings in an eternity. The moment I entered the first cave, time seemed to stop and draw me away back to the times of Buddha – a living legend. The characters in the paintings were all so lively, the expressions so dramatic, that one cannot help but stoop in front of them with awe.



The calm, soothing eyes of Padmapani, in his firm decision to heal the pain of this world; the pleading princess Shivali so that her husband Mahajanaka does not renounce the throne; the frailty of ‘the dying princess’ (wife of Nanda) after coming to know about her husband’s decision to renounce throne; all are so drenched in pathos…

Mayadevi, after coming to know about the prophecy

Mayadevi, after coming to know about the prophecy

Mayadevi, the mother of Buddha, comes to hear about a prophecy that the son she is bearing, will either become a great warrior or a world renowned prophet. She doesn’t know how to react, and her intent happiness is revealed in the shy smile on her lips. Her eyes are downcast, and she is playing with her fingers. Her back rests on the wall as she folds one leg against it for support. Her immense surprise, contentment, glee are blended with a calm and solitude demeanor; utterly graceful she was, she is, and will be, till the time she is also eroded into oblivion like most other paintings of Ajanta.

When Eerundati meets Punyak (part of Bidhur Pandit's story)

When Eerundati meets Punyak (part of Bidhur Pandit’s story)

Krishna apsara, with her intoxicated half-closed eyes, gorgeous ornaments, and a lovely head gear, is considered to be the most beautiful woman of Ajanta.

Eerundati, with her calm and curious composure when she meets Punyak, her beloved, all are painted with so much care and delicacy. One cannot be left surprised at the skill of the artist who gave a thought to superimpose moments to create a cinematographic effect here. On the right Eerundati is seen on a swing, swaying merrily. Just to the left, a handsome Punyak halts with his horse, to have a second look at the beautiful princess, who, on seeing him approaching, descends from the swing and greets him with a graceful air.

The male figures are again drawn so delicately; the gait, the  soothing composure of Buddha in his different reincarnations, left me speechless.

I was left awestruck, thinking about the people who had carved out all the thirty caves of Ajanta, with so much patience, perseverance and care!

We went to the cave-temples of Ellora as well; but my mind is still so full of Ajanta, that I’m not being able to write anything about

A small sculpture outside Kailash temple

A small sculpture outside Kailash temple

Ellora. Again I have to go back to the depths of those caves – the elegance of Kailash temple, the marvelous sculptures of all the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain caves, in order to be able to write a few lines about them as well…

Choluk Kalorab…

So, the wildfire has started…

A “small incident ” turned out to be big! Really big!

It seems like a house of cards; you dare to poke one card, and behold, the entire house turns out to be a devastated heap… It’s like a snowball, rolling and crushing everything on its way!
They are rising…

They marched, they sang, they demonstrated, they organized plays… it’s not anymore a matter of a few. Now it concerns the entire nation.

They are quite ready to take the blows that might cross their path. They are completely armed – with pen, and paint brushes and guitars…

Very rightly they said, “the pen is mightier than the sword”.
Who says students nowadays are not bothered – not concerned about what’s going on around them?

Dear state mechanism, you still need to figure out what lies in store for you!


How can it be my city?

Is it really my city?

Once I grew up, loving this city, immersing myself within it, thinking this is MY space.. a space for US citizens, for US students .. a space which I always knew to be our comfort zone (or maybe I should say ‘was’ our comfort zone).

The nooks and corners of the city has grown dark, the alleys quieter. It doesn’t anymore give that sense of security  that it once used to…
Kolkata.. what have they turned you into!

I can barely contain my angst, my disgust against those inhumans who molested that student within the university campus.. it is almost incredible that the university vice chancellor invited the police to lathi charge on the young mass of protesters in the dead of the night… I can hardly suppress my helplessness that I cannot be a part of the ongoing protests.. 

This is not my city.This can hardly be the city I grew up in…

Do they really think they can get away with it? Do they really believe that the students can’t unite and assert their demands? It’s high time they should reconsider this “small incident “. It only needs a minute spark to start a wildfire….

Tikona Fort – A Day’s Trek

A whole new facet of mountains and greenery… and I’m left to nurture that wild lust for travelling…

Western Ghats… its beauty lies in all its eye-soothing and soul-healing freshness . I just can’t take my eyes off it, especially when it gets soaked in the abundant rains. It’s fascinating; it makes me breathless with all its expanse… 

And atop one such hill lies Tikona, another remnant of Shivaji Maharaja’s conquests. The fort is in Maval district, near Lonavla, Maharashtra. The vast backwaters of Pavana dam can be seen in the distance. 


walking amid the greens


We started the walk from the base of the hill, walking along the ridge that led to Tikona on one hand, and its extension led to Tung fort on the other end. Post monsoon Western Ghats has its own charm, and that I recall over and over again…

The first entrance to the fort

The first entrance to the fort





The first gateway towards the fort seemed somewhat like a cave from the outside, covered all over with grass, moss and shrubs – almost camouflaged with the rest of the green vicinity. After crossing that small cave, we soon arrived at another gateway – this time strong stone steps leading the way with two stone-built pillars on each side, followed by Tulja Devi’s temple.


The Second Gateway


Devi Tulja's Temple

Devi Tulja’s Temple

Finally, the fort could be seen looming in the distance, once we arrived at a small stretch of green meadow.


The fort in a distance


The stairs…

The last lap towards the fort was literally breath taking. The steps were high, wet and slippery. There was a sturdy rope to fall back on, while walking upstairs.

And soon we arrived at the end of the flight of stairs. The wet, cold, stony black arch greeted us with a somber demeanor – the thickly-grown moss covering every nook, corner and creek.

The stony archway

The stony archway


Way towards Tung Fort, in the distance

 Atop the hill, there was a small courtyard sort of an area, which was surrounded by walls. And just beyond the walls, lay a whole stretch of green valleys and mountains…. 

There was a small Shiva temple on the extreme top of the hill. With the environment serene, the vicinity vast and green, the fort calm, I felt really small in its midst. We were greeted by different colourful insects and butterflies,who made our day, never to forget the damn mosquitoes, who tried to make the day a bit miserable for us. We descended after a while. Time seemed to fly past as we reached the base, and eventually headed back to Pune.

The Shiva Temple

The Shiva Temple 


A grinder on the way – Goodness knows who used to grind crops in that! It’s quite impossible for one person to lift the thing!

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