The heart of the capital
This Indian version of the Arc-de-Triomphe stands as a memorial to the 70,000 Indian soldiers who died fighting for the British during World War I

As an ‘adopted’ Delhiite (since i move every three years), i felt it was my ‘duty’ as one to show my best friend from Bombay this famous monument.
Little did i know that I’d be stunned at how beautiful it looked at night…

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Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I intended this post to go up way before Christmas. But me being lazy, its going up now. 

Growing up, Christmas has never failed to be exciting for me – the carols, the hymns, the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg, making cakes and ginger wine with Mum, going for carol rounds and coming home at some ungodly hour at night, the gift-hunting, the gift-wrapping, celebrating Christmas Eve with the family pretending one of us is Santa giving out the presents and getting kissed multiple times on the cheek in return….oh and the best part ! finding a stocking full of goodies at the foot of your bed on 25th morning – I’m in my 20s, and that still happens…

This post is mainly about our Christmas tree.

In the first week of December, the boxes come out, the tree is put up and I end up entangling myself in tinsel and fairy lights.
Baubles and fairies and stars and Santas go up on the tree.
Each year, we add to that collection, sometimes throwing out stuff that is old and ugly.

Putting up the tree has always been a family activity. Its our little tradition – Dad puts up the tree, straightens it. Then my brother and I put the lights up. It doesn’t matter because Dad redoes that :P. And then all of us wrap the tinsel streamers and put up the ornaments. My favourite is the this angel that goes under the star, I call him Gabriel.

To my dismay, for the past couple of Christmasses, we have become a bunch of lazy fuddy-duddies and fail to make this a family activity.

But this year, while i was putting up my tree, i found these —- our first ever tree ornaments.

we made these when we were tiny

I was eight. We weren’t very well off and our tree was a family heirloom passed down from my grandparents to us.
So at Christmas that year, Mum decided to make ornaments to save on the expensive festival.
We gathered old toffee wrappers (toffees that were the imported kinds, given as gifts by generous aunts) and bought some gold paper and glue. Mom cut out the stars and the angels and my brother (only 4 then) stuck em together to make these. Oh also my love for sparkle can be seen on the edges of that star!

Now we have a new tree, new ornaments and God only knows how many times we’ve changed houses. But these paper angels and stars bring back so much, and nothing feels different no more. I’m still eight years old, in a skirt and stockings with a homemade jumper on top,  eagerly (and secretly) sifting through the pile of presents, my eyes wavering over present-labels to memorize whats mine so that when ‘Santa’ pulls up a present, i won’t waste time snatching it from him (or her).

Christmas feels like home.

Oh and I still fail to make it to midnight mass.

I remember Dad wanted to throw this ‘memorabilia’ a couple of years ago. But I refused. And I’m glad I did. Now even he feels the same.

And in all these years, believe it or not, we have NEVER found that perfect star to top our tree.

Merry Christmas y’all.

Thazz my tree now !
Thazz my tree now !

Ghost of friendships past

So this wasn’t written in a particularly melancholic mood. In fact the need/ inspiration for me to express this came to me in the shower, while listening to country Christmas music (quite a change from all the crap my ears are accustomed to actually!) . And since its Christmas, I thought why not? 

I knew after a long time that that was it. Yes, I’m sure now.
You grow out of clothes, you grow out of people. You grow, you just do.

You don’t mean to. But relationships, they have an expiry date.

It started with a ‘Hi’
That ‘Hi’ became so much more. Years went into it. Years and memories.

It gave you butterflies in the stomach. Not the romantic kinds, the excited-friend kinds.

But something, anything, that peaks, will fall. Its pure economics. And logic. A bit of common sense.
And then there was her, that inner voice. She warned. She suspected.
But she got buried deep under all those butterflies.

Alas, how weak, how blinded the heart is. It failed to see. Reason didn’t figure.

We fell. It took a minute. Was it a minute? Maybe several such minutes.
Till it was over.
Whose fault was it?
Blame. All that was left was blame.

Yet, we humans crave. Crave for company.
We hang on.
Because we don’t want to be alone.
We can’t bear it.

However, unlike (my) claustrophobia, this ‘loneliness’ is purely psychological.
Because with something bad, comes something good.
And that ‘something good’ stayed. It stayed, it soothed the heart, it was a band-aid.
It was (and is) a reason to see sunshine.

It showed the heart logic, it gave me strength. Along with her, my inner voice.
And I stood up. Fell, a lot. But stood up.

Still standing.
And moving on.

Because that, which for a moment (a moment could be years) seems irreplaceable, is no longer so. Its ordinary.
You don’t need ordinary.
You need change.

And maybe its not them who needed to change, to grow.
It was you all along.

Because some great guy rightly said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. (Gandhi, lol)

So here go all the memorabilia, a calendar with dates marked on it; a ticket stub from a movie; photos are deleted.
Those texts, so many. Maybe I’ll hang on to those.
But no, change is necessary.
Change is inevitable.

It took me ages to get here, but I guess I still am.
Reaching ‘here’, I mean.
With her, and that ‘something good’.

Forgiveness? Yes, it is beginning to come.

The first one...

This photo is very very special to me.

It was the year 2010, sometime after August, when the college’s Photographic Society (fondly called Photosoc, it helped me make a ton of friends besides pushing me further into photography) was already done with its traditional fresher’s exhibition, they had another one themed “A picture speaks a thousand words”, a library related photo exhibition as a part of some mini-book fest.

This photo was an entry. Another friend and I entered enthusiastically and forgot about it, never dreaming we’d score anything.

After a few days, someone came running up to me, “Hey congrats! That picture was great!” Then some more. It took me ten minutes to remember what I had done to deserve those congratulatory hugs and handshakes and together with aforementioned friend, I rushed to the library lawns to see my photo, all glossy and un-digitized, pasted with many others, on cardboard make-shift stands in the middle of the library lawns, a blue ribbon on it shining at me.

I guess I can say now, that it was among those “happiest moments of life”. No, the money I won (which was quite enough for a poor college student) wasn’t what thrilled me.

What this win did, was make me believe I could click. That for the first time, someone other than me thought Iwas worth something. And this is what makes me click on even today…that little motivation here and there.

Also, this picture was clicked in an era preceding my dSLR.

It was not staged – I found the girl sitting at the end of a bookshelf in the college library, trying to read in the little sunlight that was proliferating through a window. I propped my camera on a stack of books on the other end of the corridor and shot it in B/W. I saw that girl off and on for three years after this was taken…never knew who she was though. But without her, my photo wouldn’t have been a photo. And without this photo, I probably wouldn’t have worked in Photosoc.

Though now when I look back, the picture ain’t all that great but it made me feel something for photography and that I guess is what’s more important.

P.S. I lost my digital camera a year after and I still feel sad about it. It was my first after all.