From me to you

Bringing Hearts Together

Sunday, September 1, 2013


1st Sept. 2013

Romantic Sri Lanka
We are almost empty nesters now. Probably, this must be one of the reasons, apart from our love for the world history, that my husband and I, begin to get restless in the solitude of our home, after every two-three months and we sit with our atlas, to discuss, sketch and plan yet another journey, to savour the taste of rich heritage and culture of faraway lands. After Europe and South- East Asia, this time we converged our desire on “The tear drop of India”, which is also known as “The pearl of the Indian Ocean”. I know you guessed it right! Yes, that’s Sri Lanka!
Before embarking upon any journey we have a habit of doing a lot of home work and research. As usual, this time also, we did an intensive study on Sri Lanka and it was decided that from Colombo we’d  take The Cultural Triangle, which included Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Dambulla, Neuwara Elliya, Kandy, Galle and back to Colombo, from where our flight back home would be scheduled.
Sri Lanka soon became a live topic of discussion with our friends and folks. Our growing passion must have been infectious because it soon roped in our friends into the loop. One of them happened to be an architect by profession and a traveller too. He became the architect of our tour to Sri Lanka. Well read and researched young man is a great photographer also. Whenever we go through those thousands of snapshots now, we are amazed by the fact that he actually took immense pains, all by himself, to click almost every moment of our stay. An enterprising young man with extensively vast knowledge and great depth, happily assuming the role of our tour guide, what else we wanted, we were on cloud nine! The other friend of ours was a couple with a golden heart. Their sense of humour kept us high spirited throughout the tour and their sense of responsibility, care and compassion, punctuality, prudence and warmth of heart enabled us to gather around each other emotionally as well. The generosity of their hearts is indeed powerful, it enabled us to reorient ourselves and improved our functioning as an indispensible group. Their very presence made this our dream trip. Really it’s the heart that is important.
This year in February, we set out on our planned trip to Sri Lanka with great enthusiasm. We had heard of heavy rains there in the news, the night before. We were also aware of the mosquito menace there. We knew that the Lankan food is unusually hot and spicy. But our spirit and passion was so high that nothing could dampen our zeal. I would say, our life condition was so high that it compelled the protective forces of the universe to watch over us and to ensure that we had a safe, happy and a comfortable stay.
We touched the Sri Lankan soil at Colombo as tourists. They welcomed and pampered us with warm smiles as precious guests and we travelled the length and breadth of this island country as travellers. Never before we had ever felt like a tourist, a guest and a traveller, all at the same time. It was an incredible experience.
The details of our ten days trip are difficult to summarize in words because each place is as huge as the civilization itself, where every sand particle has a story to tell.  Moreover, I am too insignificant and ill equipped to do so. These factual details can be read on the internet anytime. Still I’ll surely touch upon some of the important places we visited with my limited resources of knowledge. You might ask “What compelled you to write then?”  Our experience! Traversing through the serenity of the ruins, unspoilt beaches, rare scenic beauty, wide-smooth roads, low population density, we felt a sense of bliss. It was all so real, so magical and mystic that we wished to offer our debt of gratitude by portraying the essence and the spirit of this majestically mystic island country and its beautiful people, as our tribute that not only enriched and enlightened us but also left us speechless, spellbound and bedazzled.
.We would call “Sri Lanka – The true wonder of Asia!” Do you know why? Because of its people!  We found Sri Lankan people good, honest, very friendly, hospitable and warm but what drew us towards them was their Smile. We felt that they had an urge for this lovely welcome smile, which was quite infectious too. We also discovered their innate willingness to lend a helping hand, no matter what. No wonder Sri Lanka is declared as “The Most Preferred Destination in the world!”
It’s the people, who are the basis of every culture. They are the protagonists of every society and nation.  When they align their hearts and minds with the spirit of creating constructive values of cooperation, mutual prosperity and respect for life, in “Be it yours or mine” attitude, then even the harsh brute realities begin to give way to spiritual upheaval. That’s how we found them....truly, truly spiritually liberated souls! Throughout the island, the influence of Buddhist heritage was vividly alive and visible. The islanders practice Theravada Buddhism. Every religion and its philosophy are profound and respect worthy. We believe they exist to give direction, meaning and a sense of purpose to our lives. Sri Lankan people taught us how to uphold religion and its philosophy in one’s own life, in all its merit. We felt that they walked on their legs with Shakyamuni Buddha and his teachings in their heart. The outcome had to be so fantabulous. The majestic expression of their living humanism came straight from their hearts and illuminated the environment around them. We salute them and their purity of spirit with deep respect.
From the ancient times of the silk route through the world war-II up till today, Sri Lanka with her deep harbours has been a place of strategic importance. No doubt the unique sight of attraction in Colombo was none other than the Indian Ocean. Such aquamarine blue waters lent a mystically romantic sight. On the embankments of Galle Face Green we stood still for quite a while, to deeply breathe in the smell of its soil, to hear the whispers of the thunderous heart of the ocean. So vast and infinite,,, and eternal. It roared, it sparkled, it greeted us in all its glory. The waves emerged from its bosom in great excitement and it appeared, as if they were   running towards us to hold us in their embrace. The ocean also seemed to say, “I think I matter. My actions matter. I love to be me. I roar to express the magnificence I possess”. How true! With my hand on my heart I bowed before its greatness, in reverence. In case you happen to visit Sri Lanka, do stand still on the shores of Indian Ocean, I’m sure you too will enact the same drama.
The next day we left for the 2000years old ruined city of Anuradhapura. UNESCO has declared it “An Ancient Historical City.” It was the spiritual heart of The Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. For 1200 years it survived as the capital of this island country, from 3rd century B.C to 993 century A.D., till it was destroyed by the Cholas. It used to be Asia’s great metropolis, had vast monasteries, elaborate palaces, huge water tanks and large dagobas. Though the palaces and monasteries are all in ruins today but when we saw that there still exist places of religious worship amid decay and destruction, it brought the twinkle back into our eyes. We found that Anuradhapura wasn’t just about monuments it was the spiritual hub and even today remains a sacred place of spiritual tidings.
The Golden Dambulla Rock Caves at Dambulla has five caves built into the rock. These rock cave ceilings are colourfully painted with intricate patterns of Buddhist images following natural contours of the rock. The golden sheen of these paintings illuminates the rock.  The access to these caves is through a flight of say about two hundred steps and almost eighteen terraces. The panoramic view of the surrounding dense forest, rain water reservoirs, flat land and Sigiriya, from the uppermost terrace is breath taking.
At Sigiriya – The Lion’s Rock Fortress was simply an amazing sight. The climb takes more than two hours, which is not only exhaustive but also dangerously obstructive, due to the presence of many bee hives. It is said it’s still worth the effort and pain. The surrounding network of gardens, reservoirs and other structures are reflect the harmony between Life and its Environment.
Kandy, lies almost in the centre of The Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka.It is the second-largest city of the island and the capital of Central Province of modern Sri Lanka. It is the last kingdom of the country. It was conquered by the British around 1815. Kandyans are proud of their heritage. They uphold Buddhist values and as it lies in the cultural triangle the authorities try to retain the values as much as possible.  It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It has a beautiful lake in the centre.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is an orphanage, nursery and a place of

captive breeding at Pinnawala village through which the Oya river flows. The orphanage is very popular among local and foreign tourists. The main attraction is the opportunity to observe the bathing of the elephants in the broad river bank. It’s also the time when the herd interacts socially, bathing and playing. It’s a great sight.


As we were coming towards the end of our tour, I was constantly reminded of these lines which I had read sometime back, “I am the traveler. I am the path. I am the destination. I can’t afford to lose my way to myself.” So I asked myself “What am I carrying back home apart from Ceylonese tea?”  My heart said “Ceylonese captivating SMILE!” I’m sure along with me; our entire group must have brought back home your spirited smiles. Wearing it most of the time now makes me realize how beautifully it can put everyone at ease and also can open the door of friendship.

Keep smiling O My Romantic Sri Lanka! May you be at peace from within and without!





Saturday, February 19, 2011

Come Alive and Fly With Me

I found a butterfly in my room today! It opened the switch gate and memories came flooding in!

By the time I became a mother, not only space constraint clawed in but also the number of butterflies dropped much so, that whenever I saw one outside, I would drop everything and gaze at it, fluttering its wings and be enthralled by its beauty, from the confines of my grilled window. I'm sure my children must have wondered, why their mother behaved in such a crazy manner! For me it would be a joyous occassion.

Today I know why I love butterflies! But, back then, in my childhood, I was least bothered and totally unaware. I simply loved to chase them around. In those days, they were a common feature. Some laughed, some ignored and some thought me to be insane. I'm sure, some must have also wondered at my passionate endeavour!

 My passion for them grew stronger, when one day one of my friend, showed me his prized posession. It was a huge collection of colourful remains of dead butterflies! I was so shocked that I began to cry. My mother encouraged me that from then on I must try and save as many of them as I could. I felt good and thought that I could prewarn them and save their lives. The more I thought, the more heroic became my actions ...and I couldn't be stopped! In a playway manner, mother taught me to value life. My efforts to shoo them away from the preying eyes soon became a passion for life time.

As a child,watching them flutter around from flower to flower or watching them simply float in air effortlessly,excited me. I would wonder, how they got those beautiful shades of colour, all generously loaded on their pair of wings! Why do the flowers begin to nod as they fly away! Are they saying "come again"! What attracts them to my garden! Do they loose their way ever! Why don't they come inside the house!
In my passion, I couldn't see that my children didn't find any such pleasure watching them. But as per my nature... one day, I pulled my daughter from her study, to witness an extraordinary butterfly...something I had never seen before! It was shiny black with two huge sparkling golden stars on its pair of wings. Poor thing had lost its way and had come inside my room and found a comfortable place for itself on top of my wardrobe. As I showed my excitment she said "What ma! You brought me here to watch this stupid butterfly! I was disappointed to hear that. and said "...what did you stupid! Well, ofcourse not! I still don't think so! What do you know of them!"

"Ofcourse I know! They are the agents of cross pollination, their shades of colour and design are genetic and the fragrance of flowers draw them closer." she answered. "But..but that's just the zoological aspect of their life cycle. They also have another." I shot back. I felt pity for her. I realised that today we all are so caught up with our routine and rat-race that we really don't have time to stop and think...and in our daily pursuit, we overlook such beautiful graces of nature. And I took it upon myself, that I'll communicate the spirit of beauty of nature to her.

So I continued in a gentle voice " You know, butterflies are the symbols of life and transformation. Thses symbols of beauty are the agents of change who teach me to strive to transform myself, constantly and consistently, so that I can evolve from old to new, as a better human being. Their bright colourful hues send a message that whatever be my situation or circumstances, I must make an effort to paint my life with happy and joyful hues. Knowing that their life span is short and inspite of the darkness lurking before them they never stop or crumble in despair, instead flutter around like a vagabond, to illuminate the lives of the people and their environment, sending me the message as if saying "Look at us! How frgile we are in body though, but we don't give up from trying hard every moment for just a pint of nectar! That sweet elixir which when you drink fills your being with equal sweetness and fulfillment!To this purpose we are born and we live turely to our mission! Look at yourself full of wails and doubts, complaints and regrets...oh how much you brood over impermanent and superficial things! Why don't you come and fly with us! Why don't you float amidst such fragrant lives around you!Why can't you believe that transformation from old to new is the key to life! Why can't you come alive! Oh why can't you! Why don't you! If not now then when will you fill your fleeting moments with the beauty of hope and appreciation for life! This life, once gone, will never come back. So capture every moment and colour and paint them with subtle but high intensity values! Will you ... remember me!"

Hearing me speak with emotions she turned around and said "I'm so fortunate to have you ma! The beauty of your heart makes everything look so beautiful to me!

Hearing so much of appreciation brought tears to my eyes and I replied in a hush " I care for those whom no one notices...a promise I made to my mother once!" In my heart I thought "How just a tiny butterfly brought me closer to my daughter and helped us forge an eternal bond to last forever!"

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Vibrant people with pulsating hearts around me...all amidst the true purity of nature....made me feel like I'm in heaven. What more could I ask for! It delighted me to see that modern times had already kissed the villager's threshhold. People looked happy. Roads ushered in connectivity and yes the mobiles...not something distant but a very common feature. Electricity lighted homes after dusk, school children in many big bunches waved at us on their way back home...all this reflected that government was doing or trying to do it's bit to let each individual live with dignity. But yes of course! every thing wasn't quite inviting, especially the health, hygine and sanitation along with the plight of women there! I thought work is being done but my bit is lacking. The day I contribute in its rebuilding these tired and run down villages and their folks will surely lead sparkling lives. I felt charged up and began to even sketch out plans. It was beyond noon and the signs of early evening were setting in slowly. For the last six hours we were on wheels and Shantiniketan by now had begun to appear a distant dream.

In spite of all inconveniences, I wasn't a bit disappointed rather felt fulfilled. I rejoiced at my precious fortune. The sun had passed its zenith bathing every nook and corner in it's warm golden hue. The view lent to the sight by my eyes was stunningly beautiful and my heart continued to click pictures to treasure it forever in it's depths. The magic of my environment was mesmerising. Fusing with its pure, fresh, all encompassing vastness, I heard my heart rasped out a silent plea ,
" Oh! behold me in your bossom
 And make my heart anew.
With your spirit recreate me
Pure and strong and true!"     


The chill wind carried us on it's wings and our thoughts...! Well, they seemed to have put on an extra pair! My heart touched the beauty of my environment. The vast stretched land with fresh and varied shades of yellow mustard flowers held me spell bound.

We took a few minutes halt at Krishna Nagar and refreshed our tired selves with a hot cup of tea. Soon our journey resumed. The tall evergreen trees stood majestically on either side of the road in one single file, warmly invoking me, as if I'm the queen. Oh how magnificant the sight was!

I felt blessed to be in the company of beauty and bounty of nature. I'm sure others were also in that same euphoria because no one realised that our driver had lost his turn. He knowingly kept on driving confidently. What jolted me of my reverie then! It was when I saw that we were on a road that didn't appear to be a high way at all! On raising an alarm, he denied and kept driving on and on. I had this strange feeling that the road was taking us far away from our destination but I didn't despair for the same road was also bringing me closer to the heart of Bengal.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


The driver gently loaded his stereo and I protested "It's a long drive please don't get distracted with those junk songs! If you want music to flow put in some soft numbers, if you have them."
"Yes sister, I'll put on my best cd" he said with a nice good smile.
The songs were old hindi film songs sung by Sonu Nigam. He had sung them so well that we almost got deported to that beautiful era. His rendition created heavy nostalgia that with each new song we began to share our secrets of those times.
The scorpio moved on. The warm sun rays warmed our old chilled bones and that cozy snuggle brought us closer still. I was happy for I was reliving my youth and those memories consumed me.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

An Enchanting Trip To SHANTINIKETAN - 1

Call it anything you feel like! It was sheer joy for me! In spite of all the constraints lurking all around, I was excited about my trip to Shantiniketan. Thinking that Durgapur expressway will be a smooth ride, I took this brave decision, of going to Shantiniketan, along with my husband and guests. I always wished for an opportunity and when it arrived, I had to grab it.
We started in the morning, at about 8a.m. Had toasts and tea before we set off. Though my husband objected but I sneaked in few cashewnuts, pistas, guavas etc. I pushed in all that I could see on the dining table.
Before leaving my husband talked to the driver to find out if he knew the route and he confidently assured him that he did. Then he enquired about the route he intended to take. He answered via Krishna Nagar. They argued for a while and it was decideed that we would be taking The Krishna nagar route as the expressway was clogged due to political reasons.We were unaware of this route but our confident driver said with a smile "I'll take you through a short cut." We gave in and followed him. Thus our journey began. ( be contd.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011


In this fast paced life, there are times when I feel sluggish and worn out...and I slow down. No sooner it happens, I seem to be getting slower still. In everything I do or say or think. I become inert absolutely. Though such a stage comes about less frequently but it does come. Though I know being inert is as good as being dead....but I somehow appreciate it sometimes. It absorbs me in it's clutches and I....let all that happen. Tara, I actually allow myself to be passive, can you believe it!
I must confess that inert times are not so good times but I love them equally. Perhaps they allow me to sip my tea leisurely or read my newspaper in the comforts of my home or make me puase and stand a while quietly to watch over that tiny leaf unfurl before my eyes or this or that. Tell me Tara, is this not a life worth living! To me, these moments are precious and real and priceless. I'll always want to return to them. They help me to become better and more capable human being.