Thank God For Little Pleasures – X

There are two mountains in the background. One in front of the other. The closer one is not quite a mountain, a hill, rather. Its brown and the shrubbery stands out golden on it. In this rare sun-filled winter day, it is basking in the warmth. The far away one, higher and bluer, is enshrouded in a cover of white and grey mist. Usually its not visible behind all the mist. 

The blue sky beyond it. Endless.

The road is wide and open with shops on both sides of it. A red three wheeler load carrier stops near a shop, and a man with some paper invoices comes out to unload some boxes. At an ATM, a woman meticuloulsy counts the cash before tucking it in a small wallet in her large handbag. A large SUV zooms by.

In the newly found cold sunlight of winters, a stray dog yawns and goes back to sleep from which it had temporarily risen to inspect the parked cars. A man with one side of his pheran gathered on his right shoulders crosses the street to have lunch outside a closed shop. He invites a fellow shop keeper to share in his humble lunch of rice and haakh. The other person declines. They share a little laughter. 

There are big things, and there are small things. Everyone sees the Big things, but the Small things? As Emerson said, Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it”.

I keep on walking, without looking back.

Like the Haley’s Comet

February 29 is a good day. Anything may be good if it is to happen only once in 4 years.

As a kid, I used to think how do people born on this day celebrate their birthdays. I know of  people born yesterday, and tomorrow. But none today. It surely sets you apart that your birth anniversary comes only once in four years. Like a smaller version of Haley’s comet, which is seen only once in 75 years. Had I been a mini-Haley’s comet, I would have made a big deal out of it, I am sure. February 29 is in a way a New Year’s eve. It comes to start off a period of four years where we won’t have any 29 Februarys. It’s a beginning of four ‘normal’ years, as distinguished from the one leap year in which it occurs. So shouldn’t people celebrate this? Isn’t this a bigger celebration than January 1st? That will happen every year – this won’t.
Srinagar had a very pleasant day. More so for school kids whose school vacations have been extended. Great going! And also for the boba (old woman),who seemed to have understood the celebratory streak in February 29 and had hence repaired to the roof her houseboat, to enjoy the winter sun. The parting days of wintry sunshine.
Even though there is a prediction for snow on 4thand 5th of March, the winter is now officially over. The two chillas Chillae Kalaan, the major, and Chillae Bachh, the minor – are over. The cold siblings, rest in peace. You were thoroughly enjoyable this year.

For this day, there is only one regret in my heart. I did not have may camera with me (else, I would have surely clicked one of boba) – so there are no pictures to show you of the beautiful sunshine today. You may have to check back on the last post for similar pictures. But when the sky changed hues, in the evening, I was ready to click these. Ah, the bad (and unapologetic) photographer I am!

The sunshine never lasts beyond dusk, but the clouds are more faithful. They stay, in dark and light. Darkening the light, and lightening the dark. Like a patchwork quilt – each patch brings out the hue adjacent to it. Each emphasising the other. Telling us of its importance – that the good and the bad together complete a cycle. February 29, completed itself with all three shades – white, black and the grey. Nature, too, has its own philosophy. It sings its own song.

There are two things especially today of which I am really happy. One is that, and I say it with no less pride, that my driving has improved. A few days ago, I almost, almost killed a puppy. But, of course, it was not my fault. It was his (and frankly, with the canine endemic in Srinagar, most Srinagarites wouldn’t even have minded a dog less in the city – there are just too many of them – but that’s a separate story. I am glad the dog lived). Today I killed none. Far from it. Yay!
The second and more important thing is that being on Twitter finally paid. I found this. It’s an organisation working for spreading literacy. You can read their story here. The Read Aloud Day on March 7 is a brilliant idea. I’d encourage all of you, readers of this blog, to participate. (Perhaps you can start by reading out my blog aloud to all the family, relatives, friends, families of relatives and friends. That would be a good thing to do.) I am participating, and have chosen a wonderful ‘book to read aloud’. A perfect choice, if I may say so myself. So, keep watching this space to stay updated on the book (and dead dogs, if any!).

Also, take some time, to tell me what you are planning to read – if at all anything.

For Spring is Sure to Follow

In the part of the world where I come from February is not spring. February is a part of the legend called winters. But on days like these the sun shines through, and though there are no new leaves, no flowers – the sky shines like spring. Pseudo-spring.

The afternoon temperature was 12 degrees Celsius, and the sun shone brightly. On the bund, where I happened to walk this afternoon, the sun shone brightly.  The Jhelum sparkled in the newly found light. The pigeons, domesticated by the houseboat dwellers, flew in circles over it.
 On the brown grass and barren trees, the spring-like sunlight, produced a unique effect. Autumn-like . But not quite autumn, yet. The spring buds are already there.
The sunshine is there, too. But no, it’s not spring yet. Let us pause for a while. Let’s celebrate chilla-e-bachh – the little chilla – for a while.
This year’s winter – the chilla-e-Kalaan – the elder brother will not be easily forgotten. But let the smaller sibling take its time. So while we still have our kangris and hamamsburning, and our pherans and daraaz in use, let’s celebrate this medley of seasons. This cameo of an autumny-spring in winter.  (Thats my invention – the word ‘autumny’).
And as usual, Charles Dickens says it the best.“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”