Big ‘Ben’

24 June 2013.

I know what the title makes you think of. A towering landscape, dominating the cityscape; an integral part of the London skyline.

It makes me think of someone just like that. Towering in stature, dominating the household with her disarming smile; an integral part of my year in England. This ‘ben’ however is much more approachable than the actual version. Oh yes, but she does make a great tourist destination!

I am wondering how to introduce her here. No I haven’t known her for ages, nor have I grown up in front of her eyes. I heard her name 6 years ago; I only attached a face to that name last year and promptly forgot it the next moment. Both from the same city, with one pivotal mutual friend it is weird how this introduction never occurred until 6 months ago when I finally gathered up the courage to write her an email.

A one-liner reply with her contact number attached, my mind quickly scratched her off the list. Perhaps it was a rather long shot, expecting someone to remember my face when I had forgotten hers’ already. Besides my 10 lines had been received with no enthusiasm (that is what it seemed to me then!) so it was obvious we would have nothing in common.

Nothing to talk about, and her nickname adding to my doubts. Definitely kaku-material!

Yet again a lesson in how First Impressions aren’t always right.

Or maybe there hadn’t been enough time given to form that First Impression until then….

As Luck would have had it, a few weeks later I was in the train heading to her house. Putting behind all my apprehensions, I decided to give this a try. And am I glad I did..! A talkative sister, a sleepy son, a friendly husband all welcomed me into the house…and amidst all that, there she stood, a warm and welcoming smile on her face. It put me at ease and from then on, I felt at home. Literally.

From waking up the last in the house to spilling red wine all over the carpet; discussing books to commenting on the cheesiest movies possible…she’s allowed me everything. Scolding me when necessary and pampering me unnecessarily, she just literally grew on me. And there came a point when I realised without her, Life was void.

My email has finally found its response. Not in a typed lengthy reply but via each random message and phone call that comes through ‘just because’…

It’s not always that you find someone so much like you. It is not very often that you walk into a strange house and walk out with a family. And it is definitely not every day that I write a blog on someone.

It needs to be someone who really inspires these words; someone who is special.

It has to be my big ‘ben’.

Vineeta.

P.S: The image ‘just because’..! 😉

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Calling it a night!

17 June 2013.

I am sitting by the window, clothed in half-light. There is silence all around, not even a blade of grass is moving out of its place. The sky is turning darker by the minute and the heater is bringing warmth amidst the cool night. With my feet curled up beneath me and my nose stuck in a book, I have lost track of time.

That is, until my eyes begin to squint in an effort to find adequate light. Following the words on the page is a task to the eyes and so the book is kept aside. What stretches in front of me now is the fading sunlight, the smoke from a neighbouring house marring the picture and a backdrop provided by a silhouette of trees.

I’m not a day person. I have always favoured the night.

From staying up well past midnight as a baby till studying into the wee hours, the night has always been a friend. When the world stops defining me and dreams come alive. When every rustle outside the window seems a friendly whisper and every creak in the house sounds like a rusty laugh. It is a time when I wake up; to my inner self, to my ultimate concentration and to the endless possibilities that imagination brings with it.

As the moon rises up, having switched duties with the sun, the darkness embraces me. It lures me, it fascinates me. My thoughts flutter into life and I spend so many happy moments weaving them together; transforming them into words; building a picture. It is a time when the impossible seems possible. When every single dream seems a definite reality…

Yes I love the night. Broad daylight makes me conscious but the night illuminates me.

It lets me be.

LittleGirlMoon

 

Where my feet take me…

16 June 2013.

I have been doing a lot of sitting down lately.

Loads of reading, writing, reading again….occasional movement provided as I cross the 20 steps to reach the kitchen. Feed myself, sit down for a good read to accompany the food. Obviously, a lethargy has begun to creep in. A feeling where sleep is more than welcome, where taking a seat seems far better than finding a path to walk on.

So today I decided to break the routine. Slip on my shoes and head out.

To wherever my feet take me.

A gust of wind catches my hair, tosses it around. Leaves it in tangles. And unaware even to me, also leaves behind a smile. Perhaps borrowed, perhaps stolen from some other deserving face…but at the moment, rightfully mine. My feet take me across the campus and over the hill. My breathing becomes heavy, my t-shirt starts to stick to my back. The grass has grown quite a lot since I last walked this way. The overall appearance of the place is changed, it seems almost brand new.

And so my feet begin exploring.

They stop short at a rabbit hole; they take the path of snails. They jump over puddles formed by the recent rain and they squelch through muddy routes. The wind makes its appearance felt every so often and a freshness courses through my veins. All the pent-up energy surfaces and I walk on. Without a destination in mind, I just walk on. The journey always more pleasurable. There comes a point when I have lost track of where I am. Mechanically but willingly, I trudge on.

The wind has been broken by the canopy of trees over me but as I came out into a clearing, the wind catches me once again. This time the force is stronger, I have to hold on to myself. My hair lash out, my face feels the pricking. I am pushed and pulled, because the wind has my back (quite literally!) The sky begins to lose light and so my conscious decision to turn back, to head back to where my books await. Where the chair remains, warm and wanting my presence.

But here is where the real struggle begins. The wind is stopping me, almost as if trying to dissuade me.

I walk. I persist. Against the wind, against the flow.

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I dare to rebel, to take my own path. To carve out my journey.

Because that is where my feet will take me…

An hour at the beach…

8 June 2013.

I was a mere silhouette against the fading sky. Leaning against a shop shutter, I was feeding my hungry stomach. A ray of sunshine just about illuminated me, casting me in half-light while the other half of me rested in shade.

There was something about this spectacle that attracted me many warm smiles. Couples strolled by, hand-in-hand while I stood there all alone. But the roaring wind and the crashing waves provided ample background music. In the chaos of city life and due to the constant race against time, there hardly exists a moment to interact with myself. But today standing a little aloof from the crowd and yet part of the chaos, I found my own ‘space’. Right there, amidst the hurrying crowd.

As the UK chapter slowly but steadily reaches its close, I realise I have fallen in love with my surroundings. Over the year, Brighton has come to mean the world to me. Its beach has absorbed many a tear from me and its Lanes have echoed my laughter. On rainy days, it offers me solace and sunny days fill me with exuberance. Every little thing of this city has become special now. From the nightclubs of Brighton (haven’t been inside a single one!) to its sunsets (witnessed almost each one!!)…

I stand there quietly eating when it suddenly sinks in…Brighton has given me so much.

It has taught me to walk faster and stand taller.

It has shown me how joy lies in selfless deeds and expectations only ruin the scene.

It has given me new friends and newer experiences. It helped revive old acquaintances and strengthen old bonds.

And more than anything, it has taught me to adapt to strange surroundings and grow to love it with all the eccentricities.

My land of Enid Blyton books materialised into a real world.

In England, my imagination has finally made peace with the reality.

At dusk, this realisation dawned… 🙂DSC_0074

When your best friend comes visiting…

6 June 2013.

After absolute ages (or so it seems!), I wake up on my own bed. Enveloped in the duvet, I enjoy lazing around for a while. All of a sudden, the emptiness of the room catches my eye and sleep totally evades me.

For the past 12 days, she was here. My best friend ever. She was in my room and a part of my life. Live chats all through the day and night. On the day of her arrival, my feet danced around and my mouth couldn’t stop smiling. It seemed a really long time since I had last seen her. I must have bugged my flatmate with my maniac grins but the happiness was much too overwhelming to hide. As expected, she reached the bus station before I could. And yet as I ran over a minute later, her arms just opened wide. In 14 years of our friendship, I doubt we’ve ever hugged…yet that day, there was no other apt way of saying Welcome.

The next few days passed by in a blur. She seemed to fit in just perfect, yet in her eyes I saw how different I was to her. In the way I walked and in the way I talked; there was a part of me that she hadn’t met before. We always claimed our friendship wouldn’t change, but as we grow up the differences creep in. In our life choices, in our dietary requirements. We are rigid and yet we can be flexible. Whether we would, is something situation governs. Her eyes reflected me as a stranger, and yet she still remains the only one I am perfectly comfortable with. She and another equally old friend waiting back home. As we created new memories together, in a place far removed from home, I realized we were struggling to create a rapport yet again.

And then it suddenly happened. Sitting in the train, we mirrored each other’s actions unconsciously. And a laughter fest followed. The ‘M’ effect strikes! As tears rolled down our cheeks and we created a din in the otherwise ‘well-behaved’ train, the walls we had built around ourselves melted slowly. We still kept up our facade all the 12 days and yet the old us shined through quite clearly. Perhaps that is why it seemed perfectly natural that she was here with me. Perhaps that is why I took her for granted all the while she was here. Perhaps that is why I didn’t go the extra mile for her, whereas she had travelled thousands just for me…

Today it feels odd and empty without her. As life gets back to routine, I want her here again. So I can say Sorry and start afresh. So I can once again be the friend she had waved Goodbye to, 9 months ago. As I type all this, I suddenly see her face in my mind. Shaking her head at my ‘hyped’ reaction and yet somewhere deep inside, glad I am acknowledging this.

She travelled to discover herself, and in the process helped me find myself.

This is what happens…..when your best friend comes visiting.

You find yet another reason of why you love her so much! ❤

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