चिड़िया

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छोटी सी चिड़िया खुद को अपनी नादानी में इस
ख़ूँख़ार दुनिया के सामने परोस बैठी
इस उम्मीद में कि लोग चाव से पेश आएँगे, पर अपने ही घर मे लोग बने अँग्रेज़
ना जाने किसको क्या साबित करने के लिए, अपनी हथेलियों के बजाए उठा लिए
चाकू, काँटे और चम्मच, चाव से तो पेश आए, पर चाव उनका शरीर के लिए
किसे क्या मतलब था, ना कोई दिलचस्पी, उड़ना चाहती थी वो
पर कोई नही जानना चाहता था, उसकी उड़ान किस तरफ होने को बेताब है
क्या सपने है, क्या जज़्बातों का बयान है, क्या उसके चेहरे पे अंदरूनी मुस्कान है
किसे मतलब! पैदा हुई वो चिड़िया जो थी, उसके खुले पर देख कर ही सब बेचैन थे
चाकू, छुरी, चम्मच देखकर घबराई नहीं थी वो
हिम्मत टूट चुकी थी पर उड़ने की चाहत ने दम नहीं तोड़ा था
पर ये दुनिया कठोर, उसको कील बनाए खुद हथौड़ा बन बैठी थी
जब उड़ान भरे तब कुचली जाए, हवा के रुख़ को चीरते हुए उड़ने की ताक़त रखने वाली वो चिरैया

कमज़ोर कील की तरह उसी खूँखार दुनिया के लिविंग हॉल में सूरजमुखी की तस्वीर सजाए,
थक हार के परेशान, वो उस नकली तस्वीर के बोझ को लिए दिए गिरने को तैयार थी
अरे! वो तो बादलों के बीच खुद के उड़ान से आसमान को रंगना चाहती थी
पर उसकी दुनिया ने उसे पेंटब्रश की जगह रेज़र थामने पर मज़बूर कर दिया
और उसके अंदर के कलाकार ने खुद की कलाईयों पर ही कैनवास बनाकर,
मुस्कुराते हुए, खुद को हर एक बंदिशों से आज़ाद करते हुए
उसी खाली कानवास पर आसमान बनाकर लाल रंग लिया
बड़ी हो गयी थी और नादान सी सूरत पे हल्की सी मुस्कुराहट भी थी
पर क्या कहने इस कठोर दुनिया के,
आज उसके शव पे भी मक्खियाँ बड़े चाव से
भिनभिना रही थी|

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When I got high on travel stories!

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~ About a rendezvous with a gypsy soul ~

How long have you been travelling for? – I asked him.
It has been 5 years Saumya
How much have you covered?
‘I don’t travel to cover. .
I travel to be, I have been to the same place more than twice and stayed there for months. I am not an explorer.’
Is there something that you are looking for?
‘When I come to think about it, I believe it is humanity that I am looking for. I find it in the mountains and the oceans! For the last five months I was in the mountains now I feel like the ocean is calling out to me. Do you like to travel Saumya?’
Hard to say. May be I am looking for the wrong things that I think are only available around here!
‘Maybe you don’t need to look for anything at all! Maybe there isn’t anything that you can’t have! Well, I want to raise my glass to you lady! Cheers to you being a photographer, it’s not easy to be one!’
Cheers!
Tell me about photography!
What do I tell you? It is still a long way to go!
Why is that? You are doing great already!
I am not! I guess I am diverted. I need something to bring me back on to where I was headed.
Where were you headed?
I never wanted to chase success, I just wanted to create art, create magic through art, tell stories through art. And all I can find myself doing is bargain with my clients for glamour they want in the pictures.This is not where I belong!
I like to do photography as well, i bought this camera but I could never find work.
Do you do travel photography?
Yes yes I do. I will show you some!
Pic no. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5! That’s all?
I was once kidnapped and thrown into the river, you meet many criminals while you’re hitchhiking! Obviously i don’t carry my camera along!
What?
Yeah so I click it without the camera!
Through your phone?
No I never carry my phone either.
Through your beautiful eyes?
‘*Laughs*! Haha not so typically!
Wait I will show you! Like right now, if you want to capture this moment and neither of us has a camera, how would you do it?
*Takes out a diary. Asks me to go through it!*

There were pictures after pictures of the big beautiful mountains, the sea and the rivers, there were pictures of kids running, a man having his morning chai and of the beautiful sunrise, there was some psychedelic art that only he could explain to me.
Yes the diary was full of pictures that he never clicked but still managed to save as memories. He painted them. For me, in that diary, there was a photographer making art not a painter making photographs. The pictures made me feel his shaky hands and the beautiful sights. His pictures made me travel the places I have never been to. The scenes were full of colours in my head!

I had an ear to ear smile. I found a way back to the start! All this while I was so focussed on being a photographer that I forgot to be one. I have been doing business, not art!

I told myself twice, ‘He travels to be not to explore!’

It takes a lot of detachment from the worldly things, people and emotions to be a traveller. But along with the detachment, there is a certain abundance of compassion and good vibes in people like him. His beautiful grey eyes told me that I may never see him again but with some people just one meeting is enough. They are so dreamy, they force you to start dreaming again. Such encounters leave you with happiness, a sense of longing and something more. It is indeed beautiful.

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I met him 18 months back, he intrigued me so much in so many different ways, talking about travel, detachment, photography and Bonobo! He spoke about his reasons to be alive and his energy to be always willing to live life on the edge. Nothing scares this man, as if he is a born nomad.

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This was  long before I started travelling myself, I have been able to escape various times and travel ever since this conversation and I have been able to find a musafir in myself, and I feel I am doing it right, because I  don’t travel with destinations, it’s just the journeys that matter.

Who am I? – The biggest question ever!

Things change. Perceptions change. Some things mattered yesterday. They don’t anymore. Some things never mattered, now they do. People change and the biggest difficulty comes when you are asked to define yourself. Isn’t it?

Who am I? – the toughest question. For certain things I feel I have always been the same girl with the same set of beliefs but for certain other things; I am very much aware that I have changed, to a huge extent!

In a creative writing assignment, I was asked to write two pages on myself. The question was simply put – ”Who are you? Describe in 250 words.” If the assignment was to write on the girl sitting next to me, I would have written a book on her but the assignment was to write about myself and I failed miserably, I was shocked to note that in reality it’s impossible to judge oneself and the ease with which we claim to know other people is just ironical.

I thought I will talk about my hobbies, my morals, my motives, my aspirations and then I realised that those things keep changing from time to time, I am not sure if they will change more in the coming days but in the last three years they have changed drastically. Who am I? Am I the one from 2016 or the one from 2007 or the one from 2013 or the one who would become of me 3 years later?

Will I have the same answer to this question if I am asked a few days later? If my answer will be different, it could be self contradictory as well, then how will I be able to do justice to myself by contradicting my own answer? Will I even have an answer?

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I knew I couldn’t answer that question, the question left me perplexed. I was feeling hopeless, what do I know of in this universe if I don’t know myself?

I thought, thought and thought. And I realised that I know of nothing and I am nobody. This answered the question on the assignment paper. Yes, I know nothing and I am nobody. I am not the girl from 2007 or 13 or 16, I am the girl from 1993, who takes birth every new day to define herself in a completely different way each different day. I am a new person every new beginning and I will be a new person by every new end. This doesn’t mean that I won’t take a stand for anything or that I am fickle-minded, this just implies that I evolve. And to me that’s what life is about, evolving! Not just revolving around the same set of thoughts.

On January 13th 1993, I was a little baby who had just come out of her mother’s womb to experience life. Today I am a 23 year old girl who woke up with a bright smile on her face to get molded by life yet again. One thing that is constant is change and another is the willingness to change.

Finding ‘Eve’, New Year’s Resolutions and more

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‘Eve’, as spelled means – ‘evening’, mostly referred to the evening before any particular event or occasion! But here, the word ‘Eve’ is not just about an evening but about a beautiful soul who can cast a spell on anyone she meets!

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Almost an entire year ago, I saw her for the first time in a club. I have a keen eye for unique personalities in crowd and also for bohemian beauties, travelers and people who has the ability to talk art as they walk without saying a word.

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Well, Eve was dancing in a group of really good-looking people, mostly foreigners! They all seemed to be of the fashion industry. We Indians do have this weird habit of staring, I excuse myself by calling it the art of observation!

She had a huge tattoo of Gautam Buddha on her right arm, brunette hair but a very Indian look. I wished I could go talk to her, ask her for a photoshoot, damn! I wanted to click her. But I shrugged it off claiming my lack of self-confidence and inexperience in photography and a few more branches of apprehension.

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Those days I used to go for clubbing very often, trying to fit in, thinking I could lay off my stress by dancing in the unnatural hues of disco lights and very natural scent of alcohol and smoke. I was trying to find myself by losing myself in the crowd, that directionless I was! Slowly, with each passing day I started gaining myself back, realising that this wasn’t the right way to go about it! I saw her in the club every other day but one day I just stopped going.

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I came back to life, started dealing with life, facing it eye to eye! Somehow I realised losing myself was the right way to finding myself! I started working more and more, doing shoots for free, assisting people and working for money. Things happened, I started falling in love with myself but I will tell you more about it in the chapter I will post on ‘finding me’. This is about ‘Finding Eve’!

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Yes this is about Eve, so I had become confident and ambitious, so on New year’s eve, rather than going out or meeting people to party, I locked myself in a room, took out my diary and made plans –

First plan was to meet people from different backgrounds, reach them out only with the intention of exploring, learning and spreading good vibes, now that can’t be intentional but I was just sending good thoughts to the universe.

Second plan was related to work, I decided to do just four commercial shoots in a month in 2016 and one personal shoot (free of cost) to enhance my own skills and execute my ideas into photo-stories.

Third plan was to enable myself to travel by saving enough money to ensure my own safety while on the road, I know this is a completely wrong attitude for a person who wants to travel and not be a tourist but I believe I need to be at it before claiming to be able.

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I somehow managed to do five shoots in January, made 3 new friends who are precious enough to treasure and one of them turned out to be Eve, I came across her through a friend, somehow managed to track her down on facebook and ask her for a photoshoot!

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To my great delight, she seemed to be more excited than me but there was a problem, she was leaving India in two days and we had no time to brainstorm the concepts. I didn’t reply to her for almost two hours when she asked me if it was possible for me to do it just the next day, i.e exactly after 14 hours including 8 hours of sleep. In my head, I had said no. I didn’t reply and went out with a friend to eat ‘golgappas’, my everyday routine, too close to my heart to let go of! On my way back, I kept thinking about it, she was going to leave the country, probably she would be never coming back. But more than anything else, I just kept wondering whether I was big enough to say no, the golgappa seller came to my mind, I had observed this really nice thing about him, which is, that he never says ‘no’ to anything, I don’t like it spicy bhaiya! ‘Can you make the pani less spicy?’ Yes Madam! ‘I like the papdi a little sour, can you add a little bit of nimbu to it?’ Yes Madam! ‘Bhaiya, I want you to pack me three plates in 5 mins, is it possible?‘ Yes Madam! Wow! What a wonderful attitude, he never says ‘no’! Why? Because he wants to grow, he wants to build himself a good amount of customers! You say no when it seems impossible, but never when it just seems difficult! – Lesson learnt! I went home, and dropped her the message saying – ‘Let’s do it!’ And I am glad we did it!

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No she is not a model professionally, and very much unlike the people I usually work with. But the reason why she is so special for me is because of the transition that has come about in my life. Her name is pronounced as ‘Evi’ but for me she is the eve that came in my life right before the special transition.

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Eve, as beautiful as her name, has a very beautiful soul too – born in france, she spent most of her childhood in Brazil, she came to India all by herself when she was just 22; India, being her first destination of her travel goals, lived her for two years when she had plans of exploring this country for mere 5 months. She had come here to find the spirituality in herself, and become a more patient person, to find the beauty and peace in the nature and to explore the history and stories of places and people! Listening to her stories, I just felt envious that she could find all of it in just two years when most of us cannot find it spending our entire lives here.

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Along with her Buddha’s tattoo, she has got 7 chakras done on her back, and ‘atma shanti’ written right below her collarbonea naagin done on her left calf and several other tattooes on her body. Tattooes are not to symbolise anything in every case, but in her case, through her tattooes, one can easily tell about her love for the country and its influential powers.

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There were many evidences of her beautiful soul which totally touched my heart, like once, while shooting, we were walking through a jungle and she happened to step on the ants and she instantly screamed and jumped out of their herd, finding it funny, I asked if she was afraid of ants and she turned to them and said ‘Sorry!’ looking towards the ant and then at me saying – ‘No! I just don’t want to kill them!’

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Well, she found what she was looking for while she began to travel – freedom! India gave it to her and she flew off to Thailand to spread more love, peace and freedom! Never have I connected with someone so much in such a little amount of time but yes for me she is an angel who has inspired me in ways that she herself isn’t aware of. ‘Atma Shanti – I am no more directionless!’

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I have a bad habit of connecting the dots, but this one was worth it! 🙂