Monday, August 17, 2015

Once upon a Time - Snail mail

One of the best experiences that social networking has brought for me is the networking with other bloggers. B-A-R is one such support group of a few very enthusiastic and intelligent bloggers and recently they hosted a snail mail challenge.

We had to opt for sending and receiving a snail mail , could be a real letter sent through post and for those of us who had geographical or other issues a personal e-mail.

An additional fun factor was that though we knew that we would be sending as well as receiving a snail mail, the people on the other end were chosen randomly. This was much like the old fashioned pen-pals.

I wrote my mail to Shantala who writes the wonderful Shanaya Tales and received one from Suzy who writes a couple of amazing blogs , one of which is Someday Somewhere .

The letter I received was made even more special by her by attaching a picture to it :

One page of the letter I received from Suzy /Ila

Though I had interacted with both these ladies on previous occasions via chat and discussion on social networks, writing and receiving personal letters is a notch apart.

Both my letters were e-mails but nevertheless the excitement of making new friends through personal mail was amazing.

With so many instant messaging platforms and even our blogs we connect with only the online persona of people while a letter is a much more private and safer space and thus allows for a trust and patience missing in other online interactions.

I love these out of the box ideas and though the feel of real paper, the visit of a postman , the joy of pasting a postal stamp is lost some of the old world charm was renewed by this experience.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Conical Tales

A few weeks ago while our summer vacations in my hometown Shimla I witnessed a small road side shop selling plain pine cones. It was absolutely outrageous- putting a price tag on what the nature gives us freely and in abundance. These beauties are actually fruits of the pine trees found aplenty in the hills.

My relationship with them goes way back to my idyllic childhood spent in the hills and particularly to the long winter months spent at my maternal grandparents' place in Upper Shimla, known for its apples and so many natural treasures including the pines.

Image Courtesy: Google Images

Those were still pre-LPG days for the village kitchens and wood stoves were used for cooking, keeping the house warm and even heating water for hot baths. Most of the days when it used to snow,me and my cousins would cuddle in a quilt in the dimly lit kitchen near the "choolha" (stove) and listen to grandma's tales while smelling the potatoes getting roasted in the hot ash.

On clear days however keeping us occupied without many toys or books or TV like things grandma would handover a small "Kilta" (a multi-purpose conical handmade wood basket widely used in Himachal ) to each one of us and send us to collect pine cones for the evening fire.

Image courtesy : Google images

The rules of the game were simple - no climbing pine trees, no forceful pulling of cones and no snatching from each other , the third one being the most important because the one who got maximum number of cones would get a small prize from grandma, most often an extra fistful of sun-dried apricots or apples locally called "Boi".

This was such an interesting game for us because while we searched for pine cones through the apple orchards we would also discover other treasures as bonus. Sometimes an interesting looking pebble , or a rabbit in the grass, a unique leaf and the like.

As I grew up and my cousins also moved out the visits to that house became few and far between, a few years ago grandma also passed away, but I always loved pine cones. So whenever I would find one while walking in Shimla I would pick it, bring it home ,clean it and keep it as a treasure. Over the next few weeks I would slowly witness some of them to expand and take full shape, while others would just change colour.
Gradually I started painting them and turning them into colourful paperweights .

DIY Pine Cone paperweights

Now I am a mum to a six years old, who also incidentally is fascinated with pine cones. Whenever we find one out in the open during our trips to the hills, we bring it home and now my little one paints them too.

There are no wooden stoves to show her, even the handmade baskets have been replaced by ugly plastic ones but the stories and the charm of the pine cones is my gift to her , its a link for her to know how different was my childhood three decades ago than hers and how devoid of fancy toys, games and gadgets, nature gave us plenty to play and relish.

So whenever we can we take to the outdoors and that is what I wish more and more kids would do more often. The bounty of nature and how much it can give us in terms of learning and memories can never be matched with gadgets and toys.

This post is a part of Women's Web Contest #BachpanWithFlinto

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015


For sometime now my world is a square
with equal sides of hope and despair
I walk from one corner to the other every day
witnessing people and promises
on a litmus test on the way
and now as the sun goes down
I am at the edge
once upon a time
the world went round
and now there is no beginning, no end
cosmic cycle is more like a
10 x 8 prison cell

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To Kill a Mockingbird
The Catcher in the Rye
Animal Farm
The Alchemist
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Romeo and Juliet
The Odyssey
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Count of Monte Cristo
Eat, Pray, Love
The Da Vinci Code
The Kite Runner
The Silence of the Lambs
The Diary of a Young Girl
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Notebook
Gone With the Wind

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario
my work on display there !!!!!