A wish & wisdom by the window

The Tribhuvan International airport in Kathmandu, has some real pretty faces and often presents to your eyes meandering queues of Nepalis packing their bags to work overseas. ‘Demand for Nepali workmen is high’ says a fellow traveler while lifting a bag that could weigh as much as my provisions. For three full years and more perhaps.

Work done in Nepal i am on my way back. A kind colleague who sympathises with my attempts at photography tells me that the view of the peaks ‘is a good thing to get on the lens from the plane. If you are lucky’.

His words firmly in my radar, I specifically ask for a window seat. Smiling one of the most beautiful smiles and after saying ‘ofcourse sir’ and a little later ‘have a wonderful flight sir’, flashing that pretty smile, the lass at the Jet Airways counter gives me hands over the baording card. Which after getting into the aircraft i realise entitles to everything else but a window seat ! An aisle seat with two young nepali boys on the middle and window seats for company. GREAT.

Soon we are airborne, and the peaks show up on the window in such majestic splendour that I let out a gasp of surprise laden pleasure. Hastening to pull out the camera and attempting to get a few snaps. Aiming and dodging my two young row mates on the middle and window and ensuring that their noses or hands don’t form part of the picture of the snow clad peaks is quite a struggle.

They can see it too as I hoover-up as many snaps as possible as they give me a look that I would reserve for corner cockroach. And fiddle with the entertainment panel and watch an Ajay Devgun movie.

For a second, I cant believe this. These young boys could actually trade the beauty and majesticity of the mountains and the snow capped peaks for a Ajay Devgun movie on the entertainment panel! Alas, what has the world come to !

Without much ado and a presumptuous air I dismissed their intellect, intent and everything about them.

Soon the peaks vanished and I retired to my world of books and work. The next couple of hours vanished like a sugar laden sweet disappearing down the oesophagus. Not very later we were all set to land in Mumbai.

An announcement that was accompanied by what best could be described as a mild frenzy of of nepali boys peering through the window in other seats.

Greatly surprised I turned to the window on my row, which is when I noticed my own neighbours had pulled out their simple cameras and shared every bit of the window between themselves, cheek to cheek.

Perhaps they were sure they would see someone like Ajay Devgun outside the window, I thought, and suddenly they yelled ‘samundar’ ( ocean ), describing the waves and boats on the Bay of Bengal, with such energy that perhaps dwarfed my attempts to capture the peaks on the camera lens.

It was my turn to fiddle with entertainment panel and theirs to dismiss my intellect, intellect and everything else about me with presumptuous élan.

At that moment, one of them turns to me, grins a sheepish grin, points to the Bay of Bengal and says, ‘Samundar – me first time’. I broaden the sheepish smiles further and point to myself to say ‘Himalayas – first time’. The sheepishness of both our smiles intensify. He returns to look at the Bay of Bengal. And I to the entertainment panel.

I keep smiling. Realising that in the sheepishness of our smiles lay an acknowledgement of our different pasts, a happiness at the present and a deep wish for each other for the future.

I realise that there cant be better wish on Christmas day ! Merry Christmas people !

Its that time

Yes..its that time…

Airlines, credit cards, banks, ice-cream stores all recall my existence. Sending in a note of wishes, cheer, Christmas greeting and New Year Greeting all rolled into one e-mail :” Seasons Greetings”, they scream. The cynical side of skeptical folks wonder if this is just a 3-in-1 opportunity thats getting well exploited.

But hey.. ! Its that time when ‘i am on leave’ is as normal as the Monday morning ‘its Monday’ groan.

‘Clients are closed’ is an oft heard response. These are indeed modern times where ‘customer service’ is the most parroted mantra that beats all mantras and vedic hymns ever chanted. And of course, clients are indeed God.

If ‘clients’ are closed, ofcourse, God is not looking. You see, its time to take off. Therefore, God bless clients.

Auto-reply mails are shooting off every mail box. ‘I am on holiday…’ as the standard response. Sometimes, these mails are treasured, for they are the only replies that come any way !

Long lost colleagues and every half person that has exchanged business cards is keen on doing his or her bit to email traffic, with a ‘seasons greetings’ message !

But hey…there is a genuine festive cheer in the air. Festoons adorn office walls. From the corner office to the commode with an equanimity that would make a communist beam .

The canteen serves ‘special’ food that is thulped taking some comfort from looking at an obese Santa run around ! In some time though, the obese looking Santa disembarks from all his stuffing while the stuffing that went through the food pipe stays forever !

Its that time where there is festivity in the air. Literally as well. Radio Jockeys… whose world didn’t go beyond the latest Hindi movies suddenly are playing carols from far away lands ! But, Introducing carols like they introduce a Salman Khan song. Panting parlance and halting sing song, an arbid competition and a phone number to call !

Five start hotels are turning on all the decorations with so much lights that could light up neighbourhoods. Next door ofcourse there are entire neighbourhoods with one proud star to show ! Christmas trees adorn houses blessed either with belief or wailing children !

Its Christmas time people. The world is taking it easy. The doubt however stays on my mind. The question that i am supposed to have asked my junior school teacher. “If it is supposed to be Jesus’s birthday, how come we dont sing the ‘happy birthday to you’ ?!? “

On other another note, Just now a mail hit the inbox. ‘Marry Christmas’ screams the subject line. Could have been written in a long weekend hurry ! But, it sure caught the attention. Marry Christmas ! Sure thing. Marry Christmas people. Embrace the spirit. Beget progeny . it sure will help the world.

Merry Christmas people ! May peace prevail. And love resurface. And may you all pray for the for more Christmases to provide for a long weekend !

Stay safe. Embrace the spirit ! Share some love !

Merry Christmas !

Clicked on MG Road. Bangalore. Dec ’06

The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication”.

Those were lines from a tale that i read for an English lesson in class eight. I think. In the melee of exams and studies, this story tugged my heart and left a mark. But my appreciation, back then was largely academic. (I think). Today, its meaning, importance and relevance assume special significance ! (Ok. Ok. Yes. I am slow… !)

In the ‘getting’ melee that all of us are in, i think ‘giving’ requires some attention.

Yes ! Its time to give. To heal the world. To spread some cheer. To help put some honest food on the table and some true cheer to the heart. Its time !

As the world seems to hurtle towards a far flung place, its time we realise that it is in us to perhaps help change course, from ‘Getting’ to ‘Giving’ ! Both, for the world and for us. Beginning with us. Yes, Us. You and Me. To show that the course that we chart is worthwhile and possible.

An honest, happy, fair and a ‘giving’ course !

The wise old Magi began the art of Christmas presents. Its time for us to look beyond the materials and malls, and look at giving. A giving that is beyond all that we have ever given in the past.

Perhaps just to see a small little smile in a remote corner that doesn’t matter to the world any longer. Or not even that. Perhaps because ‘giving’, is what will sustain us all !!!

Its Christmas time people. Its time to give. Its time to become the new Magi.

Clicked on Airport Road. Bangalore. Dec ’06

I clicked this a couple of years back. I have been brought up with the thought, that God lives everywhere. Especially so, in every act of human kindness. Jesus can reside between the Airport and Indiranagar. And i think i am well qualified to become the Magi. So are you.

Wishing you a very happy Christmas. We may live in distant lands and difficult times, but we are united in our hope for a better tomorrow and possibilities that lie within mankind ! The possibility to reach out and give !

So, here is a wish from Mumbai : May the celebrations bring great cheer and lasting happiness. To each of your families, a heartfelt, humble and true wish for a great Christmas and a fantastic time of peace, health, hope and great cheer.