Chandigarh

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“Try the pancakes, with honey – they are good” She suggests.

I nod and add a masala tea to the order. Her phone rings while she is scanning the menu. “An omelet for me…” she rushes out of the café to talk.

I find a corner table and start scanning my mobile for morning news. The café rings with laughter suddenly and I pull my face to see some young girls giggling their way in. She’s still talking on the phone outside the door, shifting herself from one leg to other.

There’s cassia blooming outside on a tree behind her. Surprised at its own fertility his young flower laden branches are struggling against the bitter January wind. Perhaps, the nature wants to have spring early this year.

My eyes focus back to her slightly troubled face. I wonder…

The tea arrives and while I soak in its aroma, the pancakes too. They are good – these guys at Nik’s – they won’t serve the omelet until she’s here.

She comes back in pulling her warm coat closer; her face is back to her usual blank-happiness state.

“How is it?”

“Ummm… pancakes are good, masala tea is better at CCD!”

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Nainital

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Twilight is dancing on the lake water. All the myriad reflections of life are alive. The sun is receding behind the mountains.  There are no more clouds in the sky. I wish for a starry night. Soon the last boatmen will oar his way back; his mind will be occupied by his earnings of the day. How much is sufficient, how much is luxury? In the end, we’ll all be Capitol Cinema – alone, old, dead.

My favorite bench near the band house is unoccupied. I scurry my way to it. The gurudwara, the oaks and the local salesmen stand tall. They have lived lives here, they are living lives here…

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Varanasi

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I do not care for the ‘truths’ they have faith in or the ‘lies’ they spread. This is not the first cremation that I am descrying nor shall it be the last, but in this moment, I’ve understood the human endeavor of fighting death with life. The answer to the fears of our faith is in welcoming it with our arms wide open and embracing it like a long lost brother. It’ll be perhaps in this gesture that the faithful shall be granted nirvana.

*

Around a 1000 strong crowd has gathered to see what is a daily ritual but is as powerful and enchanting as it must have been a 1000 years ago. The spiritual seekers have loaded the boats – some to get a better view, some for better pictures and some for their beliefs – an adventure of a lifetime. The head priest is crying hoarse asking people to sit down calmly – all the skills of a masterful showman.

So much for the lonely moksha… (sigh)

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