Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mornings at an airport

The first time I ever took a flight, I was a child and remember it as a rather painful experience. My ears hurt to indescribable measure. I had vowed to myself that no matter how much travelling I had to do, it would never be through air.

Life as they say always challenges you when you say 'never'. So, all my life, I was always put in circumstances, where, the only way to get to a place was by air! Through the many flights I have taken to many destinations, I have noticed that I love the dawn and early mornings at an airport. I love the chill in the air, the Sun rising like a shy bride, playing the dance of shadows with everything else on earth. In the foreground are a string of planes, silently affirming their existence and watching the multifarious people that frequent it's office. 

The smell of warm coffee, the sound of slurps with a look of deep satisfaction as the caffeine hits the system against the warmth of the sun penetrating through the huge panes that let you see nature unfold another magical day of your life is a moment of it's own- surreal in it's own unique way. 

Each time, I sit silently,music in my ears and let my eyes wander.People some awakening from their slumber;others walking helter skelter trying to find their way through a maze that airports can sometimes be; kids -some fresh after a little rest, running around while others nag their parents to get some breakfast that usually involves chocolate! ; a group of players representing a nation for an international sport, wearing uniform sweat pants, escorted by authorities, taking purposeful strides with pride; sisters from a south east Asian country carrying similar bags and wearing the same hair style, giggling as they walk arm in arm; random conversations that make strangers turn into acquaintances, an announcement follows and the same acquaintances revert to being strangers again. 

People of various nationalities, wearing different sometimes even strange attires, speaking an entire assortment of languages, from different facets of life, generations apart, all under one roof with the same intention- of being somewhere! 

Only if people lived with the same dynamics as I see them most early mornings at an airport - this world would be a better place. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011


My entire life I have always been dependent on others for transportation. Be it my parents, the Government of the country I resided in ,the auto and taxi drivers, friends that were kind, or my brother who I summoned every time I got stuck, lost or felt lazy- it's always been anyone but me at the steering wheel.

Most of my mornings to work, involve me always racing against time, time always of course winning over me. Some of those mornings, I end up taking a cab so as to not let the day bear consequence to my tardiness. Some cabbies are extremely cordial and respectful, while others could care less. I had one cabbie once tell me that all he aims to do all day long  is to bring a smile to his passenger's day. That definitely brought a smile to mine. 

One such cabbie I got along very well with. I could trust him and I'm not sure what made me believe that. It's as if he had a special heart. Over time, as we talked and shared not so personal observations, there was an untold bond, one that made him look out for me. The day I got back from my vacation, he said 'welcome home' and it just made me smirk.I wondered as to how much effort it would take certain people of this country to undo the damage that some other's had inflicted on my notion of home. He recognized the pain and reiterated, that this IS now home to me, no matter what the past had unfolded.

He was a person I would call on a random note and he would show up to pick me up from anywhere in the city within a span of 20 mins. It was a feat I never understood how he managed. I would give him the fair fare and he would always return the smallest currency in the bundle I handed. I would refuse with an exasperated look and he would say ' i don't need it'. I have seen so much of the city just through his rides back home. He would take me through different parts of the city and being a Chicagoan, would give me the history of different places and folklore that went with it. I enjoyed my rides no matter how tired I was, as long as it was Joe who was driving me home. 

On Christmas week, as I summoned for his services again, he as usual showed up in 20 mins. I hurried up to finish my errands and settled in the back seat. Joe, as he always did, took a minute to turn back, get a good look at me, let me catch my breath and ask me a 'how are you?'- one that he wanted a real answer to. It always brought a smile to my tired eyes. He then announced that he was not taking a fare from me that day. I as usual jumped and would not hear of an unnecessary favour. He then announced that it was his Christmas gift for me. He did not have a family,would not have a Christmas dinner, would be in fact working through that weekend. He did not have anybody to share it with and for him sharing Christmas was about giving. 

As I snuggled under my covers that night and thought about the events of the day, I realised that it had been a really long time since I was truly surprised(pleasantly of course!). Not the kind of surprise that you feel when unexpectedly a friend shows up with a birthday cake on the strike of midnight on your special day. Yes, it's a surprise, one that you hadn't expected, but it's not that kind of surprise, the kind you had not imagined in a hundred years.

Joe has a special heart, the kind that knows how to bring warmth into hearts that he cares about, the kind that could give despite meagre means. I might always be dependent when it comes to transportation. I might move counties, cities, countries..for that matter may be even planets..but to find another Joe in the midst of plunging selflessness and love for another would be an arduous task.

To Joe - May your goodness be reflected in myriad ways eternally. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bring 'home' back...

This is another of those moments in time, when I wish time would stop and let me soak in the  colours on my palatte.

A vacation in two long years. All I wanted to do was go home, be at home and feel home. It's funny how all through childhood, all you want to do is get out of home to be on your own and all through adulthood, all you try to do is come back home. 

As a gawky teenager,I remember the excitement of stepping out of the house on my own, to experience the world by myself. The freedom to make turns, stop and soak, run through the crossings, cycle faster than the car standing next to me. A rush, a hurry , to quench the thirst of knowing everything this world had to offer. A zest to rush into the next moment. 

And here I am, a decade later, wishing time would stop this moment. There is the same sense of freedom, of doing everything I want to, of going places, learning new things and a desire to have more time in the day to do a lot more. Somehow the stop in time gives me a feel of being able to appreciate the existing moment a little longer and the ability to squeeze in a few more things. There go by certain times when there is a feel to do nothing but sit back and watch the sun travel from one window pane to the other pondering about all it's shining light on. 

Back home was like being back home. Hot coffee, morning newspaper, the smell of burnt dried leaves in the distance mixed with the scent of damp earth of the neighbour's front yard, the sound of vessels clinking lightly in mom's kitchen, a light hum of a chant by grandma, her silhouette against the rising sun, the milkman hurriedly dropping the packets of milk, a dew drop sliding delicately along the edge of the leaf, a shy bud still deciding on whether to bloom or not, a withered flower wondering if it's fall to the earth would be gentle or not. The teapot on the table, mom with the Geeta, dad and me sharing the morning newspaper, a discussion over current affairs of the world that drifts to each other's current affairs and the day's plan. This has been home from the time I've known home.

I missed it. For the few years I've been out, mornings have been about rushing to go places, anxiety over finishing the day's task, so something may be achieved with in a stipulated time. It's about grabbing a cup of coffee, a measly loaf of bread, toasted hours ago, cold and rigid. It's about being able to catch the bus on time, so I don't have to walk that extra distance. In short it was about ending the day and getting back into bed. 

I had forgotten to recognise the start of a new day, the hope that comes with sun rise, the opportunity and time to do more, to achieve more, to live more, the need to plan the day and enjoy it's different hours and moods. I had forgotten about looking forward to a day.

Being home reminded me of the essence of waking up every morning, with a desire to breathe in fully and feel the cool air set the rhythm of the heart, for the day.