Us & Them – Sri Lanka

Who am I? I wonder. A pearl perhaps, in a necklace of history, woven by the oldies around me, who cease not, to boast of their past. Who am I, but just a tear drop, in an ocean of identities, of claims, of conflicts. But a dream, in a sea of confused realities. They called me ‘Serendib’, that which was discovered by chance! And I wonder, again. You could have been lost, traveller, but I have always been here. Forever, in temples that store a tooth of the Buddha, in the folklore of the tears of Sita, in the spirit of a legendary Ashoka’s Dhamma. I was always here, as a thought, a belief, a land in the legend of your legends, the pearl of an island, the keeper of a stories thousand.

Did you forget me traveller?

For I was here when you brought the Dharma to my fortress, dressed as Mahindra..

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& I was still here till so late when those waves struck us together..

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But did you forget me traveller? For I waited for you in those green hills..

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..Waited to shower you with smiles, when all you wanted was just a glimpse

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I stood here, while you painted my walls with colours of thee, Dutch somewhere, somewhere else Portuguese.

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And colours I did have of my own, those splendid hues of blue, which men & fish alike, would day after day cling to.Image 

I was there In the taste of the cinnamon, sweet and savoury both, akin to that of a conversation with the family that grew this  ‘kurundu’  

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I was there, in the sheer astonishment of my folks so humble at anything new..  

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..In those headlines of a newspaper that’d soak the occasional morning dew

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And also among those lines that divided my children..

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But even today my friend, I continue to remain in those cricket-loving roars of  “I AM KUMARA SANGAKARRA!” that unite them!

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Yet, I wonder, did you forget me traveller?

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Have you been to Sri Lanka? What were your thoughts about the place?

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This is a part of the writer’s series, Us & Them, documenting the people of the places he visits. Some of the earlier posts under this series are-

Us & Them – Rajasthan

Us & Them – Kashmir

Us & Them- Kids in Ladakh 

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Sun, Sand & Sri Lanka

5 Reasons you must go to Sri Lanka NOW!

 

 

The Many Faces of Mumbai – The wait for Thee!

Over the past few days, I have been obsessed with Mumbai. It’s the city I have been living in for quite a few years now. I have hated it. And at those times, when I’ve been away from it, I’ve missed it. I’ve cursed it. And those times, when I’ve roamed around carefree at odd hours in the night & still managed to find something to eat, I’ve thanked it. Quite frankly, it’s an enigma, the more you try to understand it, the more it puzzles you. It’s an elusion, the moment you think you have made it in Mumbai, it brings back to ground with a crash & a thud. It’s a confusion, of people and their ambitions, of cultures and their religions, of emotions and their manifestations. Perhaps the only place that gives an Irani and a Bihari equal opportunities to aspire for and realise their dreams. It’s a deluge on the senses. More than 18 million voices to be heard, faces to be seen, their minds to be understood and their hearts to be felt, their cuisines to be devoured, smelled, and relished. 18 Million! It is with this objective that I set out starting this section of the blog. To bring to you a picture, every now and then, of the many faces of Mumbai, its people and its places, and everything around, that they find their expression in.

Today, we start with the iconic Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai, a belief for several, and an inspirer for several others, including the Oscar award winning music composer, A.R. Rahman and his songs! The title of the pic, ‘The wait for Thee‘ tries to capture the spirit of the Sufis that this landmark signifies.

The wait for Thee..

What would you want to see more of here? Do leave back your suggestions in the comments.

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Biking your way through the Heart of Mumbai

Us & Them – Kashmir

Us & Them – Rajasthan

Us & Them : Rajasthan

I was in the movies you made, don’t you remember? Pretty much a character myself, like the actors who danced on my soil, like those bangle adorned women whose songs echoed in my deserts, like the Rudali who wept through my sands. I was in your music when Aerosmith played the sarangi in ‘Taste of India’. I was in your food, each time you added a dash of spice. Yet, to the undiscerning, I was & I am, dead as a desert. No wonder you never realised I had a soul too. That somewhere, in the middle of the very same desert, buried under those sands, lay my spirit, my soul. I know, I know, you couldn’t see it. How could you? You were the tourist. You came all the way from the west and saw only snake charmers. But you never listened to the music that charmed its way through my alleys. You saw the palaces, the havelis and the repertoire of huge vessels in their kitchens but you never saw the oodles of affection that the mothers and grandmothers of the havelis poured in those vessels. Heck, you even ate the ‘ker-sangri’ and you never figured out the one ingredient that made those bitter ‘ker’ edible. My soul. You only saw what you wanted to see.

Yet, every now and then, a few crazy souls roam around in these sands, those who’ve probably lost themselves but end up discovering me. I know it in their eyes. I know it when they see me..

..in the vibrant hues of the turbans that adorn me…

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Or in the smiles that run as wide as the pride in my glorious moustaches..

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Or in the valiant chapters of history that my eyes behold..

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In the music that wades through my streets and alleys..

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Or even in the poverty that snakes its way into the hands of my children..

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In the graceful walk of my women..

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Or in the not-so-grand humdrum of my grand palaces..

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In the countless tales of men & women crossing the border to meet their kin..

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And of the camels that accompanied..

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In the innocence of my kids..

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And in the solitude that this innocence meets..

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In the endeavour to find your own God in the middle of my desert..

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 ..perhaps you may just find yourself here, as you explore my people and my land.

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I was & I am the spirit of ‘Rajasthan’!

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This is the second in my series – ‘Us & Them’ – capturing the people I’ve met along my travels

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Us & Them – Kids in Ladakh

Us & Them – Kashmir 

Us & Them – Sri Lanka

Photostream – Rajasthan