Tag Archives: Soni Agarwal

A walk down the bazaar!

I walked by a chuski-wallah today
and he ran a spoon down the row
of bottles in front of him- sapphire,
emerald, ruby glinted off cheap glass,
making things look prettier than they
are, and he ran it back left, tying an
invisible noose around my wrist, and
it held me in place, peering through
the wooden planks that made up his
castle of forbidden treats and tastes.

He smiled back through, rotten teeth
bared in a weather-beaten imitation of
a welcome for an unwilling, unwarranted
visitor, and wrapped a cloth around a
block of ice, greyed and frayed with
age and use- shaving upon shaving of
feathery powder piling up under his
yellowed nails, cracked fingers prying
apart solid dreams to mould to his
own delicious mechanisms.

He looked up again, the question writ
on his face, running the spoon with
slow deliberation across the cap of each
bottle, till I nod, almost imperceptibly at
the murky brown- kaala khatta, extra masala,
and he smiles wider, approving, of what, I
don’t know, and as he pours, I walk away,
deaf to his protestations- I had promised
Ma that I’d stay away from all diseases
in the light of the exam season.

The Perfect Man!

I’m sure that when I came into this world, your face was shining with glee,

You were selfless enough to stand aside, to let Mom have the first sight of me.

Since then you haven’t stopped sacrificing, you did everything to keep me going,

From being a toddler, to girl, to woman; you silently filled all the gaps that were showing.

You gave me every little pleasure I know, and you found happiness in every squeal,

You trusted me to sit on your lap and drive, when I could barely hold the steering wheel.

You were always there- my strongest protector, the first and most trusted line of my defence,

You raised me carefully with everything good, and the bad you meticulously cleansed.

Of all the times I was found begging for support, you blindly offered to be my staff,

You did silly things (like rub your stubble on my face), just about anything to see me laugh.

You lay the whole world right at my feet, and made it so embarrassingly simple to walk,

Your gentle yet strong presence always around me, quietly negated life’s infinite shocks.

You surrendered your life all to my cause, attached yourself to everything within my sights,

No wonder I loved being Daddy’s little girl, (not just because you took my side in fights.)

You’ve been an inspiration and a hero too, rescuing me every time when I sat down and cried,

Brothers, boyfriends or husband for that matter, can’t match your greatness if they tried.

You groomed me for life’s bigger stage, and you did it relentlessly without a single pause,

You watched me perform from behind the scenes, even when YOU deserved all the applause,

God knows the million times when I fell; you managed to make me fight another day,

You were there on all the big occasions, to hold me steady whenever I would sway.

There was nothing else I could’ve asked from life, you mapped everything out before I knew it,

You made sure no opportunity slipped me by, even if I was naive and stupidly threw it.

You won this woman’s heart, right from the start, in a way that will never again be won,

With all that you’ve ever done for me Dad, you left God’s wildest expectations stunned.

I love you for all the uncompromising love, which flows from your blood and every bone,

Thank you for giving me all this happiness, even before you thought of your own.

You- The Cure and The Cause!

You,
The yellow sun of a lazy winter afternoon,
A hushed laughter,
The aroma of a freshly baked apple pie,
A slowly read prayer,
A half drunk glass of wine,
A childhood memory,
Rain washed green leaves,
An Oasis track on repeat,
An incomplete handwritten letter.

You,
A cool summer breeze,
A thousand circles in a water puddle,
Moonbeams weaved of precious dreams,
The familiar and the mystery,
An unimaginable colour,
A treasure-trove of secrets,
The adrenaline to my rush,
The lullaby to my sleep,
A fairy-tale for now,

You, my muse for a lifetime…

A mirror image?

I always say equations are fascinating and believe it or not at every phase in my life I rest my case- stronger each time. There HAVE already been many of them who have taught me different lessons in life, but this time, there were no lessons to be learnt! When we talk about twins, one aspect of the biological technicalities in a layman’s eye would be identical appearance! One correction I did learn a lesson, one doesn’t have to have a twin to be identical or look into the mirror to find their reflection! In life you sometimes come across certain individuals who amaze you with the innumerable similarities they have with you. Well I came across one such individual and boy was it a roller coaster ride when the two of us got to know that hell yeah we got a lot in common! and well I return to my theory as already established in my previous posts, that one needs to build on equations so unique that it becomes impossible to replace such people or remove them from any chapter in your life. There’s a magical world of realizations, ideologies, interests, music, in this case work ethics and each and every time am just fascinated by how much we can talk about! Nothing constructive half the time but the consolation is at the end of the day I made yet another good friend who can be dragged into my close circuit! And guess what that’s what happened when I met superman 🙂

 

Lesson learnt!

Sleep had engulfed the entire vicinity into its charms, when suddenly a jerk brought me out of its enchantment and I found myself in the compartment of a train. I looked at my watch in the dim light of a bulb and saw that it was 2:00 am in the morning. The train had halted at a way-side station. I was hungry and ruffled my bag to find a packet of biscuits and immediately started munching on them. After a lot of efforts, I recalled that I was travelling to a remote place in Bengal known as Samarpur, to meet my parents who had already arrived there.

I had a heated argument with my parents before the journey as to what will I do there? I would surely be bored to death. But, my parents turned a deaf ear to all my protests and finally on a pale afternoon under the mellow light of the sun, I found myself in an obscure village named Samarpur. I had made up my mind to hate Samarpur.

The journey from station to home was a short one with winding red roads and thatched huts. There was flourishing greenery all around. After reaching home, I decided to freshen up and take a tour of the village. After some snacks, I left for my tour and came across a way that led to a bifurcation. One leading to the woods and the other to the village hub. I chose the less travelled by and found myself in the midst of dense green population.

The lush green carpet of grass was a happy change for my tired weary eyes. Samarpur wasn’t that bad as I thought it would be. I was looking all around and found the trees all naked. Clearly, autumn had set in too early. I was busy admiring nature when my eyes fell on a tiny speck of green. It shone under the crimson sky. I wanted to go nearer but it was getting dark. I decided to come back again the next day to discover the tiny green speck.

The next day I woke up early and went to the woods again. The tiny green speck was a small leaf on a huge tree. This tiny leaf was brave enough to face the wrath of autumn when all the others could not. This leaf changed it all. It made me a totally different person. A person who is strong enough and ready to face the world.

The brave leaf
The brave leaf

My tour ended and I have never been to Samarpur after that. I can never forget the sight of the tiny leaf and even today, the words of William Wordsworth rings in my ears,

“For oft in my couch when I lie,

In vacant or in pensive mood

They flash upon my inward eye”

Don’t look back.. I remembered you say !!

You learn to walk on the left side of the pedestrian crossing, once a charred memory comes into play.
Embers of  time whisking you by their side and again they lead to the incandescent dreams in the dark.  Get up, walk and don’t look back.

Was it the world or was it you? Fought much? Smashed. Get up, walk and don’t look back.

Conversations laced with the truth of wine drops, frail but honest. Shared much? Now hollow. Get up, walk and don’t look back.

And you were here, but you were there, Deja vu much? Reality bites. Get up, walk and don’t look back.

Saline promises always made to revive, dehydrated much? Shrunken desires. Get up, walk and don’t look back.

 
Stumble again and one more time, remembered again in this lifetime? Keep that faith. Don’t look back in anger, I remembered you say.

Sports that is lost !!

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Kabbadi was once considered the National Game of India

How many of us know that India is the unbeaten champion in the Kabaddi World Cup even today. Perhaps none of us. How many of us are aware that India has been playing in the finals of the Kabaddi World Cup each time the cup was held since 2004? How many of us are even aware of the existence of the Kabaddi World Cup? Very few of us. How many of us know who the cricket world champions are? How many of us know about the latest iPad or the latest Play Station? Most of us.

Kabaddi and Kho Kho are two of the most popular tag game sports. Both of them were very integral part of the physical training of students in schools and students were often seen enjoying these games in the recess. Both these games were highly competitive and need strategy and organisational skills. Hence, they were an important part of the curriculum.

Sadly, today one does not encounter many students playing these games anymore. During the days before India was colonized these  two games were among the most popular sports in the country. There were regular tournaments and matches. People gathered for these matches and watched them together. It was a source of entertainment and recreation. People socialized with one another during tournaments. As both these sports are played on a relatively smaller ground the audience has to sit or stand around the playing area. There were no stadiums or audience stands. This further bought the people closer. However, with the British came the gentlemen’s game.

With the coming of cricket people started losing interest in Kho Kho and Kabaddi. Initially, they lost their interest at a slow pace but with India prospering in cricket and the state backing it, people lost all interest in Kho Kho and Kabaddi. The two games became the games of villages and were looked down upon by sports such as cricket, tennis etc.

However, even though the popularity of these two sports was declining they were still played in schools. They were considered vital as helped build stamina and strategical thinking. Through these games the students learnt the importance of team work and how to work in teams.

Around a decade and a half ago, the first play station was launched. Computer games started gaining popularity. Today, if you ask the average 12 year old child, he would know and would have played all the games one could play on an iPad from Temple Run to Fifa but most likely he would have never played Kabaddi.

Apart from football and cricket, children hardly play any team sports these days. Basketball and hockey are seldom encouraged by schools or by parents. The problem is not with students playing Angry Birds or Fifa; the problem is children not playing sports like Kho Kho and Kabaddi.

The decline of these sports have led to several things which include lack of stamina, team spirit and cooperation. The generation as a whole has become lazy with the level of tolerance falling every day. In the past people from the entire village or an entire housing society in the towns and cities used to come together to watch a match. Such socializing is not done anymore. Our society has reached a point where we don’t know who our next door neighbours are.

Several ways can be adopted to revive these sports back. The state has to play a major role in this by funding these sports adequately. Once the state funds them, the media will automatically start paying attention to them. Schools should encourage students to play these games. Also, these games should be made into iPad and Xbox games. Once the children play these games sitting on their couches, they might want to play them on the ground too.

Is it the end of bun maska n chai as we know it !!

Against the bustling city, that’s forever in a hurry to be somewhere or the other and in contrast to this ever evolving city sits tiny restaurants and cafes. These restaurants/ cafes offer a moment against flying time. With their red checked table cloths, chipped tiled floors and their rickety wooden chairs, they become a sort of watering hole for people returning from work for college students and old couples.
These heritage cafes were opened by India’s Irani  Zoroastrians, Irani Zoroastrians that fled Iran during the Islamic rule in their country. Most of these Cafes are about a hundred years old, it’s pretty evident from the cafes ambience and furniture that gives you a mellow feel to the place. Iranian restaurants that are littered around the city make century old landmarks. Everything about them gives you the vibes of what was Poona and now Pune.  These are an essential part of Pune, and to most Punekars that have at some point stopped for a bun maska and chai (bread butter and tea) while they sit there for an extra hour just to revel in their thoughts.

They are known for their baked cakes and biscuits, apart from their all day breakfast snacks, whether it’s just plain scrambled eggs or chicken cheese scrambled eggs.  Still their baked products like Shrewsbury biscuits or their Mawa cakes/puffs raisin cakes, rum cakes and macaroons are a specialty. The unmistakable whiff of baked brilliance fills you’re your senses while just passing these cafes/ restaurants.

They still manage to moderate their prices in the rising economy and have kept their fares standard.  Another special feature of these cafes/ restaurants is their unique little signs with instructions on behavior. Signs that read “Do not sit for too long” “Do not argue with waiters” or “Please do not argue with the management”.  One feature of these cafes that catch my attention are the old advertisements that adorn their walls, it essentially gives you an idea of how long that little café cum restaurant has actually been there.

Sadly these cafes/restaurants have diminished in number at a very large scale, from an estimated 350 of these cafes barely 30 exist now in Pune. With the rapid “modernization” of the city these cafes are threatened by the growing popularity of fast food joints or Chinese restaurants (which has boasts some major popularity in this country). In order to keep up with the city’s evolution some of these cafes have changed their menu’s to cater to newer crowd.  But drastic changes to the menu or their décor means losing what they essentially stand for.

Losing these vintage eateries to another Café Coffee day or a Subway would just be tragic. These cafes remain iconic to Pune, as iconic as the pyramids to Egypt and the Taj Mahal to India. They provide something of soul to this city, like proof to what it was as compared to what it is.

The bun maska and chai served at Gudluck Cafe, Pune
The bun maska and chai served at Gudluck Cafe, Pune

Emotions !!

“There are always some songs that remind you of someone”, so true!! I thought about it then but I totally agree with it now.

Found myself raking a few memories whilst listening to my daily play list; now it’s weird alright because I could laugh and cry at the same time (cry more). Mixed Emotions yes they are, at the same time it helped me get a reality check. One more miscalculated risk taken, and now I realize it had a very grim chance of success. I have seen the special people in my life change time and again, and now I realize it’s probably because I always chose to be way too honest with them or for that matter give a lot of importance even though they did not deserve it. Crime does not pay and the truth well it makes you pay these days.

Between emotions and ego I prefer to choose the former, I have one life that I am aware of right now and I want to live it in the most possibly satisfied way not regretting to have kept back what I always wanted to say or do. However there comes a situation in life when if things go wrong between two people, it requires an equal effort to set it right again. Staying quiet, not airing ones opinion, FAKING, or hiding the truths are simply catalysts to worsen such a kind of situation. It’s strange these days how apparent FRIENDS turn out to be FOES in disguise. When your emotions and sentiments are being played with and people appreciate in making a fool out of you.

At the end of it all its what one could want, which would stay with you, the hollowness of a namesake friendship or something that was genuine, but just tangled up in misunderstandings, it’s like that li’l game we play with so many strings tangled up in both our hands, it looks horribly complicated but then we just need to pull one string and alls sorted out. Too bad it’s a situation I am going through in real life, yes my hands are tied and there is no way that the strings can be pulled. Not that I want it to now, after knowing I have been cheated. The way I have been treated is horrid. Despite this, I tried sorting things out but to no vain. It’s high time I stop doing this cause every time I have for the people I cared for they have disappointed me by seeing my take as a cause of strife.

I realize what I gave was too much and so I am taking it back with all my dignity. Yes, I can be by myself and become successful. As they say, everyone has their day; I wish my day comes soon. It’s high time now and I have suffered enough.  if destiny ever gets us to meet again in spite of our trying never to it will probably answer the most thought question of why it happened the way it did and maybe deep down for some or the other reason we’d both miss each other……but then as I said IF WE EVER MEET AGAIN…

Fusion of flavors from faraway lands

Whether it’s a crispy plateful of Manchurian Vadapav, an irresistible dish of Chicken tikka pizza or pani puris with vodka shots, Pune has officially welcomed fusion foods to its grandeur. A city that boasts of hundreds of restaurants and with a truly diverse and cosmopolitan population to cater to, chefs across the city have started experimenting and putting their thinking hats on to bring us innovative dishes with intermingling flavor that cover a thousand miles.

Speaking of this connoisseur of tastes and the phenomena of fusion foods, an excited sixteen year old Puneite, Prachiti Sharma exclaims, “You can spoil yourself to a chocolate samosa or a Chinese bhel in any corner of this city! What I love about Pune is its ever growing wide variety of food choices and it is truly a heaven for food-lovers like me!”

A visit to the Phoenix Market City food court is enough to dazzle a person of the innumerable options that one encounters these days. Whether it’s a plate of cheese momos or schezuan momos at Momo Stop in Viman Nagar or just a simple plate of quesadillas or nachos at the Phoenix Food Court, the snacking options are limitless. Several assortments and aromatic delicacies will especially lure the food-lover at Malaka Spice in Koregaon Park where the best of the oriental land meets the Indian halfway to concoct portions for the delightful food-lover that is sure to leave one mesmerized.  The lanes of serene green Koregaon Park also harbor Esquisito, an Italian restaurant for vegetarians who leave the Indian spices alive in their Italian and Mexican delicacies.

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Mexican food with an Indian blend at Phoenix Market City in Viman Nagar

Chef Aman Shah of Copa Cabbana at Wakad explains, “Fusion food is an art. It gives the chef the ultimate freedom to experiment and there are truly no boundaries! From your naani-maa-ki-recipes to getting inspired by different cultures, we assimilate the ideas from diverse experiences and interactions with different nationalities and bring it alive over a cooking pot!”

Historically, fusion food has always been an integral part of our culture. The all popular Mughlai cuisine that is now found in every nook and corner of this country is a testament to this fact. ‘Khoresh Fesenjan’ is an example of a timeless Indo-Mughlai delicacy that has Persian roots. This dish includes a glazed duck cooked with pomegranate juice and sometimes, the duck is replaced with other meats such as chicken and served on saffron flavored basmati rice which is a typical Hyderabadi style of cooking! The famous “Shaahi Paneer” or the mouth watering “Chicken Tandoori” belong to the same school of cuisine.

With innumerable and exciting choices put on a platter, even the average lay man, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, is lured to give their taste buds a refreshing change! Food-lovers all across the city and innovative chefs with their conspiring minds trying to please our inquisitive taste buds, the phenomena of fusion foods is here to stay and food lovers can look forward to many more mushrooming paan shops in the street corner that serve honeymoon and chocolate paans to your delight!

“Oh, East is east, and West is west, and never the twain shall meet.” But it looks like the fusion culture has altered Rudyard Kipling’s analogy.