All things simple, all things small

I have not done any travelling lately. There! I said it finally.  Phew! That’s  a load off my chest.

But hey! in my defence  not every travel involves getting on plane or standing in serpentine queues with the hope of getting that last ticket. Every day you travel; you arrive from yesterday to today and you travel from today to tomorrow. It is so easy to miss out the pleasures of these journeys. Here are a list of the small, simple things that make me smile on my journey forward.

  • Fresh coffee in the morning
  • Freshly laundered sheets – nice and crisp and not yet slept on.
  • The smell of a book
  • The smell of the first rain
  • Green leaves
  • The time in between the end of the ladies’ hours and before the first set of men turn up when you have the pool all to yourself
  • The smile on your parents face when they spot you at the airport arrivals lounge
  • The joy of a late night call from a dear friend
  • You have mail!
  • Waking up in the morning and reading all the whats app messages friends from the US have left me
  • Getting a courier from flipkart
  • Planning your next trip
  • Looking at old photographs
  • …..   etc.. etc
These are a list of a few of the simple things that get me through my day. I know I have never asked for your  thoughts before, but today I would love to hear from you.

I’d be honoured if you would share your list of simple things.

All things simple, all things small
And the joy in them all!

Kolkata from behind a bike

Every city is famous for something; Every one of them has a list of must- see, do not miss places and things to do. When in Kolkata for the first time I did not visit any of the ‘must- see’ places. Instead I saw Kolkata at ground level. I saw the everyday lives of the people that live in the city of joy.

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Without the gods

[A brief insight into the motivation behind this post. I  recently started to  question the meaning of religion and faith. Is it composed of mere rituals and acts? Or does it actually include something that is intangible? Don't get me wrong.  I am a believer . Very much so. Am I religious? That depends on how you define religion.]

If Martin Luther King had been born in India his speech would have been ,” I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they are not judged by their religion…”

People refer to India as Spiritual India. India has given birth to many religions; Hinduism, Jainism ,Buddhism. In the caves of  Ellora the temples of all these three religions were built next to each other. Thirty three in all. None of them felt the need to tear down the temples of the others to build their own. There  prayers would reach heaven even with the other gods were near by.

But today elections are won, people murdered, trains burnt, temples torn down, all in the name of the gods. I ask you what is so spiritual about communal violence?

Our constitution gives  us the freedom of speech and expression. It states that we are secular country.

Why then was there a campaign to deport Taslim Nasreen for speaking out for the rights of the oppressed? Why was Salman Rushide banned from attending the Jaipur Literary Festival. Why were missionaries  burnt alive?  M.S Hussein was ostracised for his depiction of gods and goddesses. That reminds me didn’t the protesters ever hear of the kamasutra poses of Khajuraho, chiselled out in stone ?

The only time I can think of when Indians were united  for a cause that was sparked by religious practices was the Sepoy mutiny of 1857 which is hailed as the first war of Independence.  But today religon what was one the essence of spiritual India is it’s curse.

Maybe, just maybe, without the gods India might actually be secular.

Passport Racism

[This is a rant.]

I think there is a new type of racism creeping upon the world and that is passport racism. Did you know that if I hold an Indian passport then in all probability  a lot of trees will be cut before I am done gathering the documents needed for my visa submission? Well, you probably did.

Did you know that if I held a British or an American passport then I just pack my bags, pick up my passport and drive to the airport? I am pretty sure you didn’t stop to think of that!

I recently called up the Spanish embassy ( actually the VFS-Spain) to enquire about getting a visa to walk the Way of St. James. Here is was my plan :

  • Start walking early in the day.
  • When the light fades or when I feel tired check in to the nearest alburgue

Here is what the guy on the other side of the line told me:

  • If you hold an Indian passport then you need to show transportation and 
  • Accommodation

  —- wait for it……

For every single day that you are in the EU … oh and that’s not just it….

*Walking does not qualify as transportation for someone who holds an Indian passport!*

It’s no wonder that no one from India is urging students and young people to take a gap year and travel.  The entire year may be spent in securing a visa and by the time they board the plane they will not exactly belong to the ‘Youth’ category.

Billions of blue blistering barnacles!