Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

We returned in a daze, sometime in the afternoon, still caught up in the magic of the day’s experiences. What a day it had been, the sights that we had seen had far exceeded imagination or expectations. We were totally bewitched. Who could go through the halls of that lofty castle, look out over the countryside, taking in the little villages, the forests, the clear, still, blue green lakes, walk through what certainly were enchanted woods, inhabited by faerie folk and stay untouched.

It had been a day of epic proportions, the day when I was finally able to visit the place I had dreamed of seeing as a child, ever since I had seen a picture in a magazine, of a castle perched high on a mountain and wondered how it had been built. How lucky I was, to be able to share it and its wonder, with my daughters. I could see that this exquisite experience transcended generations and the enchantment captured us all.

The Village of Schwangau, Alpsee and the Mountains Beyond

Neuschwanstein Castle

Landscape seen from one side of the Castle, with Forggensee in the distance

The mountains around Alpsee, with a tiny glimpse of the Alpsee nestled below them

The Castle of HohenSchwangau, Schwangau Village, Alpsee and the mountains behind it, seen from Neuschwanstein Castle

Mariensbrucke The Bridge from where one can see the best view of the castle. Unfortunately we could not go there

After lunch we returned to our hotel but I and my elder daughter were full of restless energy and ready for more adventures. It had been cloudy for awhile, when we were at the castle and had rained a little too but it was clear in Fussen, the town we were staying in, which was ten kilometres away. We decided to discover the lake we had seen from the castle, Forggensee. It was just a short distance away from our hotel. We had barely crossed the street, when we came upon some tents. There, laid on a table was every kind of delight from France. Lavender oils and soaps, Savon the Marseilles, honey from Provence and olives from I forget where.

There were other tents too but we barely noticed them. Lavender soaps and I have a history and a loving relationship. Its fragrance is not just in my present but wafts in my cherished, childhood memories. My father, who grew up in colonial India used Yardley Lavender soap. Later it was not available in India, but when he went to work abroad, he always returned with cakes of lavender soap. The fragrance of lavender crossed the generation gap and tied our childhoods together.

After my marriage too there were always cakes of lavender soap in my ┬┤home, though I had never seen or smelt the real thing till we went to Africa. There I found a lavender plant in the garden of the resort we stayed in and fell in love all over again. I put some flowers in my jacket pocket and was delighted that they held the fragrance even after drying out. The lavender stayed with me for a long time.

When I saw pictures of lavender fields, I dreamt of walking among them and simply gulping down the heady aroma. It has not happened yet though, hopefully it will someday. The lavender soap at this small stall smelt of the real thing, I just had to buy some and the honey and a little bag of olives, which were quite expensive. The lady only spoke French though and all we had was a rusty, schoolgirl version of the language. Nevertheless, we were surprised at being able to communicate with her. Of course a lot of gesticulating and smiles also helped and we made a connection and were able to actually strike a rapport.

We moved on and after walking a little came upon an unexpected sight. We could actually see the castle in the distance and sighing in pleasure we sat down on a bench that was probably placed on the pavements for tourists like us. Once more the enchantment began its work on us and we sat there, mother and daughter, talking about it in mellow tones.
A close-up of the side of the Castle visible from the Town of Fussen, 10 km away.

I opened my little bag of olives and started eating them. they were delicious. One slippery fella landed on the pavement and I thought I would pick it up later.

Just then a group of what seemed to be local residents out on a walk, arrived with a beautiful dog. The dog ran towards us and then it just had to discover that fallen olive. Its curiosity seemed aroused and it began sniffing it and before I could say a word, the olive was in its mouth. I was aghast, images of the poor thing choking on the olive flashed across my mind. Perhaps even a newspaper headline “Murderous tourist kills innocent dog, with an olive!!!” I would be on the news, dog lovers everywhere would hate me. It is funny how many weird things can flash across a mind in a few seconds.

Fortunately I somehow managed to communicate the situation to its owners who spoke only German, and showed them my now almost empty, bag of olives and said their dog seemed to have swallowed one. One of them put his hand in the dog’s mouth and got the offending olive out. Another connection was made and we were all full of smiles as they walked away.

It looked strangely dark. I looked behind and was shocked to see that a huge dark cloud had appeared most unexpectedly and was blotting out the sky behind us. Neither of us liked its threatening looks. Luckily we had not walked much and the hotel was just a few minutes away. Hoping to out walk the storm we started walking back hurriedly. we were too late though, in a few minutes we were drenched. It’s funny about getting wet, one tries their best to get out of it but once caught up in it and soaked to the skin one can, if not chilled, just accept it and try to enjoy it, so that is what we did.

It grew very windy too and when we reached the lavender stall we saw that the tent was almost blowing off and was held down by its valiant owner, whose husband had gone for help. We stayed with her and helped her hold the tent. The rain by then was pounding down on all of us and the wind whipping around. After a while we were able to leave her and the tent in safe hands and return to our hotel.

It seemed a fitting end to an exceptional day, anything else would have been too tame.

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Submitting to the Will of Allah.

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This was some days ago but I have been either busy or then ill, so many things I wanted to write about have been put on the shelf, or then stored into my untrustworthy memory.

A walk to Scientific Centre from home, with my younger daughter (Miss B), had long been on the cards but I used to get exhausted halfway there till Marina Mall and we always took a taxi home. One evening though, I decided now or never, lets just do it and so putting on our walking shoes, off we went. The main hurdles are crossing the two roads where traffic is extremely fast and there is always some slow driver who destroys one’s chances of crossing, by driving slowly at his own pace and not keeping up with the rest, so one has to wait for the next lot of cars that appear right behind him, to pass.

That afternoon it was quite easy to cross the roads and we soon found ourselves walking along the sea on the promenade. As we had left the cameras at home and were not stopping every few minutes to capture an interesting shot, our pace was quite good and soon we reached the Sultan Centre Marina, with its wonderful sleek, sailing crafts. There are speakers on the Marina and soft piped music was flowing from them, broadcast by the easy music radio station, FM 92.5. It was very soothing; watching the slow, blue waves lap against the yachts, while listening to the soft music and so we hung around for a while enjoying it. Then resumed our walk and after some minutes of brisk walking, we reached the next Marina, at Marina Crescent.

As we rounded the Crescent, we could see the sunlight streaming out from behind clouds. I always feel that it looks like divine blessings pouring through. The sun was quite high then, we stopped to enjoy it for a bit, before walking on, religiously following the promenade, instead of cutting across the grass to shorten the distance. It was quite crowded, walkers, joggers, old couples, little kids, were all out, enjoying the lovely evening. At one spot some young men were standing down below the rocks by the water,with three or four gorgeous German Shepherds. My daughter was sure they were policemen with their dogs.

A little ahead, was the pyramid of Hard Rock Cafe, perched attractively on the edge of a curve. As we reached it, we turned to a sight that quite took out breaths away. The sunlight had turned to molten gold, as it spread itself through the clouds on the western horizon. Right in front of us, the horizon was painted in warm hues. Some clouds lay like blankets huddled in layers, while others rose like wisps of smoke. right above them the sky was empty and blue and then there were more clouds right overhead. Towards the north, the buildings on Kuwait City’s skyline, gleamed through a slight mist, with a delicate pinkish, pearly light. It was a magical sight. The entire scene was divided into two, the liquid gold sunset to the west and its effects on the buildings which lay northwards. I called my husband who was at home and told him about it, but he had been watching it from the window even then. He could only see half of it though I realised, because the panoramic view was only from the sea-side.

We were walking eastwards, as we were adamant on walking all the way to Scientific Centre that evening, but every so often we turned and looked at the sunset. Strangely, even though there were many people around, not many were aware of the spectacular sight we were looking at. They seemed oblivious, some even glanced at us curiously, wondering about the source of our amazement.

Nothing is an example of quick change like the sky at dawn or sunset. How swiftly is its vast, blue canvas painted, especially if it is a cloudy day. The clouds change shapes and colours constantly; shades of pink, orange, red; and every moment is like watching a vibrant painting come alive. Even as we watched, the clouds above us darkened and the wisps of smoke increased. The buildings continued to gleam softly like pearls, though the northwest was changing colours. We kept turning back and watching, till finally the sun set and the sky began darkening.

I have a strange theory, that whenever we witness or experience something beautiful in nature, which is not a regular, everyday happening, then we are not there in that place, looking at that thing with wonder in our eyes, as a chance or coincidence. No, I feel that we were invited to it and are there as part of some grand design. A treat planned with us in mind. That is the reason I savour with gratitude and great enjoyment all the beauty that nature offers me. I write about all I can, so I will not forget.

I first had this thought one summer afternoon. A friend of mine had posted pictures of Cyprus, where the sea looked a wonderful deep blue. The sea in Kuwait had been dull for a long time and I sat there looking at the pictures on my computer screen wishing I could be in a place, where the sea was such a brilliant colour. The very next day we were driving along the sea-side near Salwa in Kuwait, and the sea was a colour I had never seen before. We stopped at a beach deserted in the intense afternoon heat, except for one other family. It was just us and them and the glory of the deep blue water. The afternoon sun was intense, but its light did not turn the water to bright gold, but to a duller, more enchanting glints, that seemed to travel back into the sea, on the waves.

I felt happy and humble and grateful all at the same time that the wish I had uttered just the day before, was granted. We continued to sit there adoring the colours, in one of the gazebos. It was very hot but both my husband and I, were loth to get up from there. After a long time we reluctantly moved, but even now I can close my eyes and visualise the beauty of the sea that day.

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Today I gave away almost the last of my children’s toys. They are not children any more, they have not been for some years, they are grown up but each time parting with toys or clothes from their childhood has been heartbreaking.
The toys especially are woven so deeply with their childhood memories, from the time of visiting the toyshop, where they would choose some toy with shining eyes, fascination and innocence, to all the moments spent playing with them, unleashing their imagination, creating their own little world and building it together, down there on the carpet besides their bed.
Holding on to the toys was holding on to those memories, to the innocence, to the acts of being engrossed in simple pleasures, to the true joy and happiness they discovered, which had nothing to do with spending huge amounts of money or desiring great gifts. They never asked for much, so it was always a pleasure to give them and each gift was welcomed with sheer excitement and delight.

My happiest times have been and still are the times spent with my two girls. I have played with them, read to them and with them, exchanged many bits of wisdom with them, taught and learnt in turn, laughed and danced, enjoyed cartoons, movies and music and always discovered new things.
While I hold on tight to childhood memories, I realise we are still making memories, each moment, each day. I fear and yet hope for the day when they will find their own lives and make real worlds of their own and therefore each memory we make now is something to store in my treasure house.

We have lived in this apartment for almost fourteen years now, during those fourteen years the last five have been spent in India, yet we were always coming and going. Keeping a rented three bedroom apartment was not very viable but we could not let go, as it held many memories of the girls’ growing up days. My husband and I are emotional in many ways. Sometimes I would come down here alone, leaving the girls in India, those times we were never able to go into their bedroom. They did come here often with me but each time we left my husband would leave their room untouched till we returned. Only on the day we were coming back, would he get new sheets, make their beds and place single roses and chocolates on all our pillows. A big bouquet was always waiting for us on the dining table, with the message “Welcome Home Girls!”

In those days sometimes I would wake early, at six am. I would stand by the window and watch the school buses and remember all those years when I went down to see the girls off.

Some times we were late and then we would rush up, get my husband out of bed, and drag him in his PJs, to chase the bus through the lanes of our area before it reached the ring road. Most times though we would be early and my neighbour Kuku and I would exchange a few pleasantries while we waited for the buses for our children. Other neighbours would pass us on their way to work or school and we would exchange greetings. The buses would come almost at the same time and we would say bye to our kids and come up together in the elevator sharing a laugh or two. We are the only Indian family in our apartment building, all the rest are Arabs of different nationalities. Growing up, playing with children from so many countries has been a good experience for the girls.

As I would stand by the window remembering, Kuku would still be down there, seeing her children off and I would also see my children’s bus still making its rounds, it always brought a lump to my throat. Things still went on as they had before, only we were not part of it any more and yet, though we had moved on, it remained a part of us and always would.

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