Just a little piece of cloth

This is something about which I have always wanted to write. Something that contributes so much to my identity and me as a person, yet, from the cover, it’s just a scarf. Just a piece of cloth.

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I don’t remember the exact day, but I do remember the time when I started wearing it for the first time. It was when I was in 7th, most of my classmates had started wearing a scarf and I chose to wear one because I wanted to be among them, fitting in sort of a thing. Since my family was not exactly orthodox, there was never a push or  an encouragement from that side. Gradually after some time, this piece of cloth on my head started becoming a part of me and my modesty. I started feeling uncomfortable about showing my hair anymore.  Back in my childhood, I was a stage performer. So this piece of cloth was incorporated in my stage attires, partially first with a little covering of my hair, then turning into a complete cover. There was so much resistance even from family first because apparently I was taking it ‘overboard’. But the little me stood my ground, because this was something that obviously tied me to my God. Something that made me feel good about myself.

Then it became an integral part of my dressing. I knew I could never go out without my scarf. Nor remove it for the sake of anythng. It just became a part of my life. What I didnt know about was, how this little piece of cloth on my head affected and bond in a much more deeper level. Till then, it was an external element. Something about how I chose my appearance.

Then came a phase in my life, in college, where inspite of being surrounded by Muslims, there was a constant struugle when it came to my religion, within myself. Everything was blank and I felt numb, I didn’t feel any emotion even when I prayed, that at times I would skip it, because of the guilt of doing injustice to it by not showing even an ounce of commitment or sincerity to it. Just darkness and everything felt so empty. I felt no guidance, no encouragement, nothing that told me to do more. Everyday I would wake up and just find myself doing everything mechanically, getting ready, going to college, coming back. But in those days, when I looked in the mirror, to put on my scarf, everyday, I would see a girl staring back at me, still holding on to that little piece of cloth on her head that she could never let go. And I had an epiphany. I remembered how I had fought to embrace it. How it became a part of my life. And that little piece of cloth that I wrapped daily on my head, was a flicker of hope. A hope that made my heart beat again. A hope that told me all was not lost. A hope that told me that I had miles to go.

You see, that little piece of cloth, held me together, unknowingly, when I was breaking down. That little piece of cloth, reminded me to realise who I was and who I want to be. That little piece of cloth, made me work to be myself again.

I am tired of those sympathetic looks I get, about how I am, being forced to cover my hair. And I have a hard time explaining the fact that it was infact the opposite, wherein I faced a lot of resistance to wear my hijab in the beginning from family. I am tired of explaining how this scarf is my choice, and just is a part of what I BELIEVE. My choice. My belief. And my religion. It is nothing of your concern.

I cannot even comprehend the pain that my Muslim sisters undergo, struggling with wearing hijab in the West. But I know I felt really bad when I was asked if I carried a bomb in my bag, by the security lady who judged me by my hijab, which is the identity of my religion when she let all my other friends pass without a fuss. What she failed to understand was, it was MY identity, my identity as a person.

You choose to tie your hair this or that way. You choose what to wear and what not to, and you have reasons for it.

And just like that, I choose to wear my hijab. And I have my own reasons.

 

Reasons of how it was this little piece of cloth, that held me together when I was breaking apart, struggling to find a ground.

It is never just a piece of cloth.

It is a part of my life.

A part of my heart.

 

 

Mom

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Contrary to the fact of me being her child, she is someone whom I have seen growing up. As a mother, as a human being. My first role model.

There are times, when I look at her, wondering how she never gets tired of us (and we are quite a handful, in varying age groups). I have asked her numerous times, how she does this raising up thing so effortlessly, with so much patience. “I will never get tired of this. I love it. Being a mother.” She replies with a smile.

I have seen her endure and battle odds. I have seen her breaking down. I have seen her being there for us. I have seen her sacrifice things. And each and every time, I realize I can never do what she has done when my time comes. I can never do better than her. Because she is a woman, who I feel, has never had the happiness of enjoying the little things in life, never been made feel special, yet has showered us with love and taught us the same, making us feel special all along.

Mamma, I hope this makes you feel special.
Mamma, you are an inevitable part of our lives. There are still days when I start crying in the middle of the night because I miss you.
We love you, Mamma.
You are our first love.

P.S. She looks so much more beautiful than this.
#BecauseSheMeansTheWorldAndMoreToUs
#AlhamdulillahForParents
#FirstAttemptAtVerticalLinePortraits

KochiKadhakal

The city, known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, a crossroad for people with a little or a lot in the district of Ernakulam in Kerala, is a host to many wonders. With tourists swarming its streets to natives rushing to work, it’s an experience to behold.

This post is just a compilation of scribbles and lines that are so close to my heart. A manifestation of my memories. Held so dear.

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FORT KOCHI
The true essence of the place called Cochin lies totally in the streets of Fort Kochi and Mattanchery. Each and every element around has a story to tell. Be it the buildings, the trees, the people or the stones. And the most prominent of it is the history of a bloody Fort Kochi.

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FORT KOCHI BEACH
Beaches all in all are peaceful.  At times, I wonder why are these places so calm and serene even when its crowded. Fort Kochi beach is a lot of plant residues, people, yet so peacefull, with the waters rocking on the banks.

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FERRIES
A trip to Fort Kochi or Mattanchery is never complete without the ferries. Ferries are a totally different experience. With standing in long queues, paying 4 rupees for a ticket, waiting for the guards to open the chains, so that one could sprint across to get on the ferry to catch a window seat. The smell, the wind breezing around, the rumbling sounds, the rippling waters and the big ships, this is when we simply stare out and just breathe.

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MAHARAJAS
Though the Arts college is the one known famously as Maharajas, The Govt. Law College also shares the glory of the name. Sneaking in, to this place which was always a dream, I fell in love. I needed a breath to take it all in. The age old architecture, the ever present trees, the noisy courtyards and corridors, the wooden staircases, the broken walls and the classrooms that carry the hearts of students on its walls, these colleges are a feeling. A first hand experience of the power of architecture through the ambience .

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MATTANCHERY
The streets of Mattancherry are not that frequently visited by the numerous tourists that visit Kochi. Mattanchery has its own share of sights, the Jewish Synagogue, the Jew street, the Dutch Palace, the Gujrati Street being a few. With its warehouse turned endeavors, empty roads, walls decorated with art, the charm lurks around each and every corner , even in the broken window frames.

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CAFES & EATERIES
Kochi is incomplete without its share of eateries and cafes. A perfect host to foodies, the restaurants and cafes were a beautiful in itself with their hanging lights, deep art works, hidden charms and the clattering of spoons. Each and every cafe has a story to tell, a scene to portray, a character to meet, a memory to be made. Where laughs could be heard over a coffee or cake so expensive, or so cheap.

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MATTANCHERY MUD CHURCH
A recent addition to the essence of Mattanchery, is architect Vinu Daniel’s masterpiece of a church. In its primitivity lies its beauty. The single halled church welcomes with a whole heartedness, the verandahs waiting for the sound of your footsteps, the stained glasses glittering around. The feeling of sacredness, inspite of all this still intact.

KADAVANTRA
The first time I came to Kadavantra, it intimidated me. A junction with four buildings in each corner, representative of different styles and periods was our icon for this part of the city. It was the best host I could have, with its friendly residents, who never failed to ask about my day when I passed by their homes after work, the lanes lit and clear for me to walk at 8, with its perfect position, nearly equidistant from the ‘modern’ and the ‘charming’ sectors of the city. This place gave me the people and the experiences that makes Kochi special.

Kochi taught me to live in the moment again. To be myself again. To love me again.

Kochi moves me into tears with the sheer memory of the beautiful moments spent in its depths.

I will be forever indebted.

 

Just food things.

the Phase of departure in parts

Part 2

Sitting at our table in Zaatar at Panampilly, we sat simply looking at each other, the weight of this being the last dinner heavy on us. Even when Ayushi left, it was Zaatar. We had nothing to talk suddenly. We checked out the others, the foreigners, the chefs for whom we were an entertainment session through their see through glass partition and vise versa. Then the food was served and we had our whole fill, back with our bickering.

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When we walked back after dinner talking this and that, we wanted to grab our ever favorite Choco Lava Cake from our go-to cafe, Carrots. That wish was not fulfilled since they didn’t open up after the harthal, for the day.

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This Choco Lava Cake is just full of chocolate sauce with a little sponge up and the sides, with a coffee swirl on top.   I remember the first day we tried this, when me and my friend was broke and this was the only option. Since then, it has been an absolute favorite.

Food has this special power on people. It strengthens the bond somehow. When we go out for food, order together, share it, fight over it, conversations always on the go, it weaves our hearts through and through.

When I chose Kochi for my first term of internship, I remember some preparations that I had done to familiarize the city and find the pockets of happiness (food outlets) if times of distress were to shower on me.

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I joined the Foodies club on facebook. Researched and zeroed in on Panampilly nagar, delighted to know that it was close to my place. That place has too many good outlets. Be it any cuisine. It has anything and everything. Shiffu’s momos was our snacking corner, Pandhal; our cheese cake place, The Burger Junction; our office treat area because it was too much for our pockets, Arya’s; our dosa guys, Gokul; Aayushi’s one and only home, Zaatar; our grill hut and many many more. There were always too many to try out and we were not always ready for new things. There was Lil America, Thakkaram(for me), Primate, Donut factory, Ming’s wok (because we had another Chinese favorite) etc.

Then, there was Punjabi Dhaba. Menaka or boat jetty was equal to PD. Behind Penta Menaka, through a narrow lane, near the Broadway Hotel, is out dear old   Dhaba. Quite a shady place, but then you familiarize with it.

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If Apurva and Aayushi missed home, it was PD. If we wanted something comparatively cheap, it was PD. And if it was Punjabi Dhaba, then it was always Aloo Paratha and Sweet Lassi. Always.

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The Lassi though, a bit costly for 35rs a glass, was too refreshing. It was sure to help us beat the heat. The Aloo Paratha, with or without butter, melts into your mouth, the cut onions and chili as faithful sides.

Our faithful home, Kadavantra had its own share of places too. The Masafi; the biriyani people, Ambiswamy’s; our last resort, the numerous bhaji bhaiyyas and last but not the least, our Chinese favorite, The New Dragon.

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Gunamo mecham, vilayo thucham (Great Quality, Low Rate) place. It’s executive lunch (or dinner), with a variety of options for a soup, starters (Chilli Potatoes are mind blowing), Chinese paratha, Noodles/Fried Rice, a gravy and a lime juice. Quite a lot ain’t it? Yeah, we used to have one lunch for two people, two for three and three for four.  When we were that hungry, and wanted lots of food, this was our place.

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Now coming to our Pasta place, Carrots again. Red or white. Lots of chicken. Lots of pepper. Ah! Delicious.

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Subways are for Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Those are the chicken sub days. Roasted chicken, chicken tikka, chicken sheekh (chicken kofta when they felt like it in Centre Square Mall Subway). Subways are yum and fulfilling. With all its veggies and sauces (lots of sweet onion and mayo that is) and the perfect chicken. Haaaaah. Subways can never fail to put a smile on my face. It’s my comfort food. My happy food.

Last but not the least, when the going gets tough in hostel and we were too lazy or late to go out, we have MasterChef to our rescue. They always delivered so we never knew where the place was until one day, when we were coming back after our stroll in Panampilly, I saw a little cart with a board. The MasterChef. I stood there with my mouth open. All this while, we were having noodles from a food cart? Anyway, they were always good. Yum and cheap.

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There were also days when some choices failed us. Top in the list of failures is Chicking. Noushee had this craving for Chicking since their offers came out and we chose to go on a Thursday. Four people, according to us could easily share 6 pieces of grilled chicken, 6 pieces of chicken lollipop, 2 delite burgers and fries. What do we say? Man proposes and God disposes. And that day, we went hungry even after paying for a whooping 600rs dinner (with the dump tax).

The little experiences shared our food, the laughs, the memories, the tastes. So much to cherish.

So much love in a bite.

Yourself

And these days I live in my thoughts. Everything that’s happening around me is peripheral. They just register in my subconscious mind, never reaching in. But the things in my head, deep down, is what I wander through. It’s a journey in there, you know. And quite a strainous one I tell you.

The hurdles are much more harder to cross, because each time I defeat it, it’s me myself who loses. Each time I rejoice being victorious, it’s my own eyes that cry. Each time I succeed in finding a new path, it’s me, myself who loses the one that I have been travelling. It’s the life of a vagabond in there. Just travelling, with no care for anything or anybody else. As  peaceful & cheery as it sound to be, there are still little pockets of darkness that you have to tread – cold, bleak and dreary.

It’s all in all a reflection of what I see, what I hear and what I touch. It’s a world within the world, with it’s own summer and winter. A world that’s much more harder to tread, much more darker.

A world which sucks you in deeper and deeper when you try harder and harder to escape.

It’s your own mind.
It’s your own thoughts.
The enemy is you.
Your self.