Small Things#11 – Magic in our neighborhood!

This Summer not only flowers but magic blossomed in our neighborhood.

Driveways got filled with chalk art and innocent secrets were shared. Every beetle was observed and ants ran for cover as little scientists scaled the grounds. Stories happened and games got invented! There were nasty fights, cuts and falls but all was forgotten.

There were songs sung in chorus and amazing dance moves! There were dirty hands, feet as well, and soaked muddy shoes. Round eyes laughed and ruddy cheeks sparkled as they got engaged in charming chatter.

I saw stars in their wild hair and music in the shrieks. Imaginary characters came to life and so much was make belief.

Yes, I saw it all from my brown chair…experiencing it all like lines of an old prayer.

Many many years back, I was a part of the magic… now, sadly, just an observer!

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A letter to my classmate!

   
Hello,

Hope this letter finds you good. I felt an immediate need to write to you after visiting your facebook profile via our common friend’s profile. I was looking for a tall, gawky person but saw a different man there – aged with lined face and a pot belly. I was aghast! There was no sign of the boy who would enter the classroom bustling with energy, taking on the world in his languishing stride. 

It seems as if time has flown since I last saw him after our board exams (Kabuliwallah syndrome… remember the story?). We were sixteen then… fresh and so full of excitement to take on the world. I had half expected to find the same boy and initiate a chat with him. But for the first time, I experienced how much the world has changed… how much I have changed! In a flash, I felt being transported from teenage years right into my thirties.

He and I studied together from kindergarten till tenth. Although, we were never best of friends! Infact, I remember the boy was mean to me a number of times and I myself was not a model of good behaviour but we were comfortable around each other. I also visited other classmates via your profile but everyone has changed. Most of us have put on weight, have moved to different places, undergone varied experiences. Life truly has taken a toll on us.

I tried hard to find some semblance, something of the past in your picture but …I gave up.  You looked comfortable around your family…a typical man of the world who goes to work in the morning, returns home tired and waits for dinner to be served at night. Your wife is beautiful and kids are cute. One of them resembles you. I am glad life has been good to you. But again, you are so unlike him. He was fidgety and non-conformist. You are a stereotype family man!

He was ambitious, boisterous and haughty but you seem to avoid confrontations. He questioned everything and you seem to accept everything. I like that you are happy and settled but I liked him better – my happy go lucky classmate who would make the class laugh with his pranks. He was non predictable and creative, you are adjusting with what life has offered you. Good for you!

 I smile thinking that once upon a time,  my classmates were an intrinsic part of my world. I had enjoyed their encouragement and would take any discouragement to heart. Many a times, they were harsh and judgemental.

My classmates held the power to make or break me. I didn’t know then that all this would change so drastically. And that I would no longer have to compete with or conform to anyone’s notions. It felt good when I moved on from teenage angst towards maturity but in the process, I took you all for granted. I had never thought I would never find you all ever again…not in the same way. 

I get nostalgic remembering the last parting image of my classmates – excited bunch of boys and girls who loved to chat,  bitch, scream and dream. Where did they all go?

Lately, some of you crept into my memory and reminded me of those sweet-sour school years. Perhaps, wanting to re-live the past encouraged me to visit your FB page.  I wanted to meet you all and have a chat online. But I guess…I have lost the connect.

If my letter encourages you to find him – the gawky teenager, somewhere deep within you, then kindly let him know that I am thankful to him for being a part of my childhood. 

May be, my letter would make you  curious and you would want to check back my profile. But I warn you – you will hardly recognise me – a married woman with kids. You would not know what to say to me.

But perhaps if you let that tall boy visit my profile, he might find the quiet girl who loved doodling and reading. They will connect, have great conversation and laugh together like youngsters do. Please find and send him once for I am sure we all miss the innocent, musical laughter of our wonder years! Then, may be we will reconnect again with our past.

Best wishes for everything,

Your former friend

  
Images courtesy Google

The strange dream house!

“The A&B Building was made entirely from driftwood.” My grandmother informed me, pulling me closer. “And it would crop out of nowhere overnight at any secluded area and lure innocent victims inside,” she informed. She warned me never to venture inside such buildings as strange things happened there.

I believed her every word but forgot the warning. I earnestly wished to enter that driftwood house so that I could see those ‘strange things’.

One day, as I was playing along the beach near my home, I saw the driftwood building materialise near the shore. My parents were talking so I just slipped away. I entered the inviting house.  And was I delighted? It was every child’s dream house. I played on and on and ate and ate….

After a while, when I missed home.  I looked for an exit and walked out of the house. To my horror, the world had changed and I had grown very old!

This story is a part of the wonderful ‘Mondays Finish The Story Challenge’ by Barbara Beacham. She provides us with a photo prompt, the first sentence, and approximately 150 words with which we are to use to write our story. To take up the challenge click hereMFtS

Baby Boo and the Teeny Weeny Sandal

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One fine evening, Baby Boo, the toy infant escaped from Babyland to look for adventure on Earth. He jumped out of the trampoline clouds, slid through the rainbow and landed on top of a cheerful flower in the garden of old Miss Daisy. All the while he shrieked with joy and sang at the top of his voice.

In case you have forgotten, let me introduce Baby Boo again. You must have seen him in one of your sweetest dreams as a child. Baby Boo is a playful toy from Babyland – the place where all kids in the world go when they dream. Babyland, nestled in trampoline clouds, is the fun place to be. They say it has ice-cream mountains, pizza valleys, juice streams, chocolate trees, plenty of slides,  characters from fairytales and magical toys like Baby Boo. The Baby God reigns over the land. He often admonishes his favourite toy, Baby Boo because he transcends dream in search of adventure on Earth.

Now back to this little adventure trip of Baby Boo, the toy infant. At the time of Baby Boo’s joyful arrival, Miss Daisy was tending her beautiful garden. The delightful singing of Baby Boo startled her so much that she almost dropped the hose. Now, dear Miss Daisy doesn’t like surprises too much. She adjusted her round glasses and looked around for the mischievous trespasser. Lo and behold ! Baby Boo was perched like a butterfly on her precious flower. He tried to hide from her. He knew the old lady when she was a naughty little girl. Like every child on Earth, she had been to Babyland in her dreams. And she always took special pleasure in pulling his ear then, but of course now, the ninety year old did not remember a thing.

Unfortunately, Miss Daisy spotted him. Her eyes weren’t too good, so she couldn’t see the form of her former friend. She thought Baby Boo was a sort of big bug, destroying her beloved flower. So, she rigorously shook the branch that held the flower. Away went Baby Boo, flapping around to regain balance but fell down with a thud. Thankfully, he fell on a tiny wayside sandal, thus his cute back was saved from scratches.

Now, the sandal had a sad story to tell. She belonged to Baby Vir and she had accidentally slipped out of his feet while he was enjoying an outing with Mumma and Little brother Adi. She had been lying on the road for about fifteen minutes contemplating her fate. Any moment a passing car could run her down!

Baby Boo hugged the sobbing sandal and promised to reunite her with Baby Vir. Boo is said to be great at making a sad soul smile!

On the other hand, Vir’s Mumma was still unaware of the missing sandal as they took a walk along the winding pathway. She was busy informing her older son, little Adi about rabbits and birds. She was a little worried as her baby Vir had been inconsolable. What she did not know was – Vir had been crying for the missing teeny weeny sandal. He had been struggling to point out to Mumma that his favourite sandal had fallen near Miss Daisy’s house. But grown ups seldom understand a baby. Vir’s mom kept patting his back but did not notice his bare pink foot.

But thankfully, along came Baby Boo – the rescuer! He took the sandal in his arms and flew using his magical power. From above, he saw Mom and the little ones walking toward their apartment. He dropped the sandal right in front of little Adi hoping he would notice.

Little Adi was busy recognising numbers on the number plates of the cars. He stumbled on the sandal but did not look down. Adi moved on and woefully, Baby Boo’s attempt to unite the sandal with Vir was wasted.

Baby Boo flew down again and gathered the little sandal in his arms for a second attempt.

By this time, Vir wriggled his legs so much that his mother noticed that one sandal was missing. They started looking for it as Vir wailed louder and louder. Mumma called up papa and informed him about the missing sandal. The other pair of teeny weeny sandal was shedding tears too. It was a sorry sight!

After a while, they gave up looking for the missing sandal as it was getting dark. They were about to enter their apartment when Baby Boo aimed and threw the sandal right in front of them, just a few feet away. Adi ran and picked it up. He delightfully shouted,” Mumma, here is the missing sandal.”

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It was strange that the sandal was found on this side of the building. They had not taken this path on their way out, Mumma wondered.

However, she shrugged and put the sandal back on Vir’s feet. The united pair of sandals tapped each other and smiled gratefully at Baby Boo. Vir baby stopped crying and looked up. He found Baby Boo hovering on the sky. He chuckled, clapped and laughed showing his two tiny teeth.

Before leaving, Baby Boo waved and threw magic flying kisses at them. The kisses tickled the kids so much that they laughed and laughed. Mumma had no choice she laughed too! And so did papa, when they reached home.

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This is the picture of the magical toy infant, Baby Boo, clicked long ago. Stay blessed and stay glued for more adventures of Baby Boo. Till then, bear hug to all kids and to those, who refuse to grow up!

Namaste Hollywood!

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When we boarded the flight from Minnesota to Los Angeles, I was as excited as my four year old. I smiled ear to ear whenever I looked at my husband, who was taking us on this dream holiday trip. I am a huge film buff but my romance with movies started very late in life. It was when I started working as an online journalist, my beat being entertainment and books, that I started studying films. The colourful silver screen captivated me. I met and interviewed various personalities from the Indian film industry including Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Anupam Kher, Naseeruddin Shah as well as prominent writers like the late Khushwant Singh, Amitav Ghosh, Chetan Bhagat to name just a few. It was an amazing and fulfilling job but I quit to take up a blessed and greater responsibility – motherhood.

When we moved to the US, Hollywood films on Netflix bowled me over.  I had access to one of the best English films ever made. I noticed that these films were very real, well-made and technically sound.

Almost every evening, I watched great stories unfold in front of me  – The Sixth Sense, Forrest Gump, Silence of the Lambs, Hachiko, Mission Impossible, Top Gun, Ghost, Hercules, Elizabeth and a thousand more…

And then this amazing trip to Hollywood was planned! How could I not be on the top of the world! This was my chance to dive right into the world of films.

It was a warm mid summer night when we reached LA. My dream of visiting Hollywood land was going to be fulfilled. I have noticed that every state in the US has a unique, dominant personality. LA seemed aggressive as compared to the laid back Minnesota. We stayed at the welcoming house of our family friends – a great couple with two very sweet kids. They had planned our schedule to perfection. We were to go to one of the Pacific beaches on the first day, the enchanting Disneyland on the second day, and Universal Studios on the third day. The fourth day was dedicated to the Walk of Fame.

On the first day, I sighted the Pacific while our car meandered through the hills. The mighty ocean appeared out of nowhere between the hills like a brimming sea of mercury. It was vast, intimidating, dazzling, bewitching and oh so beautiful! Blue oceans and mountains always remind me of Krishna. I looked up and could not help whispering – “How great thou art?”.

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On the second day, we visited the fascinating Disneyland. We took the little train to Mickey’s House and my older one met one of his favourite characters- the ever smiling beloved mouse. I hugged Mr Mickey too, he was my childhood sweetheart. He had a fine little house. We met several other characters, took roller coaster rides, boarded the Mark Twain, watched the grand parade and came back with cute memories.

I was waiting for the third and fourth day. But my baby woke up tired and cranky due to exertion, and I kept my fingers crossed. LA was quite warm and reminded me of the Delhi heat. Fortunately, after his morning feed, my baby behaved alright and we went ahead as planned. The Universal Studios was a fun place to be. We boarded the train that took on a short tour of the studios, where some of the greatest films of all times have been shot (Psycho, A Beautiful Mind, Bruce Almighty, Home Alone etc). We were informed about all the techniques of filmmaking. We watched as the sweaty summer day turned into a monsoon delight – lightning struck, it rained and floods came. Anything was possible there!

The 4-D show of dinosaur and King Kong was incredible. It made me jump from my seat several times. We watched another live show that talked about the special effects involved in filmmaking. My son was scared to see the hand of a lady being chopped off and then sewn back. I told him this was the magic of films, the unreal is made so very real!

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The Minions, Shrek, Scooby Doo, Donkey and Spongebob attracted my four year old. He was all wide eyed and excited when he posed for pictures with the talking Mr Donkey and Spongebob.

On the fourth day, my heart sang as we prepared to visit the coveted Hollywood sign nestled on the Mt Lee. Our friends managed to take us quite near to the sign for a well angled shot. It was illegal to go any closer to the restricted area. What a wonderful sight it was. The letters ‘Hollywood’ glowed with the spirit of the film industry. We posed for photos and I remembered those days when cropped pictures of the Hollywood sign to use in the stories from Hollywood on our news website. I joined my hands and whispered ‘Namaste Hollywood’! This was the storyland of our world.

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Later in the evening, it was time to visit the famed Kodak (Dolby) Studio, the star studded Hollywood Walk of Fame and the mesmerising Madame Tussaud’s. The Dolby studio is famous for grandest red carpet events including the Oscars. I couldn’t help envisioning myself walking the red carpet and receiving an Oscar. Haha…perhaps, someday! What was wrong in dreaming even if it was too far fetched.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame comprises of more than 2500 brass stars (bearing names of famous Hollywood personalities) embedded in the side walks of the most happening street in the world. It looked similar to the streets of Las Vegas at night. There was music, street dancing, street performers, characters as well as grand shopping and dining facilities. My son was confused to see two Spidermen, he thought only one existed in the world! The street throbbed with life. It was fun!

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The kids were getting uncomfortable and tired. So, we planned a ladies only visit to the wax museum – Madame Tussaud’s. Our husbands stayed outside with the kids. We entered the dimly lighted building where life size statues of great Hollywood stars awaited us. I was enthralled to look at them up and close.

Rihanna, Beyonce and Robert Pattinson welcomed us. We tried to steal a chocolate from Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump) and studied the briefcase of Pierce Brosnan. Brangelina stood grinning at us and we grinned back. Clark Gable took my heart away with his piercing gaze and then there was Tom Cruise and his boyish smile. The stunning Julia Roberts pulled a chair for us and we posed with Salma Hayek. Uma Thurman was not very friendly and threatened us with a sword. We fled to make a phone call, and fortunately, we found President Obama at his desk and used his phone. It seemed as if our college days were back again. I laughed heartily and had the time of my life!

The dream trip came to an end. We took leave from our gracious friends. The following morning, we boarded a flight to Dallas to celebrate our son’s birthday at his aunt and uncle’s place, where his cousins were planning a big surprise.

As we flew, my purse seemed heavier than usual. I understood. It was overloaded with some of the most unforgettable and beautiful memories of my life – straight from Hollywood. I looked down to watch the breathtaking Pacific in all it’s glory until it disappeared from sight.