Thursday, 15 January 2015

Doing nothing, in Doon




I knew Ankit had to finish his omlette and milk before his mother let him go to Dheeraj’s place with his Physics book. He said it was 10 am and he’d be down by 10:30, “maximum sey maximum”. His voice had to travel from his second floor balcony to the driveway across the road, over the oval jhoola park and skipping the circular lane skirting it. Of course he had to scream (I’ve heard it runs in the family since 1950, or so). A toddler was going berserk on the swing and his grandmother even more with her vocals. A theli wallah’s nasal was trying to drown it all down under a list of fresh vegetables straight from the hills. I had never heard those names before. Some sounded obscene. In the hibiscus shrub that stood in the corner of the garden a very sweet sounding bird was decidedly delighted to see at least seven different shades of purple blooming in the flowers. Clearly, my father-in-law loves that colour. 

Not that I looked up to see any of this right then. Just the sounds surrounded me, of a sleepy semi-retired colony of officers-of-yore sometimes entertaining visiting grandchildren but mostly themselves; in corners where narrow lanes met, over pickle-bottles lining low boundary walls or even while turning clothes over on clotheslines on roof tops. I didn’t look up to see all that. I was staring. Staring sleepily at my wriggling toes beaming in bright Doon sunlight after a dreary existence inside woollen socks in Delhi’s cold. When was the last time I saw them? Hello Big Toe. Hey there Tiny One. Long time no see …

See, mumma, see! I found a bag of toys in the gar-garage. Look! See! It was behind the bucket of tube-lights!’ I had to look up this time. Who knows what he held in his hands in the name of toys! In a grey matted cloth bag which must have been embroidered by some woman of this house and carried in her trousseau – with huts in cross-stitch and trees in rose-stitch – were orphaned pieces of puzzles and broken toys which were once his father’s treasure. His father’s? His father’s! Imagine the preservation sans preservatives. What stories each piece held, how must he have played with them. Fought over them. With a Dheeraj and an Ankit, perhaps an Ankita, from the hugging houses around? A hurtling sound snapped the thought as the bag was excitedly emptied on the grass. Wonderment made way for concentration, the kid’s tongue popped out, trying to make whole what seemed so out-of-place in the present to me a moment ago. The tongue was a good sign. It meant he was busy now. So I went back to where I was. Hmm. Where was I?   

I ran my fingers in my short crop looking straight up at the sky, stretching my legs all the way to the cacti and folding the slightly wet layers of hair inwards as I went from root to tip, root to tip. The chair creaked a bit, threatening to give way … but oh the sky. Blue. Clean blue. As blue as it gets. But then who knows what the bluest of blue looks like? Would there always be a bluer blue somewhere? No, this is blue. This sky, now is …

Did you keep my blue muffler somewhere?’ he asked, standing at the door of the verandah with an expression which meant he didn’t know what to wear on his birthday after many decades of being born and still needed help. Let me think. I had kept it wrapped on my head all night, because the room had refused to warm up to its visitors. I thought why not try some Scottish wool. While the check on it was so handsome, the icy cold proved the stronger suitor. I asked him to check under my pillow, or in the outside pocket of the suit case, or the living room sofa, or the book shelf on the first floor lobby, even as my lethargic hands ruffled my hair and my head refused to jog its memory too hard. Of course I wanted to get up and help, but I was sitting here because … because ...why was I sitting here? Since how long? What time was it anyway?

A few more minutes and I’d get up... 

I’ll be back in five minutes. It’s almost 10:30 and I forgot to get the milk. No, no, you are not going to get it. Just relax and be. Haan, the phool wala will deliver three plants. Just have him put them near the postbox. I’ll plant them later’ and my father-in-law walked out the gate, a bag in one hand and a newspaper cutting in the other. Hah! He’s meeting friends near the chowmein shop at the bend for a breaking-news group discussion. He’s not coming back soon. No sir, he isn’t! Wait, did he say 10:30? It’s 10:30? Only? 

I pushed my happy toes into the slippers and suddenly stood up with hair dry and glowing. The antique wood under me groaned at the careless treatment. Oh! Here’s the muffler, dear, I was sitting on it all this … but he was already dressed for the day, maybe. I noticed then that Ankit and Dheeraj were together now, poring over a thick book in Dheeraj’s lawn. And it wasn’t Nutan Physics. Not at all! My son in the meantime had engineered an airplane out of pure waste and was chasing a butterfly in it, with a round stone as the pilot. 

Hmm. 

That was a nice, relaxing moment of, of … doing nothing. Doing nothing? Is one ever doing nothing, no matter how lazy the morning or how small the town, asked I wisely of the bird witnessing it all near the Bottle Brush at the gate. I breathed in and then out and wrapped the muffler around my neck with a swish and a swirl and a sorry face ready for mister …

Miss, uncle ji told me to put these three dahlias near the postbox’ said a good-looking pahari from over the boundary wall and looking lovely from between the morning glory vine. Miss? One after the other in what seemed such slow motion (but then you never know on certain syrupy mornings) he put those delicate darlings down in a row. There they stayed gleefully, three new born dahlias, watching the blue sky and busy boys, flying planes and butterflies. Waiting, as if, for my father-in-law to get back with much news, much gossip, and hopefully some milk in the jhola too. Three wonderful dahlias, in different shades of purple, of course.

Some things exist to never change. Like ... like doing nothing in Dehra Dun.




30 comments:

  1. Same pinch Sakshi! Me too loves doing nothing. Simply nothing. It helps one enjoy and drink in the beauty of the surroundings, of the many otherwise taken for granted faces, of the moments and of being ourselves.

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    1. Absolutely, Rekha. Those idle moments can be so enjoyable. Because if if our hands and our feet are doing nothing, our heads are cooking khichdis like this one here. :D
      Precious moments, indeed!

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  2. The Doon valley and its salubrious surroundings make it a perfect haven to do nothing but sit back and watch the world go by at a languid pace! Lovely narrative Sakshi!

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    1. Thank you, Rahul. I am fortunate to have been born and brought up Doon. The place has character, and a charm which refuses to get boxed and stored. It just has to be spoken about, again and again! Like this here. :)
      Very happy you liked this.

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  3. Took me back to the times I visited moms place in different towns. Doing nothing in the lap of nature is a luxury unknown to kids living in metros. Sigh!

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    1. I agree, Alka. Kids revel in other kinds of luxuries. But then, that's life.
      Thank you for reading this. :)

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  4. Beautifully written Sakshi. How nice to read about doing nothing! Yet, it is so evocative. Loved it. :)

    P:S: I have printed this out to keep in my file created for quotes, interesting articles and worthy reads that I find online.

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    1. You might as well have said P.S - I LOVE YOU. :) Thank you, Preethi. It tells me how much you liked this piece. As for your idea of printing and filing good things in life, I'm going to borrow it too. :)
      Lots of love and thank you for being here.

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  5. I have some good memories of dehra dun.. i had gone there for my OTA interview , sadly did not get selected :)

    that is what holidays are for DOING nothing :)

    I spend so many summer holidays doing nothing in the good old days


    Bikram's

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    1. Hello there. Where have you been? Wishing you a happy new year, Bikram. :)
      Tie a thread around the bundle of 'good old days' and pull it forward to today. Go holiday and do nothing. And then tell us all about it.
      Good to have you back though! :)

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    2. I have been here only , just a few things going on in life .. thank you so much for the wishes.

      starting to re-blog again slowly now , getting back into the blogging world .. :)

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    3. Good to know. Expect me to be a regular on your blog. That's my 2015 resolution!

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  6. Well, this is one task I think I am really good at - doing nothing :) It is really an art, I say, so I guess that makes me an artist of some type.
    This was a beautifully written post, Sakshi! This post is a clear example of all kind of good that comes from these moments of doing nothing.

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    1. It is an art, Beloo. It is difficult to sit idle, especially when your mind cannot get away from the to-do list of the day. But when it does, it's pure bliss.
      I am so happy to hear 'beautifully written' from your mouth, Beloo, because I know how well you write. Really happy! :)

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  7. Usually one gets to "do nothing" when you go to a real good friend's house and stay for a few days.

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    1. Ah! Dropping hints, are we? :D
      Thanks for reading, Haddock!

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  8. Just two days ago, I was missing mountains so badly, felt as if I belonged there all along. Don't know why I am getting so emotionally attached to mountains when I never grew up there nor lived for there sometime. All I do is go for trekking once in a while.
    And 'doing nothing'? Sounds like fairy tale to me :-D How I wish I could just trek on mountains across globe. All I need is big hearted sponsor :-D

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    1. What can say except 'the mountains are calling', Bhavana. This time, instead of using them to climb, go to put those feet up on a table placed right where the view of the valley is supreme.
      This kind of trip I can be large-hearted enough to sponsor. ;)
      Thanks for coming here! :)

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  9. How I love doing nothing :-D I can do it impeccably....

    A very enjoyable read Sakshi :-)

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    1. 'Impeccably' is a word I should have used in the post!
      Thank you so much, Maniparna, for reading and liking. :)

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  10. I so much enjoyed this reading this post :)
    Like many others I can keep doing nothing for hours together when I am near the beach or mountains but not at home ;)

    www.ananyatales.com

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    1. Oh, not at home for me either.
      Beach, mountains, all sound perfect. :D
      Thanks, Ananya!

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  11. now that's a really relaxing post. To do nothing is like a luxury that is so hard to afford these days. :)
    Btw, my brother;s posted in Doon and from his pictures the place looks so stunning.

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    1. Extremely hard to afford, Rajlakshmi. I agree with you!
      It's a lovely place, but not entirely immune to winds of change blowing from bigger metros. Would love to know about your brother. PM me his details.

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  12. This Doon story is poetry in motion, lyrical steps and soothing to the mind & heart. I can imagine the stunning visuals weaved like a dream life is made of:)

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    1. Lovely to hear that, Vishal. Many thanks for the appreciation! :)

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    2. Now, this post making me wanna visit this place. Now, you the brand ambassador:)

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  13. Oh, I'm a self proclaimed expert at this ;) the art of doing nothing :D
    I love the peace that fills me when I sit doing nothing, but it is hard, really, with a ball of energy running to me , shouting ammaaaa let's dance to bol chudiya :) :)
    An evocative post, dear.

    Well, your title seems perfect for a book :D

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    1. Hard? I would say it's impossible with those 'balls of energy' around us. Why do you think I will pen about those 30 minutes of peace when he was busy with a sack of toys? :D
      Thanks a lot, Sreeja. You're always so appreciative.

      The title. Well. Ahem. Ahem. :D

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