Zindagi, phir bhi, khoobsurat hai ...

Sickness, says arvgrins, makes you nobler. It's the first time I've heard that, and don't know how true it is, but there sure seems to be some truth to it. He added that it makes you grateful for the little "big" things that you often take for granted. Have been going through patches of sickness last few days and I do agree that it brings along a wave of emotions, gratitude being one of them. If you look at the flip side of it, it also means that during the regular "non-sick" days, you take a lot of things & people for granted. We (the regular lot, not counting the enlightened within Our category) need a wave of lows to appreciate the highs that life has given us, which isn't a good scenario. So, before I emerge out of this wave of lows, I wanted to capture some thoughts that I can get revisit and correct my course next time I start taking life's gifts for granted. This post isn't about the lows, it's about some sensory flashbacks that give me a high, and some which take me lower.

Images: Ever think about something and have the images of some place run through your head? Let the thought pass. On another day, think of the thought again, and hey the same place coming into your head? I've realized that the subconscious ties together thought and visuals, sometimes with reason, sometimes without. And everytime you have these thoughts, you have an urge to visit these strange places from the past. These "strange" places include the kitchen of my school canteen, a chauraha (crossroad) somewhere, a railway crossing somewhere else, a few spots in my college, sleeper coach of trains, a temple on a mountain, a narrow alley somewhere else. Following the mental signals takes you back to these places after so many years, and when the urge has taken you there, it's without a purpose. But it does bring along a satisfaction, as though you're paying tribute to some moment of your past, a milestone revisited, mentally tick-off the urge.

Taste: Quite similar to the above, it's the taste of something you used to like in the past, the food getting tied to that period of your life. You have an urge sometime to go back & eat the stuff again. A few interesting examples: yellow cylindrical rice crispies (trying hard to get an image), Indian style chowmein, bread with yellow toppings at small bakeries (Masala toast), pineapple-cheese-cherry sticks on crushed ice, salted bread crumb preparation (used to call it Chunmun), Bread with Bhujia

Smell: This is clearly the most mesmerizing. I have these really good & bad moments associated with smells, all wired so perfectly in my head. Smell of a certain incense stick & wet ash brings back the worst moment in my life. A certain deodorant reminds me of a very cold and lonely period, my first visit to the US actually. The smell of certain perfumes brings back memories of college days, my first kiss, getting wet in the rain together, a mix of the perfumes we were wearing that evening. I've still retained 1-2 empty bottles of those perfumes from years ago, some fragrance still remains. I've hunted for and bought new bottles of some which still sell in the market. The fragrance still brings a mutual smile to our (my GF & mine) lips.

Music: Some of the most cheesy (they now sound cheesy) bollywood numbers, some western romantic & some rock numbers still take me back in time.

Audio visuals: There are some movie scenes that give me goosebumps or a tear trigger (you get the feeling that comes just before the first tear appears, but tears don't really appear, just moist eyes) each time, and every time you see it. I would imagine that for an artist, such a scene would seem like a masterpiece, it successfully has a viewer relate to it and empathize too. Mission accomplished! Some scenes from movies old and new, have this affect; most recently I experienced this for the movies The Namesake, Ijaazat and a recent release, Dasvidaniya.

Yesterday, my GF sent me some official papers by courier. Looking at her handwriting reminded me of the cards (Thanks Archies & Hallmark for creating those lovely cards) she used to give me. And it also made me realize how little we get to write these days, we exchange thousands of emails with people but don't know what their handwriting looks like. It was so different earlier, but it was taken for granted then, and now it's pure nostalgia.

To sum it up, an empty mind has a positive side too, and going off the road to recover does give your mind some time to smell the proverbial flowers, some of which were planted long ago, but still haven't withered. Life is beautiful!