Pearl's musings

Soul food

Be your own soul-warmer

Not really alive, not really dead

When you say it all but it’s still unsaid,

 

You walk in the present while living in the past

Clinging to every joyous moment lest it be the last,

 

Days turn to nights, darkness breaks into light

As you crawl out of bed drained of the strength to fight,

 

Each laugh is so hollow, each smile just an inverted frown

Imprisoned in a circus where you’re not even the clown,

 

It’s miserable being a sunflower when the sun is never around

You can’t really stay afloat when you believe you’ve already drowned,

 

Breathe in, breathe out and you’ll get through the toughest hour

Be your own soul-warmer, no one else deserves that kind of power.

New York

New York was like a rushed vacation. We had 48 hours, no information and a serious case of jet lag.

Our hotel was 7kms from JFK and the shuttle guy sneakily charged us way more than he should have! To make things worse the ride to the hotel gave me a sinking feeling as I saw nothing of the hustle-bustle, the lights, or the people I had associated the city with. I saw tall grey buildings with windows the size of pigeon holes, a depressing traffic jam and people in black cars smoking and browsing through their phones while driving. I rolled up the window and sank back into my seat, feeling nauseated by the overpowering smell of cigarettes that the cab reeked of and also by the disappointment that the first sight of New York brought. Since it was already evening and we were too tired to start exploring, we just walked down a couple blocks from the hotel looking for food. Street vendors lined the streets and offered fajitas, chicken and lamb with rice and some wraps. We walked on not knowing what to eat till the blue and red lights of Dominos beckoned us in and before we knew it we were walking back with two boxes of hot, good-smelling dinner.

The next morning saw us refreshed and energised and all ready to be wide-eyed tourists in the fast moving city. This time we moved out cautious and informed. Our first stop would be Liberty Island, we decided to greet Lady Liberty before we did anything else in the city which still did not seem like the “New York” I had imagined. The subway was a life saver – efficient, cheap and fast. We reached the south ferry station without much hassle. I did take incorrect directions from an ill-informed fellow passenger and made us travel in the opposite direction for 10 minutes, but that was soon identified and rectified. As soon as we stepped out of the station we were engulfed by “canvassers” of various cruise rides that would give us a view of Liberty Island, Brooklyn Bridge and so many other places I didn’t quite catch all the names at once. The lady who roped us in must have sensed our suspicion (thanks to the previous day’s shuttle fiasco) and showed us her ID and valid tickets and then the shuttle bus full of tourists waiting to take us to our ride. Well it all seemed legit this time and so we hopped on and the shuttle fare was just a dollar! We got off at the ferry stop and waited with a bunch of other tourists (most of whom were Indian and Chinese) till the boat arrived. The ferry ride was a tour of the two places mentioned above along with a view of Governors Island and Ellis Island. It was a good beginning to our express sight-seeing and it lifted my spirits as it now began to look like New York.

The Ferry ride

The Ferry ride

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

The Lady

The Lady

The city across the river

The city across the river

After the boat ride we went to the 9/11 memorial which was just five minutes by car. The sight of the memorial was breath taking! I could not have imagined anything so beautiful. The architecture, the landscape and the spirit of the place was heart-warming. The giant, serene pools where the twin towers originally stood and the names of the victims engraved in stone, written down in history suck you back into time to reminisce the tragic loss that shook this beautiful city. Yes, this was New York. This sight erased my first cold, grey impression of the city and replaced it warm memories of beautiful parks, amazing architecture and vibrant people. The ‘humans of New York’ are walking libraries. I had been observing them since the time I landed and they just got more interesting. Each one from a different corner of the world, with a different story to tell, with a different outlook of life going through their own struggles trying to fulfil their dreams in this city that seemed to have something to offer everyone.

Swag and all :)

Swag and all 🙂

The serene pool

The serene pool

Would you look at that !

Would you look at that !

The Oculus

The Oculus

Names of victims engraved in stone

Names of victims engraved in stone

We went on to explore the rest of Wall Street with buildings so tall you could fall backwards trying to see where they ended. There were people in power suits looking very busy, talking very fast and making no eye contact. There were also people walking around aimlessly, sampling street food and clicking pictures at every step. Parks broke the monotony of buildings and offered people a place to lunch, hangout or show-off some skateboarding tricks. We ended up having chicken biryani from an Indian vendor who explained to us that the different types of rice listed on his menu were all the same and he just gave them different names, well, because people liked it that way! After the filling lunch in a park full of tulips, we set out in search of the charging bull and the recently installed little girl looking him straight in the eye. We found both thickly surrounded by tourists who would not budge an inch. We managed to take our iconic pictures (without which no one would have believed we had been to NYC) amidst the madness and then moved on to stroll aimlessly through the heart of New York. That was our first day of sight-seeing well spent! The ride back to the hotel was easy-peasy, we had figured out the subway.

Brave little girl

Brave little girl

Ohh the tulips

Ohh the tulips

Into the clouds

Into the clouds

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Jpeg

Jpeg

Day 2 in the city (technically Day 3, but we shall ignore those few hours spent eating pizza and sleeping). We had 12 hours to see as much as we could, had a late night flight to catch. It had to be Times Square! We had stumbled right into a movie, it looked like! New York has extreme settings from dark and dingy to bright and blingy. If Paris hadn’t claimed the title, I would gladly call NY the fashion capital of the world. Brands, brands, brands – screaming, glaring, beckoning and tempting. We walked through all the glam trying to take it all in, we also walked past some of the ‘homeless’ playing games on their smartphones! Madame Tussauds gave us our dream night with the stars and we clicked away to our heart’s content. Rockefeller Centre, Trump Towers and many a wonderful sight were gaped at along the way. Our last stop we decided would be Central Park. We were exhausted by this time and all we wanted to do was take in as much of the city as we could before we had to leave dreamland and head back to reality.

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Rockefeller Centre

Rockefeller Centre

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;)

😉

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Has to be Times Square !

Has to be Times Square !

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Central Park sprawled out far beyond the horizon, it was alive, it was breathing. It’s like the whole city and the millions of tourists just kept pouring in there and the park embraced everyone. It replenished and revived all who came. I could just sit there forever and look at the happy people, the gorgeous trees and the skyline of that beautiful city or I could try walking through the park which would take forever too. It was the perfect end to our very short visit. There was lots more to see, many landmarks to check off the list but instead of cluttering the day with everything we just took a step back and admired as much of it as we could.

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Took some time out to snooze

Took some time out to snooze

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Lined up outside the park

Lined up outside the park

She looked majestic

She looked majestic

As I drove back to the airport on the same route that had given me the chills about New York, I knew we had to visit again. Once was just not enough!

 

Too Deep

I held it and rocked it and lulled it to sleep

Then found a dark corner where I could howl and weep

The house was as messy as my hair and my life

I entered the kitchen and locked away the knife

I was already at the edge, I just needed a hand

Wanted to erase that image of me washed up on the sand

I knew I was better, I knew I was strong

I knew I had struggled through this way too long

If only I could find a way to plug that hole in my heart

If only I could bear the thought of living apart

I could pack up and walk out without turning back

Knowing what I had painted red had turned rotting black

I would open the heavy drapes that blocked out the sun

Maybe reminisce about times that used to be fun

It would not be a victory that I would like to shout from the hills

Just some needed relief from everything that kills

And remember that little thing I had rocked to sleep

I would whisper in its ears.. you shouldn’t love too deep

Pluto

My precious little Pluto boy

Please spare my fingers, they are not your chew toy

Your warm little body, and inquisitive wet nose

Make me love you so much even when you nibble my toes

You are not just the playful angel that at first you seemed to be

You growl and pounce and bite like a vicious, possessed bee

It’s hilarious to watch you attempt little feats and sulk when you fail

Keep trying little fella, one day you may even catch your tail

Your hazel-green eyes light up every morning when we greet

The whole day whirrs past like a tornado, till at night you lay at my feet

Before I know it you will grow up into a handsome chocolate lab

My heart would be so proud, but my eyes would need a dab ..

Pluto

I don’t believe we were meant for this..

I don’t believe that this life we have is the beginning and the end

Great things may still happen, the unexpected could be around the bend

We could not have been born to live a life so trivial

Each day a struggle in the race for survival

The universe so vast sprawls out beyond our imagination

And here we sit on our planet pitting nation against nation

We ought to have a bigger role in the unravelled cosmic plan

Where we could be superheroes not just ‘fragile mortal man’

There are galaxies out there, suns and stars we haven’t seen

And we are confined to rotating about an axis, what does this really mean

It’s like you could leap and fly and dive but you’re only allowed to jump

I would rather meet some aliens than choose between Hillary and Trump

Man was granted the freedom to choose between good and bad

But take a look around you, the outcome is really sad

Some may say we’ve done great and present rockets and satellites as proof

One look into the eyes of a bleeding, dying man and you’ll know all this is just a spoof

Yes, we were given the beautiful life sustaining Earth to live and do as we please

But we need to admit we made a mess of it and now we hope all this would cease

Let’s be born again in a world that is safe for every person, every child, every stray

Or let’s burn down this hell we’ve created and move to a galaxy far, far away..

 

It is not over..

It was a life she lived with pride

Crashing or surfing with every passing tide

Dreams and hopes just multiplied

As she sung merrily at every Yuletide

 

Then the winds of change took over

Somehow her world seemed to move slower

Dark clouds descended lower and lower

She wished for luck from a four-leaved clover

 

Her life was now not hers to call

Joy was memories she could only recall

Restricting barriers that were impossibly tall

Threatened her to give up her all

 

Uprooted and planted in an alien place

Nothing seemed clear through the teary haze

Was this perpetual or just a passing phase

How could she escape this perplexing maze

 

Black nights stood witness to a muffled cry

Smiles had evaporated leaving behind a sigh

How life changes in the blink of an eye

She reflected in remorse while she waved goodbye

 

Dreams were snatched and replaced with duty

Mundane was her life, devoid of beauty

To her it was the definition of cruelty

It seemed impossible – this life without novelty

 

Maybe it was time to take a closer look at things

To open up the window and let the chirpy birds sing

To give life a chance and see what it brings

To get launched into space like a pebble from a sling

 

She put her hopes back in that four-leaved clover

Her feet may be tied but her heart was a rover

She aimed for the stars but landed a little lower

After all it is not over till she says it is over !

Midnight quests..

As you slipped into the subconscious, I lay wide awake looking at you,

I traced your features with my fingers and stole a kiss while you had no clue,

You looked peaceful and calm, every breath like a ripple in molten liquid,

No sign of the tough exterior just serenity covering you with softness so fluid,

I placed my hand on your chest and felt the rhythm of your heart beat,

My mind wandered in the labyrinth of your thoughts apprehensive of who I may meet,

These midnight quests are a desperate attempt to reach out and find your soul,

Don’t misconstrue my intentions, I don’t mean to invade, I just need it to make me whole..

A little about myself..

 

Let’s start at the very beginning..

My parents just adored me and lovingly named me Pearl
but then my mother had a hard time trying to make me ‘behave like a girl’

The tomboy phase hasn’t passed yet and you will usually find me in jeans
a defiant streak they called it, I still don’t know what it means

School was never a problem as I had a truck load of awesome friends
I had my own easy-going style back then, never really followed the trends

Adulthood was a bumpy road and I absolutely detested the change
growing up was just so boring I found it way out of my range

The first opinion about me ranges from sweet to shy to proud
not one of these is accurate though, they are just guesses from the crowd

Adjectives that really describe me are emotional, stubborn and sarcastic
it’s not really as bad as it sounds; I also have the occasional streak of fantastic

Be true to me and I will love you for life, our journey could actually be great
try playing games and I’ll remind you that this Sagittarian has some Scorpion traits

Fries, chocolates, books, dogs, SRK, FRIENDS and winters are few of the things I love
I also believe in the power of the pen and in the mercies of our Creator above..

 

You would never know..

Your comfort zone could be your shackle, but unless you accept a challenge you would never know,

Your whole world could be the size of an atom, but unless you try to explore it you would never know,

That person whose smile you didn’t return could have been your best friend, but now you will never know,

You could probably walk on water, but until you let it wet your feet you would never know,

Thunder storms may have parted and rainbows may be shining, but unless you step out again you would never know,

That knife in your back could be a unicorn nudging you on, but until you turn around how would you ever know,

Demons in your closet could be angels dressed for Halloween, but until you let them out you will never know,

Broken shards of your heart may have joined back together, but until you love again you would never know,

Valleys and mountains you have crossed and the road ahead is lined with flowers, but until you look up how will you ever know..

Beautiful, blue Belize

You know the feeling when you belong to a country where cricket is worshipped and your husband is one of the most ardent believers? Yeah, I know it. While I know that I also know that when my eyes show interest in his passionate, and sometimes animated, replay of all the technical details of the game my mind can actually wander around the house, the neighbourhood and even nearby districts and come back.

Well, it was on one of these days when my mind was away on its exploratory quests that I heard the words “Tournament in Belize” echoing in the void. I ditched my quest midway and immediately returned to the present moment where I was being told by my husband that we would soon be travelling to Belize for a cricket tournament yippee!! I didn’t really know anything about the country before that,  just the idea of a vacation excited me.

We took a flight from San Jose to El Salvador and from there to Belize. It took us around three hours to get there. A bus waited outside to take the players to their hotel. As I stuck my head out of the window and watched the city go past, two things clearly struck me – the heat and the emptiness. The streets were quite deserted and the heat made me miss the pleasant weather back in San Jose. Swallowing the first little disappointment with self-imposed optimism I looked forward to the rest of the trip. After a short break to freshen up we left for the grounds for the first match. As the guys padded up I befriended two beautiful ladies who were also accompanying their husbands on this trip. We grabbed boxes of rice and chicken and watched some dusty cricket as the sun set in the distance. After the long, hot day it was time for chilled Belikin beer and snooker at a nearby restaurant. By the time we called it a day, Belize was starting to grow on me.

The next day we parted ways, while the guys headed for the field again the ladies went on to rent a car and explore the city. Our first stop was Altun Ha, the ruins of the Mayan civilization. Calling it ‘the ruins’ seems a little unfair since the place is so immaculately preserved. We saw a number of pyramid-like structures some of which had been temples where sacrifices were made back in ancient times. After soaking in the beauty and sturdiness of these age old structures around us we just sat quietly on the highest temple roof and imagined what the Mayans would have been like. We visited the museum on the way out where we read more about the Mayan history and also bought a few colourful souvenirs.

The Sun God

The Sun God

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Well preserved architecture

Well preserved architecture

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Pristine lawns

The Temple of the Sun God

The Temple of the Sun God

Meditating atop the temple

Meditating atop the temple

Mayan craftsmanship

Mayan craftsmanship

The museum

The museum

We decided to spend the rest of the day at the beach, however, I had to be left back at the hotel as my migraine had kicked in full force, all thanks to the benevolent sun god ! My friends did not end up at the beach that day, instead, they took some pretty amazing pictures at the colourful Belize Sign Monument. The only colour I turned was green when I got to know what I had missed.

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The colourful Sign Monument

The colourful Sign Monument

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Anyway, I was feeling much better by evening and we went to go see how the cricket was coming along. The people of Belize, it turned out, are as crazy as Indians when it came to cricket. The place was packed with the locals cheering on the teams and gulping their favourite Belikins. Our team did win that match which set the mood for dinner and we decided to try out an Indian restaurant. The place was like an Indian watering hole where all the Indians in the city had gathered for a round of loud chattering and some spicy food with Bollywood songs keeping time in the background.

The last day of our trip and the final match of the tournament, we stayed to watch and cheer. The stands were packed and the ‘Champion’ song was on loop. The teams battled it out and it was an effort worth watching. I enjoy the fours and the sixes, I realised, it’s just the technicalities of the game that bore me. The closing ceremony was a colourful spectacle. The teams’ jerseys ranged from tomato red to sunny yellow to bright blue. Heartfelt speeches by the officials and the genuine care by the hosting country was a testimony to Belize’s love for the game. We didn’t win the tournament but their hospitality won our hearts.

Colourful Teams

Colourful Teams

United under their flags

United under their flags

On our last afternoon in the country we finally got to see the blue waters of the Caribbean. Almost all the members of our team joined in for a snorkelling trip. We took a boat almost 5 kilometres into the sea before we reached the snorkelling area. The waters were beckoning and we dived in one after another. My average swimming skills didn’t really let me dive in so I climbed down the ladder at the side and held on to a buoy for dear life. Once I put my face into the water it was a different story, the waters were unbelievably clear and the fish were plentiful. The corals were so big that we could stand on them to take a break from swimming; the instructor even showed us a lobster! It was hands down the best snorkelling experience ever. On our way back to the shore we stopped at a splendid little island resort with sand so white we thought it was artificial! We took a dozen pictures and splashed around at their beach till it was time to go back.

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Private beach

Private beach

Beautiful white sand

Beautiful white sand

This last dip in the Caribbean was the best part of the Belize trip. We could not visit the Great Blue Hole, one of the best scuba diving sites in the world, on this trip but that still remains on the wish list for which we will return to beautiful, blue Belize soon.

That's all folks !!

That’s all folks !!

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