You know those little unfiltered moments that feel so human and real? I’m obsessed. The messy morning hair, the big yawns when you first wake up, the way your shirt rides up when you stretch. How the wind playfully tussles your locks when you’re outside. The kind of full-bellied laugh that makes your eyes water. Sleepy, dreamy eyes that say you stayed up too late talking. The butterflies in your stomach when you have a crush. An innocent smile that keeps growing into laughter until you’re crying happy tears. Bumping shoulders with someone as you walk side-by-side unable to contain your excitement. Blushing and stumbling over your words when you get all giddy. Those rare times when we can just be our true, unguarded selves, without pretense or self-consciousness. Just pure, raw, natural human moments. We don’t appreciate these fleeting instants enough. It’s the unfiltered realness of people that makes me fall in love with humanity.
None of us hit the open road purely for kicks. We grab those suitcases and gas up the car because we’re driven by something deeper—a fundamental human need to explore new horizons. With each new mile unfurling under our wheels, we can feel the routine and familiarity of home fading behind us. And as we immerse ourselves in places where people speak different languages, eat different foods, live different lives, something inside us begins to shift and expand.
It’s like our minds are tired old sponges, thirsty for new sights, sounds, and experiences to soak up. And little by little, each small discovery accumulation leads to a subtle but profound change in our perspective.
When we finally return home again, initially it seems like nothing has changed on the surface. Our houses, our streets, our neighborhoods—they appear just as we left them. But deep down, we know something is different. Because we have been transformed from within. The way we see the world and our place in it has been altered in some subtle but significant way.
So, while we may not set out just for thrills, the truth is that travel satiates our soul’s deepest appetite. And by enriching our inner lives, it changes everything.
Often, I get very nostalgic about memories for few days when I travel from home. On a patient wait at the airport baggage claim on my way back to Sharjah from Kerala, I watched the conveyor belt rotate endlessly, carrying countless suitcases filled with the cherished items and memories of faraway homes, bags, packed homemade snacks, shoes, clothes, perfumes. An elderly couple from Kerala stood nearby, returning to their work life in Sharjah after a visit back home. I imagined the contents of their bags: his favorite mundu that he’s worn for decades, folded delicately alongside fragrant bags of cardamom tea from a Munnar trip. Her collection of gold bangles and jasmine hair oil passed down from her grandmother, wrapped protectively to withstand the long journey. Jars of homemade mango and wild jackfruit pickle, transported from her sister’s kitchen, jars of mango achaar wrapped protectively, reminding them of carefree childhood days playing hide-and-seek in jackfruit orchards. The aromatic coconut oil for their long, silver hair, conjuring images of mother braiding it lovingly each morning before school. His favorite tea leaves, recalling late nights on the veranda discussing life’s challenges and joys with his father. The taste of piping hot appams and vegetable stew, the sounds of temple bells and bicycle horns, the feel of fresh air from open paddy fields, the smell of fresh coriander powder in a mill. They chatted softly in Malayalam, no doubt reminiscing about their time back home. I pictured the memories their visit must have kindled – long, laughter-filled conversations on the back porch, the smell of beef fry and parottas at a late night thattukada.
Home is not a place, but the memories we carry in our hearts, feelings and nostalgia we carry within us. Regardless of where our travels take us, we bring pieces of home along through the flavors, sensations, people and stories that shaped our younger days. No matter how far we travel, home remains alive within us through them.
My father had forwarded a beautiful message and it was thought provoking. This being my garden of thoughts, I feel this needs to be here. I’ve refined it with some modifications and I’m posting it here.
The Permanent Address
I was 9 years old when my father received orders of transfer to a small village in Rajasthan. We were living in Ahmedabad at the time, and my father was in the process of building a new house next to our ancestral home.
I had witnessed him grapple with countless numbers, managing loan accounts of his staff, assessing fixed deposits, and leaving question marks scattered over blank spaces in the total.
Building a house is a once-in-a-lifetime effort for most people, so everyone goes Building a home is often a singular endeavor, a once-in-a-lifetime investment that pushes one to the limit. Despite all efforts, one always finds their dream home one room short. Renowned poet Javed Akhtar, captures this sentiment eloquently, “In Bombay, there’s but one sorrow, everyone’s home lacks one more room.”
The joint family home that I grew up in housed 14 people, from the ages of 5 to 95. Now, I observe both houses standing deserted, with nature reclaiming the garden that my mother once lovingly nurtured. The Plum, the Moringa, a few Sorrowless trees, Neem and Bodhi, persist. Yet, all aesthetic pleasures are ephemeral and delicate, succumbing to the relentless law of entropy. The vibrant blooms have all vanished. I often ponder about the fate of the peacock family that used to feed from my mother’s hand. Where are the nightingales, sparrows, parrots, pied flycatchers, cuckoos, and the large group of monkeys that would periodically disrupt the tranquility?
Once people leave, a home becomes a house. I didn’t feel like selling the house at first, but now I don’t feel like going back either. Time has taken away ten of the fourteen people who once lived here. Wandering through our neighborhood, I observe a similar destiny befalling numerous homes, once teeming with life, now lying dormant or replaced.
Why do we stretch and stress to build houses? In most cases our kids won’t need it or worse fight over it. What is this human folly of attempting permanent ownership in a leased life with an uncertain tenure given by a landlord whose terms are non-negotiable and there is no court of appeal. One day, all we have built with love and EMIs will either be demolished, fought over, sold, or lie in ruins. Every time I fill out a form that asks for my “permanent address,” I smile at the human folly.
There is a Zen story about an old monk who walked into a king’s palace and demanded to spend the night. The guards told him that this was a palace, not an inn. But the monk replied, “I came here a few decades ago, and someone was staying here then. A few years later, someone else took the throne. And so it has continued. Any place where the occupant keeps changing is an inn.“
George Carlin once said, “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.“
As houses get bigger, families get smaller. When the house is full of people, we crave privacy. And when the nest empties, we crave company.
Birds and Animals must be laughing at us humans that give up living in order to build their dream home and in the end depart the Inn they mistook as a PERMANENT RESIDENCE.
The reflective nature of existence
In the words of an insightful philosopher: “Why fear thoughts? For it is through them that we bring order to the world.” Yet, the very act of thinking has the power to veil reality so completely that we become blind to it.
In imparting wisdom to his disciples, he elucidated: “A thought is a veil, not a reflection; thus, you dwell within a cocoon of thoughts, disconnected from the essence of Reality.” This charming allegory by Anthony de Mello highlights the profound truth; life is a prism reflecting the depth of your inner thoughts.
Individuals often attribute their tribulations to external circumstances, endeavoring fruitlessly to transform their surroundings in the hopes of ameliorating their lives. This approach seldom yields success, as their thoughts remain incongruent. What the mind envisions materializes, regardless of one’s desires.
Life, as a mirror, reflects your very essence back to you.
Perceiving the World Through the Self
The world, as we perceive it, is not an objective reality but rather a reflection of our inner selves. If you perceive the world as precarious, you will seek evidence to validate this belief, perhaps by focusing on distressing news stories that confirm your convictions.
“Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations.”— Earl Nightingale
Conversely, some individuals embrace the beauty of life, attracting delightful experiences as a consequence. These people are not naïvely optimistic, but rather prioritize joy in the face of adversity. Thus, we observe two distinct individuals manifesting dissimilar circumstances, driven by their prevailing beliefs dictating their reality.
The Malleability of Thought and Experience
Continuously, your conscious and unconscious thoughts shape the world around you, as reality becomes a mirror reflecting your inner realm. Should your thoughts be distorted, it is imperative to realign them with the truth. Failing to do so may lead you into the abyss of despair.
The power of choice lies within you. Reality manifests external conditions in accordance with your thoughts. Life is neither fair nor unjust; it merely confirms your thoughts as both the creator and the experiencer.
As our perception of life is an experience of thought, overthinking complicates our existence, constricting the aperture of our consciousness. Soon, all we discern when peering into the world is our own thinking mirrored back to us in the distorted reflection of self-awareness.
Embracing the Duality of Life ,the Illusion of Free Will
— Thomas Paine
“The wise man smiles in adversity, gathers strength from distress, and becomes courageous through reflection.”
Life flourishes due to its dualistic nature, comprising equal and opposite forces. Day yields to night, each complementing the other. Without darkness, how could one appreciate the light of day?
Many individuals ardently defend the concept of free will, yet it could be argued that free will is an illusion, veiling our unconscious beliefs as choices. Your decisions stem from ingrained beliefs established during your formative years, when your environment was outside of your control.
Life offers feedback regarding the congruence of your thoughts, enabling you to take corrective action. Consider your external environment as a reflection of your inner landscape. When observing an external event or situation, delve within to uncover the parallel, the connection.
Embracing Personal Growth
Many hold fast to the idea that their thoughts are unchangeable. This belief is flawed, as countless individuals have triumphed over limiting beliefs to forge empowering lives. Your existence is a tapestry woven from outcomes, symbols, and shadows. Positive and negative moments exist only in the meaning you attribute to them. Reality provides feedback to guide you in amending your course and constructing new circumstances based on a shift in awareness.
Personal development and self-improvement serve as the catalyst for enduring transformation, provided you commit to the inner work.
The impediment becomes the pathway.
The journey reveals the way.
The world is a reflection of your mind. If chaos and confusion reign within, your external world must mirror that. You must perceive what you believe, for you are the confounded thinker, the interpreter of all things. If chaos abounds within you, the sights and sounds you encounter will echo that chaos.
Life is the manifestation of your innermost thoughts and I truly believe this is where we can connect with the Almighty.
In life, no moment is devoid of value. The tender embrace of a vada pav’s brioche at the office canteen. The unyielding nature of affection. The intricate design of confectionary rings. The quietness after a kiss. The velvety glide of a spice-laden shawarma toast from the cafeteria. The nocturnal lament carried by the wind from the balcony on an early morning. An unexpected GPS detour leading to discovery of a new place. The melancholy of deflated culinary ambitions at the kitchen. The tedium of anticipating destiny’s plan for something. The flawless crunch of a well-crafted pastry parcel.
The hesitancy permeating a romantic encounter. The subtlety of linguistic artistry in a foreign tongue. The precise elegance of a tailored shirt. The ephemeral bond forged through a fleeting glance. The opulence of being cradled in a toddler’s embrace. The alchemy of flawlessly softened dairy. The aroma of freshly pressed pages. The gentle cascade of crystalline luminescence. The distant echo of a once-cherished voice. The comforting pressure of familiar hands encircling your form.
The trepidation before facing the undiscovered. The immutable presence of sorrow. The benevolence of unfamiliar faces in a metro. The ever-widening chasm separating aspiration and achievement. The symphony of droplets colliding with metallic surfaces. The unuttered sentiments haunting your thoughts. The declarations that escaped your lips. Your essence is molded by each encounter and sensation, as both the tangible and intangible leave their indelible mark. Nothing and no one is devoid of purpose or significance in the rich tapestry of existence.
The art of gardening and decorating has always had a special place in my heart. I I remember a journey that intensified and deepened my zeal, a trip to a quaint hill station in Kerala called Peermade. A place where the mountains rose high, creating a barrier between the regions of Travancore and Madurai in ancient Tamilakam. I was staying in a guest house, a two-storied cottage, with my family and my brother helped to find this cottage. The family who owned the cottage lived on the lower floor and the guests on the top floor. Little did I know that my perspective about decor and integrating plants would be forever changed by the experience I had there.
The family’s love for plants and gardening was a sight to behold. The proprietors of the cottage, a family with a deep-seated passion for horticulture, left a lasting impression on me. Their abode was a veritable jungle of flora, with an imaginative use of pots, cans, glass jars, and even repurposed waste containers to cultivate an astonishing diversity of plants. The cottage was filled with an abundance of greenery, and the owners would go around with a green plastic plant mister, talking to the plants and showering them with love. That stay opened my eyes to the possibility of making our surroundings beautiful and leaving our signature on them, no matter where we are.
Upon coming back to the UAE after my vacation, I sought out methods to bring greenery into both my home and work cabin. The capability for growth and knowledge housed within a seed never fails to stun me. Dreaming and planting a garden, born from imagination, symbolizes a declaration of autonomy of the soul. It is within these unique areas and touches that we can discover innovative ways to reconcile our sense of beauty with our living spaces.
Gardening is not just about creating beauty, but also about embracing the imperfections and limitations of life. It’s about finding joy in the simple things. Embracing the art of gardening and decorating, enables to leave our mark with a space that speaks of our soul.
This is a memory from a travel to Georgia in 2017. As I embarked upon my journey through the Gudauri snow mountains in Georgia, I was filled with a sense of excitement and wonder. It was my first experience with snow, and I could not wait to immerse myself in its frosty embrace.
The journey itself was a revelation. As our vehicle wound its way through the winding mountain roads, I was struck by the breathtaking beauty of the landscape. The snow-capped peaks loomed above us, a majestic testament to the power of nature.
And when we arrived at our destination, I was awestruck by the sheer majesty of the snow-covered slopes. The crisp, clean air invigorated my senses, and I felt a sense of pure joy and bliss as I took my first tentative steps onto the powdery white surface.
As I glided down the mountain, the wind rushing through my hair and the sun shining down upon me, I knew that this was a moment I would always treasure. The Gudauri snow mountains had given me a gift, one that I would carry with me always – the memory of my first, magical encounter with snow.
Time, like a flowing river, is a force we cannot halt or contain. Each moment that passes is irretrievable, a current that moves ever onward, leaving us behind. Thus, if we are presented with an opportunity for growth or benefit, we must seize it with determination and steadfast resolve. For every perceived setback or defeat, there are valuable lessons to be gleaned, lessons that can serve us well in the face of future challenges. There are no true failures, only chances to grow and become wiser, more attuned to the currents of life.
The survival of human-made objects from the past holds a certain magic. A piece of jewelry, a cup, a sword, or a sandal that has survived the passage of time has the ability to bridge the gap between us and our ancestors, bringing us closer to the world of ancient civilizations. A collection of such artifacts can provide a glimpse into a lost civilization, its daily life, art, culture, and beliefs. They can show us how people made war and conducted trade, and give us a glimpse into their rituals and beliefs.
Imagine standing in a museum gallery, surrounded by objects that you can barely make out in the dim lighting. As you look closer, you begin to recognize shapes: a basket, an arrow, a beautifully decorated carving, a shield. Some of the objects are unfamiliar to you. Imagine if these objects could speak. What stories would they tell about themselves? How were they used? Where did they come from? How did they end up in this museum? Who do they belong to?