Thursday, January 29, 2009

The aroma and feel of special connections

There is an ecofarm called Aikya in Bangalore where I have stashed special memories i share with an incredible group of women i met over five years. Each year the group would spend 10 days together working with oneself on aspects of living and leading. In the process some of us bonded deeply with each other. Although I live a few miles away from this farm, I never visited the farm after the 5-year program ended. Until recently, I went there with two other women from the same circle, this time to offer yet another learning space for a circle of women who trusted us enough to gift themselves the workshop!

While I was really excited about going back to Aikya, strangely, I wasn’t caught by a surge of nostalgia when we finally reached there. Yes, there were great memories but nothing to set my skin tingling, my stomach churning and me getting all goose-bumpy! Until my morning bath the next day. Since Aikya does not have any geysers, water is heated outside our rooms in two black pots from where we then take it to our respective rooms. The water catches on the strangely pleasant aroma of the wood and dry coconut shells, which I had quite forgotten. When I poured the water over me, the uniquely “Aikya” aroma of the water brought back the sounds of the laughter and tears, the confronting and the comforting, the struggling and resting, all of it.

Another memory comes fleeting in with the call of the ‘atira’ bird. Yet another unique connection in Ahmedabad where I first heard this bird calling in the middle of a deep conversation with a friend. I had never heard it, not that it was melodious or soothing in anyway – just very strong and unlike anything I had heard before. My friend, who is as clueless about birds as I am said, “ arre yeh birds toh hamesha ATIRA ke paas dikhte hai” (you can always see these birds near ATIRA). And so the bird became the ‘atira’ bird for me. I have heard the calling several times afterwards, in Ahmedabad and other cities that became home later. I still don’t know what the bird’s real name is, not that I am trying to find out! It will always be the Aitra bird for me – with memories of a very special phase of my life resonating in its calling.

With all the moving and reinventing I have done with my life so far, I often forget special things I have shared with people. Conversations with my friends, people I worked with – many ordinary yet special moments that define me as a person today. And though the mind forgets, the body remembers. She has so lovingly and carefully tucked all these special moments in her different senses bringing them back to me in moments I least expect. In the aroma of lavender oil, the grainy texture of sand, the dampness of the night rain, smokiness of burning firewood, aftertaste of cold coffee, strange harmony of off-key singing, simple taste of masala bun and chai, rough warmth of old cardigans – each bringing in special times with special people. And with a sense of gratitude for this power of my body, I breathe in deeply and touch and feel intensely all these special connections in my life!

3 comments:

snigdha said...

y'know, i loved what you said about the body remembering. i had just never thought about it that way and its so true. you are a very wise woman :)

writefree said...

Beautiful description - I want to go to this place next time I am there. Also, where is Atira?

Magic Puddles said...

nice. it's amazing how smells are tucked away in some corner of our mind and how they make a sudden reapperance when they meet someone similar.
one smell that always stays with me is that of upasana, my home in bombay. can't describe it (maybe musty with a li'l cowdung - i stayed next to a cowshed), but it surely is the best in this world and i love to recall it ever so often!