Sunday, November 7, 2010

reminiscence reflections and learning

1) Reminiscence
1. the act of recalling or narrating past experiences

can be broken as re + mini + scene - recollecting mini scenes from our past memories

2) Reflection

Definition: Result of meditation; thought or opinion after attentiveconsideration or contemplation; especially, thoughts suggested by truth. 

3) Learning
The act of gaining knowledge

The following blog post i am going to enter is based on the three things defined above....

On the first look it might appear to be a diary to you... or even a travelogue....

But i hope you find the deeper meaning to it... and acknowledge it... as the learnings and writings of a beautiful... intelligent and a very impressive woman.......... my mother

the following blog post is a translation from the writings of my mother..... her trip to scotland..... but it is more then a travel guide to scotland..... it has got meditating mountains.... talking rivers .... and wailing remains of ''once splendid mansions''

And most importantly.... its got the learnings of life of a simple mother of four..... 

This post means a lot to me.... i am hoping you like it too... 
This write up.. does not represent the feelings of one woman... or one mother.... it is the writing of all mothers of the world... from fiji to alaska .... from new delhi to new york.... from arctic ocean to Antarctica..israel ..palestine... india or pakistan.. this is what a mother feels when she see's her offsprings grow up and become men and women

spare a thought for your beautiful mother when you do finish reading this...

thanks for your time... i am indebted 

A walk through my memory lane

It started early in the day … our journey.. The daylight had just started spilling over the darkness....
We four started from my daughter’s home in east London.My Husband, my daughter, son-in-law and myself.

Well my daughter says it is springtime in London now but the only thing I could feel was biting cold.  I wonder if this is start of summer then what is winter. Coming from almost a tropical region as of now it is out of imagination for me. I guess this is what they call the “British Summer”.

Our travel to far north of Scotland has started. I will not speak for others but there was no limit to the happiness inside me. I felt I was the happiest soul on earth that day.

To travel far off witness the infinite creativity of GOD, as it manifests itself into different people, different cultures, different behaviours and their lifestyles, to see the breath taking beauty of nature …
All these have fascinated me since the time i could think
They say the innocent dreams of childhood... if fulfilled whichever way and in whatever part of your life.... give you the same innocent childish joy. I could witness this first hand. When you do face it you realise that you suddenly forget all those difficult moments and stingy portions of your life that the life has thr at you over time.
It is as if your heart and mind conspire with one another, chuckle with one another and win over the difficult parts of your life and find childhood like innocence and joy again.

British people have always fascinated me; their clothing their mannerism always amused me. Since the time I could get curious I have been curious to know about them. Ours was a Christian Baptist School. I still remember it, with its church…those huge bells.... there would be a mad rush of students .... running ... chaos ...  but all so wonderful

They would visit us once a year... the britishers.... I would stand excitedly in queue, flowers in hand to welcome them, looking at them in awe. They would lovingly pat on my cheek and they would say “ study well. …Make your mom proud” and of course they would welcome me to their country. ”Come once to our country” they would say.

That seeded this desire in my little heart, to visit the country full of courteous, well mannered
English people. I would dream of my flight flying over oceans, train crossing tunnels of snow capped mountains and some times me flying like a free bird in the open skies watching the vast lakes below. 

Never realised when these little dreams took backseat and when the daily life and its demands took centre stage. The little girl before she could realise became a mother to four beautiful children. A lovely daughter and three gorgeous sons. The concern of growing four lovely kids, the passing time and growing age took the toll on me. Fatigue exhaustion tiredness had caught upon me, when my daughter visited me in India last summer, donot exactly know how, but she could see the fatigue right through my eyes.

That is when our first ever trip to England was conceived. This trip to Scotland is a part of UK trip.

My girl is actually her daddy’s girl. Her silence her patience, strong comforting presence; all are her dad’s traits. It has always been this way. I have never seen her worried about herself. 

We had shopped extensively before trip, in spite of this what makes it special is how she clothed us with care, worrying about our comfort every single minute, fussing over us, covering us with clothing and with her love, from head to toe literally.

Life it is so beautiful. It feels like yesterday that she crawled, walked on my chest, placing her tiny legs, her baby feet the size of my palms and today she is making us walk. My eyes are filled with tears at the mere thought of it. 

Why is it that parents fail to register their children grow. However old they might be why do parents always remember them as their newborns who just opened their eyes.

The first look of their eyes, their untimely laughter’s in sleep, their toothless grin, the sparkle in their eyes when they see their father, their first call of mama …these are the priceless moments, precious gifts for us from god. These memories remain framed forever in your life.

My daughter and son-in-law are both software engineers, so we planned this trip in the vacation of Easter. The idea was to have a close look at the fields, villages and natural beauty of England and Scotland that is why the car trip.

It was early in the day, “street lights hadn’t gone off yet,”
Light drizzle as is always the case in England, greeted us enroot. Huge green lawns, healthy cute sheep nodded at us all the way till Manchester.

Daughter dear pointed out the directions through her laptop as we set off to dolphin bay suite, The deep blue lakes as wide as ocean kept us company where ever we went with daughter planning ahead the exact itinerary we were to follow.

I briefly contemplated, how would it be to bathe in the deep water, the bitter cold suggested otherwise and I chuckled to myself at my foolish thought.

We reached Windermere in the Cumbria district early in the afternoon. I am told this called the Lake District, reason!!!!! It has got 175 lakes to add to its beauty. The lakes were so beautiful they forced us to abandon the motorway and take the roads next to those beautiful lakes.

Longest lake here is lake Windermere 8 miles long I almost got the feeling it was keeping us company all through our journey.

The English countryside is an exhibition of beautiful creations of god. I secretly thanked him as he chose us to witness this magnificent beauty. If this was joy???  My joy increased ten folds as I witnessed my first sighting of snow capped mountains, standing majestic so far-off.
I could only see their peaks, offering only a small glimpse.

These small mountains became bigger and bigger as we approached towards them, standing solemn, silent as if clothed in white blankets of clouds, they looked to me like the mystics of ancient Arabs, unaware of the world around them lost in deep meditation.

Ice ahead of us!!! Heaps of ice all around us…. my joy knew no limits. How do I express this in words to you??? 

It is easier felt than described. My eyes widened to absorb the whole sight around and suddenly I realise to add to my amusement our car was standing still…this was it… I wasn’t me anymore. Ohhh God I was the 5 year old me with all my mischief’s and pranks. I still have no idea how could I stand in zero degrees cold there.

Thanks god for the technology, my daughter captured all these precious moments in her camera. Preserved all these moments, our expressions, and our joy forever in her stills.
Slowly we resumed our journey and touched the highway at Carlisle and soon reached Glasgow. 

As if the journey wasn’t pleasant enough my daughter was playing our favourite songs from guide, madhumati and humraaz as we moved forward.

My little one later told me that she had handpicked the songs in consultation with him even before we had booked our flight ticket.

Crossing over Sterling we reached Inverness at 20:30 hrs and reached our destination in Inverness. The “dolphin bay suite” to be more precise.

Our suite was brilliant; comfortable equipped with everything we would need during our stay. Our temporary house was on first floor. I was amazed to see the staircase the floor the furniture every thing was wooden.

You must visit this you sit in the warm hall and see the beautiful grey ocean. If this is not enough you could even sit in the balcony a mere 40 feet of distance from the ocean and get a glimpse of sunset and if lucky enough can catch a glimpse of seals and dolphins while you sip your cup of tea. It finally began to get dark. At a distance I could see little lamps, twinkling like stars in the night sky.

I suspected them to be small villages, I couldn’t help but wonder how much more beautiful they would look when viewed from closer. It almost looked like the villages were telling about their existence to me, in this breath taking set up, inviting me, as I sat there looking dazed, refusing to believe that I was really experiencing.

The following day I opened my eyes to see my pretty daughter with a wide smile and a hot cup of coffee wishing me a good morning. We could see a group of sea gulls hovering over the oceans from the balcony. They were big moving around like shadowy creatures. One could barely see the ocean through all that mist.

Elderly people were walking along the shore, wishing me a warm good morning as I stood in the balcony with my coffee. I felt embarrassed and shy at myself for not being an early riser and decided that even I should be on the shore walking with them tomorrow, returning their greetings with an active smile.

These people here are very mannered, courteous and warm. You can only hear many pleasant “thank you’s”, hellos” and “sorry’s” as you walk among them.

We got ready to visit Urquhart Castle along the shores of Inverness. My watch showed 10:00 hrs. These highlands have been ruled by picts from 6th century A.D. People here have spoken Gaelic since then.

Right through 6th and 17th centuries many rulers came and went, empires changed, many wars happened, victories were achieved defeats were witnessed. Buildings castles forts were created, destroyed now you can only see ruins there.

You look at them superficially there’s nothing but plundered buildings, when you look at it in depth, there’s a lot of history there… to see and to feel!!!!

What struck me is emperor’s changed, empires changed, policies changed as did the life styles and the styles of construction but “Ness ” has continued to flow, never stopped.
The only constant among various variations around her. Carrying in her heart all the memories, all the secrets, all the joys, all the cries of pleasure and pain that she was witnessed to; a mute witness.
 Her flow same as it was in 6th century. A constant in the middle of all variables around her.

As I write this I can still feel that light wind, small ripples, the soft sand along her banks. They were whispering in my ears, melancholically,,, “”going away my dearest?? Wont you stay a while longer?? Wont you turn back the pages of history?? Don’t you want to know about my experiences?? Aahh!! I know you do!! So please stay back dearest???” Pestering me to be with her, to listen to her.

Its such a pity man in today’s world is so busy, that he hardly has time to listen to his own voice, don’t even talk about hearing to voices of rivers…

I was lost in my own thoughts, when a light drizzle woke me up to reality. The light drizzle soon became rain… rain without thunder. We hurried home…

Once we reached back, got fresh and poured ourselves steaming hot tea, but before I could put the teacups to my lips rain became hailstorm, hail stones pouring. I normally like hail stones…but not today..Not after watching the plundered mansions, not after listening to the melancholy of ness, not after leaving her behind in spite of her protests, not after witnessing the ruins of once splendid kingdoms, not after what ness shared with me…her heavy burdensome secrets. I felt a strange sort of grief the wind blew in my ears. I couldn’t see much difference between the lives of us humans and of those falling fast melting hailstones.

I woke up early the next morning and went out for walking as I had decided the previous day.
The atmosphere today was nothing like yesterday’s, there were birds chirping, gentle people around warmly wishing each other hello’s, good morning’s filling the air with early morning buzz.

We visited Eilean Donan Castle later that day. This also stands on the banks of river ness like Urquhart. The blue sky and the mountains cast reflection on the river. One almost gets a feeling as blue sky was swimming carelessly in ness.

We saw loch ness views, went on boat trips. The 25 mile long ness was jumping with excitement today…welcoming me, talking to me, boasting to me this place belonged to her. She owned the steeps of mountains and soft grass, which grew on it.

She owned everything along her 25 miles long banks and today; she was proudly showing it off to me, like a little kid showing off his presents.

This is not a river she is a maiden lost in her own world, perennially long and beautiful, indifferent to the world around her she is not lifeless but full of life and talks to people who standby and listen to her.

We were next scheduled to visit Ben Nevis, don’t let the name mislead you, it sounds like the name of an innocent little primary school kid…It is far from it. … The highest peak in Britain.
Ben Nevis is situated in fort William. So innocent it certainly is, but a little primary school kid??? It is definitely not…
I could see many tourists here; some of them with the help of guides were busy trekking. There were cable cars here.

There is the single Jacobite steam engine train; I am told we get precious stones along the banks of rivers here. The bursting, bustling river, little wooden stone bridges, the scent of wild flowers are all making me feel intoxicated.

The tall peaks and the pine trees competing, attempting to outgrow each other, they are all taking a second off to welcome us as we move along.

The view here is like what we see only on picture postcards or wall hangings with a motivating message printed on them or in the calendars in India. 

The views are like a painter painting this with brilliant imagination and stunning colours. I rub my eyes is this a dream or is it for real???

Today we were going to biggest island in Scotland Isle of Skye. Our journey commenced at 7 in the morning. I would always feel we are four of us, but I realised how wrong I was, how could I not recognise our little tom tom. Sitting pretty next to the drivers seat our talkative little fellow. Our tiny little satellite navigator, I am told the whole map of United Kingdom is fed into it. all we need to do is enter the postcode and our little fella will take the mantle on himself to ensure we reach our destination.

First part of our trip is the undersea glass bottom boat trip. What happens in this, do we get to see the seabed? Inside the sea, the soil on which the seawater rests.

My husband and me have a habit of watching the discovery channel back home. I was watching discovery channel today too but not on a television screen, I was watching it all live in person.

It is amazing how far humans have come. The prophet Noah (P.B.U.H) was first to travel on sea by his first handmade ship, an achievement in its time and now man can dive right through the sea, deep into  the sea like the prophet Moses (P.B.U.H) and the children of Israel.

The inside of sea is like a bon of jewels, jewels scattered around. The sand inside the sea is pure white with huge number of fish swimming. All the fish glittered like gold when the light from sun fell on then.

Different kind of grasses, leaves, aquatic plants,,,,, the guide tells me the Japanese use them in their salads .he goes on to add it is also used in making cosmetics, lipsticks etc. May be that is why they have wrinkle free, smooth flawless skin, I silently thought to my self.

Boat journey then came to an end. The guide was very nice. The captain exhibited the best Scottish hospitality by personally coming down to us and seeing us off, with a big smile on his face.

My verdict?? Full marks to the guide, captain and Scottish hospitality.

We had so far spent the day under sea next we travel over the sea via Skye bridge to reach the very famous “Isle of Skye” and visited its capital Portree a very beautiful place.

I can hardly spot anyone here. Very scarcely populated with people, very densely populated with tall, strong silent cliffs though!!

We visited the kilt rock; it’s a huge cliff and stands over an enormous deep blue sea.

Next we saw the old man of storr, it’s a tall sea rock in the middle of sea 60 meter in height.
There is also a huge harbour on this Island.

The people still live here in Gallic tradition and give a lot of importance to their ancestral culture. We saw the homes and belongings of the ancient islanders in a museum.

People chasing peace and quite in busy cities can take my advice and live their entire lives here. The sky is enormous and clean over our heads as is the earth beneath our feet, people here know nothing about noise or air pollution.

Houses enveloped in flowers as are the roads, you would be lucky to find more than a couple of people on the long peaceful silent roads.

It is such a place that a person with writing instincts will discover Charles dickens in him and with poetic inclinations will find a William Wordsworth hidden inside him and a person with painting instincts will become Michael Angelo. In such serenity did we finish sighting the complete island. 

Resumed our return journey at 6.00 p.m. Ocean all around us, you see yourself surrounded all over by water. Only colour we knew was blue, I almost got a feeling we were heading only towards the awaiting sea every minute, there is no end to the road the only end is deep blue water ahead. And at the nth moment road curves around giving me more hope and then I feel we are headed right into the cliffs and the suddenly there is another curve and more hope and then I felt we are headed into the river and water streams next, trempling in fear I realised more and more curves rescued us each time I lost hope. I almost felt there are no people here only us, our car and the awaiting sea, creepy at times.

The light would not fade even as late as 21:00 in the night and the street lights lit and gave us the extra courage most needed now in the absence of people. Son-in-law deserves an award for the concentration he showed. Unwavering focus, very much appreciative. We were applauding as we reached the city limits of Inverness and had our dinner at Mc Donald’s. Quite literally a happy meal.

Today’s day was dull, very cloudy, full of mist, low in visibility but my daughter was very happy.

Reason; she ‘s going to go fishing today. Fishing has interested her for a very long time and today she is getting the opportunity to do it and also because we were going to visit the snow capped mountains.

We first visited Cairngorms National Park situated in Aviemore; it has many attractions for kids and grown-ups alike.

The thing I enjoyed the best here was watching the little kids on their tiny sledges over the white snow. They looked like the little stuffed dolls on the while snow.

My daughter and her hubby were looking forward for skiing but due to heavy snowfall the previous night they weren’t allowing today. They looked quite disappointed but not for long. We decided to climb the mountain by foot, climbed a hundred feet was a lot of fun but it can get very slippery mind you. Everywhere we looked we only see huge expanse of sharp white snow. And the snow was very bright, to the extent that it hurts your eyes. It shone like it were formed of heaps and heaps of glittering diamonds.

The sky and mountaintop were one. The clouds in the air and the huge snow balls were one, the sky and earth were one, I felt I was in a different world, different universe one that is all has a universal colour…White.

A very memorable experience it was. Our next destination was river Insh. My eyes remained open unable to close my eyelids at the serene beauty in front of me. There has been a heavy snowfall here too.. Wherever you look whichever way you see there is beauty all around. The kind of beauty, which shouts out aloud of its existence, which flows like the flow of water. We the people living in this era of manmade creations when we come across such breath taking spectacles can’t even describe it.

My heart truly, truly praised the lord who created this beauty and chose us to witness it.

Our next stop was river spee. They have built a commando memorial near the bridge of this river in memory of the martyrs of World War II. It is said they were trained on the foot of mountains right here. Their memories have been immortalised here by their teacups, guns, caps and such things they had used here during training along with huge bouquet of flowers in respect of their contribution.

My heart churned when I saw the cap of 21 year old his photograph besides it. His eyes told me they hadn’t seen much but had a very resigned look in them as if saying they had seen enough and hadn’t liked what they had seen.

In spite of my mind resisting my heart felt what his mother would have gone through and I cringed in fear. Was 21 years all you were destined to live dear boy? I asked the cap, the photograph half expecting the answer.

Why do people fight? I can understand people fighting over their differences but why do nations fight?? Something’s I am utterly incapable of understanding…

I left the place with a heavy heart but my sad face suddenly burst in to a smile when I saw my baby all geared up, with an ear-to-ear grin on her face and a fishing rod in her hands. She must have grown but in her excitement she didn’t look much older than a six year old to me.

16:00 hrs and she was ready for a mission …mission fishing. She was very excited but I didn’t understand what was all this fuss about fishing .she wasn’t the only one there. There were others, who shared her enthusiasm,

Fishing I am told is a popular weekend activity here. Well thanks to the fishing we had a fresh trout on our dinner plates today.

I was terrified looking at the sea at 6:00 the following morning. There was something different, too misty and we could not see the seashore at all. The water had come until the footpath until the wall.

None of us showed any interest in getting off the beds. had tea once hoping to shrug off the laziness ,,had another cup of tea still  didn’t move until 9:00 hrs.

We had to keep up our appointment with the intelligent mammals on earth .The Dolphins.

We reached Moray Firth on time. Absolutely chilling air constantly blowing at us leaving me shivering, but the cold wind never stopped blowing all day. They made us wear blue colour jackets and we set off sailing into the North Sea. We sailed very far but our friends never seemed to turn up. The captain took us quite far in their search still no signs of Dolphins It became quite apparent that our friends hadn’t kept their appointment but sailing in the sea in a speedboat was an amazing trip in itself.

Though we were based in Inverness we were quite busy covering the other cities. Today our idea was to explore the beautiful Inverness.

The northern most city of Scotland. This was very beautiful and attractive city. It houses a big university and a small airport. Population is very less here. You can see old monuments and churches from far off distances. We saw St.Columba church. St.Columba came here in 521 A.D to the highlands. a very important personality in this part of the world, St.Columba belonged to the royal family of Ireland. He brought the Christianity to the picts here and to a large extent responsible for the widespread following of Christianity here.

There are malls on one side and 1500-year-old churches on other side. It is like modernity looking into the mirror and finding antiquity on the other side. River ness flows through the centre of the city hence the name Inverness. These cities are the synonyms of cleanliness and peacefulness.

Now we decided to visit the countryside of this part of the world where we had halted so far dolphin bay suite. The glittering towns through our balcony had always excited me and invited me always. In the back of my mind I always knew we would go there. As we got nearer I got a feeling they might be celebrating Easter. I could feel the festive spirit in the air. I could see the colours of Easter spreading on the evening sky.

There were thick lush green fields; there were heaps of fresh corn and carrots along the roads. The herds of lovely sheep and hen were running around the village. Little kids played noisily on one end innocently. The streets were adorned with lovely streetlights .I don’t know why I watched the village with great love and affection like it was my own. It felt in strange sense home coming to me, best part is my folks were as happy as I was, they didn’t feel much different than me about the village.

We decided to return to the bay suite and our return journey gets better when we were reaching back. Seals were for some reason I don’t know were swimming very close to our shore, People were getting their binoculars out .We watched all this with excitement. There was something about today’s weather that got them here or might be they were sailing here to say us good-bye. Good-bye to you as well seals.

This brings our journey to an end. My best journey to any place on earth till date. The thought of our return journey. The thought of leaving Inverness is looming in my heart making my heart heavy.

I didn’t want to leave this place. I would never leave it if it were in my control. It had such a captivating effect on me.

I don’t know what the travellers to this place had felt before but let me pen in a few lines the thoughts that crossed my mind.

We were here only for a few days but I some how get a feeling of having lived a lifetime here with my family and the best part is this lifetime seems a day to me.

Confusing thoughts, lovely memories captured my mind.

The Stuart castle standing in front of us, the old church on the street behind, those tall pine trees, the pine fallen on their feet, its fragnance, the evening walks along the seas of Scottish ladies and gentlemen, the many conversations ness held with me, the many stories she told, her melancholy she shared at Urquhart, her childish excitement she shared at Eilean Castle….

How could I leave her behind, but was I really leaving her behind was I leaving anything behind at all??

Wasn’t I carrying these memories with me back to London?? back to India??  Forever in my life…has it not become an inseparable part of my life? Later in my life when I look back, Scotland would spring to life again and I would relive my days here again in those huge castles. I would visit ness every day of my life here on, live in my memories, and sit on her banks  

And then I suddenly felt much better, After all I wasn’t leaving mystic highlands behind, I was taking her with me, I was taking ness with me.

My mind was suddenly tired after all this thinking. Tired but relieved and now my hands our tired after all this writing. Tired but relieved …

I feel excited about penning down my whole experience, to share with you, to relive and to cherish forever.

Thank you dolphin bay suite ,thank you Inverness ,thank you to wonderful people of Scotland, thank you my family who made it happen and who made me take this much needed vacation ,thank you daughter darling for all these lovely  memories.  And finally thank you dear god for giving me this lovely daughter.

This brings to end one of the most beautiful 10 days of my mom's life..... please do not mistake this piece of writing to be mine..... i am merely the translator... mine was not the heart that felt these feelings first hand..... it is a work of my mom's.... so full credit to her....

i consider myself lucky to be her son... and consider myself lucky to have had the honour of putting it into a language we all understand ....

By Asmath Sabira

(with amazing and significant  inputs from my sister.... and some not so amazing and not so significant and often unheard and  negligible inputs from me too :) ;-))


  1. Its such a great opportunity to read these experience through your mother's eyes though it has been translated by you and your sister (i m wondering, is it due to you lovely sista helps or yours hmmm the translations are so beautifully woven?)
    I love the part where your mom having an understanding bout parents-children relationship. The way i can see her wittiness in "Tom-Tom" description, in her way expressing her "love affairs" with all the beauties and memories that she has in that journey. And the Loch Ness secrecy that will not be able to be revealed within our humble eyes.
    But mostly, i loveeeeeee the way she iss picturing her childhood, the essence of the journey. my biggest bow for her as the mother of yours, and your sista to let these experience happens.

  2. MASHA ALLAH ..... thanks nee.... truly means a lot :) ...

  3. hi rockstar,like your short description before the write up :)