Wednesday, November 4, 2009

People do strange things when they are away from home. She was no exception. The girl hated sugar or milk with her coffee, but there she was, in a strange country, sitting with her feet tucked in, trying hard to keep warm with a steaming mug held in her hands.
She had roamed around the tiny kitchen, preparing it. Milk and sugar. Her mind, wandering. As usual.

Coffee... not the way she liked it.

Coffee... just the way she wanted it. Right at that moment.

Her eyes watering. Not with tears. She never cries. It was just the freezing wind. She was sitting in the open balcony. Fighting the cold. Refusing to get inside. Just another of her testing-my-will-power things. She wasn’t even aware of the fact that she was being stubborn.. it was a second nature. It was what kept her going. Yes. She is insane. Just kind of.

She takes the first sip... as if giving into some strange and exotic temptation. Hey eyes remain focused on something just above the horizon. It’s nothing.

A sigh. Inaudible. She forgot the sugar. Years and years of sugarless coffees can do that to you. Even when you wanna add some sweetness, you go for the bitterness.

Is it hardwired in our souls, running away from temptations? Anything and everything that feels nice? No?

What’s the biggest fear? Not finding something you were looking for... or finding it and then lose it. We have had generations brought up to the thought that the one who resists the temptation is a saint.

The one, who doesn’t give in, is the strongest.

Is it so?

Is she the strongest? Not giving in. Never giving in.

Don’t you think that the strongest person is the one who dares to trust? The one who gives in, tries to live the life to the fullest.. instead of building a fort around, keeping the elements away. Good or otherwise.

She thinks about getting up. She wants it. Her feet refuse to move.

Too much of effort for a bloody spoonful of sugar.

I don’t exactly need it.

Too many years spent on separating the needs from wishes.

Who makes the segregation? What is so different between the needs and wishes?

Her mind wanders again. The familiarity of the bitter coffee is reassuring. The thoughts of sweetness start to fade. She is content.

How many dreams have you given up on? How many chances have you let go? Of a life you wished for. Of a person you dreamt of.

How many perfect ending have you ran away from?


Settling for the second best. Settling for something that you never wanted... never wished for.


The perfection is elusive. Yes. It’s always a comforting thought, to know that it wasn’t the perfect one that failed you.

It’s easy to blame the second best.

It’s easy to settle for something less than your dreams. You get someone to blame.

There isn’t much coffee left in the mug now. She looks away from the horizon, down at her hands. The fingertips are all pink. It’s the cold. Too cold.

She takes another sip.

And the realization dawns ...

the sugar, now half melted, sits at bottom.
The sugar that she wished for.
The sugar that was always there.
Never stirred.....

The coffee is way too sweet now... She puts it away...

A sly grin dances on her lips....


Anonymous,  November 4, 2009 at 4:54 PM  

subtle Nuances. So easy to lose a sense of perspective in the melancholy mood of the moment.

one of your better pieces, if only because of triumph of spirit over hope. tempted to write a seminar length but anyway, kudos

~ you know who

RAJ47,  November 4, 2009 at 5:00 PM  

The musk deer always runs all over the jungle in search of the beautiful smell of musk. It does know that the smell is infact within himself. A kind of Mrigtrishna?

Ajai November 4, 2009 at 6:10 PM  

Right... A cuppa is never going to be the same again. It's going to be one helluva philosophical ride from now on! Sheeeesh! ;)

I really enjoyed it. Reaaaaaallllly did! I particularly liked the part where she found the sugar at the bottom. I think most ppl go through life and in the end realize the sugar is at the bottom. beautiful allegory that. :)

Sameer November 4, 2009 at 7:37 PM  

Hey thanks for dropping on my blog again...

I have started writing here btw...

Kinda busy now... so will catch up with this post later... :)

As the Mind Meanders November 4, 2009 at 7:39 PM  

Very thoughtful Chaya... lovely writing...

itsyvitsy November 4, 2009 at 8:22 PM  

At the outset I wish to welcome you back to your own blog. Welcome! How dare I? ;-)

Ramblings of a lonely mind? Or, trying to be at peace with oneself? I would go with the second one. Contemplation of how life has been, how it is and how she wants to see it; the thoughts have been giving her company. When the mind wants to run in retrospective or ruminate on imminent thoughts, the cold breeze or the blazing sun doesn't have any effect.

"Don’t you think that the strongest person is the one who dares to trust? The one who gives in, tries to live the life to the fullest.." Indeed! I too was thinking about the same thing this morning. Where has all the trust gone? Where has humanity vanished? Where is life hiding? Seems like she read my mind...

A soul that has a lot of questions within, all answered by another set of questions, but still she seems to be at peace with herself. Temptations are there to tempt, but quite contempt with what she holds right and not giving in. She wants to and also she doesn't want to.

Chhaya, why do I have this feeling that this is you all throughout the random yet relevant lines of contemplation?

Tarun Goel November 4, 2009 at 9:30 PM  

I liked it but could not understand it completely, as usual.

Was it pain?

Was it knowing and not doing?

Was it the biggest sin "Sacrifice'?

Is she torturing herself just for the sake of mere things which she has never wanted to do/see/achieve/know?

Or may be I am totally unable to understand her.

aandthirtyeights November 4, 2009 at 10:21 PM  

Glad I discovered this blog - this post is awesome.


(Going through the archives now :))

Nishit_Vasudeva November 4, 2009 at 10:51 PM  

simply superb!!! You are a mind blowing writer...i was so engrossed that i couldn't stop myself reading it till the end.

Ashley November 5, 2009 at 3:50 AM  

"The one, who doesn’t give in, is the strongest." I liked this part the best.
This post was such a treat! So thought provoking! Kudos...

RAJ47,  November 5, 2009 at 8:08 AM  

Plz correct my last comment:
He does not know that the smell infact lies within himself.

My mind must have gone for a snack when I was commenting.

Amit Kumar Das November 5, 2009 at 9:19 AM  

two things -- excellent metaphor and some very relevant questions asked, questions which confront each of us everyday, questions which settles down in the ocean heart or we brush them under the carpet .... I have known such a soul and all through out the verses, I have seen her, sitting there with that cup of coffee, looking across the horizon ... thanks u made my day .... keep walking!!!

BTW, thanks for the wonderful comments... and i have a question...can u really read mind? just a curosity... :)

Maya November 5, 2009 at 9:27 AM  

Making the sugar at the bottom thing philosophical was awesome...

but then i didnt understand it, the sweetness was always there beneath the bitterness, but then she doesnt like the sweetness in first place, so what does it actually mean,, its confusing...

its better to not have atall than to have and lose, thts wht i think..

IdleMind November 5, 2009 at 10:54 AM  

Hmm ... me sipping my morning cuppa as I read this. Sugarless? yes, it is. Craving for the sugar? I never did.

Ok, bottomline ... I guess we like to threaten ourselves at times. Not that it makes us weaker ... but then she seems to be a brave girl. And then, you did mention that she was testing her will power.

A strong girl can still try to stay away from 'all things bright and wonderful' and still not complain. Loved reading this!

Chhaya November 5, 2009 at 11:00 AM  

@Anonymous(u know who) – I do know who u are :)
At your vaguest best :P
As I said.. I wud prefer a seminar length

Chhaya November 5, 2009 at 11:17 AM  

@RAJ47 – we all go through such phases.. life is like that

@Ajai – thank you for liking this.. yes, we often go around searching the world for happiness when it lies somewhere really close, somewhere we look but don’t see. the stirring is whats missing. the sugar is always there

Chhaya November 5, 2009 at 12:31 PM  

@Sameer – I will visit that blog soon

@As the Mind Meanders – Thank u :)

@Vittal – I will reply to ur comment later.. very soon.

Chhaya November 5, 2009 at 12:34 PM  

@Tarun - the post has nothing to do with Sacrifice. and in my PoV, there is nothing called sacrifice in this world. Its all about the choices we make. WE make. Remind me to put up a post about it. Some of them just _look_ like sacrifices.

btw, u r reading too much Ayn Rand and it makes ur mind search for a connection to her work everywhere. this post have nothing to do with sacrifice. or being ur own person etc etc. its about conflicts.

Chhaya November 5, 2009 at 12:36 PM  

@aandthirtyeights – Thank u :) .. I m gonna visit ur blog soon

@Nishit – thank u.. u r too kind :)

@Ashley – glad u liked it.. but my point was more like – S/he who doesn’t give in is not exactly the strongest

Chhaya November 5, 2009 at 12:39 PM  

@Anorak – u know this girl? :) now do u! :D
About me reading minds.. yes I do.. when I get bit closer to people and then I start caring about them. its painful sometimes..cz u never know what u stumble upon.

Chhaya November 5, 2009 at 12:41 PM  

@Uncommon Sense – Are you sure that she didn’t like the sweetness? Sure about her preferring the bitter taste? but then, u missed that sly grin on her face in the end :)

Chhaya November 5, 2009 at 12:42 PM  

@Idle mind - u got it :)

but then, u know her, dont u?

Tarun Goel November 5, 2009 at 12:52 PM  

haha, no Ayn Rand here but never mind.
If it is about conflicts then she is confused.

You have painted the image of "she", you must be knowing, why is it so?

Anonymous,  November 5, 2009 at 1:04 PM  


It’s easy to settle for something less than your dreams. You get someone to blame.

Darshan Chande November 5, 2009 at 1:22 PM  

"You never get enough of what you don't really need."

That's the difference between "needs" and "wishes". Wishes are, by nature, endless. Only way to be content is to stop wishing for more and more. Some time anyway you need to rest, don't you? Or you want to keep running all your life and when death comes you wonder I have never rested in life!

Whilest needs is something you can not get rid of even if you want to.

Great is the one who can tell needs from wishes precisely.

Ashley November 5, 2009 at 5:09 PM  

Ah! Vague me. I got that Chhaya.

I loved the entire para starting from the line I pasted and ending with
"Don’t you think that the strongest person is the one who dares to trust? The one who gives in, tries to live the life to the fullest.. instead of building a fort around, keeping the elements away."

So very true...A valid point that very few have made! :)

B@$!T ROXX November 5, 2009 at 6:44 PM  

Respected Didi, this is my first time to visit your blog,I am from भड़ास family.You are too good, very simple but why Tarun Goel can not understand you?
I've written a post on भड़ास just now,in that post there is a link of your blog by chance.

Chhaya November 5, 2009 at 7:55 PM  

@Tarun - i know why i painted a girl as a protagonist.. i didnt know that it wasnt obvious.

btw, she is not confused. u didnt get the pulse of this... may be it will strike u one day :P

or may be i m too vague

Chhaya November 5, 2009 at 7:59 PM  

@Anonymous - i wud know that smiley anywhere.

Chhaya November 5, 2009 at 8:00 PM  

@Darshan , Ashley - thank u so much guys :)

Chhaya November 5, 2009 at 8:10 PM  

@Badshash - thank u so much for ur loving words :)

i visited Bharas .. i always do!

love n blessings -

vidya November 6, 2009 at 1:01 AM  

Loved the ending..You write beautifully! I'm yet to read your other works.
Will be back:)

-- November 6, 2009 at 10:16 AM  

wow, I loved this post.
Really has a deep meaning!
makes you think and ponder..
Great work Chaya!
write more..

IdleMind November 6, 2009 at 10:43 AM  

@ Chhaya - :) ... I do know girls like her ... the one that stands out (and resembles the lady from this post) is also a strong-willed girl.

And yes, she visited cold mountains recently! nice coincidence there!!

Chhaya November 6, 2009 at 11:12 AM  

@vidya and SK - thank u so much. i m glad it connected with u :)

@idle - :)

Anonymous,  November 6, 2009 at 1:07 PM  

hmm, as u said, i dont read much of your prose....read this one.
one thing is for sure, even if i read a thousand different writings, i would be blindly able to point out yours.
the sugar was there, she added it, it couldnt have been anyone else....then how come she forgot about it?? the mind. though she claims to have enjoyed the same old bitterness, her mind wasnt on the coffee, or how could she forget?
do whatever you do, with all your heart, as in, concentrate only on that thing, and it would be perfect.
the sweetness is always there, just like perfection, but its us who turn a blind eye, coz we arent attentive enough. the effort seems to be huge, when if we would have tried, would have known, its nothing. we fall short of that last step.

sorry re, am being preachy since yesterday....

a friend...

RAJ47,  November 6, 2009 at 6:18 PM  

The most serene and extremely spellbinding Pangong Tso. The golden hue on the mountains is simply magical. It is infact a saga of detachment, compassion and enlightenment. It is most sacred to Hindus as well as Tibetans.
But why did you change the header image. I am being pedantic. It is your blog and I like both the pictures.

Chhaya November 6, 2009 at 7:52 PM  

@H (Anonymous) - Will get back to ur comment soon .. and Vittal, urs too :)

@RAJ47 - nothing like that. I changed the header cz i do change the header once in a while. Yes, its the Pangong Tso lake. beautiful eh :)

btw, dun worry about a comment making me change something.. i dont get that worked up too easily.. once again, wud love to read ur blog. do give me the link.

Chhaya November 6, 2009 at 7:54 PM  

@RAJ47 - almost forgot to mention.. the last image wasnt the THikse Gompa. it was the Hemis. and yeah, i do know whats written on the prayer wheels.. i have always been fascinated with them :)

Pete November 7, 2009 at 1:39 AM  

Great description Chhaya.

"She takes the first sip... as if giving into some strange and exotic temptation. Hey eyes remain focused on something just above the horizon." Is so clear and visual.

"She never cries." Anyone, woman or man, needs that ability to feel and express the full range of emotions including love.

I found that woman are attracted by my tendency to get teary eyed along with them at the right times during chickflics.


Shanu November 7, 2009 at 2:24 AM  

perfection is elusive. Yes. It’s always a comforting thought, to know that it wasn’t the perfect one that failed you.

It’s easy to blame the second best.

So true!!
First time here..but i promise to return :)

vidya,  November 7, 2009 at 5:48 AM  

Dear Chhaya, Im glad you spent time going through my blog. I have already added you to my blogroll:) Would love to exchange links with you..

Anonymous,  November 7, 2009 at 2:08 PM  

that's the story of a mind that rules over temptations...
loved reading it...

'chini kam hai'.. hhehee

vicious November 7, 2009 at 3:51 PM  

wonderful wonderful header ....idlemind's tagline best describes ur post ...
btw wen is the rest of the travel diary coming up???

Opaque November 9, 2009 at 11:29 AM  

This is a piece that stirs one's mind. You've managed to do this in the past as well. It is like an ignition to the brain to start working, to start thinking, to start contemplating.

All these questions "she" asks to herself is something everyone asks oneself. Yes, I mean everyone. Some reflect upon it, some express it, some work upon it, and then are some who dodge it in fear. Or, it might be because they do not like taking chances.

Facing these questions and finding the answers are the bravest ones.

One must either peep through the keyhole before opening to door to enter the room OR just open the door. One must try to prevent oneself from standing there too long with the palm on the knob. Else, the coffee will turn too sweet.

Restricting oneself from not crying is not healthy. It might qualify to being stubborn. But, it is also preventing oneself from being human. There is no harm in crying. That is a fear "she" might be having. But, I am sure, "she" will disagree.

"She" is a survivor. "She" is a fighter. "She" is a perfectionist. Still, "she" has things to learn from life. "She" has some unanswered questions. Or, "she" knows the answers to these questions, but is looking for another opinion regardless of it affecting her opinion or not.

"She" is a strong woman who is mentally prepared for varying situations in this unpredictable world.

It is good for her. But, it would be better if "she" could at least trust someone.

Well expressed, artist!

Oxymoron November 9, 2009 at 11:39 AM  

a philosophical roller coster with a breath taking ending everything i look for in a cuppa..... seriously a very impressive piece of writing....

Chhaya November 9, 2009 at 11:51 AM  

@Vittal –
I took so long to reply to your comment cz it had to be as precise as your take on it. Thank you for having patience!
Yes, it wasn’t actually a rambling. More like putting in words what I sometimes ponder upon. Rambling is too directionless.. but no, this had nothing to do with humanity or the lack of it. its an individual’s balance-sheet of feelings. Of dreams and of choices made.
She has wishes, yes. She has needs, yes. But she is too used to pushing herself to check the limit of her own stubbornness. Sometimes its for the sake of sanity.. Sometimes it’s because she is kind of insane :)
In the end – is she me? I wud leave that unanswered. Cz If I am indeed her, then there is no way I wud accept the moment of vulnerability. Even if it was for a spoonful of sugar. Wud i?

Chhaya November 9, 2009 at 11:54 AM  

@H (Anonymous) –
I don’t think she forgot the existence of the sugar in the coffee. I think her mind is so tuned to the sugarless version that it failed to register the need to stir it. Even when we have all that we need, we still have to recognize it. That is where she was done in. More about not taking that lat step than running out of steam. Sometimes the attraction of the journey is too good to be given u for the destination.

Chhaya November 9, 2009 at 11:58 AM  

@Pete – there are some people who just find it too hard to shed tears. They don’t hate tears.. and they certainly don’t think less of those who are more open with their emotions. I wud be happy to meet a man who finds it ok to cry.
I m glad u liked the post :)

Chhaya November 9, 2009 at 11:58 AM  

@Shanu, Vidya, abanerji, vicious - thank u so much

Chhaya November 9, 2009 at 12:02 PM  

@Ajey (Brosreview) – as I mentioned in my reply to Pete, its not about refusing to cry. its more about not being able to. and it can get frustrating. can even get you misread but those you care about. people think you are heartless, when if fact, you hurt like hell inside ur heart.

Yes, she is strong.. but sometime she wonders if its worth it. What makes you strong can also leave you marooned in the crowd. it can be a nice place to be. but sure is lonely.

Chhaya November 9, 2009 at 12:03 PM  

@Oxymoron - thank u so much :)

Oxymoron November 9, 2009 at 12:06 PM  

anyways i recently started blogging.....
would really appreciate if you gave it a visit.i write at http://theoxymoronworld.blogspot.com/
once again a wonderful post really enjoyed reading it....

Diwakar Sinha November 9, 2009 at 12:43 PM  

I am glad that i came upon this blog..and i'll return.
btw, very well written, impressive :)

Oxymoron November 9, 2009 at 6:02 PM  

thanks a lot for visiting my blog...would love to exchange links in fact i already added you in my blogroll...

buckingfastard November 9, 2009 at 6:23 PM  

hah!! amazing....isnt it tru always dat we forget to stir our lives after we had added da sweetness

awsome allegory of life and coffee...luvd it

blogrolled u!! :D

Chhaya November 9, 2009 at 6:29 PM  

@diwakar, Oxymoron, bf -

thank u so much

Chhaya November 9, 2009 at 6:30 PM  

@Oxymoron , bf - u guys are blogrolled

swapnanjali November 10, 2009 at 11:46 AM  

yes dear sometime mind is confused between needs and wishes.As most of the wishes just given away in the name of need of others, always there is one term whether his/her need is more important then this wish...why this came again and again on the way GOD knows...
but we should try to get our wish as without stirring the coffee we can't get the taste of sugar...:), good one
and nice to get opportunity to read your post...

Tongue Trip November 12, 2009 at 12:14 PM  

The constant gruelling. A fight within, to give in or give up, to put oneself to tests of resolve or defy the set standards… strength of mind..deriving fleeting or lasting satisfaction. We do it all the time.
I like the ambiguity you presented here and against a dreamy backdrop and harsh weather.

bliss November 13, 2009 at 5:15 PM  

whoa!! that was nice! just wen i was getting the gist of the thing, talking about sttling for the second best and not exactly going for wat our heart really desires, u say there was sugar inthe cup all this time!!!! i mean, that was seriously nice!! :)

D.Dasgupta November 14, 2009 at 12:24 PM  

Dear Chhaya:

I finally made it here to your page once again. I read through this piece with wrapt attention. There is no doubt that this was a different Chhaya I was reading. I think you have matured immensely.

To tell you frankly, I sat up when I read these lines: "Don’t you think that the strongest person is the one who dares to trust? The one who gives in, tries to live the life to the fullest.. instead of building a fort around, keeping the elements away. Good or otherwise."

I knew immediately that you had communicated with me almost perfectly. And I can prove to you that I am not making an empty statement or simply saying something to make you feel happy. The proof lies in a poem by Shakti Chattopadhyay that I desperately tried to translate. It was called "Hridoypur". You will find it here: http://ddasgupta-translations.blogspot.com/2009/09/hasnt-your-mind-by-shakti.html

You might have read it earlier too, but as you know, I keep revising and I am sure that you never read this version.

I am dead sure that we have communicated this time. Simply compare "The coffee is way too sweet now... She puts it away..." wtih the last two lines of the translation (or the original which you can read as I know). I feel almost perfectly happy.

We have shared the same pain and ecstasy now. Few people care to read me, fewer comment. But I have realized that this is inevitable. Perhaps I have lost a part of my desire to write too, quite apart from the fact that time has put impossible constraints in my way. But when I read something like this, I feel it's not all lost after all.

All the best Chhaya.

The 62nd commentator!

PS Incidentally, the translation that I drew your attention too is probably the 62nd revision too. So, I too have 61 readers -- me, me and me alone!!

Shamik Mitra November 14, 2009 at 5:01 PM  

nice :D

now i am off to find some sugahh!


Whats In A Name November 15, 2009 at 3:53 PM  

Well said Chhaya!!!
Loved the ending!!! It happens to so many of us!! We run the race whole heartedly, but fail to take the last few steps towards the finishing lines!!!

Sujith November 16, 2009 at 9:39 PM  

Amazing ! Chaya, I am very new to your blog, but I sensed you spoke my mind out in this....

Especially, "...separating the needs from the wishes", its actually very very difficult effort to do the same and probably every damn human gets tested in this endeavor of his... I fail every time in this. There are some wishes in the guise of needs, which reveals its character at the point of no return...

Good going, hope to see more....

Srinivas November 17, 2009 at 7:26 AM  

Well written...simple superb.
Wandering thoughts, answering the inner questions...I agree with raja's comment
The musk deer always runs all over the jungle in search of the beautiful smell of musk. It does know that the smell is infact within himself. A kind of Mrigtrishna?

Karthik December 2, 2009 at 10:41 PM  

Is resisting temptation good?
The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it - Oscar Wilde. :D

Jokes apart, it was a tremendous read. If I am right, that sugar in the mug thing is used as a metaphor. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Sometimes these kinds of rambling thoughts give us the answers we need, don't they?
And the thing about perfection, well, as Ayn Rand put it, it's a matter of standards and we have got to set our own standards. So I don't think perfection is elusive. It's like the sugar in the coffee mug as you put it. It's always there. You just got to stir and mix it according to your taste.
I might be thinking too much, but this is how I analyzed it. Tell me if you meant something else.

By the way, first time here. And I'm congratulating myself for stumbling upon this blog.
It was a wonderful post. Cheerios! :-)

Chhaya December 7, 2009 at 10:13 AM  

Deep da,

I have been trying to reply to your comment ... and yet I cant find the words. May be it is because you always understand me so perfectly that words become redundant. I have always been able to have that connection with you.
thank u.. for everything. and more :)

Chhaya December 7, 2009 at 10:15 AM  

@Sri - Sujith - thank u :)

Chhaya December 7, 2009 at 10:17 AM  

@Karthik - you are absolutely right. thats exactly what i was trying to express. :)

Unknown December 13, 2009 at 12:52 AM  

Ms. Chhaya,
I know I am gonna come across as a complete unwelcoming guest when I tell you that I will really really like to 'speak' (and not 'write')to u . Not for anything, but for:
a) I can not read and write soooo much (I have always been bad at reading and writing)..and I have always found speaking to be much easier (and may i dare say 'honest') way of communication
b) there has always been this tendency to 'read' people and see if they really mean what they say!

My apologies for being a little too straightforward.
Please write to me (if you please). My e-mail id is amit.hans@educorp.in and amithans.educorp@gmail.com

P.S. I happen to come across this blog by chance..and i dont see any possibility of coming back here (the fool that I am!)
Tho' I am so glad i read something that was so worthwhile!
Hope to hear from you!

Amit Hans

chér February 21, 2010 at 11:52 PM  

what do i say???..u express great thoughts in amazingly simple language manner so that humans like me can comprehend them ..thanks for that..love these lines "Too many years spent on separating the needs from wishes....."
"The sugar that she wished for.
The sugar that was always there.
Never stirred....."

i am so glad that i came across ur blog.

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