Why We Dance

We dance to play music with our bodies,
We dance to feel the freedom we know is rightfully ours.
We dance to surrender wounds to the strumming of guitar.
We dance to hear the song within ourselves.
We dance to give movement to the love we feel.
We dance because the earth is always singing.

by Shenaz Wahid

Burbo, A Man Unlike Any Other

Burbo was a man unlike any other.

For years every morning he swam back and forth across the grand river, only for the pleasure of it.
And the waters contoured his face just a little differently, like it did with rock over a million years. A curve so minute that only a man with the eyes of a falcon, could ever tell the difference.
Wildflowers grew in his hair from lying down too long under sun-splintered skies and every time he felt great love for the earth, they grew just a little more, until he carried on his head, a perpetual, interwreathed forest of wildflowers.
The children came running unto Burbo just to get a whiff of the summer meadows, even in the coldest winter.

Burbo had never noticed that he was a man unlike any other, for he thought that every man was a man unlike any other.
Until one day, Burbo’s curious feet carried him to a town, where all men were alike. They paused, until all at once they burst aloud into great laughter. Burbo wondered for the very first time, why his head carried wildflowers instead of plain good old hair.
Burbo cut his hair, the one with sun-splintered skies, rivers and wildflowers.
He sold his wildflowers for all of twenty pounds and bought a new suit with it.
Burbo donned a suit and all the men stopped laughing.

by Shenaz Wahid

Unfurling a child’s imagination, inspired by this wonderful illustration.

The good little plant and the bent tree


Devika  : ” An old adage goes, ‘The good little plant can be straigthened. It can change in its youth, to grow upright, but once it grows up to be a bent tree, it cannot change.’
It will always remain the same old, bent tree.
Once it has grown and been moulded, it’s impossible for it to ever change.”

Malleka : “It is true that the bent tree cannot be a little plant again, but with the seasons that always change, it too can change. It can shed its rotten branches, the ones that do it no good. It’s a choice the bent tree has to make.
It will be nourished by the same soil and the sun that will share its light, regardless of how bent and twisted the mighty tree has grown to be. Come rain and spring, it will grow new leaves. Spring will magically return the clothes autumn had taken.
It can still blossom, to give flowers and fruit. If nothing else, it will always be able to give its cool shade, to a tired traveller.
No the mighty bent tree, won’t straighten its trunk and twisted branches, but that’s how it paints the sky with its unique beauty. That’s what makes children climb and sit in its majestically twined branches. The perfectly straight coconut tree can only be climbed by the coconut vendor.
While the forest is full of straight and tall, upright pine trees, the forest is also full of bent trees.
And the imperfect, bent tree always has a choice.”

A true conversation that unfolded.


Meeting India

India, You will meet her, not in newspapers nor in a movie, not an idea or fantasy, not in her texts nor what the journalist, moviemaker nor prejudice says, not in fables or documentaries.
You will meet her on the open road, where magic, beauty and dust from the earth, whirl up to collide. You will meet her in conversation with her people.
You won’t find her solely in her famous crowded cities, nor in the disparity of poverty and wealth upon her land, nor in the strange blend of ignorance and knowledge.
You will meet her in the fiery strength that hides in the weakness. In an unknown face that walks in an unknown village in a staggering mountain, deep in the desert wind, by her verdant forest, gushing rivers and her endless ways.
You will meet her if you forget everything you’ve been told she is.
You will meet her when you embrace her with your heart

by Shenaz Wahid


I silently honor my soul

To only accept that which is born of love and that which is loving,
is a way to honor yourself.

A well must be full to be able to give of its water,
How can you give water or love if you don’t have its source within you?
and while the well within is always full,
it is quite the journey to recognize that it is.
I step away firmly from that which is not born of love, and accept only that which is,
and in this way, I silently honor my soul.

by Shenaz Wahid

Holding the wind

I hold you in my heart lightly my love,
as the fields before me now hold the wind.
I am still without your breeze.
You make me Dance.
You are essential to my existence,
but love you as I may.
I have no reins with which to tie you to me.
No my Beloved, I set you free.
I let you go, not because you mean so little,
but because you mean so much.
My Everything.My Dance.

I let my heart ride upon this wind.
For we are held by the same thing.
The earth spinning within its grand Universe.
A Universe which has love at its core,
which has my faith.
That gave birth to the milky way and to us.
And when it wills,
we will dance for eternity.
Until that moment, I hold you as the wind.



Authenticity and Aloneness

Authenticity and Aloneness are intertwined, one often born from the other.                      
By being what no one has been before : You.

Being authentic sometimes means being alone, growing up as the kid who never quite fit in, as the adolescent who didn’t always have the right words to say.
It means being a lost adult, giving yourself a chance to be found.

And when you do find it, YOU and walk along your path, at first you see you are alone, walking as everyone is in large groups to different places together,
But slowly and surely, they emerge from the shadows, those glorious beings who were searching themselves too while you were,
And together they share magnificent mysteries, known only to them.


Love, pride and fear

“I believed in love. I put all my faith in it and I’ve been completely disappointed, hurt and humiliated. I can’t possibly put myself through it again. I’d be foolish to risk my heart, sanity and everything that I am all over again.”, uttered Kris

“I should be practical now. Focus on my dreams, build my career, after all it’s more reliable than another unpredictable human being. I can be wealthy, travel, spend time with friends, have fun, make something of myself and surely enough I will have someone to share life with.” he says, his eyes betraying the words his lips just uttered. He wants to share life with someone, but he’s tired of love’s heart-shattering complexities.

And then Kris shared his story. “It’s been three years she’s been on my mind, but I just can’t tell her. I was at work when someone had baked this amazingly delicious cake. I took a bite and asked every one who made it. They all pointed at her. When I saw her for the first time, I stopped in my tracks. I’ve seen a lot of women but this was different. What I feel just being in her presence……. She’s kind, radiant and like no other.”
” What?? Three years and you haven’t told her, why?? you have to tell her.”, I say unable to contain my expressive self.
“No, do you not remember how it ended with my last girlfriend? What if she doesn’t feel the same way? What if she says no? I don’t want to hear it. What if she has someone one else? I really can’t put myself through the pain or rejection again. Then again not everyone gets what they want.”
“No,you get what you ask for and what you believe you’ll get, if you risk everything to get it, and that includes your heart.”, I say.

I sound so confident, so full of faith but I’d be lying to him and myself if I said I hadn’t experienced the same stone-cold fear, deep aching hurt and terrifying confusion after my first heartbreak. I was 21, my heart ripped open that I turned over to God who with time and his majestic love, made it whole again. He taught me that only those who had the power to touch our soul, had the power to break it open in such a way, that only then could we ever peer into it and slowly over time discover it’s power, magic and love. Only then would we listen to its dreams, truths and what it yearns for. Only retrospectively can I understand that it was a blessing I had deemed as a curse.

Consider this my dear friend, God does with the human heart what he did with the world’s most magnificent mountain ranges, The Himalayas; the earth lay low, resting blissfully in the sun and for no particular reason, He decided to disrupt the peaceful lands with a mighty earthquake. The earth would have let out a long terrified cry, confused as it trembled, but from it was born the world’s mightiest mountains that towered into the sky. Only such utter disruption could allow the earth’s mighty heart to reach into the clouds. I know you’re afraid my friend. Believe me in one way or another we all are. I sure as hell am for my own heart, but there’s an awesome invisible hand leading us through the mystery, that we must trust.
You have but one life (one that you know of anyway) and you must express the love it feels, no matter the outcome. If you believe, you will one day triumph.
Tell her Kris, tell her!!

by Shenaz Wahid

The bar dancer

She looks at me from the seat beside mine and asks if I have any cotton as the flight is about to take off to Delhi.
“Kow-tun hai kow-tun?”, she asks in a heavy accent.
“Nahi hai. No I’m sorry” I smile at her.
She smiles back, “What do you do? Where are you going?”, she inquires.
I tell her that I love to travel and to write and that I’m going to the mountains.
“What do you do?”, I ask her.
“Dance.” she whispers softly.
“Oh I love to dance. I’ve been learning different forms since I was seven.”, I say animatedly to which she reacts with a quirky funny smile and says, “No, not that kind of dance.”
“Like Bharatnatyam?”
“Like Mujra and bar-dancing.”,she says softly. “Don’t tell anyone.”, she adds.

She says these words, “Don’t tell anyone” in such a soft shy way in my ear that it is almost impossible to forsee the crazy, dramatic, exhilarating next two and a half hours that will follow me on board.

In an endearing way, she is completely oblivious to social etiquette. She talks about her birthday aloud animatedly and the customer who showered two lac rupees on her “like rain” in a matter of half an hour. “Mere janamdin pe naa woh phool waali mombati jalaaye the aur aise paise udaaye mere upar ki barish jaise.”
“They love my dance.”, she says proudly and in the next instance says, “Let me show you.”, dikhao mein aapko? before I can reply she pops out her phone, plays a song and starts moving her hands dramatically.

My embarrassment quickly turns to pure amazement, that life put her my way, her eyes and voice overflowing with laughter as she tells her story.

“I’ve traveled the whole country, but my favorite part is Delhi.”,
“Delhi??”, I ask with questioning eyebrows thinking of the chaos in contrast to the peaceful villages and mountains.
“Yes Delhi. Where I live it’s beautiful. The neighbors are like family, the women laugh and cook meals together sharing stories. My family is kind and loving. I feel blessed coming back home to them. They don’t know what I do. They’d feel bad if they did. Bura manjayenge. They think I’m a make-up artist. I support the whole family from my sisters to their children and my parents, so we’re all happy.”, she says with pride

“How is it dancing?”, I ask trying to be as subtle as I can.
“It’s so much fun. bohot Mazaa aata hai. ” she says to my surprise
” I never let any man touch me at work. I dance because it helps me take care of the people I love and honestly dance is my passion.” Believe me it is, because even a flight full of passengers wouldn’t stop her from playing her tunes out loud and dancing. Everyone including the crew is too amazed and stupefied to stop her or say anything.
“The people I work with are like my sisters and dear friends. Also nothing else pays this well.”, she adds. Her last sentence gets me thinking of the irony of the price sexuality sells for and how an artist who makes beautiful music or the incredibly talented painter will have to fight it out to make ends meet, until they make it, but that is for another story.

Her appreciation for deep friendships and bonds seem much deeper than most people caught up living their busy lives. She pulls my cheek tightly with gleaming eyes and says “Aapse milkar bohot khushi hui mujhe.”

“I’ve loved only one man in my life and he passed away a year ago. I miss him a lot, after which its never been the same. He was the captain of a ship and to think of it, I wouldn’t be doing this if he were still alive. I would still be dancing, but not for others.”, she trails off. She plays a Punjabi love song that reminds her of him and translates it for me with intense emotion.

Here’s a list of endearing downright funny things that she asked me,

“Bangalore se Dilli tak teen Ghanta lagta hai. Yaha se foreign jaane ko kitna der lagta hai?”
“Eh chai de, aur Chinni aur dood theek se de abbey.”, to the purser.
“Aapka koi hai?” she raises her eyebrows naughtily, questioningly and adds “lover??”

by Shenaz Wahid


Let’s hide dear friend, all the questions that torment our soul,                       those questions of life and love whose answers we don’t already know.

Let me hide all my wounds, any hurt or any pain, just as you do beneath your smile.
Let’s hide under the curtain of the dark lonely night and pretend there’s only the moonlit sky with stars that shine. Let’s forget it is the darkness, which holds the stars in its vast bowl because they aren’t afraid to embrace it, like you and I.

Let’s hide the sadness that wonders why it was ever there and raise a toast in celebration and laughter.
It’s been said that the deepest laughter comes from those who aren’t afraid to cry, like a well carved so deep that it can hold the rain’s song, like secret twins dancing in the night, but let’s forget and pretend we’ve only ever known one of those two twins; joy.

Let’s hide that all we need is a silent embrace from another who knows exactly what it feels.
I know you know just what I mean, but let’s not be so weak to show the shadows of our soul. Even the sun moves and dances with the shadows through the day, but let’s pretend the sun of our hearts never a cast a shadow upon a single stone, and should that wretched shadow ever appear, let’s hide it beneath a velvet blanket where no one can see.

Let’s hide dear friend, anything that they say shouldn’t be. The deepest fear or doubt, for to show ourselves completely as we are, is shameful we’ve been told, So let’s dress those fears in beautiful robes woven with silken thread,                          
So that we may never know the beauty of being human or the magic of unveiling a glimpse of the mystery together
Or know that wondrous secret, that we’re all the same darling friend,
Stars so brilliant, that just need to know how to embrace the night,
for us to see our own hidden light.

All the same, you and I and everyone,                                       
And all we need is a silent embrace from another who knows exactly what it feels.