Thursday, May 3, 2018

Happy feet

On a cold windy day
this January, a stroller,
a grandmother,
an infant, well clad,
not quite five months old.

From behind the stroller
All that grandma can see
are thick gray booties
wiggling joyfully.
A happy baby
on a cold windy day.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Much Ado About Prawns

Our social life sometimes becomes a little too much for our (ageing) digestive systems, particularly the RE's.
This last weekend was a case in point. We had lunched at a Lebanese/Middle Eastern restaurant on Saturday, and the leftover prawns came home with us and were promptly kept in the fridge. We were out for lunch again on Sunday, had a late nap, some theplas with our tea, and then ate bhelpuri when we were out watching a movie. An (almost) midnight dinner followed once we were home.

On Monday morning  the weather was wonderful: cool, cloudy, and there had been some rain too. It was calling out for pakodas, but I did not succumb to the lure of fried food early in the morning, and settled for besan cheelas instead. By lunchtime, though, the RE thought that rice and dal would be easier to digest, so we had that with a salad. Dinner was light too. We decided to ask the maid if she was interested in the prawns, since there seemed to be no possibility of the RE having them. (I'm a vegetarian). He also had a couple of glasses of fresh lime with soda. Digestive system obviously not happy.

The maid took the prawns home on Tuesday. On Tuesday the RE has an upset stomach. He is travelling the next day, but doesn't want to a) consult a doctor; b) take Imodium; c) start a course of Norflox. Hence we tackle the situation with bananas, coconut water, Yakult (a probiotic drink), and really thin khichdi for lunch. By evening he pronounces himself better, and has a normal light dinner.

Early on Wednesday morning he leaves. I go for a walk. Our maid is usually in by seven-fifteen or so,
but by the time I realize that she isn't in yet, it's already seven-forty. This particular girl does not have a cell phone, so there's no way I can contact her. I do the dishes and as much clearing up as I can manage before the yoga teacher comes. I have a busy day ahead of me, and am out till evening. An underlying anxiety remains. I sincerely hope that her absence wasn't caused by the prawns.

Thursday morning dawns cool and damp. There was a storm at night. I go for my walk, hoping to see the reassuring sight of the maid heading towards her first house of the day, but no such luck. I am now quite concerned and fairly anxious, and also feeling very guilty.Why didn't we just chuck the prawns in the dustbin? Why did we get them packed in the first place? I sincerely hope that no one in her house is seriously ill because of the wretched prawns. I water the plants. I pick up the newspapers. I make myself a cup of tea, all with mounting anxiety. At seven forty-five the doorbell rings. It is the maid. (Thank God). She says she had a terrible stomach ache the previous day. I die of guilt. I ask her if she had any prawns. She says that her husband had them all, and he's fine. (More thanks to God). She doesn't eat prawns!
Image courtesy:

Monday, April 2, 2018

Yet another pigeon post.

The solitary sleeper was not the confirmed bachelor I had thought him(?) to be.
He was smarter than I had imagined, but I think I have triumphed over property-grabbing avians.
In recent days, a pair of pigeons would flutter away whenever I opened the bedroom balcony door.
I wondered vaguely what they were doing there, knowing full well that two pigeons couldn't roost or build a nest on the a/c pipe.
It so happened that my regular house help is away on leave, and the substitute help is somewhat rushed, so the bedroom balcony wasn't being cleaned regularly. While hanging out the laundry to dry one morning, I notice a couple of twigs on the floor, and am inspired to peep under the outdoor a/c unit. To my horror I see a floor full of twigs and leaves and detritus: so this is what the pigeon couple was up to. The next morning the girl is told to clean thoroughly underneath both the outside units

The second picture shows the actual amount of nesting material. Sorry, Mr. And Mrs. Pigeon. If you were sparrows I'd more than welcome you to nest in my balcony, but I have no great fondness for the avian species that is overrunning our cities. Better luck elsewhere.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Do Not Disturve

That was what I had written on a piece of paper which I stuck on our bedroom door, when I was five or six. Of course my brother and sister had a good laugh at my expense. But that was what I thought it was. And in my mind, "disturve-ing"  people was not a nice thing to do. My mother hated waking up people, but it's one of the things mothers have to do. I think I enjoyed my kids' school holidays especially for this reason: not having to wake them up!

And then, for two days running, I inadvertently woke up the solitary pigeon that sleeps outside our bedroom window. On Thursday my older daughter took me out on an impromptu shopping and lunch expedition, which was great fun, but then I had to hang out the laundry in the balcony after I got home at four-thirty. At seven o'clock I decided to take the clothes off the line, completely forgetting that the solitary pigeon retired at six p.m. (Pigeon or no pigeon, I'd rather not have laundry hanging out all night). As soon as I opened the balcony door the pigeon flew off. I don't know if it came back later or not. Yesterday again I did the laundry rather late in the day, and it wasn't dry when I left home at two in the afternoon. I got home at nine. This time I remembered the (damn) pigeon, and tried entering the balcony from the guest room side. (Our bedroom and guest room both open onto a common balcony). But once again I did "disturve" the sleeping bird, who flew off immediately.

And then, today, a friend on Facebook posts this picture:

"A woman cuts the hem of her kimono so as not to wake a cat."

I do not love the pigeon. But I do feel sorry for disturbing its sleep.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Solitary Sleeper

This winter we've had a strange 

"almost-companion" as we sleep. 

One solitary pigeon sleeps on top of  the split air-conditioner's connecting pipe. 

Sleeping there is bad enough, since it also tends to excrete just below its perch. 

More than that, though, is the problem I face when our feathered neighbour suffers from insomnia. 

Why wouldn't it, considering the ridiculous size of its sleeping perch? 

The insomniac pigeon makes the weirdest of sounds, like horses galloping on gravel.

The occasional change in position I can understand, but when my actual bed-mate snores, and the 

insomniac pigeon scratches and scrapes on its perch, it renders me insomniac too. Perhaps it sleeps 

too early: roosting about half an hour before sundown means a very long night.

And why are you all alone, Pigeon? 

                                          The rest of the enormous pigeon population that occupies our apartment 

complex seems to believe in couple-dom and family life, billing and cooing in the building shafts 

and the ledges of bathroom windows.

Are you lonely, Pigeon?

Did someone break your heart?

I can only let you sleep on the a/c pipe, undisturbed...

Thursday, February 1, 2018

January vanished!

The older son and his family were coming home, the younger granddaughter for the very first time.
The older one knows us well now, thanks to Skype calls as well as our recent visit when her baby sister was born.
Jet lagged babies and preschoolers make for mega jet-lagged parents! Parents who had a lot of work to do, ASAP. That included finding an apartment for a year, setting it up, finding suitable help, a school for the older child, air purifiers ( a necessity in Delhi), kitchen ware, bed linen, bank accounts, WiFi etc.
Parents and sisters and friends dug into their stocks, the visiting children found the household helper who had worked for them before, and now seem to be settling into their lives here. The older child, an extremely articulate almost four-year old, isn't really convinced as to why they have left her green house in XXXX city and come here. She is, fortunately, liking her new school, and we hope she will be comfortable in her year here. She is a great fan of parathas, and enjoyed rolling out rotis in her Dadi's kitchen!
The baby has finally figured out day and night, thankfully. This grandmother loved taking her out for walks in her stroller, when this tiny person, all of 4 1/2 months, expressed her joy by merrily kicking away as we walked. She expressed, to my grandmaternal heart, great intelligence in one of our early interactions. I held her in my arms, giving her a bottle of milk. The young lady would stop sucking and cry every time I looked at her, so the first time I fed her here was by holding her close, without making eye contact with her! Seemed like early stranger anxiety, finally eased by the comfort of a full belly. On her last day in my care, she had been fed, changed, and left to play on the floor while I tried to pack up some of her big sister's toys in another room. After a few minutes on her own, there is an imperious yell from Her Tiny Majesty, summoning her attendant minion! The poor little thing is teething, so I have been drooled on and chewed upon, with great joy, I may add. I've also been haunted by the tunes of her Play Gym, which were an almost constant accompaniment to her waking hours. We had days of sunshine, oil massages and happy kicking little legs...
While trying to entertain the older child, I remembered something my brother used to sing to me when I was a child: I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat. Simple enough to locate it on the 'Net. So my brain was a happy mush of Puddy Tat and Alouette (from the Play Gym) and the endless nonsense songs that emerge in the company of babies!
 Incoherent, but happy that at least our precious grandchildren are just a not-too-long drive away (depending on Delhi's traffic, of course).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Daddy and Mr. Saigal

My father loved several kinds of music. Our Telefunken spool tape recorder and our Pye radio gave us a wonderful variety of music to listen to, from Handel's Water Music, to the theme from Shakespearewallah, to Yehudi Menuhin and Pandit Ravi Shankar performing together, children's songs, comedy radio programmes, my brother's collection of pop and rock, and, of course, old Hindi film songs: Talat Mehmood, Jagmohan, Pankaj Mallik, Hemant Kumar, Geeta Dutt, etc. They were singers whose song were enjoyed and appreciated. My father's love for K.L. Saigal's songs, however, was a class apart. I have a strong suspicion that he worshipped him. In my teetotal family, even the fact of Saigal's premature death due to alcoholism was glossed over, without even the teeniest disapproval being manifest! Sorrow, yes, that his illustrious career was cut short, but never disapproval. At least that's what I remember from my early years.
Since Mr. Saigal was Daddy's all time favourite, there seemed to be a preponderance of his music in our home. My sister and I would protest sometimes, but Daddy's obvious joy in Saigal songs often overrode our petulant grumbling. He would hum Radhe Rani De Daaro Na, and even sing it at parties. All of Saigal's repertoire was cherished: my introduction to the ghazals of Ghalib and Seemaab Akbarabadi was in Saigal's voice. His  bhajans have found a place in my deepest core: the simple philosophy of Andhe ki laathi tu hi hai is a great comfort in difficult times. Suno suno he Krishna Kala is utterly poignant. But the ultimate Saigal song for my father, the creme de la creme of his fabulous repertoire, was a song that the maestro had written himself: Main Baithi Thhi. It is the song of a seeker, full of longing and deep spirituality: bhakti in its truest meaning.

Today, on your ninety-fifth birthday, Daddy, I want to thank you for making Saigal a part of my life. I wonder if he holds musical soirees in the afterlife. If he does, I'm sure that you have a front row seat! Happy listening, Daddy.