Wednesday, May 27, 2009

After the storm

So many beautiful trees were uprooted, several lost their branches- Kolkata's urban landscape is badly scarred with tumbled trees and broken cables. Many huts and shanties have been damaged/destroyed in a few short hours.

Lives were lost, and Mother Nature, once again, reminded us that she is more powerful than mere humanity.

My internet connection is, of course, out of commission, and I have limited laptop access. I will get back as soon as I can. Thanks for all the messages inquiring about our welfare.

Stay safe, everyone.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Man with the New Spectacles!

That's my Dad! He got his new spectacles today, and read a few pages of a book after several months. The eye surgeon was very pleased with the outcome of the surgery. As was the optometrist, who checked out his vision this Monday. With glasses, he said, Dad will have 6/6 vision in his left eye, which is what most youngsters have! (The right eye will not be tackled until this winter, on the surgeon's advice.)

The big issue here was Dad's lack of mobility. There are wheelchairs in the hospital, and attendants, but there are several examination stations where the patient is required to be where a wheelchair can't reach. My trusty driver was a gem. He'd pick Dad up and seat him wherever required, several times on each visit. Thank you and God bless you, Arun.

According to the eye surgeon, cataract surgery has been performed since ancient times. Our very own Susruta is supposed to have performed a version of this operation centuries ago.
In case you're interested, you can check out this brief history of cataract surgery.
It seems quite gory, so I'm glad to be living in an era of more sophisticated surgical techniques!

The eye drops will continue till early next month, but the hospital visits are over.

Thank you all for your abundant good wishes. I know that they really helped.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


That strange tongue twisting sound has been reverberating in our neighbourhood for the past several mornings. At first I thought it was "lintuparintuparintupaaaal", utter gobbledygook to my ears, but on repeated, closer hearings, it became clearer.
There was a strange melody to it. Ever since it first registered, I'd be wondering what it was. One morning, determined to solve this annoying mystery, I went into my balcony trying to figure out what on earth the vendor was selling. The voice was heard, close by, but there was no sign of anyone with any worldly goods to dispose of. I went into my parents' balcony, following the sound. The kadamb tree was blocking my view, but I did see the vendor uttering this strange cry.
He looked up, seeing me as a potential customer, but I looked away, not having the language skills to deal with him and his mysterious product. There was still no sign of what he was actually selling. He'd probably put it down on the ground, out of my line of vision.
I wandered back into the house, trying to tidy up, with the mysterious 'linchuphalinchu' echoing in my brain. "Phal"(fruit) registered- the question was, which particular fruit?
I went out into the balcony to hang up my towel.
And spotted the man on his way out of our lane with a basket of lychees on his head!

Apparently it isn't "linchu", but "lichu" in Bangla!
( I asked a Bengali friend on my walk the next morning).

Mystery solved!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Strange Gender Bias!

One of my neighbours also goes for walks in the morning on the same road as I do. She has some form of music device with her, and wears headphones in her ears. Nothing unusual about that at all. Many people walk with their ipods. This lady also happens to sing along with the music, both loudly and tunelessly. Although it is not a treat to hear her, I do love the utter unselfconsciousness with which she walks and sings, so totally bindaas. One of my companions objects to her terrible singing. As one whose great desire to sing to an admiring audience has been thoroughly squashed by her cheeky kids, I beg to differ. Even the tuneless have the right to sing. Women also have the right to sing, hum and whistle if they so desire. How often, though, in India at least, do you get to see a woman hum or sing on the road? Even a silent, prim and proper female gets more than enough unwarranted male attention. And yet we never look twice at a man singing out loud as he cycles past, or whistles while he walks along. This may sound very trivial, yet it is part of the larger battle, of women's right to freely occupy public spaces.

To be able to walk onthe road with a spring in your step and a song in your heart, and to let the song emerge if it wants to. That is a joyful freedom indeed!