Sunday, June 28, 2009

Things I've Never Been Able to Understand-V

What is a vegetarian supposed to look like? Whenever, in my far away youth, I declared that I was a vegetarian, the statement was met with the incredulous response," You don't look like a vegetarian".

What on earth is a vegetarian supposed to look like? A vegetable? (All shapes and sizes and colours of veggies exist, so the generic term won't make sense anyway!)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Why did it rain?

Well, of course there were many wishes, good thoughts and prayers and virtual rain dances across the blogosphere. Choice renderings of various malhars and meghs, kajris and jhoolas were played on various music systems. All of these would definitely have added up to an awesome application for rain. Our accurate Sue had also predicted rain on Wednesday( comment no. 9:-
The clincher, however, was the Ultimate Rain Commanding Act, for which I take all the credit.
(Debit is more likely, though, in cash terms).
After waffling through thoughts of buying an air conditioner for my kitchen, which the SRE actually encouraged, I finally did what I should have done ages and ages ago. I went and bought a small table fan for the kitchen. I buy the fan on Monday, and the rain gods process this information on Tuesday, happy that finally some lucre has been sacrificed to them by the Big Drip herself, and being somewhat bureaucratic by nature (these are Indian rain gods, after all) Kolkata has a good forty minutes of rain on Wednesday afternoon. And a wee bit on Thursday afternoon, and good showers early this morning.
I didn't know that the rain gods actually required bribes to pass the clouds' marching (raining) orders. As long as the bribe is effective I don't really care- we finally have had some rain. (The fan isn't really useful- I haven't yet worked out a sensible place for it- so either the gas flame gets blown upon, or one side of me drips while the other dries off, and I also have to bear the annoying hum of the fan.)
I have a feeling though, that once I invest the relatively large sum of money that an air conditioner costs, I just might never need to use it! One lives in hope.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A tiny bit of magic!

I stepped out into our lane this morning, rather intrigued by what looked like a broad sun beam halfway down the road. A closer look revealed that the road was carpeted by the tiny yellow flowers from the kadamb tree's laddoo like inflorescence. A strong wind had blown a little magic into our lives. Thank you, wind. ( Of course I'll be even more grateful when you blow some rain clouds and actual rain our way!)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Weather I like it or not....

the weather is what it is.
I don't want to even think about it, but it commands my attention every waking moment.
I had guests last week, who were most upset at the sight of me dripping around the house, especially each time I entered the kitchen. I'd even taken to hanging a small towel over my shoulder, like the time honoured gamchcha, so that I wouldn't drip onto whatever I was cooking.

There is much to love about summer- beautiful flowering trees, starting with the brilliant crimson of the flame of the forest (palash- Butea monosperma) as early as March, when we first hear the koel's plaintive cry, and the brief but brilliant flowering of the trumpet tree (Tabebuia aurea), going on to the amaltas ( Cassia fistula), the copperpods (Peltophorum pterocarpum) and the gulmohars( Delonix regia), the Pride of India ( Lagerstroemia speciosa), the laddoo like flowers of the kadamb (Neolamarckia cadamba), the fluffy powder puff like flowers of the rain trees(Samanea saman). Such awe inspiring beauty all around us.
And what delicious fruit as well, along with a paucity of vegetables. (The summer vegetables are all very well, but if they become even a little over-ripe, the seeds in them harden and my poor father doesn't enjoy them at all.) Mangoes of all varieties, each variety taking its turn as summer marches on, litchis, musk melons, water melons, cherries, plums and peaches- the hotter the summer, the sweeter the fruit. And late summer brings that most strange and wonderful fruit- the jamun!

This year, though, I can't treat the weather with my customary nonchalance. The humidity seems to be sucking the energy out of us all, leaving us all reeling under its impact. I drink gallons of water, and feel bloated, but the thirst is rarely relieved. We had some rain a few nights ago, but by the next morning we were back to sweltering. There is talk of yet another week's delay in the monsoon.

I am seriously thinking of installing an air conditioner in the kitchen. Then perhaps I will be a cool cook. Right now I think we should all live on chilled liquids only, those too prepared by someone else.

How about a virtual rain dance on the blogosphere? It might work. And I'd better start playing all my Megh and Malhar recordings- they should do the trick.

Garjat barsat saawan aayo re......

Megh shyam ghan shyam, shyam rang ghan chaayo,
Baadal ke roop shyam, prem rang barsaayo.

Umad ghumad ghan garjo re....

I'm feeling cooler already!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sultry Mornings

Those of you who know me know that I try to be regular about my morning walks.
For new friends, here's the link to Random Mornings, which I wrote some years ago:

And now,
Even the early mornings are hot and humid,
the city reeling with the heat
and power failures
and a monsoon turned Godot,
eternally waited for.

And yet,
Something drives me,
to do this for me
just for me
and indirectly, of course,
for those I love.
But mostly for me-
the hour I spend on the road
each morning
Sweat springing from every pore
within the first ten minutes
Each dab and pat
with the little towel I carry
a futile gesture.

It is still a sacred time, and a special time, and a precious time
When my body revels in motion
even in the aches and pains
which are frequent companions
And I try and push and keep pushing the limits
of what I can endure.

I also have now
my wonderful virtual companions,
The sisterhood of the sweatpants,
(see comment no.11)
egging me on-
and the tired and aching muscles respond.
Another five minutes, another round,
And then, when you think that
dragging your carcass back home
is the only sane option,
there's enough of a breeze
to charge you up
for yet another round.....

It's amazing how relative things are:
In winter, leaving the snug warmth
of my bed is difficult,
and in summer it's leaving
the coolness of the bedroom.
Same body, same bed!

The morning still remains
magical, with Mr and Mrs Kite
nesting on the gulmohar tree
their mellifluous cries
belying their predatory nature.

The white bougainvillea
pours over a high wall
a frothy bridal bouquet
And I remember
the neem in Noida
with a bridal veil
of magenta bougainvillea
caressing it.

The walkers seem to display
their sweat stained clothes with pride,
a testimony to their endurance.
Many regulars are missing,
citing the heat.
But once it rains,
perforce, we have to stay home
umbrellas less than useless in a storm,
waterlogged roads drenching our shoes
regular walks postponed indefinitely

So I'll push on each morning,
pushing/punishing my body,
hoping that it'll rain, yet glad that it doesn't.
The fruit seller at the end of our lane
where I stop on the final leg and pick up,
mostly, two bananas, some sweet limes
the occasional papaya,
(We have a 'running' account)
He's usually there by a quarter past five,
part of the morning territory,
a witness to the exertions
with which I start my day.

From there home is just a stone's throw away
an achievable goal
with fresh dry clothes
and a glass of water with a lemon
squeezed into it
and the blessed fan.
Such great relief
needs to be earned!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

From Mandira

Thank you Mandira for thinking that I am a lovely blogger and giving me this award. I quote her awarding me this: " for the intangible something that makes your posts sound so warm."

There are so many amazing people out there, and it is amazing how a chance comment gets you hopping across the blogosphere and making wonderful discoveries. Some lovely bloggers I've found recently and not so recently include the wonderful Mom Gone Mad, Nino's Mom, Word Junkie, Unmana and ra. It's strange how these people whom I hadn't heard of a while ago are now an essential part of my life. Such is the power of their keyboards.

A warm and wonderful travel writer I'd love you to read blogs at Footloose. I'm not offereing her an award as she is a professional journalist, and may wonder at these bloggy thingummies, but do go and read her stuff anyway.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The SRE and the dressing table

We live in a semi-furnished flat, which means that besides our own furniture, we use some stuff that belongs to the landlord. What I'm using as a dressing table is actually a slender desk with two drawers, with a large mirror perched on top of it. Our computer has a large monitor, which occupies most of the computer table top. So, very often, important documents that need our attention or papers that need to be filed sit on top of the dressing table until they are dealt with. There is , however, a bookshelf in between the computer table and the dressing table. They are not conjoined, they are separate entities, even though they are of the same height. A host of ballpoint pens and sharpened pencils sit in a mug on the computer table, since the SRE is very fond of Sudoku, and I used to enjoy doing crossword puzzles before the blog world took over large chunks of my leisure time.

When my kids were young, the dressing table was a totally dysfunctional entity, since toddlers and make-up have an incredibly strong attraction towards each other. A moment's carelessness could spell a squashed or broken lipstick. It was years before I could even dream of keeping cosmetics on the dressing table. Those days are long gone, so I can now keep whatever little make up I use on the dressing table. At least, I thought that I could..........

A couple of days ago I discover my brand new eyeliner pen lying near the fruit basket in the dining room. Its tip was squashed. The guilty party was obviously the SRE. No one else uses/touches our dressing table.

Since the eyeliner pen stays in the bowl of lipsticks (next to the candles), it does indicate, to my logical mind at least, that this particular pen is a cosmetic, not a writing instrument. I really wonder what the SRE was thinking about when he picked it up. The poor man has no answer. I just hope that he isn't going to morph into a toddler.......