Friday, August 30, 2013

Alert Security!

When we reached the exit door of the supermarket, as always the security guard examined our bill,
(we had just the one bag of fruit and vegetables) and then, most unusually, asked us to move to the side. Our bill had one unnamed item billed at one rupee. The guard was well aware that there was nothing in the store that was sold for a rupee, so we pulled out all the items and counted them and tallied the number of items on the bill. I had bought a pomelo for thirty rupees, and it had been billed a second time for one rupee. The guard sent one of his minions to the cash counter to get the bill corrected, and he returned shortly with our bill and a one rupee coin. The security guard apologised for delaying us, and seemed most pleasantly surprised when both the SRE and I praised him for his sincerity and his attentiveness towards his work.

I don't know what opportunities he will get in his life, but I do hope he always has the satisfaction of a job well done. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Six years old today!!!!!!

Of This and That is six years old today!
It's enriched my life tremendously.
I know I often neglect it,
But it's there, waiting for me
The silent recipient of
So many mental conversations
With myself, many of which
Remain only mental!
I hope I write more
In the coming year, dear blog.
I'm glad you are there.
Happy birthday!

Monday, August 26, 2013

August memories

August is drawing to a close,
bearing with it reminders of Augusts past.

This year, it feels like a month of loss,
many times over.........

My mother's birthday, on Independence Day.
She would have been eighty five this year.
I no longer mourn her, or even miss her very often,
But that date belongs to her.......

Lalita- it's been five years since you left us.
You remain unforgettable,
A memory shared by the few of us
Who knew you, even briefly as I did.

Those two young men, mere boys, really,
Who took their own lives last year- they are no more,
Not visible to us in this world, at least,
But their loss remains, constant,
In the hearts of those who loved them.
And yet life moves inexorably on........

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The hypocrisy of the lazy morning walkers

We walk early, K and I,
Our alarms going off at five a.m.
And we meet somewhere on our route
And catch up with each other's lives
Trying to manage to walk
five days a week.

But most mornings, we peer through
Bedroom windows, looking at the road
And the sky, hoping for rain
That will let us curl up in bed again,
Without guilt...........

It rarely happens, though,
Apart from days
When the rain is torrential,
Keeping us housebound
not only in the morning, but all day long
Our lanes flooded,
Part time house help
Unable to come,
And suffering the rising water,
The leaking roofs
That damage their goods and chattels
With not a spot to dry them in.
The extremes of nature
Cruel to those whose lives
Are already so.........

We know this,
we count our comforts,
And we continue our walks
And our hopeful, fraudulent,
Guilt inducing
Wish for morning rain.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Dinosaur is Happy!

I spent about three weeks without my trusty desktop computer.
Life was no fun.
I can access e-mails on my mobile phone.
I can read a lot of stuff on the iPad.
I even wrote my last blogpost on the iPad, though I had to edit the last line on my husband's laptop, as somehow I could not access the last line to edit it on the iPad.
My brain froze- here I'm trying to edit the post on the SRE's laptop, and getting quite worked up as I can't find the 'edit' icon, the pencil!
At last I realise that I need to log into my blogger account, and do so.
I'm amazed and amused by the tricks the brain plays on one.
While I was without my desktop, I was truly grateful for the iPad, or at least tried to be!
My daughter even sent me a Bluetooth keyboard to use with the iPad, as I don't enjoy writing on a touch screen. I never got around to using it.
But now, I am genuinely glad to be sitting at my computer table, with the comfort of the familiar.......


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Book Review: The Man With Many Hats

The Man With Many Hats begins with a delightful account of a childhood with an amazingly warm and generous man for a father. It speaks of life in Kolkata in the fifties and the sixties, and the unique perspective of life in a Jewish home. The protagonist, Rachel, a sunny and bubbly young girl, tells the tale of life in the Selman home, a home that is peopled by many wonderful characters, including several vistors from across the globe. Her grandmother, Mozelle, visits their home  every week, even carrying her own drinking water, as she feels that her daughter's home is not sufficiently observant of Jewish traditions.  She also teaches her grandchildren Hebrew, which young Rachel does not enjoy learning, especially because she is sure that an All Knowing God  would surely understand English!!!!!  Young Rachel's childhood is magical and brings back warm memories of my own, of studying in a convent school and wanting to be a Catholic, for one! Rachel has a close knit group of  friends, a warm and loving family, a comfortable, privileged upper class existence- what could possibly go wrong? Her father's infidelity destroys the idyllic family life enjoyed by the Selmans, and major changes occur in all their lives. Rachel goes abroad for her higher education, and her mother and brother, Jacob, move to Israel. Morris Selman remains in Kolkata,  living life, as always, on his own terms, but their home has changed forever.
Living and studying abroad, Rachel becomes aware of her unique identity as an Indian and a Jew. She also takes a keen interest in the movements for social change that were then sweeping across India.
Rachel's story, of love, loss, some unexpectedly warm relationships, and immense personal growth, intersperses with that of her father's life, and the troubled paths they traverse before reaching a place of  forgiveness and reconciliation.
It also gives us valuable glimpses of the history of the community of Baghdadi Jews  that has been part of Kolkata since the latter part of the eighteenth century.  Although there are now very few members of this community left in the city, the heritage remains in some place names and some beautiful historic buildings, traces of the immense economic contribution the Baghdadi Jews made to their adopted country.
Each chapter heading has been beautifully illustrated by the author, who, like her protagonist's father, also wears many hats. (More about her in a later post).

The Man With Many Hats by Jael Silliman,
Published by Jael Silliman, 2013
Price: Rs. 295
Available on Flipkart, and Amazon India