Saturday, April 28, 2007

The operation was done this morning.
He seems to be recovering fine, though it is going to take a while.
The cricket finals should hold his attention a while, and he does have a sleep deficit of sorts to catch up with.
Thanks, everyone.
Magnanimous, the colossal raintree stands secure at the corner, extending its huge green canopy like a benediction. It just is, no regrets and no explanations, past the time and the weather which it marches to, putting on a new garb or letting a leaf gently float by; it just is, like an elder humoring a child as the tree bears witness to the caprices of time. Around it the ebb and flow of life are enacted, day turns into night, the vendors set store, ply their wares and shut shop, children go to school and return,and in due course the streets empty. Down the road, the rubble heap by the tea vendor was once “ Nargis ka bangla”, vast and majestic no doubt, must be all white with an arched portico. The raintree stays rooted to its spot by the tar road, this living link of rich sap between earth and vast sky, nodding at the night breeze and drinking in the sunshine that showers upon it of a morning. At peace.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I am not thinking things through.
Overreacting. Jumpy.
Taking time out for a week.
Will be back.
I just need to be by myself for some time.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The karma we attract in our life is our own doing.
“Neither thy piety nor thy wit…”
So be it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Surely it should be more difficult to buy arms than a tube of toothpaste?
(For the Arms Act 1959, and Arms Rules 1962,

In peace, Minal Panchal.
In peace, those poor children.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The surgeon in my home town has a tic over his right eye, intense manner and great diagnostic skills, much better than the jokers we’ve been shuttling to and from in this big city. I will now recite the names of higher generation cephalosporins like a prayer and try to stop being petrified of post op infections in the very old. Date not set as yet.
Outside the plane window, great fluffy clouds with silver linings greet the crisp morning; wispy fluffy clouds where you can just about see through the edges, like words half spoken, said unsaid, but understood and replied to with an imperceptible nod.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The voice over the phone has an unfamiliar drawl. Then shifts into the vernac.“ Who am I?” he asks. Faint memories from another time, when one was as daft, less cynical, more hardworking. Of a much smaller company; less systems and more heart. Of events where everyone pitched in and crazy deadlines. You tell me its better to live in Ottawa’s chill than dodge stray bullets in Johannesburg. I know you’ll do all right, find, make or wheedle a way out, and of course I’ll write you a glowing reference.
Green leaves on the white peepal shimmer like a thousand Tibetan prayer flags singing in the wind, a secret it shares in shy traces with the sunshine it basks in.

Monday, April 16, 2007

As I wait for the carry out at the Udupi across the road from Shoppers Stop, I spot them, a group of elders escorting the two young ones, all seriousness, handshakes and hidden smiles. Yes, a girl sees boy session with the full approval and sanction of the elders. As I watch the brisk nod the boy gives the girl when goodbyes are being said, I turn away with a smile, ah yes, this one’s done.

Green silk and white for the bud and tendrils. So right this shrub seems for chikan work, that elaborate shadow embroidery, tiny stitches on the wrong side of the cloth so that only minimal design is seen on the right side, that stiffness like embossing, working its magic, and hinting at the fine work that lies beneath. Not on cotton cloth as its normally done, but on the lightest raw silk, a pista green raw silk, every fold spinning a different shade as it reflects light. Fitting.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

For the last six months, every Sunday whenever I collected ironed clothes from the dhobi, I’d mock-chide Munna, “haan, you lost that blue salwaar kameez with the hakoba work. You don’t listen to me at all, eh!” And Munna would dutifully reply, “haan”. Then he would laugh and I would laugh, so completely useless my scolding.
Voila! The suit is back.
Will have to find something else to nag him about.

As shrubs go, this pretty white flower, star- shaped (if you sort of look at the petals from an angle), is scent-free, pedestrian; not for it the glory of the white rose photographed with fine glass and damask in some glossy issue of Vogue, or the ethereally fragile hothouse lily, touch-me-not, dainty. The chandni as we call it in my part of the world, is pedestrian, common, hardy, its only distinction that it grows without much attention, takes root wherever it is set, and produces, from time to time, a cover of tiny white blooms nestled between white-green leaves. A braided cover shall bedeck my bier one day, so I shall leave word, and take on this star shape scattered on the waters.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand
I wake in vain

The way these lyrics go, there is something decidedly egyptian about the notes, the way they sort of echo-coalesce; you suddenly stop and listen; and you can see a figure cloaked in black, arms beseeching heavenwards, amidst miles of sanddunes, and you forget the apartment by the track this surprising piece of music is playing from. Sting! Desert rose. Here? Whoever would have thought.

Now we say her poetry is exquisite, yearning, demands, passion and obeisance all put into one, but legend has it she laughed and cried at the same time, gesticulating and holding dialogues in echoing excited gibberish with the air and pink sandstone walls. They called her a mad woman anyway, as they had for long; whoever heard of a blue-blooded princess gallivanting the streets of unknown cities, dancing to the songs of her own making? But it didn’t matter. Did it bother her? Did it matter that she was talking into a vaccum? Wasn’t she gloriously happy and lavished in a warm cocoon of her own making? I now understand.
(about a figure from Indian history)

Friday, April 13, 2007

A pair of specs, my first, the behtala, or forty-two’s, as they are called in my part of the world. The price tag is shocking; why, they define my face, I tell myself. A rite of passage; not insidious like the silver that demands that chestnut brown or henna red; but in your face and with a bang, now! Will the world look clearer? But not much will change. If by now, one is a softy with a sympathetic heart and a spigot of tears at will, so one will remain. Ok the need to be defensive goes, settled in your skin, this is what is, not much changes.
So tell me, the bird on the high wire that sways with the wind, does it thank the air around for buffeting it, holding it in an invisible caress? For giving it, quite open handed, the buoyancy to spread its wings and fly free ? The asopalav stands tall, so sensitive that it sways with the lightest touch of the wind, perhaps it needs that slight shake, a knowing glance bashfulness that is known only to them, to show off its rich glittering green when sunlight showers gold. Perhaps the asopalav knows this, and when the wind runs fingers through its leaves, it whisper-nods its thanks to the sky.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Our erudite historian, linguist and digger of long forgotten family trees, mago ( has a new blog open for discussion, What is culture to you? At (
Worth a visit if you have something to say, even if you don’t.
Erudite, I said.
Nine am is late for a walk, but by then the track is thankfully empty and free of the usual good mornings, fleeting smiles, excuse me’s, just the greens wind and sky; the real reason the explosive light van gogh would have liked, which has begun to just change from mellow and playful to serious I-mean-business, coaxing the green to one more teeny inch, dazzling the still water in the fountain, highlighting the scattered cassia yellow that dot the rough uncut grass; amazing how comfortable the sparrows are with this light as they flit about their busy business, none of the creeping into the shadows for them, thank you.

The hedge at the corner where it turns, past the white of the dusty track? Mid-morning and everything is sharp-edged and brilliant, the trimmed round bush with pale green almost-white leaves features a sparrow that a miniature artist may have put there, the box cut henna hedge is pale and dark green, what other color will it be with the yellow generously showering upon it,each leaf outlined, like it was something created by a passionate lapidary for Shahjehan’s express and personal view?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Trees rich with gold, cassia or the rusty shield bearer, or whatever name they choose to call it, just generous lush with yellow that hits you in the eye. You couldn’t miss it even if you wanted to.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Ashima is Tabu. Tabu, is Ashima. Namesake is just shake up your brain and clean it up cutting clean brilliant .I always thought Panna of Hututu was Tabu, fragile edgy beautiful, but no, Ashima is Tabu. Awesome. My Cal, and why memories must be memories.The heartbreaking grandeur, the peeling-paint decay, the pratima of the deity lowered to the waters . Shots that get under your skin, the howling one, the morgue one how did she know, pulling out moisture from long dry eyes. That “that’s only for family” one. The last shot of Ashima tackling a pure alap with a confident abandon, on the open terrace, by the backdrop of the sky and howrah bridge. Somewhere it is about being forty-something and getting on with your life, the world and its first cousin, go take a hike. Now I must read the book. (The Namesake/ Mira Nair, based on the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri)

The swirling heat blankets the city first thing mornings, when you con yourself how nice sandalwood or khus or cologne or whatever soap scent smells and you need a bath about ten minutes after you’ve just had one, is a great time to begin reading Marquez. The sadness and the breadth where a lifetime is condensed in maybe five words, yes, no?, and why what must be, must be, ah lovely! “Seventy poisoned Englishmen”, and “I only came in to use the phone”; from those sleek seventy years of penguin series, not too much, not a little, which seems right in every way.

After a fortnight of polite “good morning, Manhattan, maxima minima windspeed”, N digs and how. Two minutes and he says he needs a tequila, not tea. He digs and questions and parries and pulls at scabs and peels picks. Deftly sidesteps tight punches powerful enough to leave a blue shiner. Late? Take a cab/walk, but, talk. Throws in Jung and patterns till he draws the furious gray steel of temper, the same one as sixteen years ago. “See a therapist”. And I still think he is the most terrific darling in the world.

Climbing up the steps to babulnath, ragged breath and names of long dead benefactors paved underneath. The generous green canopy against the pink sandstone and gold at siddhivinayak, touching the breeze like a benediction. The light flooding past the engraved screen at the sanctum. The reflection of the spires on glass casing on the mount opposite Mount Mary’s, where the eternal flame burns. IE is back at work post her chemo, a thanksgiving. V moves on to newer pastures, the world awaits, and her black granite desk stark and empty.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

newRoughpad updated.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sometimes life moves in quickmarch.That split second decision, go! The goof up with the ticket, brilliant. Wondering, this once too, what kind of economic sense it makes to wait endlessly in queue just to taxi, or land. Marveling yet again at the mosaic at the subway, first the old man’s feet and then his words and then that wizened visage with the staff. Singing that beatles medley with the child, she’ll do all right, anyone who can sing ahardday’snightlovemedo in a row should do all right. The instant reconnect with S.So much said unsaid. Laughter. Walking in your footsteps.Yes, I know. What a lovely home, it has that distinctive stamp on every inch, blue green and kota gray. A retreat, but bubbling flamboyant and in your face assured, none of that shrinking in the shadows. That chunk of a gnarled tree trunk in the courtyard. The fish in that tiny pond. Green. Lush. Colors. Vibrant. Unpredictable. The walls around her bed are pale blue and white. I try not to think of the price she gladly generously paid, as I cajole, bully, laugh and smother,and sneak another spoonful of bland food in. Returning, yet another long wait circling the city.
Life goes on, in circles, patterns, trendlines and shades.