Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On Sunday, I went for my first trek ever.
After a lot of dithering and re-checking the BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society) website if the trek had been canceled.
Silonda. In the national park. Right outside Mumbai.
The site described the trail as a pleasant, easy. That’s true- in parts.
A restricted trail. In away-from-public areas that still remain a forest.
Lush. Dense. In the areas where the cheetah and panthers live.
A dry deciduous forest. Not exactly a walk in the park.
I went alone. To find close to 60 people waiting at the forest gates.:)
Heartfelt gratitude to expert guides from BNHS – Sanil Nair, Parth Sanghvi, Vishal Patil.
You take the tar road to Kanheri and then you take a dirt track that meanders through waist high grass.
You listen to the annoyed, high pitched “ok OK!” of a distant golden oriole with a wide grin.
So many not-to-be-forgotten moments.
The sunlight filtering in through the trees, like a golden shower on the procession.
The wooly elephant creeper- through half shut eyes, the outline does look like an elephant…
The ghost tree, with bark peeling like an old brown paper cover, how must it be looking on a full moon night, all aglow, silver leaves dancing in the breeze…
So many flowers- sensitive Cynthia, lea, wild moong, cat’s ears, wild ginger spiral, wild bhindi, balsam, pincushion, wild glory lily. Even the once in 7 years bloom- the karvy.
So many trees. Accacia. Impale tree, Palash.
Bamboo groves- all dried up.
The pagoda nest with black ants. The signature spider- a huge golden female and a tiny orange male that gets eaten up by the female. Even a wine viper.Sundry caterpillars and grasshoppers.
Walking through a waist high carpet of golden flowers- wild moong.
Stopping to hear and take to heart the deep chik chik of the forest.
All is easy till you reach the streams. The first stream is a surprise- you perch carefully on the rocks, try to stay dry, and marvel at the stream.
The going gets tougher at the second stream. You balance carefully, walking, splashing in the stream-bed, watching every next step, judging if that’s moss on the rocks, or whether the sand underfoot will hold.
Even if you’ve never climbed rocks and boulders before, and I certainly hadn’t.- you clamber from rock to rock, glad of a firm footing. You slip and fall some, glad of adipose to take the fall.
You crawl under a boulder, balancing on a dried tree wedged there-praying to your personal God, making bargains, desperate for a foothold on the other side…
You learn about your limits- when the entire world moves quickly from 4 color bright afternoon to sepia to almost black in quick succession. When your heart thuds hardest it ever has, and the layer of sweat on your forehead keeps reappearing no matter how often you wipe it.
You rest at the lower fall, not a hundred meters from the source point at the summit.
Then you trudge back, zombie style, holding on to rocks, creepers, anything for support, stumbling, faltering some.
You emerge from the forest gates, feeling rich.
A new year begins.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Dussehra!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

There- I’ve done it again. Lost my temper at myself for something that is way beyond my control. Spent hours mulling and fretting, over and over again.
Not a thing I can do. Not a single thing.

Singing in my mind the hills are alive with the sound of music… soothed me, cooled me down. Amazing how one remembers the feel of the words, and how the chorus sort of spreads like a silver wave, and how it reminds me of dusk gently rolling in over the hills of Amboli, the birds distant specks flying home.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The first photo and the one in the post below- Shri Mahindra Tiktey's workshop
Second photo: Random road, lit up.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Navratri begins today, the festival of nine nights, the festival dedicated to the Mother Goddess in all her forms, her avatars.
An auspicious time after the period of obeisance to one’s ancestors known and unknown, all the strangers who have passed me the genes I carry.
There’s a smile in the air. On the road, strangers walk by, swishing silks with golden borders have replaced office formals. This evening, the roads will be festooned with lights, and I’ll strain to hear and sing along to half-forgotten words. I’ll look at the pinpoint stars past the haze, and remember the lush greens and riotous yellows I drink in every morning, her grace real and ever renewing, my lifeblood.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Stunning beauty, reminding one that the leaves are a peculiar fluorescent jade if you see them from beneath, and that in brilliant afternoon sunlight shower, leaves seem outlined by a delicate black.

And what an opportunity so early on- to extend your mind, have those neurons stretch and build new connections…the same text, such different treatments.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I’m delighted to announce the publication of a translated story, Trimurti, in Calquezine. The original story by Shri Pravinsinh Chavda is in Gujarati.

The title, literally “Three facets/statues” derives from the Hindu triumvirate of Gods, Lord Brahma (the creator), Lord Vishnu,(the nurturer), and Lord Shiv (the destroyer).

This tale of dawning awareness of a relationship and consequent measured grief at its close clearly ranks amongst the author’s finest works. Taking the boundaries of this story to another language, conveying this distinct measured sense without going overboard on the despair was the most difficult part of this translation.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Watched Mamma Mia on HBO, Saturday.
Decent storyline, hellova actors (Streep and Brosnan.oh la)
Songs that you sing full-to-full volume-- songs with memories, songs of hope and happy times, of life even-ing out.Sitting on the backporch with that clunky walkman. Your mind takes off on tangent, all the storylines mix in a happy buzz that outlasts Monday blues. Thank you for the music, ABBA.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Spiffy new compartments pretty up Western Railway
Shatabdi, a long distance train.
The ladies compartment in a local train, 10.30 in the night.

Why does a set of apparently decent persons morph into a hungry, bloodthirsty, mob? Comfort in anonymity, in knowing someone cannot hit back, cannot afford to? If perception of goodness/ weakness transforms a perfectly reasonable person into a jungli fanatic-type hooligan mawali, shouldn’t such an impression be corrected? Or would correction and knee jerk reaction bring in another opportunity for misinterpretation? Difficult to contain damage?
Hell with it. I’d say off with the kidgloves.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Kiran Desai,The Inheritance of Loss and the insouciance of words

My first response was to fling to book aside at page 2.
The Inheritance of Loss/ Kiran-ben Desai
Despair, bleak, a sense of grief hopelessness seep through the flimsy illegit newsprint pages like the nonstop rain seeping through the wood at Cho Oyu in Kalimpong.
You take the reader down a ravine of grief, for heaven’s sake show a glimmer out, something anything how ever flimsy but no!
The cover is abstract pretty, but I’d put up there the leitmotif like a warning to timid souls, the ornate gates and pillars standing in the middle of nowhere with no walls to hold together- nothing left to hold together, nothing left to hide, all khatam but marching on nevertheless. How well we know that.
Ethical gujju that I am, must get the most bang for the buck and can’t possibly let the 25 bucks reading fee from my roadside library go waste--am I glad I persisted.
This is good. This is SO very good.
Very crisp writing, so many layers, all streaking dancing joyously across the storyboard canvas and blending seamlessly but yet separate-seperate.
She’s got a great story to tell, she has you caring for the characters, she has you opening up long shut and welded-sealed doors in your own past, she has you wringing your hands with ohmyGOD the sadness of it all,yet cheeky in your face hullo, what more can one ask for?
Envy her comfort with English. Not the Queen’s here for sure, put away that Wren and Martin, she takes her grammar and tweaks it around her little finger. She scatters it across the polished wooden surface and plays swift carom with the striker, and oh la! how I like that.

For a propah review: The Inheritance of Loss/ Reviewed by Pankaj Mishra for the NYT


Friday, September 04, 2009

The sealink is beautiful, saving precious minutes as you sweep majestically across a steel grey sea, you’re gleeful at the quiet isolation of it all, envious of the seagulls wheeling far overhead, and you grab a look at the distant shore oh how pretty it seems from here, even the blue tarpaulin hutments, and what IS that building there oh really? and that’s it. you’re ashore…

The Rooftop bequeaths an unparalleled view- a whimsy mist sashaying over a jumble so green, the mirror of the bay the hutments that hug the shore, the museum dome, the ships slinking out of BPT, Rajabai Tower, NGMA and Cuffe Parade hanging in there, scrambling for dear space.

And you wonder about the gift of distance and an objective point of view.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A whole new month begins...!

Was thinking about conditioning the other day. How ingrained it is, despite the new colors we put on. And how like a child that rushes to its mother’s side at any sign of distress, one rushes and grabs the conditioning security blanket