Monday, December 17, 2012

Thank you for writing in. Didn’t quite expect this, and it warmed the cockles of my heart. 
(Eh, I has ‘em you know, cockles and cowbells and sunshine and suchlike.)
Some of you have an issue with anonymity—you can remain as anonymous as you like, your mail id could well be abcxyz@yahoo/ gmail/ whatever—as long as I have a mail id to plug in.
I will be leaving in a couple of days to watch endless oceans of sand, shiver in the chill that thunders down from the north, track the flight of the falcon above weathered sandstone,and suchlike.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

This blog is going private in the new year.
For now, for ever, who knows?
If you've been reading and wish to continue reading, drop me a line.
Else, Godspeed and good journey, and may you days be suffused with goldspun.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The last few days have been an eye opener. Yes, I’m shading the words and yes, I’m cautious, wary still waiting for the wrecking ball to swing back, it has to, you know, oscillatory motion. Cainer in his impeccably accurate forecast had written about being shoved off a high cliff and just about managing to grasp a shrub, branch, whatever, to break the fall. And so it was. And so it was. After being shaken, punched, hammered at, I crumbled like the boxer in the corner but stumbled up again. How many times must one sit with one’s head held high regardless, reinvent the wheel --and why? Is this the only alternative? Why is this  the only alternative? If one knows oneself, and as one inches closer to the half-century mark surely one ought to know oneself, one begins to wonder at the predictability of events and the fault of one’s passive participation in their coming to a close, such a close. As the parent used to say, you cannot teach an old horse new tricks.

Monday, December 10, 2012

After a long long time I woke up this morning wanting to get up.What an incredible time I’ve had over the last two days. Linked to some cosmic source of energy…I’d say, if I believed in all that hoopla. 
Amazing crowds gathered to listen to Gulzarsir at the concluding session on the verdant lawns at Mehboob Studio, at a reading where Nasreen Munni Kabir’s book Conversations with a Poet, was launched. Yes, I stood in queue for an autograph and mentally touched his feet.  

Watched with a raised eyebrow the crowds that had gathered to listen to Chetan Bhagat earlier in the day, personally I like my t’s crossed and I’s inked, thank you, but feel free to do otherwise. 

Earlier, listened to Gulzarsir and Javed Akhtar discuss Manto with Prasoon Joshi, where Atish Taseer just about managed to make this pov heard—but what an audience! Lovely, enriching to hear about that era of words. 

Then listening to Rana Dasgupta, Daniyal Mueenuddin, Jeet Thayil, Anjali Joseph and Nilanjana Roy talk about the craft of shaping words… Rana Dasgupta called being in the flow almost a mystical process… maybe if I’d be that way sometime anytime I’d buy that…I raced after Daniyal Mueenuddin to get his sign on my slightly dogeared copy of  “In other rooms..”, but there was no way I could tell him though I dearly wanted to-- that I consider his work as fine as Munro’s, or Maugham’s. 

Watched Mira Nair in conversation with Shyam Benegal, watched the trailer of her yet to be released latest, “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”, wondered at her drive even as an eleven year old when she wrote pages of gibberish for all of six months, gibberish  that still earned her top grade at the convent she was being sent to, to show that she needed to be sent to a better school…what spunk, and what clarity.

Always thought litfests were melas, but this one was rich and well worth my limited time.

Friday, December 07, 2012

I needed to be shaken awake. Every rupee of the $2 submission fee paisa vasool. The best part about life events, long after they’ve matured and the pain/ angst/ misery/ tears/ anger, anything that evoked a “from the gut” reaction, the best part after the emotion has mellowed a bit so now you only scowl at it—the best possible use is CNF. Yesterday I very quickly rewrote large chunks of an CNF after the Editor pointed out that I didn’t seem terribly proud of my work, my cussed persistence in pushing on with a genre regardless of rejects and silences. Where did this come from, shrinking violet, this “Yes, but…”? Part nature. Part credit to the notable “ex-perts” who had set the standard at stratospheric Glimmer Train heights and deem any lesser effort worthy of cruel disdain. Somewhere, it stays with you and it slips into the words.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Chillar Party is very good. Hilarious.
Delighted to  read that it cost 5 cr and grossed 33 cr.
Smarter than the nonsense Balaji is delivering in one hour doses now, a national dumbing down.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Perhaps it was always as tough.  I know I took the first job I got post my degrees and then moved on, made it work
But 22 lacs  “donation” for an entry-level college  job?
I was aghast and then G told me—6 lacs for a primary school teacher’s in a district in Maharashtra.
If I were young, I’d be worried. Very.
(Not that its easier post the 40’s cliff.)
And have a backup plan, a second trade or source of income. A plan b as it were.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

A leopard. Spots and all. In my backyard. Almost, that is. In the next to next to next apartment block. Not its fault—once a dense forest stood here, trees reaching skywards, sunshine filtering to the ground..One more reason to justify a really late morning walk.

Very interesting to see how CONFIDENT some people are-- even when they’re wrong.
“This doesn’t magnify,” she said.
“You’re looking at the wrong end, turn the binocs around”
“THIS is the right end.”
“Hmm are you sure? The manual said otherwise.”
“The covers are on the part that points away. Magnification is not good.”
Other than the fact that these binocs are different, and that thing there is an eyepiece, the part closest to the eye, what you’re supposed to peer through.
But I like the confidence.

Monday, December 03, 2012

The harbor line moves slowly, even languidly, its tracks tread overhead as it leaves its brash and competitive W. Rly cousin on the ground behind, these crowds  not as pushy nor is the clatter of the tracks as insistent . The stations have quaint names- Sandhurst, Cotton green, King’s Circle. Past Dockyard you marvel at the breeze and the miles of yet-green. And on the ride back it takes 45 minutes to traverse Peddar Rd and you thank the stars for small mercies.

All for two sweaters. One heavy duty, street-bought, a bargain, and yes, I’ve sent it to the dry cleaners. The other store-bought, all wool reversible and so expensive that my eyebrows are still raised. And binocs, am still figuring out which is the eyepiece.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


resident gargoyle, pillar base

greater peninsular railway insignia

offices, circa 1887, still in use

at the gate

above the hawkers

VT station. I got pictures if nothing else.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My story's up on Pure Slush this fine morning:

A salute to the Practice group on iWW, this one began there.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ok. So DD Urdu shows movies without any ad breaks. So DD Urdu shows stunning movies you won’t find anywhere else amidst the gazillion channels. Last night I watched Umrao Jaan, that first version, that one with the stunning music. And I couldn’t sleep. Without any ad breaks the story hits harder and scrambles your brain.
I awoke grateful for all the mercies I generally scowl at.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I scrounged for time slices on Sunday, scraped out time bits  to read.

--From my newspaper stacks where I got some very interesting stories including the Beatles demo tape, and about ahem difficulties with kindergarten entry in China (though I have no idea what I’ll do with this trivia)

--The Undefeated Mind which I’m perusing page by page, to return with a pen next read.

--Tat tvam Asi.. Satya’s  exposition, which I’m reading respectfully.

--Jagubhai no Punarjanam ( Jagubhai’s rebirth)… a hilarious, mocking tale of a politician on the make. I still don’t know how to translate a single word that means “long-limbed –fortunate-someday possibly-a- ruler”

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A day ago, my (very) tiny (very) little apartment turned one.
A year. Already. 
That's a year of fawning over *such nice places* on design sponge and apartment therapy.
A year.
Celebrations~ red fruit on the banyan tree outside.And louder that usual cawing of the neighborly crows
(Newspaper stacks and my unending plastic bag collection are sore points. Aye.)
And right now I got my copy of Real.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nov 18
Ashtavinayak-- this has the awesome mountains and Lenyadri

So ages ago, two some years ago. I had won some prize in some writing contest, ok?
From a government agency in the west. Which of course is the west.
If you’d have told me I could be as persistent in insisting on, following up on my prize—if you’d told me this, I wouldn’t have believed it. Yet.

I am learning new things about money every day. Sobering, eye-opening things. And about the world, and behavior. And I thought the Saturn transit, the one supposed to teach you life lessons, was over. Oh la.

Monday, November 19, 2012

There is a slight nip in the air, even as the evening sky turns mauve before it gives in to creeping purple-black.

How fitting for me to learn the meaning of wealth, and how carefully she has to be prayed to. 

I am also learning with some shock and little surprise how the have-nots try to extract wealth, I tend to be too giving sometimes. The autofellow has been advised to shift to another suburb for a while. My first impression about that woman's good-for- nothing son were not incorrect, a louse.

Friday, November 16, 2012

V says this happened in order to push me towards a more active form of social involvement than writing a cheque. Perhaps an answer to my fervent prayers that my feet stay on the ground, no matter what. To cut a long story short, enroute the suburban station on Tuesday, our new year day, my auto at zero speed but down slope, ran into a Aisamma Besep, 50?, a kachravali heaving an overfull rubbish bin across the road. Remember all those spy torture tales about nails peeled off? Well it is true. Spent most Tues. morn at the hospital ensuring X rays, sticthes, wound dressings, scolding, cajoling and some measure of sanity. The nurse, the girl in the pharmacy, the guard-- all remembered from 2 yrs ago. Anyway... there is a time for all seasons....

I don’t think I’ve seen our colony as beautifully lit as it has been this year.

P and her son surprised me one afternoon with food, flowers and a glass bowl to float diyas in. Now I have to remember a Catholic festival with the same intensity. S, my late friend IE’s hubby called to generously wish..we have been keeping away from wishing Eid so that they have the space to move on… so many life lessons.

The beautiful, perfect puja in the office. The beautifully arranged puja at N’s and the perfect Kashmiri dinner afterwards, (the dum aloo that I did more than justice to) the only aberration being “roadblocks” (as Baba called them) in the vishnu sahatranam where I kept returning to the same point reciting from memory...but our prayers were year will be better.

This year I want to do one thing at a time instead of multitasking and keeping too many mailboxes open at the same time. And I must find the time to write more.

One major learning is that my productivity dips and that too badly when I have tons of free time, I work smarter when I'm cramped for time.

And I must learn to respect the time value of money.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak!
( that's the way we say Happy New Year  in Gujarat)
I wish you a diwali filled with lights and rangoli and flowers and floating diyas and torans and surprises and sparklers and laughter and squealing, jumping children... and the blessings of auspicious pujans.
arrey I forgot....And lots of mithai!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

So I can be dropped at the corner of a (known) road at midnight. And still find my way home.
Terribly empowering, this.
Yesterday I was just p*ss&d, now I see this upside.

Friday, November 09, 2012

You go home or the place that used to be home and still possibly is, the memory of the place imprinted in your mind like a real thing, and yes, you still know all the roads and shortcuts. Your take home--what the lady on the train, a youthful 61 year old said—anandit raha… stay happy…

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The surprise of low fog at an early 4 pm.. no chance of a Lodhi Garden shot this once…
That random choice of the Habitat Center by a friend as a place to meet—and the amazement of walking into a symposia on language…Samanvay.. meeting an editor who’s published my translations ages ago…
the panel debating seven critical centers for Hindi's evolution

Walking around museum-like inspecting the houses in New Fr Col, noticing with amusement the predilection for superbuilt up and minimal gardens.. and making friends with a confident, happy, enthused Mrs. Kocchar, at eighty-two quite in control of her wits--she still drives--and her domain, her joy at the trees that line those avenues and her pride at the lovely park, a word of praise here, a tiny scold there… what super spirit…

the installation above the India Habitat Center arena

the joy in reaching your own home, your own bed, even if its almost midnight.
and your desk the next morning.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

From a function at the NCPA last night.
What a beautiful place.
And what an out-of-this-world location...

I want to instill these greens in my soul. i want to wear these shades upon my skin.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Images from Ozar. 
None of the Ashtavinayak temples will let you photograph the deity-- dunno why.
Kukdi river has a lovely expanse.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Just back from a beautiful pilgrimage-- Ashtavinayak
lenyadri, Ozar, Ranjangaon, Theur, siddhatek, Morgaon, Mahad, Pali.
Jejuri too.
These images are from lenyadri, the first stop. In this Buddhist cave complex (3 BC to 3 AD), one cave has a swayambhu as in self manifesting image of the Lord Ganpati. The climb is a not so simple 150 steps.

inscription on the wall of the cave
Lenyadri-- the cave dates to 3 C BC
arches outside the cave where the Ganpati  deity is

The cave with the stupa

very interesting vaulted ceiling

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rangoli outside the labs
yesterday we celebrated Dusshera puja at work. Wonderful to see the girls in their festive best.
the color was pink, and I had to scrounge though my cupboard to sort of mix and match.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My grandfather, a village doctor, was ambitious for his sons--which is probably why I’m not waiting in queue to draw water from a village well today.
My tribute to my grandfather, Beholden, has been published in a nonfiction anthology, Real.


31 writers are featured in essays on life, love, sex, food, art, the future, history, travel, doctors, family ... and more!

Revealing the truth in all its guts and glory!

Featuring the talents of Gessy Alvarez, Cheri Ause, Meghan K. Barnes, Layla Blackwell,Laura Bogart, John Wentworth Chapin, Rebecca Chekouras, James Claffey, Joanna Delooze, Mira Desai, Gloria Frym, S.H. Gall, Cinda Gibbon, Walter Giersbach, Jane Hammons, William Henderson, Gill Hoffs, Claire Ibarra, Joanne Jagoda, Maude Larke,Michael Gillan Maxwell, S.B. Phoenix, Matt Potter, Mark Rosenblum, Shane Simmons,D.M. Simone, Jonathan Slusher, Sharon Louise Stephenson, Thomas Sullivan, Susan Tepper and Diana J. Wynne

Monday, October 22, 2012

Saptami puja at Ramkrishna Math, Khar

Yesterdays color was orange.
Soneri is orange, is it not?
Dazzling golden, fine spun.
Yesterday I was privileged--sat right at the feet of the mother at the Saptami puja at Ramkrishna Math, Khar.
Soneri is the color of the dhaki, and the maddening drum beat that sets your blood cells whirling.
Soneri is spun gold, the color of dazzling light on sea waves at the beginning of creation.
Soneri is the might of young mountains breaking free of the ground, coming to life
Soneri is the sunlight, touching the first trembling leaves in untouched first forests.
Soneri is the color of teardrops glistening on my eyelashes as the hymn comes to an end.

RIP Yash Chopra sir.
Death spares no one--but the city puts one to shame.
Dengue decimates in the priciest areas of town

Saturday, October 20, 2012

grey seas, NP

Today’s festival dress color is grey. But there is no way you can wear the grey of uncertainty, or of grey skies,  or hazy grey lines. When I hunted for pictures I notice grey stands out only if there is color or texture to contrast. I shall think  instead about swirling mists and the sheen of grey pearl, and the grey or a rose-tinged dawn.

Friday, October 19, 2012

agave. its tip as sharp as a shrew's tongue

These festival days are supercharged, something dazzling about the light...Today’s dress code color is green, the green of dark forests, the green of light from the other side of a leaf, many hued generous splendid green, from pista to jade emerald.
Though I must admit being more familiar with the green tinge of envy.

Slumzilla past the colony wall lives exuberantly and spoils me for choice --disco garba remixes to the left and traditional garba that I can sing from memory, to the right. Ah, life!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The bauhinia are in bloom.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nestled in Sunday’s paper was a flyer from Creative Handicrafts, an organization that works with slum women to teach them means of livelihood. Ordinarily, I abhor shopping, specially the mall variety, and operate with little free time, hence the preference for single-store purchase and experimentation with bagittoday. But this sounded good, and so it was. 
kurta detail, change purse
cutwork bag detail
Creative Handicrafts is aided by the local parish, the Sacred Heart, which has been around since this part of the suburb was dense forest, and I have heard tales of cheetahs lolling in the church compound, then it wasn’t slumzilla and post industrial, though the ancient, 1st C? Buddhist caves must have been there. The sale was very good, and the range of clothing and bags/ folders/ cases superbly designed, specially the block printed work and the embroidered shirts. They work using modern machines, and give a fair wage to the women from the surrounding slums
.Apparently most production is exported, and they sell locally what is left over. They also offer a range of jams, folders/purses, soft toys and shoes at a shop just off Mahakali Caves Rd, near Maruti School, also near Bhangarwadi. I reached via a meandering shortcut via the shanties past the Church but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you like exploring  shortcuts, like I do.
ps: this afternoon I took my friend V there. Was blessed! Met Sister Isabel. now 86, who began this effort fifty years ago. She still had a sparkle in her eyes, a proud honorary Indian.

Mother Mary blessed my friend P’s home on Sunday. Her home was freshly painted and decked up with flowers for this all important guest. But the first time I went to her home in the distant west, I was too early, had mixed up the time—so after my usual Sunday prayers at the temple, I went again to pay my respects, even the rickshawalla said, "Darshan adhoora nahin chodna chahiye..." Serene! I have a special connect with Maai.

At the temple in addition to the Vishnu Sahastranam, we’ll now be reciting Shri Suktam.for Navratri, rather Guruji will recite in his perfect Sanskrit and the likes of me will humbly listen, wondering in which lifetime will i learn this! Late last night they brought in Ambama’s statue in the shantytown past the wall, superb drumming and much festivity, lights twinkling late into the night.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rant warning. I might have gotten myself into a standing battle royale with bagittoday, but I shall persevere, no matter that the return address is so far from Dilli it is halfway to Haryana, or where ever Bhatti village is. Ever gullible and on the lookout for an escape from mall shopping, I  took a deal offered on kurtis, and was sent possibly the smallest size despite asking for generous, big, large-- the tags were altered but they forgot to snip off the cloth tag that is sewn into the seam..

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I have been thinking of legacies, inheritances. tangible (cash,assets) and intangible (values, outlooks, life priorities), and how they sometimes go beyond flesh and blood.
An elegantly fashioned clothes hanger crafted out of german metal,  with movable hooks, created in a time when such items were not assembly-line manufactured. The person who rescued it from the trash heap- raddiwalla was not a family member, and yet... somewhere the long gone would have been pleased. Very sad to hear of family heirlooms being trashed... at such times I remind myself that this is not exactly my family. It was good I stayed  away, I would have cried.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

How many times must I have gone to the central Baroda  area called Mandvi, as a kid? I was a regular at the Central Library a few paces away, and one of my lasting regrets is having dutifully returned an early Dickens edition. Anything good, anything worthwhile in that city and you can be sure the wise King founded or funded it, eons ago. I was in the area over the weekend for some work, and was drawn by this working hospital. What wonderful work even if it needs sprucing up.