Sunday, August 28, 2011


A black-headed gull in flight on Liberty Island, NYC

Last night Rumi spoke to me, in my dreams... "I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think." Or was it the wee bit o' crack between sleep and consciousness?

I wake up and wonder - how hard is it to be a bird? To fly? Just spread your faith and glide on it, as if you belong there. As if the sky is yours and its feathery, fathomless infinity your clothes. Wear the engulfing yet liberating azure.

At times the brisk air catches you unaware, shaking a string of stories and songs. You might waver and fall, but fall you must. For as a phoenix you will be reborn, shedding the ashes of rejection and rise again from the very embers that had gulped you so thoughtlessly once.

And when in mid air, just remember - the ominous land and the embracing skies are balanced by you, within you. Soar higher or crash. It is just you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Autumn child

I am an autumn child, September to be precise. Which is how I am infinitely attracted to and inspired by the season's earthy mellowness, touched by its slow yet heady melancholia and prone to unpredictable bursts of mood swings. As if being an only child wasn't enough trouble for the world already!

Back home in India, there is no autumn really but only a prolonged and resolute summer which someone once rightly described as 'the dead summer's soul'. So quite understandably, during my first autumn here, I was utterly awestruck by this surreal and surprising change in nature's palette. That leaves actually turn, and how breathtakingly, was beyond the boundaries of my giddy euphoria. Another classic 'foreigner' moment! I would sit by the window and watch the languid leaves flutter aimlessly in the soft afternoon light, creating an illusion of a shimmering curtain of colours. The meditative afternoon walks are the most cherished, when the acoustics of the rustle and crunch of the dead leaves and the crispiness in the air stir one to the very senses. Year after year, the rituals would continue and our vacation to Vermont last autumn only strengthened the love affair forever.

As much beautiful and thrilling the season is, I could never overlook its pensive overtones. And I am certainly not the first one to notice that. Scores of poets and philosophers have ruminated on this riddling ripening of nature - the state when everything is at its mature yet decaying best. Despite the rush of joy from the riot of reds and golds, the falling leaves fall with such a determined longing as if they are in love with the earth, and wish to be one with it. But again, I am a pukka nature junkie and much like autumn, carry a melange of desire and doom waltzing in my heart forever.

And so, the autumn child waits...

P.S. The poetry lover in me could not resist posting these unforgettable lines of e.e. cummings, one of my favourite poets of all times:

"a wind has blown the rain away and blown
the sky away and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand. I think I too have known
autumn too long ..."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Because I cannot go to Italy...

... it must come to me.

Through farfalle with fresh tomato and basil sauce. And National Geographic's gorgeous shots of Lake Como. Viva Italia!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Spring Renaissance

"My heart that was rapt away by the wild cherry blossoms - will it return to my body when they scatter?" ~ Kotomichi

"Spring? And now?", will be probably your first question. I know it is quite late into the year for celebrating cherry blossoms, particularly when the leaves are about to turn and set the earth's canvas ablaze in fiery, feisty hues. But what the heck, there's no time for spring! We carry it in our hearts all the time, don't we? When happiness is perched on green leafy branches, oozing with the fragrance of love and joy... When long forgotten emotions waltz through the air and bring back a basket of ethereal moments... When that sudden realization of being alive stirs up a little throbbing storm inside... When dormant hopes rise up from their dank beds to bathe you in sunshine and desire...
So, disobeying chronology and upsetting nature's scrapbook, I thought of talking cherry blossoms today. Cherry blossoms and their revival in me.

Back in the real spring, I had come across an achingly beautiful quote by the eighteenth century Japanese author Kotomichi, which I had fallen in love with the moment I had read it. How it couldn't make its way into this blog I do not remember, for it had touched me a great deal. The coming together of the fairy-like delicate cherry blossoms and the transience of human happiness in the lines is beyond poignancy. And so I want to preserve it somewhere here, which has become a sketchy memoir of sorts. This further led me meandering to one of the most popular and oft cited poems of Modern American Literature - In a Station of the Metro by Ezra Pound. Taking birth from intense emotions and composed of a handful of just fourteen words, the poem is Imagism at its best. To do justice to the renewal of spring, I married off these beautiful lines with some photos that I had clicked earlier this spring. And what gorgeous couples they make!

"The apparitions of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough."

~ Ezra Pound

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Obsessive Compulsive, but why Disorder?

A pattern is all I ask for!!

Monica (during yet another bout of her signature competitiveness): Look, you knew this about me when you married me! You agreed to take me in sickness and in health. Well, this is my sickness!
Chandler: What about the obsessive cleaning?
Monica: That's just good sense!!

Okay, there are some unexplained and horrendously weird things that I do. Or rather, I love doing. The above excerpt from Friends featuring Monica and Chandler (could there be a more funny guy!!) illustrates the maddening obsession of the wife with cleaning and control, and the husband's bewilderment because he fails to understand why his wife is the way she is. To start with, this is a regular scene at our home. The poor husband is driven to his wits end by my persistent beautification of our place, more so when it hardly needs any. Writing, reading, baking - all good and nerve calming, but just scratch the surface and out pops my crazy Virgo woman avatar. The story of the 'imperfect perfectionist'. Howsoever embarrassing this confession is, I must do it and do it here, out in the open. So here are some insanely stupid obsessions I harbour:

1. After vacuuming, I so much love the soft and dry-cleaned feel of the carpet that I avoid walking flat on it. It feels as if I am trampling on something beautiful, thereby mercilessly destroying a pattern. So, I just tiptoe, at least for a couple of hours till my feet are all twisted and achy, and I realise I might actually be on the threshold of acute mental disturbance. Remember Melvin Udall's funny walk in As Good as it Gets?

2. Everything in the living and dining area, including the kitchen has to be the way it is, that is perfect, before I finally retire to the bedroom at night. The sofa cushions have to be plumped and propped, the coffee table exactly in the center and there should be nothing sitting on the kitchen counter tops. The same applies for the times when we leave home for grocery shopping, or a walk or wherever else it is. So when I enter the apartment, it must resemble a page from Better Homes and Gardens.

3. When I take a shower, I must do the same for the bathtub and the walls. After all, they too need a bath! Ditto with the kitchen sink. After all the pots and pans are done away with, its time to scrub its stainless steel surface till I can see the reflection of my own face on it.
Again, while I cook, there should be no splattering of oil or masala on the spotless white stove surface. If there is (which cannot be avoided with Indian food), there I am with a spoon in one hand and a damp paper towel in another, stirring and wiping away to glory, all at the same time. That's some multitasking, I tell you!

4. I love bed sheets that have flowers on them, with a fresh meadow-like feel. But then there is a pattern in which they are to be spread - the heads of the flowers must face the headboard of the bed with their stalks looking downwards. After all, that is how we all stand, isn't it?! Reverse the pattern and someone would be up all night wondering about upside down flowers, hanging with all their might from their droopy little heads.

5. Straightening the rugs - I could do this all day and still never get it right. There are always angles and edges from where it looks uneven. The same goes for books and DVDs. May be Sam is right. It isn't the angles but my brains that are uneven and therefore run a huge risk of falling out from my head one fine day.

Of course, living up to my own crazy expectations becomes difficult at times. Sometimes this me flusters me to no end when all the days work boils down to arranging and rearranging objects. Believe me dear friends, how much ever I have tried to be indifferent and trudge on making my way through the already clean and organized apartment, I just can't. There's always some straightening and unruffling to do. Always.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lavender craze

After the much loud and unladylike whining in the last couple of posts, I am all elegant and wise again. At least I shall try, despite myself. The deluge of regrets and rants have been tossed to where it belongs - yesterday. Dieu merci!! The catalyst is always a book, or a movie (these days it is mostly French and hence the broken, ungrammatical bits of phrases and expressions!), or a piece of chaste nature. And nature it is - lavender, the enchantress! As an ardent admirer of the tiny yet powerfully magical flowers and that haunting fragrance, lavender means so much more to me - colour, hope, love, and above all tranquility. I have always envied my fellow bloggers who live in the to-die-for scenic English and French countrysides and enjoy nature's bounty to the hilt, where they could have a complete lavender farm to themselves. Why lavender, any other flower for that matter. Sigh! No matter, no matter... With a solitary pot that has been generous enough to burst and bow with purple glory, I have made Provence out of my cozy green patio. Hence soothed and lulled to the very bones, I write this, enwrapped in my purple dreams.

Ooh and yes, there are the dried flowers too. How about a lavender cupcake one of these days?!

The dainty lavender lady fluttering in the wind

Peeping over The Art of Fiction

Afternoon tea with the other patio friends - Miss Gerby (gerbera) and Miss Gery (geranium)

Dried lavender flowers

And, the happy moi. All purged!

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Dear friends,

I just realised what an absolute idiot I am! Yes, despite all those intermittent flashes of wisdom and poetry. I had no idea why my friends, who are not on Blogger, could not comment on my posts. And when they told me what kept them back, I did not do anything about it except just upload the 'Reactions' button and fret after every comment-less post. How very me, indeed! It never occurred to me to check my comment settings. So much for being an active blogger for the past two years!
Now that lightning has finally struck and I have at last activated the comment settings to 'anyone', it would mean a lot if you would leave a word or two. I shall be saved from choking in the filth of so huge an embarrassment. Believe me, my dear readers, nothing had shamed me so. Ever.

Thank you!

Mortified yet fantastically hopeful,

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Of migraines and ghazals

I must begin this post with a warning - *Rant alert*! There are days when I feel particularly glum, as if I am hanging from a solitary cliff (in a similar dejected fashion like this bug lady in the photo) from where there is neither an escape nor any possible return. Today is one such day. It is partly the irresolute and moody weather, partly the throbbing migraine and mostly me. By which I mean there is always an unsightly, unreasonable side of me that often brings on my own doom - one that is difficult to let go or do away with. Hence, sloshed with tea, Jagjit Singh and an ice compress balanced precariously on my head, I write this.

First about the rogue migraine, 'the Beast' as I love to call it. This was a fragment that I had recently written on another day of attack:

"There was nothing she could do now. Absolutely nothing. The Beast had begun its fortnightly prowl, slowly pounding its way ahead, choosing its favourite place of attack. Her sanity. Desperately, she clung on to it, the last shreds of it. What awakened it this time? May be her mind, that keeps ticking like a tireless time bomb day and night. Ticktock, ticktock, ticktock. Or was it Red Dragon? Why must she watch it when she has absolutely no control over her peeping, pestering imagination? But there's Ralph Fiennes, that dear, dear man. How achingly beautiful his eyes are. Even when a bloodcurdling psychopath! Argh!! The Beast is finally there, waiting to unleash its savage strength. She could feel the thud of its giant, heavy paws that shook her like a wretched tree in a storm. There, the incessant hammering starts. BOOM!"

Then there are these thoughts that are of no particular dimension or consequence and therefore deserve no mention. Or are they just the always-to-be-blamed hormones, at their moody best? Or is it the near death of summer in Seattle that threatens me so? Whatever it is, I'm going to sing the last of my rants here. A haunting ghazal written by Ali Sardar Zafri and sung by Jagjit Singh that has been playing over and over again for the last hour or so. It has no choice, poor thing, being the only track on the playlist.

"Mere darwaaze se ab chand ko ruksat kar do
Saath aaya hai tumhaare jo tumhaare ghar se
Apne maathe se hata do yeh chamakta hua taj
Phenk do jism se kirnon ka sunehre zewar
Tum hi tanha mere ghamkhaane mein aa sakti ho
Ek muddat se tumhaare hi liye rakha hai
Mere jalte hue seene ka dehakta hua chand."

I have attempted a rough translation of the lines for my non-Urdu readers (if any!):

Bid farewell to the moon from my doors,
That which you brought with you from your home.
Remove that glittering crown from your head,
Strip your body of the golden jewels.
Only you, alone, are welcome into my house of misery -
For ages I have kept a moon blazing in my burning heart, for you.

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