Tuesday, December 27, 2011
"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice."
~ T.S. Eliot
Just five more days rumbling away for the old, haggard year to end. This morning I felt that bothering impatience, the sudden sluggish pace of something that inches towards its completion. Like the traveler who travels resolutely for miles and days, but feels depleted of all zeal when just steps away from his destination. By November I could already feel this year was history, but now it seems as if the time has stood still. How awfully slow the minutes crawl and for what! Shouldn't a handful of days pass by in a wink? Strange are such philosophical transactions, often questioned but always unanswered.
The time has come to look back at the colourful mosaic of flashbacks that this year has been, at all the possible permutations and combinations of the laughs and the trials. Then there's the rampant rummaging for resolutions (I heart alliterations, by the way!). I, for the record, have never been faithful to one. If I was, by now I would have - completed a significant part of my research plans, lost oodles of weight, written something staggeringly brilliant, been in touch with my singing side, and even read the Bhagavad Gita! Instead I chose to remain mediocre and reign as the undisputed queen of procrastination forever. I am just not capable of something so spectacularly life-transforming and rule-governed, you see.
But come the new year and I do have plans to work on a list. And hopefully it won't be another of my usual Bridget Jones rigmarole. The mantras that I intend, and quite vehemently this time, to stand by are:
1. Must decide on a suitable author/area for my Ph.D by February
2. Give meaning and matter to a bunch of randomly scribbled pieces
3. Chalk out a proper timetable for the haphazard yoga mornings
4. Boost my fiber intake
5. Be less obsessive-compulsive
6. Curb the monstrous Virgo in me
7. Pick the roses and ignore the thorns
8. Read, read and read
9. Blog regularly
10. Stick to all of the above!
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
A little kick-start to the festive baking with these easy-peasy strawberry muffins aka 'the muffin with a heart' because of the slice of strawberry sitting prettily on the top.
The post-Kansas inertia still throbs inside me, beating together with a tired and insomniac heart. But tarry it must no more, for the time has arrived to give shape to things. Red and gold, green and bold. Golden bakes and boozy cakes. The day seems to have almost arrived.
But before I head to the kitchen and don my baker's hat, I must share a golden thread with you. One that keeps my childhood tied together in its gossamer embrace.
I still remember the X-mas holidays (that's what they were called back then in India) when we were in school. How we would hoard and treasure every single day of that! Unlike its superior cousin, the summer holidays that lasted for about two months, this counted down to just a fortnight. But like all grey clouds this too had a silver lining - no holiday homework! Hence to romp about was our singular motto, much to the parents' vexation. But the highlight of the holidays was Ma's fruitcake, the aroma of which would fill the home and spread warmth everywhere. Every now and then I would rush to the oven and try to see the puffing cake through the glass. I would even count how many cashews and raisins had plumped up to the surface of the cake. As I write this, it brings back a faint, fond smile on my face like all cherished memories do.
The time soon came when I would leave home and set out for an independent hostel life. I would be home for the winter holidays again and this time Ma would bake an extra cake. It would be packed neatly and wrapped in a special package for its journey on train to Hyderabad where my friends would be waiting to devour it. What gluttony that was! And one of the very rare times when my figure conscious girlfriends wouldn't mind the calories at all. Of course the guys cared little anyway.
Even when my parents came visiting, Ma would be there with her bag of goodies of which her fruitcake was the star. But more than that what actually shone was her smile, warm and so very child-like. I cannot wait for April to come when I would see that smile again and at last I wouldn't need Skype for that.
Such lovely and simpler days they were. Gone with the wind and lost in the years, leaving behind a trove of fragrant tales... And cakes.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
"Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home."
We got back to a wet, fog masked Seattle this evening from the cold but sunny farmlands of Kansas. A dank, dense veil of mist hung with a long, drawn face and wrapped the naked, cold arms of the trees. What comfort its misty, chilly embrace offered the forlorn branches, I know not of. But they looked just fine. The festive spirit perhaps?!
Getting back home is always such a comfort. It is for me at least. The everyday ordinariness of the scenes that unfold in front of your eyes - the faint morning sun streaming through the windows, the casually flung book on the coffee table, the green from the bamboo plant decking up the kitchen window, the shy glitter of the sequins from a wall hanging by the warm lamplight, the worn pair of fuzzy slippers by the couch side... I could just go on and on! Such inconsequential, quotidian details yet when pieced together, they create the most perfect picture of belonging and warmth.
True, once the hounding beast of monotony creeps in, the walls begin to look a lot like those of the Lady of Shallot's. 'Half sick of the shadows', the heart longs for an escape. But such is the tug and pull of the word home that once away, the urge to get back becomes equally intense. After all, home is where the heart is, they say.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
And when the little cherub rests his wee bit o' head on my shoulders... I smell a sunny, green meadow chockablock with flowers galore. It feels as if all is well with the world, just like it should be. Just like it is in his dreams.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
The robins have a competitor now and a very industrious one too. This furry little guy scampers up and down the autumnberry tree as if there's no tomorrow. He dances on the berry laden boughs, holding onto the flimsy twigs precariously and reaches out to the seducing dots of red. Plucking and relishing the berries, he curls his woolly tail in contentment for a flicker of a second. I bat my eyelids and there he is, scurrying down elsewhere for some more of the juicy manna.
How I envy his zeal and voracity. And his unwavering steadfastness.
Have a great weekend.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful."
~ Norman Vincent Peale
Christmas lights round the corner
fluttering and flickering
old Redmond Town Square ablaze
the air swells with chill and joy
the old heart smells of love and longing
of long lost poems and drowsy doodles
to and fro, back and forth
stringing memory to memory
adding year after year
in a neat, nostalgic pattern
fluttering and flickering
just like these lights.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
"God gave us our memories, so that we might have roses in December."
~ J.M. Barrie
December at last. A faint yet heady fragrance of the anniversary roses fills the kitchen space while I go about my regular chores. Still wearing that fresh and dainty look, they sit perkily in a neat square vase. With a quick, pleading look shot at them, I say to myself, "please don't wither!"
With the autumn gone, a dear friend too has left for a long vacation home. Now Mona and I don't go back a long way, but in the unpredictable rule book of friendship that hardly matters. Within a span of mere six months we grew onto each other, moulding and shaping ourselves as per the other's needs and situations. And quite surprisingly, we've had a fair amount in such a short duration. Life!
Despite the rarity of likes and dislikes we share, she comprehends me like very few people have done. Even the ones who have known me for years. I read her like an open book and that is what she loves the most, the needlessness to spell every tidbit out. We would meet regularly over walks, lunch, shopping and sometimes in the weekends with the husbands. And if that couldn't satiate us then we would manage an hour long phone talk in between all the day's work.
Now that she will be away for a couple of months, I feel a little vulnerable and lost. Like a petulant child, I long for the potato and mint soup she brings over whenever I'm down with a migraine or a cold. But of course I cannot be selfish, or is that allowed in such friendships?
Then trudge on, I must. For it's starting to look a lot like Christmas. And I cannot wait to capture some of that sparkling red and green glory that has been decking up the nook and corners of the city.
So roses sprinkled with some toasty memories - J.M. Barrie couldn't be more happy!
P.S. The blog header has gone from blue skies to black and white, just as the landscape would in a few days. Those are the Olympic mountains captured from an evening ferry.