Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Farewell January

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."

~ Albert Camus

With this brave thought, I bid goodbye to the gloomiest of months.
Hope February brings some sun and soul along and breaks the spell of stubborn, overcast skies.

Friday, January 27, 2012


"Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter's evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day."

~ Virginia Woolf

This is how dramatic it looked today as dusk fell and I was one of the fortunate few to treasure the scene, for it hovered for just about ten minutes and then melted away into the fathomless expanse of the moody evening sky. Then at once a curtain of calm fell upon the dying day and hushed the accumulated hustle and bustle. Sheer magic!

There is something quite stirring about a winter dusk that excites some very strong, bittersweet emotions. Such evenings back home, as I recall them, were much awaited for by everybody. No snow, no biting chill and certainly no getting bundled and lost under layers of clothes. Just a few months of fog, fragrant gardens (yes, some of our most beautiful flowers bloom in the winters) and a more than welcoming respite from a cruel tropical sun.
I can feel a throbbing, warm gush of nostalgia as I write this, waking up a string of memories that have and will continue to keep me warm through the years.

Ma's steaming hot tomato soup waiting right after homework. Weekend music lessons on the tutor's verandah. A delighted me listening to abridged Shakespeare narrations by father. Neighborhood badminton fun. Giant dahlias, almost the size of our happy faces. Frothing coffees in hostel mugs. Baggy jumpers and long roomie walks. Chicken roll from the favourite fast food corner. Deconstructing matters of heart under the pretext of literary theories. Cardamom chai sprinkled with warm giggles at the university cafeteria. The mock sentimental ghazal nights. Roasted corn on the cob rubbed with lemon and salt. Pillion riding on the motorbike with the then-boyfriend, now-husband. Samosa with fried green chilies... 

Strange, how food rules most of our fond recollections, isn't it?!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A day in Austen's Bath

Sprawled on the bed like a complacent cat, I soak up the elusive winter sun, one that shows up after a week long snow and icy rain. The humdrum buzz of a late Sunday afternoon drones around. I like how the sun rays peep from the window blinds and create a pleasing pattern of light and shade. And thus I continue with my recent bout of Austen comfort; both the books and the movies as well. A bit of Austenite, I am.

"I'm half agony, half hope", sighs Captain Wentworth from the heart-tugging pages of PersuasionNo particular reason for the choice but the autumnal Jane Austen just suits best to my current brooding, wintry mood. So I scour the murky lanes of my mind and lose myself  in the grandeur of Austen's Bath.

I tread carefully in my fine muslin gown, for it is muddy at this time of the year; what if the dainty lace gets all slushy and ruined. Oh and the dear, dear paisleys! How they cheer me while a gush of wind threatens to sweep away my bonnet. I pass through a thronging crowd of red coats; I try to spot that familiar, agreeable face. Just then a carriage drives past me in the most uproarious of hurries. Naturally, what follows is an utter embarrassment of confusion and a rampant exchange of hands and fabrics. Oh, but I did carry the parasol in a very lady-like manner.
I wander along the Georgian wonder of the Royal Crescent, dash in and out of the enticing lace and muslin stores, sip tea in the Pump room. Ah, the quintessential Englishness!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


A rather strange legacy follows me wherever I go - snow storms! They somehow make their way onto my nomadic trail, be it any part of the country. As I write this, snow falls moodily; furious now, gentle the next moment. The Pacific Northwest is witnessing a storm of historical proportions, so the weather news says. We have been trapped in snow storms before and therefore know the nagging anxiety it gives rise to. This time, fortunately, it does not look that bad and I sincerely hope it stays so.
Although being cooped inside all day does not feel exactly uplifting, I try to sneak out and take some pictures now and then. Perhaps the only bright side of the picture.

It's time for a hot steaming cup of ginger tea, my third since the morning. There couldn't be a more perfect day to drown oneself in that warm, gingery aroma. Hope there's no storm in my tea cup now!

Snow blossoms; verb or noun, who cares as long as it is beautiful. An old, favourite mug that I had long forgotten till a rampant search for 'something with snowflakes' was conducted. A futile attempt to catch the ethereal flurries before the greedy rains lick them all in a day or two. The freezing landscape dressed in a soft palette of grays and whites. A strange reverberating calm.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Season's first

Snow! Yes, our part of the city received a very generous amount of the pristine, powdery sheen over the weekend. Just when I was beginning to worry if we would have to go back to India empty-handed, without a chance to watch the familiar soft white fluffs blanket the stubborn, wintry ground. But there it was, magical and eternal like every other first. It felt new despite our two rather harsh winters spent in the East Coast. It was welcoming even if the slushy roads were not. And it was heartwarming, in a very childlike cluelessness, in spite of the plunging temperatures and the ticklish chattering of the teeth trying to spell brrrr!!

This morning as I stood on the patio shivering, enjoying the Narnia-like landscape, it felt fantastically surreal. Like a vintage oil painting, the scene reminded me of James Joyce's 'The Dead' from Dubliners. A man who has just learnt of his wife's romantic past is shaken by the suddenness and the intensity of the moment - that her dead lover is perhaps more alive to her than her emotionally frigid husband ever could be. He contemplates this ugly truth standing by the window watching the snow fall quietly, while a slow but heady storm wells up inside him. This passage is perhaps one of the most poignant piece of writings that literature has ever seen where Joyce, the master storyteller shines throughout.

“A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” 

~ James Joyce, 'The Dead'

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Carrot cake and Mr. Darcy

Carrot cake, yet again. Pecans and spice, and all things nice.
The bewitching Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice, yet again.
The perfect union for long winter nights.

Curl up then! Happy weekend.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


"I am enslaved to fate, of all else say no more..."

~ Rumi

one inside the other
the other inside another
petal after petal
whorl after whorl
living in one another
a lacy latticework of lives
Fate sits by the window
her divine, deft fingers at work
greedy and tireless
weaving stories
secretly but surely
from the womb to the world

Friday, January 6, 2012

Across the bridge

Every time I drive over this bridge that spans the breadth and captivating beauty of Lake Washington, I feel no less than a seagull. My spirits soar high over the sparkling sapphire waters as I head toward the neatly arranged concrete jungle of downtown. Today was another such day and a bright, sunny one too. 

Across the bridge awaited the happy coincidence of a conference and meeting an old friend after years, six to be precise. Armed with coffee and nostalgia, we took a walk down the good old university days - crazy professors, major Modern American Literature mishaps (we both got terrible grades there!), old crushes, tracing friends who aren't in Facebook... It was a celebration of sorts! 
Then came the time to hear the great Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak speak. A name that we academicians have been sweating and fretting over for years, ever since we have stepped into the abstruse waters of postcolonialism. This was my very first opportunity to see her and be in the same room as her, instead of just hearing the intimidating name that so often surfaces in the realm of world literature today. It felt truly overwhelming, although halfway through the lecture I began browsing my iphone to read about Spivak's celebrityhood. People do have this tendency to meander away during such longish talks, don't they?! Luckily, I found another person doodling away to glory and that comfortably numbed my guilt of not paying enough attention.

What began as a South Asian Literary day on the other side of the bridge ended befittingly with a scrumptious Thai dinner across this side. My stuffed head and empty, growling stomach couldn't have asked for anything more rewarding. And these mouthwatering lobster potstickers were just the starters! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fabulous first

"A mountain keeps an echo deep inside. That's how I hold your voice."

~ Rumi

Another year unfurls. A beautiful first of January at Stevens Pass. A winter wonderland. The Cascades, proud and mighty, at their wintry best. Their manly ruggedness mellowed by the familiar powdery white embrace. The evergreens, how very ironically, draped in a determined spread of ever-white. A feeble winter sun trying its best to brighten one and all. A hint of blue sky here, a glimmer of green bough there. The bald ski slopes decked with a chiffon fog. Not a speck of colour as far as the eye can see. An old world of black and white. But engirdled with magic alright.

A day like no other for the mountain lover. A freaking, fabulous first.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...