Friday, June 29, 2012

To June

Somewhere between e-shopping for hair dryer and applying for a job in publishing, this struck me. That we are almost through half the year. That we have lived half the share of our boons and banes for this year. That come what may, one has to pull oneself through the rest of the other half for yet another hopeful whole. Interestingly, while the end of June marks the beginning of summer in the Western hemisphere, for us, the Easterners it means the end of summer. End or beginning, this is precisely the time when both the worlds are decked up in that lush, blinding green.

So while oscillating between both the searches, one materialistic and the other absolutely abstract, I embarked upon yet another search - a good June poem. And this is where it led me, The Guardian, the station where every art/book lover's search ends. I am sure many of you stop by here to catch a review or just stir those sleepy morning grey cells. Although moved by the many beautiful but mostly long forgotten poems recommended in the article, I however chose to stand by my old favorite - Neruda. 

"Green was the silence, wet was the light

the month of June trembled like a butterfly."

~ Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

And since I couldn't find any butterflies for you in this concrete jungle, I believe my Ma's most lovingly tended and Bapa's most photographed object, the football lily (that's what we call them here) would do. A lovely coexistence, isn't it?! That's how the two have traveled through the years and today completes the thirty-first year of their journey. To June and to togetherness then! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A gift and some memories

When I opened my blog yesterday afternoon, I hardly had any inkling of the beautiful surprise that awaited me. As I scrolled down my reading list, there it was, this wonderful, wonderful gift! My ever thoughtful and kind blogger friend, Pondside, just knew what I wanted at the moment. Despite being connected through the virtual yet sometimes much more comforting and real than the actual world, she has often come to my rescue with the most beautiful and encouraging words. And now, even when we no more share our most common bond, the wild and wonderful Pacific Northwest, she can sense what all I am pining for from the other end of the globe. Something which some of my old and most dependable friends just cannot, may be because they haven't been in my shoes or simply because in a time of an ever-growing and urbanizing India, no one has time for something as trivial as my rhododendron nostalgia. But in just a few heart-tugging and compassionate paragraphs, she opened up that rickety and always waiting-to-be-knocked door to the most fondest of my memoirs - Seattle.

Rhododendrons mean so much more to me than just flowers. When I had first seen them, new and nervous in a foreign land, they had seemed very, very exotic. There's a subtle pride and hardiness about them that I at once connected to. Gradually, they grew into this tiny part in me that associates them with the beginning of everything good in my life. And of course, there could not be a more mood lifting bloom, particularly when the day is overcast with a soft but steady drizzle. 
So just when I was wondering how by the end of June the rhododendrons usually paint the whole city red, pink and purple, and just when that corner of my heart was chocked with longing, Pondside's lovely mosaic rescued me.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the marvelous journey down nostalgia lane. 

Some rhododendrons, from last year's bloom...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Monsoon and after

It has arrived, the monsoon, and with what frenzy. With the temperatures taking a huge plunge from the maddening 40Cs to the refreshing 20Cs and the city washed off its accumulated dust and summer sins, everything sparkles in a nascent, green light. A huge, huge sigh of relief it is. This much-awaited and welcome change has also brought some odd guests along - waterlogged roads, traffic delays and the most annoying of all, the common cold. It has been raining achoos all over and in my case, it is accompanied by a horrible sore throat as well. Home delivered pizza, lazily boiled soup and ginger-clove tea is what I have been living on for the past two days.

There is also the old, trusted cure of books, the very smell and feel of them and Roddy Doyle's
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha it is this time. Devoid of chronology or coherence (and sometimes sense too), initially all one gets is the feel of listening to a little boy ramble on about his adventures with his friends. But then slowly it grows on you, this beautiful chaos, and flashback by flashback you get it all. Ten-year old Paddy's colloquial, naive first-person narration, the abusive relationship between the parents, and the reader's humored confusion, all remind me of Francie Brady's life in The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe (a must-read, by the way).
For some reason, I have always enjoyed Irish literature, its characters in particular and the resigned manner in which they go about their lives. There's a subtle yet sublime stoicism in them that I admire, one that caters to my present sour mood quite well.

A word about the pictures in this post:

Unable to lug the gigantic SLR around in this weather and my cold-ridden state, I finally tried my hands at Instagram, and viola! I am absolutely in love with the fact that one could just work wonders with one's mobile phone. Now the very hip and happening Urban Dictionary defines Instagram as - "Every hipster's favorite way to make it look like they take really classy pictures when really they are still using their phones. Yeah, you might really look cute/old school/vintage/retro, but it's still a cell phone picture."
Whatever the purists might say, I am all for this instant fun. What say you all?

Monday, June 18, 2012


"Plants that wake when others sleep. Timid jasmine buds that keep their fragrance to themselves all day, but when the sunlight dies away let the delicious secret out to every breeze that roams about."

~ Thomas More

Sam came home yesterday with a surprise - a garland of jasmines (my birdbrains had expected samosas instead)! For his flower-loving wife, it was certainly a big deal. Now it is very common here, in Southern India, for women to adorn their hair with jasmine garlands. Therefore, to find the roadsides laced with vendors selling fragrant flowers in heaps and bunches is quite a familiar sight. However, instead of going local, I chose to hang it from the mouth of a tall vase in the hall. How soon the little white flowers filled our home with their sweet, hypnotizing scent and with that tumbled along the bittersweet jasmine nostalgia.
When we were kids, how we cousins would get up at the crack of dawn and pluck the full-bodied jasmines in our grandmother's garden during the summer holidays. Groggy and half sleepwalking, the seven of us would tip-toe on the ticklish, dewy grass, lest we commit the unforgivable sin of waking up any of the parents. We had to be really quick because once the sun's rays fell on the flowers, they would go back to their shy sleep. Later in the morning we would all sit with grandma, over breakfast and mythological tales, and sew jasmine garlands for our gods and goddesses.

It has been twelve years since dear grandma passed away and since then we children have more or less qualified the huge test of being called grown-ups, managing tight, tiny universes of our own. But despite death, distance and differences, these small joys linger forever. Just like the unforgettable fragrance of jasmines.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rust rules

I'm one restless, always-on-the-search soul these days. After taking care of all the bare essentials that go into creating a decent home, it's finally decor time. My favorite part of setting up a new home, every time. No matter how many times (eight homes, including this!) I've done it before, the thrill remains constant.

Although I miss that scrubbed, minimalist look of the tidy white wood and window blinds, and the inviting plainness of the oatmeal carpet of American homes, it is definitely more fun to play with rich, riotous colors. With the solid teak woodwork dominating most of the interior, decorating Indian homes is all about striking that perfect balance between space and colors. And often, one tends to get lost in the intensity of our bright and festive color palette. We, therefore, have decided to go the subtle way - rust and its siblings, beige and coffee, with a hint of the pompous purple and regal red thrown in here and there. The lovely, warm tones have begun painting our new place in an earthy delight. When the late afternoon sun slants moodily on our balcony, one gets the feeling of being bathed in a pale, rusty twilight.

P.S. Rereading My Name is Red couldn't have happened at a more befitting time!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cloud burst

"The clouds, - the only birds that never sleep."

~ Victor Hugo

For a sky that otherwise looks engulfed in smoke and haggard from the tiresome, monotonous rants of its earth-side denizens, this seemed a fine enough spectacle. Fluff after fluff of sheer bliss it was. An azure carpet strung together with pearly, white beads. Uncountable hopeful smiles floating together in a joyous vacuum. A surreal world, peaceful and true, spreadeagled over a haphazardly stacked chaos of cold concrete. See it whichever way you would, it felt too good be true.
Some other positive signs that this surprising cloud burst brought forth - a cool morning breeze and the news of the first monsoon showers that further signal the fast approaching end of the tyrannous summer. Bring on those big, fat drops now!

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