Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Garden stories

"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow."

~ Audrey Hepburn

The balcony garden is shaping up well, albeit a little haphazard. Courtesy our regular visits to the nearest plant nursery, we've already choked half of the balcony with colourful tropical crotons. It was time we brought some hardy flowers to accompany the hibiscus and the rose, both of which, in the most conniving fashion, have morphed into show plants for sometime now. And so came along the red crown of thorns, and a riotous mix of orange and pink bougainvilleas. Now we have winged visitors inspecting the new additions all day - sometimes a lost butterfly flutters from pot to pot checking the traces of nectar, but the more regular ones are the thirsty pigeons who love to draw a sip or two from the muddy waters accumulated in the pot trays. Though I leave a bowl of clean water for them, earthiness is clearly their preference.
Then came the rains one day, a typical mid-summer downpour, much to everyone's relief. The patchy, dust-clad crotons celebrated the most perhaps, the fat drops washing the city's muck off their kaleidoscopic leaves. Who doesn't like to show a spot of true colour, eh?! The balcony soon became a palimpsest of colours - yellow, maroon, green, white.

Indoors, it's my new bamboo that draws all the eyes these days. Come evening, when the lamps are lit, the Buddha candle holder sitting next to it casts an enchanting shadow on the wall behind. As if Buddha himself has come to life! Serenaded by his composed figure looming large in the illuminated corner of the living room, life feels blessed. Surely, not a lot in the world that these small joys can't cure.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A fading dream

"And, as always happens, and happens far too soon, the strange and wonderful becomes a memory and a memory becomes a dream. Tomorrow it's gone."
~ Terry Pratchett

A year has passed and how soon! I am thankful for many things, but mostly for the possibility that I won't be able to bring up the constant reminders that begin with, "Remember last year, during this time ..." Time has walked, more likely trudged, a full circle and there no more will be trading of places on the calendar. Starting today, I won't be able to go back and tally the days or tag the months to certain events.
A trifle of a thought, I know, but something worth ruminating. Someone had rightly told me once, "You'll see, after a while it all feels like a dream. One big, beautiful dream. As if the years never happened to you ..." True, it's like a distance I never walked, a meal I never ate, a place I never lived.  Chip by chip, I can sense the shreds of the old life fading away, its contours patchy and bleached, with only the fragrant essence of belonging filling our hearts. The strange feeling is very similar to this blurry dream-like path, which once upon a time framed a corner of our everyday life, gradually disappearing under a thick veil of late autumn fog. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Indian summer, for real this time

Sunday, 2:00 pm. Hungry. Dash into the kitchen. Boiled noodles tossed with some quick, spicy stir-fried vegetables. Gobble it up. Run back to the air-conditioned bedroom. Read a little. Scribble some lazy notes. 5:30 pm. Hungry again. Oh, just make yourself a cup of tea and grab some crackers. Or may be, just water would do?! Even a walk to the balcony could prove fatal. Just stay inside. Till, ummm ... June may be?!

When in India, it's really hard to disagree with T.S. Eliot's take on April, but only as far as the first line goes. April is the cruelest month of the year and if anything can come close to or aggravate the agonies it unleashes upon us mortals, it's the following month of May. Funny now, and how very like me, to be remembering this vengeful season last year, in another world and almost at this time, all sloshed with nostalgia and heartache. The tricky concoctions homesickness and memory brew!!
When almost all my friends in blog land are singing odes of a spring tinted with cherry blossoms and azure days, I, in the tropics, have morphed into a sluggish ball of restlessness and edgy emotions. Like my Ma says, "It's all because of the heat!" That's right, whatever goes wrong in these two months, we have the weather to blame for. Whoever you call, since meeting friends and entertaining takes a backseat till the rains say hello, has got a bit of summer woe to share, the regular rigmaroles being the loss of appetite and dehydration, and how it's a nightmare to cook the simplest of meals in a sweltering kitchen. Although modern living does help one to a certain extent, one eventually has to get out of the air-conditioned cocoon sometime. And the monsoons are a long, long way from now.

The only element of cool serenading our home is provided by the opening fronds of the potted palm, perhaps the only living creature to brave the fury of the sun and to tell the tale as well. The new, nascent green just gets into the head spreading its cool glow to my parched heartland, and the dainty dance of the sun on the tender leaves somehow makes the scorching 42 degree Celsius appear less brutal. Another green star, this one is!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The secret door

"I have lived on the lip
of insanity, wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door. It opens.
I've been knocking from the inside."

~ Rumi

It's about time I realized that doors do open. That every time it's not a wrong one. That finding the right key takes time. That sometimes there's a dusty alley of doors inside us that need to be opened first. So that the sunlight can creep in through some headstrong cobwebs, and certain caged birds can be freed.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Merci beaucoup!

"Friendship begins the moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one."

~ C.S. Lewis

The anxiety of meeting someone you have known all this while over the regular exchange of emails and photographs. The pestering impatience of actually seeing someone you have seen only in their Facebook pictures. Most of all, the sheer happiness of being in the actual presence of someone whose virtual company you have cherished for almost two years now. 

That is how we met, Cee and I, last month. It was almost like a dream come true, a dream which wouldn't have taken shape if she hadn't decided to make Hyderabad, an otherwise ignored city in a tourist's itinerary, a part of her 'Incredible India' vacation. 'Lovely' would be an understatement to describe the three consecutive evenings that we got together. We laughed, we ate, we shopped, and the best part of all - and I am sure she too must have seen it - we cherished the continuous twinkling of our eyes that ricocheted from believing to unbelieving, marveling at our good fortune all the while. Paying little attention to the geeky husbands immersed in their talk of iPad, iCloud and a bunch of other Is, we bonded over our common Virgo traits peppered with talks of spices, the Taj Mahal, her childlike fondness for the masala chai, and my fixation with, well, anything French.
Being the obsessive lover of India that she is, I am sure Cee will be back soon. But until then, her wonderful souvenirs will do, that she picked up with so much care and attention, tending to my Francophilia with such important details. The intoxicating smell wafting from the Provence lavender pouch, one of the many jewels from her cornucopia of gifts, now sits pretty amid stacks of my clothes and every time I open the cupboard, it carries me to Cee's France, where the sun shines softly, where the azure skies kiss the sapphire waters of the Mediterranean Sea. And once again, I am reminded of her contagious smile and her beautiful heart. 

Mon cher Cee, merci pour ce merveilleux séjour.

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