November 19, 2004

(c)all for a surprise

all the rains in june
and one evening, secretly
through the pines
the moon

it’s the middle of november. i don’t know why this koan is going around in my head tonight, but i had to get it out. these days i have been missing my friends more than i usually do…i look out for familiar faces in the town centre, and think up stories about one of them dropping home for a surprise visit. i look out of the window when i’m cooking, hoping to catch a glimpse of a familiar face walking by, so i can run after them and say “hey! it’s me, rads! what’s up?”

maybe i just need to get (even) more active, more creative with my paints (when the walls are done that is). maybe i am really missing talking to my friends…dhaval, malini, deepak, gulnar, ganesh, sanjeev, siy…maybe 3:45 am is not a good time and the pain is not letting me sleep…maybe i need to stop rambling and go to bed anyway.


on the brighter side…

my wishjar is ready and waiting to be opened.

like all dutiful wives, i have been taking care of my husband and my home with lot of love and care. apart from all the laughter and tears we have had together, for three long years, i have tried to accept the fact that praveen needs to learn about gifts and surprises, and i certainly have been happy with what i already have.

so for our third anniversary next week, i decided to be a leetle more practical instead, and this is what i did:

tore a single a4-size paper into tiny square chits, and wrote a wish on each one of them. these are not wishes for the moon or stars or world peace, but simple wishes for little surprises that go a long way in making me very happy. then i folded them all and dropped them in one of the pringlesdabbas i usually use as piggy banks (complete with a neat hand-made slit for pound-coins or loose change lying around). then i wrote down some basic instructions like “…open the box, slide your hand in and pick out a chit. use it to make my day!”

i know, i know, it’s selfish of me etc etc, but it’s the only way to keep us both happy! for one, it spares him the ordeal of thinking of *what* to buy me and how to surprise me, and then get beaten for getting me something totally un-explainable (like chocolate chip muffins for karva chauth!)…besides, in a way i have forgotten of what wishes i have dropped in the box already, so i still can pretend i am surprised! i also added a note above the box that the wishes are ‘best before’ april 2005, so hopefully, one of us would have learnt something by then …

for now, i am quite excited and i think it will work. will keep you posted so you can try this at your home too 😉

November 15, 2004

another diwali, another lesson

you learn the value of something only when it is taken away from you.

diwali used to be about food, oilbaths and shikakai, new clothes, lots of lamps and kandils, cousins, friends, wearing sarees and visiting temples, food again, distributing sweets to neighbours, meeting everyone in the common colony compound and bursting firecrackers late into the night. but that was in india.

the mothers did the cooking, the fathers did the spending, and we did all the shopping together.

for the past three years diwali has been about solitary attempts to make chaklis and rava laddoos, well-over-20-minute-phone calls to mumbai and kerala where the receiver is being passed around from one relative to the next, all of them wishing we were there too, or complaining about the noise and all the smoke. diwali has been about my mother calling just when the night is filled with the noise of firecrackers, and her asking me: “did you hear that, are you happy now?”

diwali has been about remembering and reliving the celebrations in the years that have passed, about having to choose the heavy and weary everyday-jackets and woolly coats over lovely chudidaars and sarees from home that lie waiting in the wardrobe, about having to light tealights or candles over rows of the traditional diyas–all ‘inside’ the home because it’s either too windy or wet outside, about having to forget about the kandil and firecrackers altogether, and shop not for new clothes but for the sake of tradition.

it has been difficult, trying to be our parents, smiling each time i think of the girl i was like. but i know its the only way to keep diwali alive, and i tell myself at least i am trying.

diwali is also when ramesh uncle celebrates his birthday, and so yesterday i called knowing that the entire family would be getting together. of all the loving uncles i have, ramesh uncle always manages to leave behind words that would have me thinking or happy…they could be any kind of words, his thoughts about the current political situation, something he read in his gujarati newspaper, or his parting words when i touch his feet. more often than not, his blessings are straight from the heart and they always have come true for me…before i set out to work in bangalore, before i went for my first vipassana course, and just before i knew i was going to get married. i wished him a happy birthday yesterday and he asked what i had been up to. i told him that praveen and i were busy renovating our house ourselves for the past three or four months and that these days we had turned into painters…

uncle: bahut achche beta…apne jeevan ke saare khushiyon se paint kar do, deewaron ko jeevan ke rangon se bhar do (very good dear, paint the walls with all the colours and the happiness in your lives…)
me: (smiling already) er…uncle, hum log to lekin white se paint kar rahe hain (…but we have been using white…)

at that point we both laughed and i said white did have all the colours in it, so i would remember his words as we painted the rest of the house.


since we had been visiting the watford hare krishna temple more often this year, praveen and i decided to take a break from the paints and watch the fireworks display they were going to have there at night.

two and a half hours later, as we returned from the temple grounds, freezing from the cold and the long walk back to the carpark, we were both smiling. somehow, the mixed smells of camphor, incense and sandalwood, the picture of a content radha and krishna in their elegant pinks and peacock blues, the cold wadas soggy with chutney and sauce and the hot reviving masala chai, the sight of the firecrackers colouring all the sky above our heads, the smell of the smoke that followed soon after, the cold air and the peace that stuck to our skin and clothes and soul made us feel that its okay… that all this and more had always been there deep within us, and that we could reach it whenever we wished to.

hope you too had a happy diwali 🙂

November 3, 2004

caught by the wrong foot

some days ago, my mother sent me …hundreds of little clay diyas, a box of my old fabric colours, about fifty of my favourite photographs, four chip magazines (called digit since four years, i think), and a brand new non-stick appachetti…all the way from mumbai.

it felt like a forgotten part of me had come back. it reminded me of things i had missed seeing when i was busy looking for myself…dance, music, painting…i wanted to relive those moments that had made time fly, paint away like there was no tomorrow, walk through the pictures i had taken, and just be myself for a while.

all of a sudden, i could think of millions of things to draw and paint, as if the box that arrived by courier that day contained not the terracota items but inspiration herself!

so until late that night, i sketched and shaded and erased and corrected and sketched again, trying to create the sound of dance on my workpad. somehow though, one of the two sketches didn’t seem right, yet it was my favourite. afraid that i might spoil my drawing by painting it (something i have had a reputation for), i left it untouched on the table. yesterday, i picked it up again, decided that perhaps painting it would eventually blur out the flaw that i still couldn’t see…and hunted out my two-year-old but-used-just-once-box-of-made-in-uk-watercolours.

wash after wash, colour blots, streaks and patches and two (or three?) hours later, it was ready. i was quite satisfied, except that something about it still didnt look right. at night i tweaked it a little more with some light and shade effects and left it aside again before putting out the lights. in the morning, i asked praveen if it looked okay now (for he too had agreed that something looked amiss).

five minutes later, we were both laughing. my dancing krishna has two left feet!!

the wrong bluefoot

learning of the day: in life and art, there is no [ctrl + z].