December 26, 2004

someone owes us an explanation. right?

this very helpful page tells us how and why earthquakes happen.
this page, and this page shows us the earthquakes had been occurring since december 22, 2004, right along the tectonic plates (refer to image on the ‘why earthquakes happen’ link). so does this page.

i am not a student or authority on seismology or natural disasters. my basic common sense tells me there is a purpose for those colourful charts and readings. a disclaimer does say the readings could be inaccurate, but i wonder if anyone could be sued for saving a life, once in a while.

so is it just me? or does anyone else agree that there could have been a decent warning?

mood: angry X-(

December 21, 2004

flavours of the month

most of us perhaps visit other journals to find inspiration there, whether we consciously seek it or not.

since my surgery three weeks ago, i have been doing just that…trying to escape the ill-effects of the dreadful tablets i take three-times-a-day (for three more months!), trying to get back to what i love doing the most…painting, writing, creating.

i also have been thinking about life and how its phases or of those around affect us ever so subtly, pointing out that we too are changing inside, growing, accommodating, changing our needs for space to just be

my space these days is my kitchen, my territory as praveen likes to call it.
and this year since we have been giving the house a make-over i wanted the kitchen to be more than a place where i cook food and wash the dishes. something like a mini-studio where i can try out what i want to…and yet be simple in its own way.

we started with painting the walls white, and got a terra cotta-tile-effect vinyl flooring to go with it. then we got a small ikea table, with bright red chairs and colourful straw-placemats (from a charity shop).

i am experimenting with crayons and watercolours, so i can get some of my favourite ingredients on the wall. i hope to stitch some bright-yellow-checked curtains soon, and paint more often, so my space, like life itself, remains fresh, curious, and interesting.

nancy, keri smith and duane keiser, thank you for getting me to paint again.

garlic chilli

i had to give a background for the garlic-and-chilli picture since it looked dull against the white. now i’m wondering if the curry leaves and ginger need a background too. what do you think?

December 18, 2004

beautiful people

it was wet, windy, cold and dull for over 36 hours without a break, the perfect excuse to snuggle under a 13.5-tog quilt and a nice book to read. but i couldn’t escape my physiotherapy appointment with tatenda at 10 in the morning, so i set out for berkhamstead grudgingly.

i wished the supposed-to-be-one-hour-long appointment would go on till the rain stopped, but 30 minutes into the session, tatenda was already handing me another date and time and telling me to run along. i should have taken her advice seriously, because the only bus that i know runs from berkhamstead to hemel, passed right in front of my eyes.

i whined under my windcheater-hood, dug my numb-with-cold hands deep into my pockets and crossed over to the bus stop anyway. i was trying to read through the thick condensation on the glass-cased bus schedule, when an old lady under an umbrella slowly approached my side of the footpath.

concerned old lady: oh dear, you just missed the bus…
me, surprised at first but smiling at her: hmm i know…i guess it’s another half-hour’s wait now.
old lady, now stopped to talk: awww, where do you have to go?
me: hemel…
old lady: you’ll freeze to death out here in the rain darling…why don’t you start walking in the direction of the next bus stop now…
(leans her umbrella between her head and neck and tugs at the sleeve of her own coat to glance at her wristwatch…)
…if you get there in 15 minutes, you’ll get the small bus that will take you home. it’s a longer route but it will get you there. you won’t be very wet i promise…

brightening up at her suggestion, i thanked her as she waved goodbye. then i wondered why she stopped to help, amused by her accent and grateful at the same time. walking in the direction she had pointed, i soon realised she was right about the 15-minute part…because i never seemed to get there! i couldn’t even see clearly behind the curtain of rain and i was thinking of how welcome it was in india…i never carried an umbrella then, or a raincoat, and everytime it rained i would rush to the terrace (be it my office or home) and offer my face to the clouds happily.

the sight of several red lights along the road brought me back to the streets of berkhamstead, and i could finally make out the faint silhouette of a bus stop in the distance, a traffic jam, and cosy people inside bright cafes and dark antique shops nodding their heads and sharing their feelings about the weather. about time i thought, shrinking further into my jacket and looking around for the bus.

two minutes later, there it was! just as she promised, just like the bus from one of forster‘s stories…a small bus appearing through the mist, full of very old and beautiful people aboard, armed with scarves and coats and walking sticks and umbrellas…

it took me over an hour to get to hemel, but the route was a more scenic one. i saw a content woman take her four dogs for a stroll, and a broken down wall of what must have been a castle long ago. the bus stopped for every old person on the road who even lifted his or her hand a little. it stopped for one very old woman who took at least four minutes to wobble to her seat, and it was then i caught the face of the driver in his long concave mirror, his eyes following her to see if she was safe and seated, and comfortable.

that was when something touched me inside, and the rest of the journey was not so cold anymore.

December 15, 2004

why happy buddays should remain happy

birthdays have always been memorable for me…

i find it difficult to sleep all night, thinking of how the day ahead is going to be. then i wake up early, and trouble everyone within five miles of my sight 🙂

for me, birthdays are sacred. schooldays were when i was always bullied around, but on this day, i wouldn’t care. it was like i was carrying an open secret inside me, brimming with a silent excitement, looking expectantly at teachers and brightening up everytime they wished me a happy birthday with a little kiss on my then-verry-chubby-cheeks. i remember my mother slipping tiny silver payals (anklets) around my feet while she *thought* i was asleep; i remember my father holding my tiny hand and walking me to the nearby temple one misty december afternoon… as years went by, i remember my friends coming home, and then me taking them out when i was working. the gifts were not important, the wishes were, except when it came to one very close friend who once made a grown-up girl carry four white and blue balloons all the way home!

call me shameless, call me greedy, but i make it a point to collect every wish, every small joy, and treasure them all through the year, till the next birthday comes along. i guess kya karen, v are like this only! totally in contrast with praveen, who remembers nothing of his last birthday (which was just two days ago)…

birthdays haven’t been the same since i’ve come to the uk…no sarson ka saag and parrippu pradaman made by amma, no flowers at midnight (praveen prefers gifting the entire plant, but there’s something about fresh flowers no? ;-), not as many wishes as i would like (owing to geographical distances and lack of friends here!)…

but last night i decided that this time would be different. i decided to gather as many wishes as i could, and that i would be happy no matter what i did…after all, it only comes once a year! and guess what? it’s worked!

zubin came over late last night with a cake; my wishjar has been a hit and praveen gifted me keri smith‘s activity journal. i pampered myself with a homemade besan+turmeric+rosewater paste followed by a quick shower; cooked one of my favourite dishes that i had never tried before, (and it was yummmm)! somehow i’ve been on the phone with someone or the other since 5:00 am! i spoke for over 40 minutes with my cousin and bhabhi in the US, maasis and mamas called, cousins emailed, and this year i reminded three people (one friend, two colleagues at the pharmacy where i work part-time) that it was my birthday and so they *must* wish me. the friend who i was chatting with online instantly called me from mumbai…

phew! i’ve been having a terrific time, and i’m exhausted, but i still haven’t had enough! so go ahead, do your good deed for the day…i’m still collecting ze wishes 😉

December 3, 2004

a minor-surgery-break, and a tube journey

it took a simple-laparoscopy-that-turned-difficult, three incisions on my stomach, eight tablets three-times-a-day, frequent plunges in my blood pressure, and an(other) infection to make me realise how i take my body for granted. i think we all do, sometimes. but this has been a good lesson, perhaps also a practical one…when your body is sick, you are a slave to its demands. no matter how hard you try to run, you will go only as far as your body takes you.

on the brighter side, i have been resting like a baby, cared for and nursed, and i have had the best food in ages (only praveen can make a convincing combination of cabbage and cauliflower sabji)!! i’m still very slow to react, it hurts when i laugh, and i walk like i’m 10-months pregnant (!), but i am recovering fast. thanks to the person who would run away at the very thought of visiting a hospital or a sick friend.

well, not that he had much choice really, but right now, i feel blessed 🙂
touch wood


before i hit the bed again this afternoon, i have to write about the one scene that has been on my mind since last week.

…about a dark-skinned father and his little dark-skinned boy.
i was on my way to farringdon station for an interview, and the boy’s quiet preoccupations captured my interest. sitting right next to the glass barrier (which divides the seats and the automatic doors), the boy played with his own reflections, while the father scanned through pages of the metro. when the train stopped at the next tubestation, many commuters got in, some crammed between feet and files, and some leaned against the glass barrier itself, their hands behind them and out of the way. the man leaning against the boy’s glass was bald, white. he had his back to the boy but his hands pressed on to the glass, unaware, revealing a rich white skin and deep red lines where the skin folded.

the little boy was puzzled. he stared back from the glass for a moment, for the reflections he was playing with suddenly vanished. he looked at his father hesitantly, who only continued to browse the paper. slowly he turned to the glass again, and wondered. he was a clever child, for in a minute he slid his little hand around the glass as well, and pressed hard. however hard he pressed though, his hand didn’t turn the shade of white that had awed him at first.

i left the train and the father-and-son, thinking…this must have been the little boy’s first lesson about colours, and one of mine too.