Fourth for this Week

It had to be the Pudumund Marlimund Road today.  We lived on this road long ago but never ventured too far down the road. Of course it had grown and changed. Lots of small houses around Forest Gate , each with its set of drums and basins and tubs kept ready to catch the water tanker . The road stretched and curved  beyond the fork to Anikorai into more pastoral reaches.

Houses became more  scattered. While the presence of large bungalows with glimpses of colourful gardens added grace. Suddenly at one corner  opposite Adyar House was the brightly painted  police station of Pudumund. At the side were a dozen bashed and broken up cars , swept up from Ooty’s roads.

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Somewhere there had to be the Marlimund lake, for which the road was named. Probably dry and swampy. Still I had to see it. And discover it I did. A beautiful sweep of water near the small dam. At the back, where waters must have collected from springs and rain, cows grazed peacefully on the green cover. Even the pipe drawing water from the reservoir stood 2 feet above the water level.

Lets hope and pray and believe in the good monsoon,  predicted.

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Women’s Day

‘What Does It Mean to be a Woman Today to You’

One of 6 speakers,  I was given 5 minutes but it is hard to be brief ! I  wanted to talk about the differences in the lives 1904042_10152343599708833_1255281752_nof my mother, myself and my daughter on a few aspects.

About 30 years ago, when the serial Mahabharata was all the rage and everyone gathered around the TV on Sunday mornings, my mother would get excited too. She would have everything ready and be set to watch it when my father would appear and announce ‘ Im ready to eat’. She would depart very sadly to make breakfast for him. She couldn’t even say ‘ Why don’t you eat before or after?’ Her needs were never considered important enough.

Now I can say that to my husband. And as for  my daughter, my heart stops when she says to her husband on the phone ‘ Hey loose’.

The balances in marriages are changing . There is more equality, friendship and intimacy vs the respect for age. And all for the better.

………….

That was the way I began and somehow this seems to have touched the hearts of many women there. Many of them came up to me and said rather bitterly, ‘ It ‘s still the same. I have to drop everything when my husband wants to eat’.

zumbaAs this event was organised by the Doc who runs my Fitness class, the talks  were followed by a short  Zumba routine and then a healthier tea than usual 🙂

I had a good feeling about myself later.  Good with the long talk but still short on the Small talk 🙂

The Lunch Box

A simple tale that spins out delicately like the thread of a spider’s web. Fate randomly throws out a thread of connection and it catches, sticks, and grows. Every day, each of us is thrown little threads of connections. How we handle them depends on our circumstances, attitudes and moods. In this story, two lonely people latch on to a little random thread that connects them and make it grow.

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Of course, the thread between them is the lunchbox carried through the streets of Mumbai by the famous dabba system. In
the background is bustling Bombay and its crowded trains, streets and blocks of flats.

There are the details of the lives of the two protagonists. The way she, Ila, talks to  Aunty upstairs by yelling through the chute and the passing of  items between the two flats through a little basket, is familiar. Neglected, lonely, Ila tries to capture the interest of her straying   husband. She tries new recipes which evoke drooling tongues.  A particularly poignant moment and which affected most of the women I went to see the movie with, is when she puts on a dress she wore on her honeymoon and tries to get her husband to look at her anew.

The lunches she cooks painstakingly to gain the attention of her indifferent husband reach someone else. And as their chance relationship grows through notes, she is content not to rectify the mistake.  They share the details of their lives and become happier that there is someone listening..

Cigarette smoking, punctilious Mr.Saajan Fernandez who prefers to eat alone hasn’t made a mistake in his accounts for 35 years and is due to retire in 30 days. Irrfaan Khan seems to effortlessly transform into an aging truculent widower, albeit without a paunch. The smart new assistant who is to replace him is already there – a man he resents and dislikes and refuses to train.  As Saajan’s   relationship with Ila grows, we watch his transformation.   Slowly, he gets involved in the life of his junior.  He becomes friendlier with the children on his street. He becomes alive to the songs children sing on the train.

1897848Ila goes to visit her mother and sees her empty life. For so many years she has shared her house and bed with her husband but not her heart. The years have passed in a routine of cooking and serving. And now there are no feelings left when he passes on. Later we realize, this has made an impact on Ila’s decisions.

The director or the editor or the writer or all three involve the watcher in the movie. We have to draw our own conclusions, make the connections, join the dots. Every thought process is not spelled out. We make the leaps with our own processes. The loneliness within every individual is something that we identify with however busy our lives may appear.

We sit watching a period of time in the lives of two people;  as Saajan looks through the windows of the flats opposite.  We are left with a good feeling. We hope their lives will go on better afterwards.   No songs, comedy, fights, stories of other people’s lives to distract. Just a simple romance between two real people. Who can resist?

Sweet November

My birthday passed by this week. It wasn’t particularly a momentous day, one that I will remember in the years to come. But looking back, I really can’t recall any that were particularly momentous.  In childhood I must have had birthday parties with my mother making a terrific effort to cook and feed. But I cannot evoke particular events although the choked up excitement before a birthday is hard to forget.And maybe that is why photographs are so useful. 

I remember a birthday when Sindhu managed to make and bake a cake for me as a surprise during the time I was out on  a walk. Another birthday when both the kids arranged a surprise party for me at Sumathi’s.  Another when they made lots of small cards themselves with mad messages.  This time it was a nattily dressed package with an even more beautifully packaged bag inside with three packets of coffee from CoffeeDay sent by Sindhu. Certainly a surprising gift.

While several people wished me on Facebook and on the phone, three  friends took it on themselves to arrange a party in the library. It was fun. 

Which brings me to the realization that birthdays are about other people making us happy with wishes and gifts.

How do I make myself happy?

This November I have finally succumbed to Nanowrimo and started writing about 1800 words a day. Since Nanowrimo, doesn’t ask for much; it doesn’t ask you to submit work or ask you to write great stories or to write in a certain way; it asks you to write 3 pages everyday on your own – 1600 words a day for 30 days; not edited or seen or scrutinized. It’s  a very doable project.

Novel writing or just writing is making me very happy. It could be bad, mad or just plain ..yawn. It is probably chick-lit since a first novel usually has large chunks of autobiography. Which makes me wonder is there cock-lit or bull- lit?

Seth Godin writes

 Don’t wait for the right answer and the golden path to present themselves.

This is precisely why you’re stuck. Starting without seeing the end is difficult, so we often wait until we see the end, scanning relentlessly for the right way, the best way and the perfect way.

The way to get unstuck is to start down the wrong path, right now.

Step by step, page by page, interaction by interaction. As you start moving, you can’t help but improve, can’t help but incrementally find yourself getting back toward your north star.

You might not end up with perfect, but it’s significantly more valuable than being stuck.

Don’t just start. Continue. Ship. Repeat.

 

And that’s why I’m here. To write and get better and write and  find a way.

 

 

Enjoying the Journey

I journeyed back to Ooty, by car, driving, alone.

The first time one does this, the high can keep you afloat. Because, there are very few females driving up and down the Ghat roads. And very, very few doing it alone.

But after a while one feels , well, sleepy.

So this time, I packed breakfast and an ipod, because the radio hardly works.

Stopped for 5 minutes to chat each time I got a phone call.

And for breakfast in a glorious spot. 

Life is better when you decide Im going to enjoy this .

 

 

 

Across the road

Suprisingly, an activity that I am enjoying these days is…. Crossing the road! Surprising, because it wasn.t something that I likd doing or was particularly good at, going by my daughter.s comments. But now that I am foreign returned, I appreciate thistruly indian skill.
While I appreciate the ingrained discipline that makes a person stop at a red signal on an empty road at 6 a.m.,while I admire the system that makes it possible f for a wheel chair bound person to get around on her own, I revel in the freedom that my country gives me to stroll across , or run across the road where I will.
Aussies dodge the waves, we dodge the bikes and cars, both need considerable skill and practice. You have to be born to it, maybe?

Ps.this was done on a tab, so forgive all the sp errors. Im enjoying the learning experience.

Sydney!!!

After absolute craziness for a couple of weeks, when life seemed to be about dashing about the town with soggy lists fished out from coat pockets, umbrella in one hand, handbag in another and keys in yet another non existent hand which may be why I lost the car keys twice ; organising a function  in the library  while coping with details of leaving  home for a long spell on another level of the mind; Im suddenly transported  by a magic box to a place far far away and a different way of life.

Flying is still a rare mode of transport for me, and  so I still enjoy all the details of  airports and airplanes and taking off ; including the geography map spread out below. The food too! The  glamorous airport at Singapore left me open mouthed .Changing planes was not too bad as I had feared. How much I   fear needlessly!

First impressions of Sydney in first two days – suburbia is so pleasant. Genteel. Picturebook houses in red brick;  so few cars and people on the roads. Neat roads and pavements lined with trees and grass. No front walls.  Running water- hot and cold, the abundance of choice in the supermarkets; the fastness of the internet; joys of comfort.

The apartment is new and neat. The kitchen is open to the living room which was a bit of a shocker.  But a few days later, I dont notice at all. That is why it seems good to record impression and ideas while they are still new. The balcony over looks a large park which makes the house , oh so pleasant. And the presence of quirky, black eyed Advaith makes life so much better.

French Onion and Garlic Soup

I finally tried this soup today because there were hardly any vegetables around.  I’ve been putting it off because Im not too fond of onions. But it does have a slight, delicate flavor which also may be due to the Maggi  soup cube I used for stock. I did feel elegant using olive oil because it so foreign (and expensive). But the sense of relaxed elegance  on a  Monday morning came, I guess, more  from the luxurious feel of lots of time. I had more than enough time to concentrate on each step because Sunday’s leftovers were enough for lunch and I had woken up early.

Ingredients:

Onion – 2 large                    : sliced

garlic – 6 cloves                   : peeled and chopped finely

Carrot – 1 medium sized  : peeled, thinly sliced

Vegetable stock                  : 4 cups

Salt/pepper

Cheese –                                   : 1/4 cup grated

Olive oil –                                 : 1 tbslpn

Bread                                         :  4 slices, toast with olive oil and rub with garlic

 

Method:

In a thick bottomed pan, heat the olive oil and saute onion till brown. ( this is important)

Add chopped garlic and sute.

Add sliced carrots and saute for a few minutes.

Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Add salt and pepper powder.

Serve hot with toasted bread and top with cheese.

ps: the pic is borrowed.

Behind the Scene

Preparations for a good lunch .

The family of son-in-law-to-be comes for a visit tomorrow and we hope to give them a good lunch.  So lots of preparation under way.

A professional cook is making the  lunch for 30 people.  Why did I never think of this before? It seems so easy.

But after a whole afternoon of running up and down and supplying him with things, Im thinking ‘maybe this is why I didn’t’. It seems a lot more trouble sometimes to get someone else to do the job rather than doing it oneself.  But he is so fast, that its amazing.

Into every life, some rain must fall and its pouring just now. So, whoever reads this, pray to the Rain Gods to lay off till tomorrow eve.  Collective petitions work sometimes.

You keep reminding me

I just had a little reminder that my personal God is up there looking after me. I know the truly spiritual way is not to believe in signs and signals, but I prefer to. It makes the journey so much more delightful.

I’d booked a series of tickets for our long journey which starts the day after. And suddenly, this morning I find that the tickets booked for the first leg are on the wrong date. Horror since it involves so many people.

But I was able to book some tatkal tickets which is such a blessing.

Thank you God.  Getting caught up in busyness, I tend to forget.