Saturday, August 22, 2009

the announcement system at the Dehradun Railway Station

has a lisp..
Last night, i was waiting on the platform in an expressive mood.
And every few minutes, the paging system would announce that the Janashatabdi Expressed..
yes, I could sympathise with it

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I refuse to believe in portents..

The Bombay Store in Pune is one of my favourite shops. I don't really buy anything much there, maybe the occasional bottle of essential oil, and some gifties- but I do covet their merchandise.

A long-ish time ago, at the end of the last century, I fell in love with one of the things on display. It was a mirror, and I had never seen something so beautiful, useful, and practical before. It was a double-sided mirror on a brushed-steel stand with one side magnifying, and the other normal. There was something satisfying sturdy and elegant in it’s construction, and I wanted it. At 600 Rs, it was also something I could not afford then, and actually, even today I would not pay that amount for vanity fodder.

My niece was little, and she would come over to our house after school. One day, shortly before Christmas, my mum had gone to pick her up and when they returned, I could tell that the two of them were tremendously excited. I put it down to the fun of an outing together. But then my niece turned to her grandma with the air of someone about to burst with all the excitement and stage-whispered, "Amma, what about the M-I-R-O-R ?"

At this point both the adults laughed, my mum with the embarrassment of having a surprise blown apart, me with the joy of the lovely surprise, and both of us with pride that the child had some idea (only mildly inaccurate) of how to spell mirror. It has been with me for around a decade now. It saw me in various cities and through various phases.

And today, I broke it. Of all the things, I broke my M-I-R-O-R, and of all the times, I broke it the same hour that The One's plane was circling Delhi Airport. Damn,Damn, and Damn. I am not superstitious, but yes, I am not happy with this.

But I suppose, it was after all, just a thing. It was made special by the memory of the surprise, and that I will always have. Someday, I will embarrass my niece by telling her beau the story of the M-I-R-O-R, and in a few hours the One will call me up safe and well and full of joy at being in the country he loves. All will be well..

Update: All is indeed well.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Keoladeo National Park

Not that I am given to posting poems on this blog, but with the drought in the country, and with the conversation we are having in the river conservation group, I wanted to share this..

In winter, the lake is alive
brimming with life giving water,
dancing to the touch of every wingtip,
resounding to the calls of the flock.
She is shelter, joy, rebirth.

But summer comes and the flock leaves.
She is left alone to struggle
against a hundred demands on her existence.
She shrinks, withdraws into herself
diminishing, stagnant, forgotten.

Does she feel like crying out to the flock to stay?
“Do not go. You are life for me.
Without you I am scared.
Stay with me, help me in my struggles.”
But it does not matter what she feels.

It is not in her nature to stop them,
as it is not in the flock’s nature to stay.
The parting a necessary part of the story.
Dying necessary for rebirth. All this she knows.
And still she dreads the summer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Making Friends

I took this snap at Pune when I went there last week. This little chap is a regular visitor of my mum’s. The snap was clicked without a zoom, and it surprises me how safe birds feel around my mum. Me? Little kids start bawling when i smile at them.
What I love about my mother is how incredibly social she is..In the short time she was in dehradun, she established friend status with those few people she came in contact with. In my old house, those people were the gardener, the sabziwallah and her auto-wallah. And yes, all the birds that came to the garden. And the dog. And a cow who called for her several days after she left.
She will like my new house. It is full of life. A family lives here, with a large domestic staff. And best of all, they have my mum’s favourite animals as pets- a cow and her calf, and a cat! I can already see my mum pottering around the calf and hanging out with the family. I am happy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

the environmentally conscious dudes of Dun

I have mentioned the astonishingly stylish and gallant bus crews before. But they are also quite environmentally conscious- as are all their passengers.

I was travelling in a bus, and one of the crew drank a bottle of water and tossed it out. Before it touched the road, all the passengers wailed in protest. And no, I was not among the protesters- I was watching events with my mouth open. The driver scolded the chap and stopped the bus. The litterer jumped out and picked it up. I love this incident. The fact that everyone protested, and a bus driver gave an impromptu lecture on littering is wonderful in itself. What makes it more interesting is that the litterer was embarrassed about that thoughtless act and apologised for time he won't litter. Wow.

And yesterday. I was returning from the station, it was raining and the roads were flooded. In the manner of all good taxi-drivers, my auto-wallah started explaining to me just what the problems of the world are and how to solve them. The gist? Ban plastic carrybags. For 10 minutes, I received a quite informative and thoughtful commentary on the evils of plastic, and the policy measures necessary to reinforce a ban.

I warmed towards my auto-wallah and by the end of that lecture, was looking at the back of his head with adoring eyes. But The One need not worry. Just before I could slip him a note with my phone number and a dinner invitation, he concluded his lecture by linking pollution to's rich cultural diversity. Ah well.