Wednesday, August 22, 2012


It is the practice of offering one's food to the beings of the land, water and air before sitting down to eat. A good practice, one that reminds us that we are not the only inhabitants of our world, that we are the new tenants in a bustling community.

And it is also a good way to reconcile oneself to the  loss of one's harvest. What with one thing and the other, Mian and I have not tasted too much of  the  fruits of our toil. The wheat I wrote about. 
I was proud of the corn- as I should be, na?

15 plump, luscious ears. One more week, and they'll be perfect for the picking, we decided as we wiped the drool from our faces. The porcupines thought so too. We returned one day to see all the corn gone, stalks and all. A little scouting showed that the plants had not gone far. Just below the garden was a heap of corncobs and gnawed stalks.

The tomatoes we did get a taste of, can't complain even though sundry ground crawlers got more.

My first reaction to the loss of the wheat and the corn  was utter rage and distress. I swore to eat pies made of grain-fed, free range, organic parrots and porcupines. My second thought was that this first harvest was naivedyam. A sharing of food with the rightful occupants of the land. They are not the thieves, after all. 

 There are still some tomatoes, two ears of corn, the beans are just setting fruit. And now the all-important september planting is due. Here's a photo to prove that atleast one of us did enjoy food from our garden.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The tiniest Bhaloo

is what I used to call her as I rocked her in the winter.
Shona with her faithful-and permanently puzzled- Jhumroo
Now that is no longer accurate- I am pretty sure there are a lot of smaller bears around. The basket of  which she once occupied only a quarter has now been flattened into a pancake by her trying to fit into it. She has chewed off the edges now, and sleeps on it- overflowing from all sides.

What I love best about her is that she has so much of Mian and I in her. Mian and Shona tend to be at their snuggliest in the mornings, they have the same expression when they do something they shouldn't be doing. When I was visiting mum this time, I missed one particularly endearing trait they both have.

When I stand and cook, these two tend to potter about in the same room. And every time one of them passes by me, I get a peck. There is nothing in the world as lovely as standing in ones home, cooking for the ones you love, and having them show that this love is reciprocated by little kisses at two different heights depending on the kisser- so that I get some on my face, and some on my knees.

What she gets from me I think is her utter love for our home. Now that we are living with Mian and his students, our visits home tend to take on a festive air. She and I don't quite know what to do, and so we do it all. In Sho's case, it means sitting on her patch of the porch, digging up her bones, chasing the birds, and splashing in the stream. I am embedding a very inadequate video of her reaction when we visited it last. It is sheer joy to see her splash about in the stream..I do hope this video gives some idea of the utter delight that is Shona-Bhaloo.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Living in a city

I did it before, for over a decade. But the last four years have spoiled me.

I am in Delhi now, attending a week-long training program. And this means that I am living nearly the regular city life- wake up, commute, work, commute, get whatever I need to get done after work, try to get back safely, sleep. I don't have a house to look after, but I am still left wondering where my day went. And I quite enjoyed it once. My life has changed me.

And in more ways than one. My not being a city-wallah seems to be written all over my face. What is  it, I wonder. Is it the shopping lust in my eyes that manifests itself as a 500gm bag of coffee, and a 400gm jar of Cuticura*? The DIY fringe? The flyaway hair? Or is it the salwar-kameez worn with hiking boots?

Twice in the last two days I have been confided in by men who knew I would understand their longing for the rural life. One was a auto-driver- father of two, pays Rs.4,000 as rent, saves half that much each month, gets ghee and dals from his village, wants to return there soon.
'You know how it is', he said, 'life is cheaper and easier in the village. But we must think of the children'. Talking of where I was going, he asked,' Have you started service there?'.
No, I told him. It is a training programme.
 'It is good you took an auto the first day. But from tomorrow, you take one of these white mini-vans. You won't be able to afford the auto everyday. Don't worry about me. I will get some passenger or the other.'

And then there was the young man- no family, he said, just a father and mother and brother- who spoke to me of his fields back in Rajasthan. And then refused to let me walk. 'You stand here. It is getting dark now. I will call an auto for you'.

*Cuticura talcum powder that I grew up using! It was discontinued a few years ago, but  it is back! It still smells the same, or nearly so. Sad about the new and hideous bottle. I did so love the old one (shown below)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Home sick

I need home, I have realised. Being with family is the most important thing, of course. But it is not enough for me. I need the actual physical being home. It is hard not to judge myself, not to scold myself and say that I am being greedy.
I came home with a sprained ankle, and with one thing and  another, have only been there a couple of times in the last week and a half. Most of the time, I am at Sonapani. And I don't like it. And I don't know why.
I should be supremely happy here. I am among family and friends, in a  place where I am loved and that I consider another home. The area is stunning with D's carefully planned garden. Even as far as amenities go, the internet works well enough here for me to stream Star Trek episodes, there is running hot water, and I am served the most delicious food.
On the other hand, home is leaking, internet and phone only work sporadically, and food is limited to grains and preserved things.
And I still want to be there. Soon, soon.