Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Five - VI

1. Done with Diwali for another year. The silks held up. Mainly because I wore them for a grand total of 45 minutes. It was blazingly hot what with all the diyas and lamps and Calcutta weather etc., so I breathed a sigh of relief when my MiL said I could go change after the puja. Dinner was scrumptuous (it always is in their home) - the highlights were badam halwa and dahi badas. The Kid slept through it all, not even stirring when the fireworks went off in the vicinity. I think he has my genes.

2. V left us at Calcutta airport for his long return via Mumbai to London. We took a much delayed flight to Chennai, port three in our round India visit. People were uniformly helpful, whether in their official capacities as airline crew/ staff or just as friendly passengers. The flight was fine and we got to sit in the empty business class section so that 'with a baby you need more space ma'am'. Great.

3. Chennai is lovely. My favourite city in India I think. Despite the searing humidity. I have the fondest memories of summer holidays with my cousins (although I think all we did then was fight!) and then of living here when I first tackled the corporate world as a youngster. The bonus this time has been the retreating monsoon - sheets of rain each night with that earthy smell accompanied by claps of thunder and bolts of lightening. We sit on the balcony in the generous swing and sway and chat while enjoying the sudden cool breeze. Simply lovely.

4. In food I am a confirmed idli and sambhar addict. I think everyone is quite sick of me and the amounts of sambhar I can consume. I have most certainly eaten my own weight in light fluffy piping hot idlis. I can bet you both things are off the menu for atleast a week once I have left. We try and go out for a 'chakkar' each morning. To a saree shop or Hot Breads or Landmark or just to drive past Marina beach where my grandfather used to take us as children for ice cream. Everything in Madras is for me suffused with a memory and I continuously chatter to my father and aunt ' oh this is where/ when/ how...... I feel almost like a child again, so many are my memories. But the reality is that I am grown and want my child to see somehow what my history is made up of. He is not being at all obliging - the second he is in his car seat he falls asleep thereby avoiding any of my lectures.

5. Finally, we leave for the last of our Bharat Darshan destinations tonight. Delhi, my original love. But Chennai you are a wonderful second. Besides seeing my family the great highlight has been the news of a baby boy born to my cousin A a day ago. It's been a wonderful, relaxed and happy trip so far (although I and the Kid miss V dreadfully). I expect my home in Delhi will make me yet happier if that is possible.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Five - V

1. Never thought I'd get sentimental about a book. And more than want to, I feel compelled to review it here. For posterity. To remind myself how I felt when I read it. It's been over a week since I finished Fugitive Histories by Githa Hariharan. But it's left so many thoughts swirling around that even now I can't promise I'll be coherent. And since I'm on holiday there is not enough time for me to do this now. I'll wait for coherence and leave the writing till I am back. It's enough to say it is a wonderful book that brings home the fragility of life and the thoughtlessness and cruelty of human beings. It's a simply wonderful, tender-harsh book that I enjoyed immensly despite its great sadness and hurt.

2. We are in India. The first leg of the journey is over and we are in city 2 of 4. The long London - Mumbai flight was a doddle but once here adjustment for the tiny person in our midst has been fraught. He seems to sense we are away from the only home he has ever known and is both happy and sad and stressed and smiley. It's funny and difficult both.

3. Mumbai was quick but fun. We stayed home mainly and had loads of friends drop by. The cousins played and we ate some lovely food and took pictures and chatted till early each morning. I made a quick trip to a bookshop and bought 10 books - just the start of my book retail therapy.

4. Enjoyed a sudden Calcutta shower this afternoon from the confines of a covered balcony. What they call a drizzle is what we call a downpour in London. But there is nothing to match the smell that the first few minutes brings - fresh rainwater hits matti smell. Thereafter it is the smell of rubbish and water.

5. It's hot. In Mumbai and in Calcutta. Sweatingly hot. The kind which needs continuous air conditioning. Even though Diwali is just around the corner. I was complaining till V reminded me that I'm used to Delhi where winter is between Diwali and Holi and even though Diwali is super early this year I hear that already the Delhi nights are cooler. But Diwali is to be celebrated in the Calcutta heat this year. How will my silks hold up?? Report in the next Five.