Saturday, September 26, 2009


In all my blogging negligence, I forgot to introduce a new arrival at my parents' home. So just for the record, here's Kaizer. Watch out, he bites. But he'll also drop whatever he's doing for a tummy rub.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Flower

It’s Thursday today. She used to need hibiscus flowers on Thursdays for her pujo. When younger, she would go to the park herself, looking through the shrubs for perfect flowers to pluck for her gods. A twisted ankle thanks to an unseen pothole ended the independent trips. Then it was up to us to fetch her flowers. As pollution and cars around the neighborhood park increased, I returned empty-handed on Thursday mornings, rushing to change into my school uniform. By the time I joined JNU, she had given up expecting fresh flowers, making do with a refrigerated garland of marigolds, bought the previous evening. Rushing to class through the campus wilderness, I would chance upon the red flowers, but it was too late to pluck them and take them home. By then her pujo would be done: her wet hair drying down her back as she read the paper and chewed her paan in the wintry noon sunshine, rising briefly to rescue the prasad placating her gods before the ants and lizards got to it.

It’s Thursday today. And exactly 2 years after I said my last goodbyes to her, I was greeted this morning by a nodding hibiscus flower on a balcony some floors below me. A living, breathing reminder of a love-and-tears memory.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


I said my first Dubai good-bye yesterday: to a neighbor who left this morning and won’t be back in Dubai till the end of the year. We weren’t close, we just met occasionally while waiting for the lift. J, who lives alone, is an elegant, charming lady, probably in her early sixties, an Iranian who has her family (and some posh homes) scattered across the world. So she spends the summer between South Africa, LA, Paris and wherever else she wants to go. She has visited India seven times.

She had invited us over for dinner some months back. The evening had been pleasant, though rather amusing thanks to two show-off men who competed to tell a rather undressed, hot, blonde, Australian diamond buyer how they had been all over the world, really, and “even eaten fried tarantula” (“oh it tastes awesome” nodded show-off #2). But J herself has no airs about her. She has a quiet dignity and wealth she takes for granted but needn’t flaunt.

So anyway, I had hoped to call her over one evening and really get to know more about all she’s done, places she’s lived, and her opinions of Iran. But she was away in LA and came back just briefly before heading off to Paris. And I told her we were going to leave in October for good. So over sticky Iranian sweets and a quick tete-a-tete to say bye, all I learnt was her childhood memories of Maxim’s Restaurant in Paris and how Pierre Cardin has ruined it by buying it and setting up chains all over the world (“It used to be so nice, like a club, you knew everyone, and you had your personal table right from your father’s time…” she protested) and how she is a “bad Moslem” (she doesn’t fast for Ramadan and she served and drank wine when we’d visited her).

And I came away with a box of Maxim's chocolates and a little card with her name and Paris address on it, and an invitation to visit her anytime I like, and an email address where I can contact her. And memories of a smiling neighbor who genuinely seemed to like us. And I hope she remembers us as the smiling young couple across the hall whom she will someday meet again.

I think traveling helps you to leave little bits of yourself all over the world. And that’s what I like best about it.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Time to Go

Uproot. Unroot. New routes.
Changing the soil beneath our boots.
Watching, observing, experiencing.
Thinking, feeling, hearing, glancing.
Stability. Comfort. Routines to follow.
Cultural differences to swallow.
Time flying on calendar pages.
Just yesterday. It’s been ages.
Uproot. Unroot. Time to pack.
Stability under attack.
Excitement and anticipation too
Unfamiliar. New. And yet not new.
Old town. Old friends. Shops we know.
Places where we used to go.
Uncaring. Certain. Bombay awaits.
Omnipresent in our fates.
We’d gone to save. To live. To earn.
She always knew we would return.