Archive | October, 2010

Salt, Pepper and a Slice of Life

29 Oct

There is something about being at a long table occupied by one’s closest friends. The chatter, the cross-talk, the inside jokes that have gone on for years, the sharing of food and drink and the swapping of babies. There is something very special about all being friends and not just friends + mandatory spouses. And tonight, as I ate my meal basking in warmth, familiarity and old-shoe comfort, watched the Boy walk around with my best friend’s son and entertain him without a thought to his own dinner, held another friend’s 14-month-old hell bent on bumping heads with me and cackling, sang along with the guitarist who played at our table, talked of travel plans and life plans and guitar-strumming plans for tomorrow night, I felt blessed. And immensely grateful. And painfully aware that I was consciously embossing this evening in my memory, knowing it may not always be this way.

Tonight, I had what people around the world wish for. Roots, love and hope for tomorrow. A noisy evening not loud enough to drown out the voice that said “Thank you, Lord. I will carry a snapshot of this evening wherever life may take me and know I am not alone.”

Win a copy of By the Water Cooler

25 Oct

The first book, they say, is at least somewhat autobiographical. Only once that’s out of the way can a writer look outward for inspiration. So, after the release of Bringing Up Vasu: That First Year, Parul Sharma, fellow blogger, India Helps colleague and general fun person, offers us her second book, quite unrelated to baby talk. And lucky you, By the Water Cooler, the book, is preceded by By the Water Cooler, the contest!

Here’s what you do to win an autographed copy of the book:

  • Write a post, telling a story or an anecdote based in an office. It could be about you, your spouse, kids, neighbor, whoever – it just needs to be based in an office. It can be funny, serious, somewhere in between, but it needs to be based in an office. It can feature a single protagonist or multiple characters, but it…yes, I know, you got it.
  • Link to Parul’s post in the body of yours
  • Put By The Water Cooler in the title of your post
  • Leave Parul a link to your post in the comments section of hers
  • If you don’t have a blog, leave your entry in her comments section and it will be counted


PRIZES – Five autographed copies of By The Water Cooler are up for grabs. The five best entries will be decided by our author’s spouse, “the esteemed M”, so she reminds you to please pick your grouses with him.

LAST DATE FOR ENTRIES – October 31st, 2010. So get on it, will ya?


Okay then, Madame P, fork one over with that promised bribe of Leonidas pralines. 😛

Make her rich, people. I needs them pralines. Thank you muchly.


20 Oct

[Credits: OJ and her first Canon Powershot]

Home in the forest: Thekkady, Kerala.


17 Oct

[Credits: OJ and her Canon PowerShot SX120 IS.]

Sigh. So yum. I’ve always loved his hands.


13 Oct

In an age of glitzy, celebrity-connected, sometimes creative and often ridiculously overpriced designers, I feel compelled to shout out to the real mccoy, the original darzi. And much as I love my own designer (big love, Swarna!), I’m glad I bumped into him, hard at work, one winter morning in Pragpur.

[Credits: OJ and her Canon PowerShot SX120 IS.]

Wisdom of the Norman Kind

6 Oct

Remember the posts where I told you about my childhood? Well, part of that angrez upbringing was a man introduced to me by Daddy when I was about 9. This little man with the puckered face, clumsy shuffle and eyes that could melt fudge was a fixture in my decade-old life, once I had unearthed him. ‘The Bulldog Breed’ and ‘Man of the Moment’ cracked me up each time I watched them, and believe you me, I have two very worn VHS tapes to show for it. If you haven’t experienced his magic yet, don’t wait another minute.

R.I.P., Sir Wisdom. What a blessing to leave laughter behind.


3 Oct

It was 3 a.m. in early October, nine years ago, when I shut my books with finality, picked up my messenger bag and walked out of Bird Library into the night. Shivering as I hurried home, my eyes glanced at the temperature gauge on campus. It showed 51 degrees, the lowest since I landed in June. That chilly memory is my first of what would be many much-loved American Falls.

The seasons ensure you do not ignore the passing of their baton. The evenings get crisper, leaves nightly dip themselves in wine, pumpkins appear at stores and farmer’s markets, and orange-brown-red-gold hues spread their deep, warm glow on the streets, on new fashions, on suddenly-scurrying, back-to-school life.

Memories abound. Of trips to the Catskills. Of freshly-baked rolls. Of a boy on a bus for 17 hours, headed north to see me. Upstate New York runs a-riot, singing requiems for earth-bound leaves. Scarves snuggle against grateful necks and noses sniff the cinnamon-apple scent of preparation.

The Delaware river rushes past us. Everybody’s in a hurry to get to the City! But wait a while, there’s a town called New Hope. Stay, unwind, explore. It has amber pendants and Mexican flan and carries carefree laughter on its wind. If you look around, you’ll find three Indian girls in hats, grinning into the camera, the future and the sun.

Boston welcomes Fall like a mother-in-law’s sister. Acceptable, tolerable and mostly harmless. Unlike the Dreaded Real Thing. It’s hard to be excited about days that nudge you closer to feeling a knife in your bones. So we pick Halloween outfits (and ‘Indian Princess’ is done to death). And take trips to the pumpkin patch, carve sinister grins and light them up with candles on flickering doorsteps. And eat carrot-ginger soup. And throw in the aforementioned pumpkins. And end up looking like one, somewhere along the way.

Fall, to me, is a sign that life is beautiful, and even though hard times await, nobody’s going down without a deafening hurrah and the planet has it in her to charm the pants off you, even as your senses fade into blindness, deafness and wintry-white oblivion.

Oh Knot Me

1 Oct

Look, try it, won’t you? It’s just like a relationship. Comes with strings attached!

~A girlfriend trying to convince me to switch to tampons.


Any opinions/experiences/suggestions?