Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Letter

I’m not feeling strong yet, but I am taking
good care of myself. The weather is perfect.
I read and walk all day and then walk to the sea.
I expect to swim soon. For now I am content.
I am not sure what I hope for. I feel I am
doing my best. It reminds me of when I was
sixteen dreaming of Lorca, the gentle trees outside
and the creek. Perhaps poetry replaces something
in me that others receive more naturally.
Perhaps my happiness proves a weakness in my life.
Even my failures in poetry please me.
Time is very different here. It is very good
to be away from public ambition.
I sweep and wash, cook and shop.
Sometimes I go into town in the evening
and have pastry with custard. Sometimes I sit
at a table by the harbor and drink half a beer.

~Linda Gregg

Friday, July 11, 2014


Today it has been eight months since they buried you. I hope you have chocolate where you are.

We think about you every day.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

And then there were enchilladas

When J first came to this city a little more than seven years ago, Mexican food was the great divider. Part of it of course, was a simple craving; having been a California boy for all his adult years it was natural that Mexican food would be such a part of his habits that he couldn’t quite fathom going weeks and months without it. But partly it was just another way in which he, adventurer, follower of his heart, global enthusiast and fearless romantic, would be reminded that well, Bangalore was simply not home.

And yet, was that not part of its charm? Indeed it was. In those early days, he was taken up by everything he saw and experienced because it was a long way both physically and spiritually from the pounding surf of California. Also, our story was then still being written; even though we acknowledged an all-consuming and mystical attraction to each other, we didn’t know if the legal knots presented by his foreign citizenship would be too much to fight against.

So it went. There was this girl he had his heart set on, but meanwhile each day was a fresh circus of delights in this teeming city of ours. Graceful trumpet trees would catch his eye one moment, and life-threatening traffic would sap his energy the next. He met people who asked him the most inane questions (“do you find the culture different?”) but also formed long-lasting relationships with colleagues and friends. He went to weddings and participated in our festivals. He ate Indian food…and that’s where we can now hear the sound of a metaphorical squeal of the brakes.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

A separation

July has dawned, lush and steamy. The loss of another friend has marked me again, like a tree has rings to mark its age.

When I am a hundred, how many rings will I have?

This loss, as it were, is perhaps not a loss at all. It is merely a smudging away, the beginning of the gradual fade that happens as each year passes.

And the rain each night.

Oh well. If the world is indeed round, I shall keep traveling. We will meet again, if you promise to stay where you are.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Phantom planet

One of the things my mother remembers most about me as a child was my tendency to wander off. Beginning at about age two, I would simply walk out of the house unseen and be retrieved by any one of the neighbors eventually. My poor mother.

But the wandering is still there. This is probably why I hate unpacking so much.

And decades later, I want no one to retrieve me. Especially because there is such a deep sense of being not in the place I 'should' be. But is it really a 'should'?

There are no answers to the questions of belonging and peace. I suspect I will have neither in this life, how unoriginal of me! But the need for going away is here. And my feet are beginning to ask, 'why aren't you wandering again?'

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Watched: 2 States

from yentha.com
Is there anything else as commonplace in India as the old 'I love her/him but our families object' scenario? Certainly we would all be wealthy if we had a rupee for every time we've heard it. And clever author Chetan Bhagat has certainly made a pretty penny out of this same old scenario first in his book and then here. To be fair, it is somewhat based on his own love story, so no intention to dismiss that out of hand here. It's just that for me, the film simply felt like a bottle of flat soda. 

The main characters are a Punjabi boy and a Tamilian girl- Krish and Ananya-  played by star kids Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, who fall in love while in college and then come up against the opposition of both their families when they start planning to get married. And that's it. (The narrative is inexplicably told by Krish in what appears to be a psychiatrist's office, which device absolutely no one could explain.)

The Punjabi family consists of Amrita Singh and a (again inexplicable) bad-tempered Ronit Roy. The Tamilian family is Revathy and one unknown gent who was probably the most subtle and effective character, and a younger brother. But what were the great objections to the young couple getting hitched? It was simply the fear of the 'other' that prevails in 'traditional' families all over the world, I suppose. What would have got my attention would have been a somewhat in-depth exploration of these prejudices and judgments, rather than simply using them as cute plot devices and situations. 

In any event, Ananya breaks up with Krish when the two families go on the warpath once too often. Krish gets morose, then the bad-tempered father has a change of heart and smooths things over (literally, overnight) and all ends well. 

Sigh. The Punjabi mother is funny, I suppose. The snide comments in Tamil are also amusing. But really, what unsettled me was the superficiality of it all. The couple didn't even have great chemistry for me and even though their physical intimacy was rather frankly and un-apologetically shown, there was no sense of real intimacy between them. 

Arjun Kapoor did not impress me. Alia Bhatt however is blessed with a certain elfin charm and breezes through her scenes with sweetness (nice dimples!) and radiance. Since her character, like the others, wasn't particularly fleshed out, these qualities made hers somewhat effective like that of her father's. Even in the ludicrous Punjabi wedding scene where she gives the groom a dressing down in public (like I said, ludicrous) she manages to escape the inanity of her surroundings. 

And so I have it. No great expectations were set, and consequently no one was disappointed. I'll just carry on waiting for someone else to tell a better-crafted story of what can be a deeply touching and nuanced exploration of something that is universal yet also uniquely "Indian."

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sweet dreams are made of this

For someone who claims not be a foodie, yesterday morning was a bit of a departure, to be sure.

Well, what can you expect if you arrange to be taken out by one very handsome gent to a poetically beautiful garden where the world's kindest people serve you exotic and luscious foods and ply you with magnetically enticing coffee?


In other words, a grand breakfast which precludes the need to eat for the rest of the day is very much the right answer when everything else in the world is simply too annoying for words.

I dream of smoked cheese! 
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