27.2.14

Green, but pale

I keep telling myself that growing up, my attention was on books and sports, and that's why I never really was too interested in learning what sort of trees and plants surrounded me.  I could identify banyans, and gulmohurs, and Ashoka trees, and palm and coconut, and .... well, that's pretty much it (sure, I could identify a lot of fruit trees and several flowering plants, but only with the fruits and flowers on them).

I keep telling myself this is also partly because I was more interested in the crumbling facades of the delightful old buildings dotted across Bombay.  Which I know is a poor attempt at retroactive rose-tintedness, because apart from occasionally going "Oh, that's pretty", I never really appreciated the little details adorning the colonial-era buildings until much, much later.

I could attempt to make some flippant comment about being a city boy, but I have tons of friends who are the same, and are a lot more clued in.

I could try and spin some story about how the clutter of tall buildings and lack of open spaces in the city made me so irritable and desperate that when presented with the latter, all I wanted to - and could - do was sink my face into some leaves and thank them and tell them they were loved, whatever their genus.  But that's a load of hooey, because there's a great big ocean all around where I could - and did - spend a lot of time wondering*.  And I got to spend enough time in small rural places with wide open spaces, where people grew their own things and would talk about nothing but them.

I could say that the reason I didn't learn more while living in England was because everybody just kept on and on about their "little patch" and talking up walking in the rain to go see gardens, which inevitably made me go to the other extreme.  Except I did go on about my little patch too, which I miss, and I did walk in the rain around gardens.  But I still can't differentiate between a beech and a birch.

I try, occasionally.  I try and remember the names of the potted flowers I'm buying, but neglect to note them down and inevitably forget them. I look up how to identify by leaf-shapes, but then forget which ones match which.  I look up what sort of soil and temperature and water-levels are needed by the plants I grow, but in the end, end up just treating them all the same.  Some grow, some don't. I keep trying every few months.

What I guess it really is, is that maybe I'm just happy knowing there's something growing, without really being worried about what it is.  I guess having seen too many things grow when and where they shouldn't, and too many things not when they should, I stopped trying to obsess about how to grow them properly.  I guess I just don't like the concept of humans imposing their rules on plants and deciding what should grow instead of letting it all just develop on its own.  And besides, I'd rather let even weeds grow because hey, they're green and every little bit of photosynthesis helps, right. 

Or maybe I'm just lazy, and can't be arsed to do more than bung them in the pot and expect them to grow.

They still do grow, though. Mostly.



* Mostly, why this ocean wasn't as blue as the one as the one around Zanzibar and the Caribbean and Australia.

19.2.14

The tales of Jeroo: The daily bread

(I'm tempted to make Jeroo a regular feature. She's ... interesting.)


She often joked that people were like dough - quick to rise when warm, sluggish and flat when cold; needing some external stimulus to really discover their potential; and evetually available in a multitude of forms and colours and textures.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Jeroo Dalal's day began with the bell of the paowallah's cycle.

For years, the tring-tring-pause-tring had been her only morning alarm.  A gentle tune of promise, of joy, sounding clarion in the soft dawn. She couldn't say when it had stopped being a chore and turned into a comfortable routine;

the shuffle onto her bedroom balcony, a quick peek up at the sky, a quick peek down to wave back at his smiling face, waiting at the door till he sauntered up, the standard whispered pleasantries, the ek-haath-le-ek-haath-de, the farewell salaams, and then, and then, hastily shutting her door, almost-nuzzling her prize and inhale 

the warmth and freshness and yeastiness, tracing the tendrils back to the big ovens and the utilitarian spaces they were produced in, full of men moving with the grace and ease and boredom of practiced certainty in a job not-entirely-stultifying, gradually building up their internal tempo for the working rush that would soon sweep in, bleary eyes waking up by each sip of double-boiled lacticated tannin, too-lazy uncoiling muscles adding to the clatter, tinkle, slurp, tinkle, thump, scrape, do chai teen maska-pao table chaar pachaas rupiah that slowly filled the whole place up in a giant mush of fermented hopes and dreams and ponderings that would filter out across the city as each departee unspooled away a bit of that perpetually-refuelled essence of what this city was built on

and exhale.

Then, before putting it away in the dented old aluminium dabba, she would bite off a chunk from the six-pack, still wrapped in paper. 

And in the silence of faint snores and little scrapings, slowly feeling the spongy texture melt inside and swell her up, she would learn to believe again, to hope again, to chin-chin-up.

Smiling, Jeroo Dalal would then prepare to take on the world.

14.2.14

Of bikes and blogs

You know how they say resuming an activity is just like riding a bicycle again?

Yeah, very helpful.

Because they don't tell you that it kind of depends on the kind of cycle you're going to use. And the kind of bike you were used to.  Whether it had gears or not, whether it used thick, knobbly tyres or smooth, thin ones.  Whether it had a bottle-carrier clip, or had quick-release wheels, or had a dip handlebar.

And they don't tell you it depends on whether the terrain you're cycling on is different from the one you were used to.  And whether the weather* and climate is different.

And they don't tell you whether you'll be using cycle lanes or not.  And whether you'll be travelling on country lanes or city roads.  And whether you'll have street lighting to ride by.

And they don't tell you whether this is going to be a solitary ride where you can spread your arms and pretend you're flying (really low), or whether you'll have to jostle with other cyclists or trying to dodge drivers who insist in believing you exist solely so they can rack up imaginary GTA points.

And they don't tell you your legs are going to ache so bad, and then you're going to stare at the bike day after day, knowing you really should get on it again because it'll only get easier each time you do it, but the thought of putting on your gear and your helmet and greasing it up and getting it on the road just does you in.

*   *  *  *  *  *   *  *   *  *  *  *  *   *  *   *  *  *  *  *   * 

I know, I know, the old truisms are old because they're true. 
And to write well, one must first write.
And write often.
One must.

*   *  *  *  *  *   *  *   *  *  *  *  *   *  *   *  *  *  *  *   * 

I've been doing some other wordy stuff of late, and the drastic difference between that work and this blog is causing a ... slowdown.

It's almost schizophrenic, having to settle into a completely different mindset for each side. And it's something I underestimated.

I'd assumed this blog would be something I could just easily return to, and these random jottings would flow easily once again.  Not realising just how much thought used to go into those random jottings. Not realising that this represented a part of me that I was focusedly delving into, digging specifically into, and which when left alone, would just heal over and close up.  Not realising that those boring old things like dedicating a time to write, sticking to a schedule, might actually be necessary.

Of course, this block itself is fascinating.  But it's too irksome. So away with it. Sacchi.




* Isn't "whether you can weather the weather"just the most delicious phrase?

13.2.14

This is me
making tea;
with leaves, black
and green,
making it mintea.

This is me
making tea;
brewing by colour
filters,
bulb yellow, white tube,
mixed view two-by-two.

This is me
making tea;
tasting by sight,
testing by smell,
swirling, stirring, pouring, purring.

This is me
drinking tea;
damning the world,
happy.