Thursday, August 31, 2006

Athapoo time

Don and wife took me to a Boys' Home yesterevening for the Home's Onam celebrations. Don's buddy is a patron of the Home, and we were all treated to an excellent Onasadya. Here are some pictures from the Athapoo competition:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Home Alone

Back home in God's own land after a busy three days in Bangalore. B'lore has become almost unrecognizable to say the least.

Highlights of visit include:

1.Dutifully turned up a couple of days early for friend's wedding but strategically complained of jetlag and didn't lift a finger. On wedding day, acted as if one was doing all the work and managed to get hazaar accolades from everyone except ofcourse the bride. The wedding consisted of an Arya Samaj ceremony in the morning, a church wedding in the afternoon and a reception at night. All went off peacefully.

2. Met the kind Professor at the Institute and bored him to death. Conned kinder Doctor (aka the kind Professor's wife) to feed me dinner. Delicious dosais with podi :)

3. Promptly got lost atleast once each day and complained to everyone about how buildings and landmarks seemed to have changed places since the last time I was here. No one was amused.

Finally managed to get on a flight home. All grand ideas of making an entrance and surprising the Don (aka the Father) didn't really work. Don was all happy to see daughter until he realised that jobless daughter was going to stick around for a few months. Don and wife informed daughter that they have a life which cannot be altered to suit daughter's schedule. Like today, poor daughter is home all alone while Don and wife have gone to attend the fourth wedding of the day. It is Aavani alright.

Booker Reviews

As expected, Falstaff's reviewing the Booker books like nobody's business. Review of Black Swan Green here and review of Mother's Milk here.

Friday, August 25, 2006

So it goes...

Keys pulled out of the keyring and neatly arranged inside the top, right cabinet in the kitchen, a cursory look around to see that nothing remains, no trace of the person who lived here the past few years. It rained as I stepped out of the building and into the cab, premature showers proclaiming end of summer. No time to walk by that lake. Past the tree lined streets of Lincoln Park northwest onto I-90. Everytime I pass this way, I peer into my rearview mirror to look at the glorious skyline but I did not turn to look at it yesterday. O'Hare loomed ahead, a little omnious. Twenty five boxes in a friend's basement from where the movers will pick them up and ship them to England; my India suitcases in the cab with me. Did I just leave home or is it home I am flying to? Why does home have to be such a possessive idea?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

2006 Booker Mela

Its that time of the year again, and Falstaff ain't letting me get away without a Mela, so here we go:

The Booker long list is out. Though its not a star studded cast as it was last year, it has some interesting entries. So all of you get ready to read and review 19 books in 60 days. Lets see how much of it we can get through. Rules like last year - pick a book or two and let me know that you will be reviewing them, and when you are done send me a link to the review.

Here's the complete longlist:

Carey, Peter Theft: A Love Story - Prufrock Two
Desai, Kiran The Inheritance of Loss - Falstaff's review, 30in2005
Edric, Robert Gathering the Water
Gordimer, Nadine Get a Life - Falstaff's review, Nithya
Grenville, Kate The Secret River
Hyland, M.J. Carry Me Down - Dips
Jacobson, Howard Kalooki Nights
Lasdun, James Seven Lies - Falstaff's review
Lawson, Mary The Other Side of the Bridge
McGregor, Jon So Many Ways to Begin
Matar, Hisham In the Country of Men
Messud, Claire The Emperor’s Children - Black Mamba
Mitchell, David Black Swan Green - Small Talk's review, Falstaff's review, Veena
Murr, Naeem The Perfect Man
O’Hagan, Andrew Be Near Me
Robertson, James The Testament of Gideon Mack
St Aubyn, Edward Mother’s Milk - Falstaff's review
Unsworth, Barry The Ruby in her Navel
Waters, Sarah The Night Watch - Falstaff's review, Prufrock Two, Anoop

Last year's Mela here.

PS: Falsie, you don't need to pick any - that's only for people who have a life. I will put you down for all of them.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Leaving America

I stepped out of the flight yesternight feeling happy. I would never have to do this ORD – LAX leg again, this is my last trip. I skipped along the jet way, and my sandal strap promptly snapped. Of course it stands to reason that this had to happen on the week when instead of carrying two shoes and sneakers, all I had was the pair I had on. And so, a few minutes later, instead of whizzing through the car rental place, I stopped by the counter. I asked the lady directions to the nearest shoe store. Like every Ethiopian I meet, she mistook me for Liya Kebede and we had a long discussion about Ethiopian food in LA before I got my shoe store directions. Stepping out, I felt a little sad; in my two years of frequent travel to this place, I have gone into the counter and met these people maybe thrice.

I was reminded of last Thursday, when I started to pack up six years of my life in neatly arranged boxes of three different sizes. Nostalgia was definitely in the air and it slowed me down considerably. But interestingly enough, this time I wasn’t thinking of this country's amazing buildings and the wide open spaces that I would leave behind in another week. A long forgotten picture of the Yosemite half dome fell out of an envelope. The magnificence of the half dome, the Ansel Adams gallery, the tiring treks, and the log cabin at the village where we stayed all come into focus, but there was something else. A memory clip that eclipsed all the others. It is of my friend, the photographer who decided to entertain us that night four years ago, and climbed into a wooden box under the bunk bed in our cabin to perform what he termed a Houdini act. He would be here tomorrow, I thought, all the way from Austin, to load up boxes and drive the truck.

Austin is Anoop, SLR in tow, a Mohanlal style muffler around his neck patiently waiting for me below the escalators at Bergstorm International airport. San Francisco is Shilpi and BM at the BART station, and as I get into BM’s black bug, the aroma of chicken biriyani that they just picked up from a friend’s takeout joint. Alaska is the innkeeper who spent a good couple of hours teaching me how to carve wood, and make headboards. Boston is J, with his plays and insects, watering plants and visiting cemeteries. New York is Stu with her men and her ideas, getting younger with every passing year, and now, there’s MR too, in her trendy UWS studio, all sensible and driven and trying her best to make me feel not so married. Key West is the homeless man outside Hemingway’s home, in Fahrenheit 451 style, memorizing every Hemingway he could get his hands on. Sacramento is TS, always the perfectionist and Raleigh is CJ, always the believer. San Diego is the stowaway from across the border who taught me how to make a mean mojito. Pittsburgh is J smoking pot inside her beat-up convertible, and of course Bill who every time I turn up in his apartment unannounced has what I call “What the hell is this woman doing here?” look on his young, innocent face. And it is these people that I will miss most (okay, okay, not Bill) when I leave the country for good next week. It is, after all, the people stupid.

On Sunday last, after we were done with moving, we took another of those architecture river cruises. A ninety minute lowdown on all the interesting buildings of the windy city. Right after a quick tour of the Wright’s Robie House in Hyde Park. An architecture day alright but as we stepped out of the boat onto Michigan Avenue that evening, my mind wasn’t on Jahn or Weiss, Graham or Khan, not even Wright. Instead, it was on the people I actually knew.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The End of an Affair

I remember the exact moment that I realized that I was hopelessly in love with you. Two and a half years ago, in front of the Rookery at LaSalle and Adams. I had known you on and off for years, and the last year we were quite intimate. But it wasn’t until that very ordinary moment on a dreary winter afternoon, when I was about to cross the street and all I could see was you all around me, you and nothing else, that I finally seemed to have gathered the courage to acknowledge it. I still remember the exhilaration I felt then, that top of the world feeling, and I wanted to climb on top of that uber touristy tower, a building I usually try to disassociate myself from, and proclaim my love. So banal, I hear you say, no different from a lovesick, chick-flick watching yuppie about town. No, let me assure you, this was different. Not because I wasn’t a lovesick yuppie about town how much ever I would like to deny that, and certainly not because I spent the next three hours reading Sandburg borrowed from the nearest Borders, but because for the first time in my love life, in the same exact moment I realized that I was in love, I also felt utterly hopeless. You see, darling, I had always known that we didn’t stand a chance. We might have been meant for each other, but we weren’t meant to last.

I know what you are thinking. But no, just because this separation was expected does not mean that I am happy to let you go. This was always the moment that I would have to face somewhere in the near future, but remember that the near future didn’t arrive at my door for nearly three years. Three lovely years that we spent exploring each other. I remember the long walks in the park, stopping to watch the men play chess by the lake, the trips to Ravinia in late spring, sailing in the summer, running through the rain-drenched streets in fall, and the Art Institute in winter. We had our share of fights and I remember how much I used to sulk – when the wind didn’t spare me in January, every time I had to clear the ice, and that fateful day when I thought the car was stolen and walked around in sweltering temperatures searching and it was all your fault. I remember introducing you to my friends, singing your praises, and later feeling insanely jealous because they were getting to know you better.

I have spent countless number of days with you talking about how I would leave you one day as my restless heart would never be happy being in one place, but why then darling can I not bring myself to ticket an itinerary that I have blocked for the past three days? Why then have I been inventing one excuse after another for why I need to stay here with you? I know it won’t be long though. I will soon run out of excuses and get around to ticketing. And soon after that, I will be gone. No, not forever, never forever. We will meet again, I am sure, we will have our stolen weekends here and there; we will discover each other all over again, and this time with the pleasure of knowing that this affair is illicit and would last only for the weekend. Infidelity and betrayal for sure, but I wouldn’t be able to help myself. And I hope neither would you.