Tuesday, 18 May 2010


There is no pleasing some people. Sweltering in the May heat here in  Chennai, and sweating profusely, I long for the the cool climes with Samyukta in Newport, Jersey City, just across the river from New York where her parents work. And there in the winter, I longed for the warm (?) sunshine of Chennai

Though we have visited our family before, it has always been in the summer. This was the first time we were there in the winter. (Other winters I experienced were in Delhi which now seem comparatively mild, where I grew up, and in Manchester, UK where we spent a couple of years, comparable to the New York one).The cold was something terrible. Inside the building there was no discomfort, but stepping out made me miserable. Any exposed part would turn red and start itching. I would be well wrapped up, right up to my ears, but my cheeks and nose suffered.
And what a winter – snowfall more than once in the season, even at the end of February, when our visit was coming to an end, and we though that the weather might turn warmer. On one occasion we read that the snowfall was more than 12 inches. And we could no longer see the Manhattan skyline from the apartment. On a clear day you can see the skyline of a section of from the tiny balcony of our 10th floor apartment, or through the ceiling to floor glass windows of the living room. It was as though it had just disappeared. The balcony and the furniture in the balcony were totally covered by snow.

We read of disrupted flights and stranded passengers, while we stayed warm and snug inside, thankful not to be out there. My son and daughter-in-law of course had to go to work, snow or not, and once Vandana even had to fly to Milwaukee overnight for a client meet. My husband wrapped himself up well from top to toe and trudged out as he did everyday, snow or not. I was content to stay home with Samyukta and admire it all from there.

But one day, we did drive out to the city to take in the sights. The ledges and crevices on the buildings were loaded with snow, while the denuded branches of trees bowed down with the snow. We saw the snow banked up on the pavements, and workers cleaning the roads. When we got out to walk to Saravana Bhavan for brunch (yes there is one there, too) we had to squelch our way through the snow. And then the snow was no longer white, but a slushy mess.

After one snowfall we had the most amazing view from the apartment. I got up in the middle of the night just to see the snow fall. It had however stopped snowing, but the terrace on the floor below us was covered in snow, so pristine and pure, and awash with a white light as though it was moonlit, that it looked surreal.  I took this picture without using a flash....
...and this is what the place looks like minus the snow.

Daytime saw some brave youngsters falling about in the snow and trying to make snowmen.

 The skating rink in the neighbourhood was frozen solid, and there was fun and falls for the children , and some adults too.

As I sit on our balcony here in the morning before it gets too hot, listening to all the birds – from the crow to the koel, sipping my filter coffee, I think about the apartment there, so warm and cosy, insulated from the cold snow outside, and so silent. No birds sang.


Thursday, 13 May 2010


My only connection to him was that our blogs appeared in the MysoreBlogPark. I read his blogs and left comments, especially about his photographs, which were really remarkable. And even that I haven’t done in the last few months.

Because of this blog visiting, a kind of friendship via e mail developed between this young man who works in Bangalore, and me. He gave me tips about photography, which I tried to follow with my ordinary digital camera. (Well my husband’s actually – I gave it to him for his birthday so I could use it to take pictures for my blog!). But I don’t think I have been a good student.

About 18 months ago he sent me an invitation to attend his brother’s wedding – a beautifully decorated card it was. A very sincere mail accompanied it requesting me to give my dates of travel so that he could meet and welcome us. Sweet as the thought was, we could not go.

Earlier this year he contacted me to ask for my postal address to send me a calendar he had made using his photographs. I was delighted to oblige, and the calendar arrived, accompanied by a beautiful and neatly handwritten letter. Whoever has the time or inclination to write nowadays? Everyone just dashes off e- mails or makes calls. Which is just what I did – I sent him an email thanking him for the beautiful calendar, when I couldn’t get him on the number he had provided on the envelope.

I did not hear from him for a week, when suddenly another cover appeared from him. This contained, much to my delight, an invitation to his wedding, and another hand written letter in the same beautiful writing, with a sincere request to attend the wedding. And also remembering to ask about Maiji, my mother whose blog posts also he used to read.

He is getting married this month in Udipi to Nishka and then goes to his home place Rourkela for the reception.

And what did I do? Did I write a nice reply wishing him and his bride? No, I called him on the cell number which he had thoughtfully included in the letter and wished him.

Dear Tanay, I wish you and your bride a long life of togetherness and happiness.
And hope to, as your blog says, remainconnected !

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


It is all baby Samyukta’s fault.

Cuddling and  cooing with her was my main occupation in the six months I was with her, and I developed an inertia and indifference  towards everything else.  We returned two months ago, leaving her, and I found that the inertia persisted. I looked at my blog post and found my last posting was in October last year.

Not that anyone cares, I think, least of all me. And I had almost decided to stop blogging once and for all, like I did once before.  But something happened which revealed that blogging, apart from a good  exercise on the keyboard for arthritic fingers, and pandering to my own vanity, has a genuine worth.

A couple of weeks ago my chat box on g mail popped out to show a guest on line – the chat box when accessed through the blog does not reveal the identity of the guest, but just cryptically says ‘guest’, with the dire warning “You are talking to an unidentified person, be careful what you say” or some thing very like it.  I almost feel that it is like “Big Brother is watching”. The guest said “I was born in the house you lived in.” And I was nonplussed. To my knowledge the only person who was born in this house in Chennai where I live is my niece Swati, and she and I are well aware of that fact. At a loss, I decided to prod, and got some extremely interesting and satisfying answers.

The guest, Tara, was born when her parents had lived in the same house that we had in Pondicherry. (See above). Her father had been my father’s immediate predecessor in the same government post, and so had lived there. Tara said she had seen my post on Pondicherry and had been quite excited. Though she did not remember much of her Pondicherry days, she said, her older sister Hema did, and her memories were quite like my own, including our school days. She asked for my phone number, and told me that Hema, who lived in the US, would contact me  in ten minutes .

And she did. We spoke for a long while. I could sense the excitement in her as she remembered her time in Pondicherry and I was happy to share the memories of our school and friends there. There is nothing quite like going back to a shared childhood, even if, as in this case, the days did not coincide. We talked about the house, and its live-in ghost, which fortunately  neither of us had seen. And how we found the house and its surroundings so changed from the time we lived there. When I told my mother about this chat, she clearly remembered the family.

And so after fifty years, and thousands of miles apart, a little blog post brought together two total strangers with a bit of common history.

And that makes it all worthwhile.

To quote the Terminator, I will be back!