Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Coupla firsts 

Monkey sighting.
Meandering down shady banyan tree-lined street, low sun filtering through branches, cool breeze sweeping hair back. Coming back from initial exploratory (read: did-not-make-it-all-the-way-up) moped ride up Chamundi Hills overlooking the city. Improbably pink-faced matted grey-furred monkeys (rhesus?) perch on new-construction wall, idly watching passing traffic. “Holy cow, I’m in India moment” of the day. Yesterday’s: picking mango leaves from one of Tina’s two gargantuan trees to string over my front door with orange flower garlands, disrupt baby iguana from its midmorning nap. Nasty looks and lazy scurrying to next branch ensue.

First rain.
Dinner at Tina’s. Who, I found out, used to prepare meals for students at the old shala (back when the room held 12, not 60 at the palatial new place in the new neighborhood, last couple of years). When the shala moved from Laxmipuram to Gokulam, she moved with it. Every night, the menu boasts one soup, one salad, one sweet. Invariably scrumptious and not Too Spicy and easy to digest (which is vital for evening meal, when it is taken at all, for earlymorning practice). Much as I love going to Nalpak’s for dosas and Green Leaf for elaborate lowpriced thali meals (heap of rice and several curries/sauces/veggies and breads and curd), nothing beats having the guesswork taken out of the equation for you, once in a while. As mercury rises and brain damage threatens, the choice of one or all three and the promise of lovely company and a sheltered environment are hugely appealing, right now. You go, you sit, you say “Yes please!”.

Dinner at Tina’s, a few nights back. A bunch of us latestayers are finishing leafbowls of halwa (exactly like greek halva: semolina browned in ghee/oil finished with sugar/honey syrup and raisins/almonds) and ginger tea with mint leaves, as flashes of lightning shine through the canopy of colorful fabric strung through the mango trees in the yard. Lightning storm passing over. Run out to watch, for a bit. Slowmoving thick cloud at twilight overhead, housing thunder and spewing forth laserlight show from its gut. Within minutes of my return to the back yard, the air thickens, wind blows, rain starts to fall. Soft drizzle builds as we hasten to remove plates and cups and red cushions and straw mats from underfoot as people remember laundry hanging and windows open. Drive up the hill in drenching downpour. Arrive home to power outage and loud Indian family form next door quiet as they sit outside. Sit on my doorstep and watch coconut trees sway and skies flash in darkness. Read by candle light, as water noisily pours from roof and clatters down driveway and washes away dust and renders the air and earth fresh and cool.

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