Tad Sad

The packers came today.. the house is empty now, except for our clothes for Italy. Appa and N are sleeping on the sleeping bags – no furniture left in the house.

A twinge of sadness coming over me – we’ve stayed here for 3 years, and there are a number of happy memories of this place. S said earlier today ” It was a home, now its a house”. Our friends have been merciless teasing us about how our place was always messy – but they said they always felt welcome here too. So I guess all in all, Appa and I had a happy home here. Appa and I have had our quarrels when it comes to housekeeping – bickering about when and who should clean. He, having a higher dirt tolerance, could live without doing the dishes for a day or two, I on the other hand could not. Therefore, you know who did most of the cleaning up – especially tiring after Appa would make lavish spreads and invite folks. I’m glad though we did have our get-togethers, invited friends over often, had fun in the house – at the cost of keeping the house spic and span. Well, you win some, you lose some. 

We are dreaming of a nice house in hyderabad that we will do up – and will have frequent parties and get-togethers. And where we can have a TT table, and a yard for N to play, and a garden for  me to grow my fruits and veggies and flowers. And where my sis, parents, cousins, friends, everybody – will drop by often and feel comfortable in.

Lets toast to that!

The agony and the ecstasy

Forgive me for me being so unimaginative about the title of the post ( its the name of a book on Michelangelo – anybody visiting Italy reads this I am told) – but it so aptly captures how I feel about bringing up Noyonika.

The agony first – since it is fresh in my mind. Scene – at Appa’s manager’s house, invited for a dinner. N is busy tearing up pieces of the paper napkin with her teeth and strewning the floor with it – I am trying to feed myself and her while maintaining a conversation with the hosts. My eyes are away from N for a second – she grabs on the napkin, the beautiful ceramic saucer is about to reach its ends on the polished hardwood floor – i manage to save it at the last possible moment. Next she decides its the best time to do potty, of the really stinky kind – why she has to do it only when we are at somebody;s house I dont know. I clean the potty – change her, my brain in shreds now..

Appa says I should be more calm .. well, bad timing to tell me such things, I retort.

On to the ecstasy part – ahemm.. hhmm.. no inspiration today 🙂 I must really be  in a bad mood..

I am raising this devil..

Can you believe it?? This is at a campsite near the Crater Lake, in Oregon, US. My daughter is actually a little devil in disguise, I learn. Here she is rubbing ash on her face -and generally having a rollicking good time bruising her knees and arms – friend of mine took this pic.

He says he’s going to tell the world how I raise my kid – so I thought I’d plead guilty in advance 🙂

Countdown begins: 10 days to go in the US of A

And things are getting really hectic. No, I dont mean the US presidential elections, though that is getting hectic too, I mean our move back to India.

Appa and I had a complex system of dividing up the humungous To-Do List we created. We experimented with umpteen different ways of maintaining that list – from plain old pen and paper to Onenote to Web based To do lists. Finally, with 10 days remaining, we figured that we better get started on ticking off some of them. In panic, Appa says : You do everything needed for Italy trip, and I’ll do everything needed here! Gggreeat division of labor I thought – to each the thing he does best. And now I am meandering through a thousand sites trying to book that one perfect place in Rome. At least I did the car rental – whew, 1 item off the tick list.

And so on it goes!! I also managed to sneak in some shopping today, Tee Hee!!

N meanwhile is oblivious to the big change coming up in our lives.  Slight pangs of guilt still happen once in a while when I think that maybe I am denying her some opportunity by taking her away from this land of opportunity – but my usual rationalisation still holds. For N to grow up in a happy home, her parents need to be contented, right? So we are doing right by her in taking a step that we think will bring us contentment. Paah.. so there!!

Bomb Blasts , Floods and HFCS

There are 3 things on my mind right now, all of them depressing. Painting a sad bad picture of the world –

The first thing on my mind – the string of Bomb blasts in Delhi. Two of my cousins live in Delhi, a number of close friends live in Delhi – thank God they are all safe. But it is scary – I remember when the teenage boy next to our house in Guwahati died in a bomb blast 1 km away from our house. When it gets close like that, you realise how bad things are.  I spoke to my sister today, and it seems Mumbai is the next target!!!

The second is about my home state Assam – ravaged by floods! This happens every year – its not the first time more than half the state is under water. LOTs has blogged about it in detail here – the apathy of the government – both Central and State is amazing. We have these floods every year – people die and people lose everything. Yet, we do nothing – sit on our hands waiting for the next years calamity. Why?

The third one, HFCS ( High Fructose Corn Syrup) , a source of big debates and controvery in the country that I am currently living in – USA. Why? Well, apparently this country is feeding itself on corn & its by products. In fact, it said that 70% of a supermarkets produce can be traced back to corn. HFCS is the sweetener for most food products – and it is entirely non-nutrional empty calories. Americans are becoming obese because their food is made out of corn that has been genetically modified to have more starch and less protein – obesity leading to other diseases and potentially increase in healthcare costs. It is troubling to see this – and raises questions about how good is such an efficient market if it leads to worse health for its citizens? And if it happenned in the USA, are there not chances that it may happen in India – where the markets are becoming more efficient, and cheaper is better, and consumption is the word of the day.

All is not very well with the world we live in, at least, it does not feel like it right now.

3 days of bliss: walking in the woods and writing

Saying Grace is out of fashion – when was the last time you heard
somebody say “She’s so cool, she sends up a little prayer of thanks
before she starts to eat” or an equivalent of that. Well, cool or not,
I felt myself wanting today to thank somebody somewhere for the many
wonderful things I have in my life.

What prompted this atheist ( or whats that other word for one who does
not think about God one way or the other) to start being thankful for
what she’s got? I am one of those people who is touched and deeply
affected by the beauty of nature, and that is what did it for me
today.

I am at the North Cascades Institute at a First Person Narrative
Writers Workshop. The Institute is housed in log cabins on the shores
of a Glacial Lake called Lake Diablo, in the middle of the North
Cascades National Park.

In front of the institute are the shimmering jade green waters of the
lake. The  lake is surrounded by  the craggy peaks of the North
Cascades range, some of them still covered with last traces of snow.

The wind is blowing ripples across the lake. I am in the middle of the
lake, on a canoe with a few other participants from our class. The
wind gets stronger and I am cold and shivering – I’ve got goose bumps
on my bare legs (  thanks to a smart idea of wearing shorts
anticipating great weather). I see a white bird riding the winds
across the lake. I learn later, to my delight, that it is an Osprey.

Our dorms are in log cabins, and seem very much a part of the natural
environment. As I walk up the rough cut steps, I see a black beetle. I
stop to look at it – and observe for a good 10 minutes. To my
surprise, I observe things I had never seen before –  the beetle,
which had 6 legs ( no, thats not the surprise), was using 3 alternate
legs at a time to move forward, so that at any point of time, 3 of its
legs were balancing it and 3 were in the air. It was interesting to me
as a few days earlier I had read in a naturalist’s handbook about how
animals use their hind and front leg on alternate sides to walk ( it
changes when they are moving fast, think trotting horse) – and at that
time I was not quite able to visualize what the writer was talking
about. Well, here is a good demonstration of that, I realized. And it
makes perfect sense as it keeps the animals body well balanced, in
this case, much like a tripod.

The evening after dinner there was a great presentation by the person
who was leading a Birding class – well actually, a class on Corvids (
what are Corvids ? allow me 🙂 – corvids are the family of birds like
crows, Ravens and magpies). I know what you are thinking – a 3 day
class on Ravens? I confess, I was thinking the same. This
presentation, I will have you know, was one of the best presentations
I have been to in my life ( and that includes the TED Talks that
Appapappa is so fond of). The 40 something people in the audience sat
glued to their seats, and the questions and discussions flew. What
amazing research this guy had to share about the intelligence of
ravens and crows! He showed this video of a Crow that shaped a wire to
take out an object from a glass that it would otherwise not reach. We
were all blown away! I came away thinking that animals are more
intelligent than we humans think them to be – it is always a surprise
to us when we hear about intelligent things animals do – likely
because we have only now started to learn more about them.

So that talk was a fitting end to a great day. I look forward to
tomorrow, but before that, I have got to say thanks once more – for
Appapappa, who is taking care of N so that I can enjoy these 3 days of
living in the midst of nature, writing.