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Dreams…

This is old wine in a new bottle. Its one of my favourites so I’m reposting it – Rose tinted glasses

I dreamed a dream in time gone by when hope was high and life worth living – Les Miserables

It was a dream. It was one of those dreams that puts the ever so restive soul to rest, a dream that gives a sense of roots to an ever searching soul, a dream that promises rain to the parched soul and a direction to the lost soul forever in search of its self.

Have you ever picked up a glass marble and held it up against the sun? Have you watched the colours of the marble  dripping through your fingers, rolling down your hand to scatter like drops of rainbow around your feet? My dream was just like that. Like a  green marble dripping the golden sunlight and then bursting into drops of translucent rainbow at my feet.

The last time I dreamt such a dream was in my childhood, on a summer evening  in a house bustling with people, as I sat in the balcony watching the evening darken into night. The cool summer breeze grazed through my hair, a heady wisp of  jasmine  lifted from the neatly woven strands precisely coiled into a heap on a  platter to allure the sleepy neighbourhood and half of a crescent moon hung in the sky. And I thought the dream would never end, that times would never change, that I would never depart and all would continue to be the way it was.  

But dreams are after all to be woken up from, and that happened when I grew up. The adult  understood that it was but a dream.

My prevailing dream had the same tranquil air. As if my weary soul had found the oasis it desired, as if my vagrant gypsy mind had found a home, my yearning for calm had found mooring in a placid harbour, as if a  friend had reached out to catch my tears and replace them with laughter.

 It was the same languorous evening slowly melting into the night, a soothing wind caressed my face as it swirled upwards from the rain-soaked grass, a night-bird flew past my window soulfully calling out to its mate and everything enticed me to linger a while longer. And every time I wanted to depart it became more real asking me to relent, urging me to stay and imploring me to believe that it would never end.

And then I woke up. It was time for the dream to pass. The rain it brought was to change into a dry, scorching day; the friend it promised was to become a stranger again; the chaos that I had lost for a moment was to return; the soul was again to become a nomad in the desert.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2009 in Memories, Summer, Uncategorized

 

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I dreamed a dream….

 

I dreamed a dream in time gone by when hope was high and life worth living – Les Miserables

It was a dream. It was one of those dreams that puts the ever so restive soul to rest, a dream that gives a sense of roots to an ever searching soul, a dream that promises rain to the parched soul and a direction to the lost soul forever in search of its self.

Have you ever picked up a glass marble and held it up against the sun? Have you watched the colours of the marble then drip through your fingers, roll down your hand and scatter like drops of rainbow around your feet? My dream was just like that. Like a  green marble dripping the golden sunlight and then bursting into drops of translucent rainbow at my feet.

green marbles4

Last time I remember dreaming such a dream was in my childhood, on a summer evening  in a house buslting with people, as I sat in the balcony watching the evening darken into night. The cool summer breeze grazed through my hair, a heady wisp of  jasmine  lifted from the neatly woven strands precisely coiled into a heap on a  platter to allure the sleepy neighbourhood and half of a crescent moon hung in the sky. And I thought the dream would never end, that times would never change, that I would never depart and all would continue to be the way it was.  

But dreams are after all to be woken up from, and that happened when I grew up. The adult  understood that it was but a dream.

My prevailing dream had the same tranquil air. As if my weary soul had found the oasis it desired, as if my vagrant gypsy mind had found a home, my yearning for calm had found mooring in a placid harbour, as if a  friend had reached out to catch my tears and replace them with laughter.

 It was the same languorous evening slowly melting into the night, a soothing wind caressed my face as it swirled upwards from the rain soaked grass, a night bird flew past my window soulfully calling out to its mate and everything enticed me to linger a while longer. And every time I wanted to depart it became more real asking me to relent, urging me to stay and imploring me to believe that it would never end.

And then I woke up. It was time for the dream to pass. The rain it brought was to change into a dry, scorching day; the friend it promised was to become a stranger again; the chaos that I had lost for a moment was to return; the soul was again to became the nomad in the desert.

 
 

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Of suburban dreams and a birthday…..

The road crosses the intersection and slopes down towards the sleepier part of the suburb, leaving behind the rushing traffic, the departmental store, the new apartments and the quaint restaurant at the corner with a breakfast menu. Yesterday we, the Bee and me, sat by the french window of the restaurant dreaming our usual dream of “higher aspirations” over tall cups of  “Long Americana” and breakfast, higher floors, higher purposes, higher goals et all.

It was shortly after the ‘rush to reach town’ had ebbed, so the intersection was quieter. The broad, empty stretches of the sidewalk, the sleepy suburb slowly waking up to the day, the rainwashed trees starting to glisten in the sun stealing in through the chinks of the sparse clouds…. I wanted that moment to stand still forever, wanted to go on sipping the fresh coffee forever, wanted to sit with the Bee and go on dreaming forever, wanted to just sit at that table by the window and stare  outside forever. It was the morning of my day and I wanted to soak in all that was around me and delay the day from ending quickly.

The reverie was halted abruptly, a call was buzzing silently for me on my phone. I could have ignored the phone, but not this call.

“Feels like yesterday, when you were looking at me with those new eyes as I held you for the first time and here I’m wishing you on your birthday again!” effused the most familiar voice of my life, my Ma. “Happy Birthday!”

The same day in the afternoon I walked down another road of the same suburb leading to another intersection. This intersection at this time of the day remained chaotic. As I waited among the milieu of mothers, fathers, grandparents, drivers, maids of all shapes and sizes waiting for the children to run out, a soft tug at my hand made me turn. She stood there  with an angelic smile lighting up her eyes. There lay on her little outstretched hand a birthday card, made with pages torn from her exercise book, with red and pink hearts, a tiny poem and “Dear Mumpa, happy birthday!” written in it.

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The evening brought a drizzle, a cake with a single candle, a group of friends, a bundle of wishes and a much delayed ending to the day.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2009 in city, Life, Love

 

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Flame of the forest

That summer the Krishnachura broke into flames for the first time, right outside my window to the world. It was a scorching red blooming on the scrawny young sprigs that had started to reach for the skies, nestled among the luscious green of the fresh burst of leaves. The contrast of the red and the green against the decaying wooden lattice of the adjoining terrace mesmerized me for many summers till I moved onto other cities, to other distant lands. But the image of the flame tree stayed with me.

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Here and now, this summer, Rimi and I walked down a garden path tucked away between the compound walls of two neighbouring buildings. It was a longer walk, but  promised abundant shade from the overgrown branches of the tall trees along the path. Looking up I spotted the first hints of red among the entwined branches above.

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Last night it rained all night . Today morning while I took my usual detour, I found myself standing on a path flowered with the flame of the forest, fallen like rain with the rain last night.

I couldn’t tether the child in me, for once I didn’t want to. I returned with my hands full.

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Unconditional Love

Had one of the most profound conversations with my 8-year-old last evening. 

It is one of the sultrier Mumbai evenings. Another day gone in waiting for the illusive monsoon. The Bee’s  back from his buzzing hive post a busy day, a  two and half hours of drive back to happy Mumbai suburbia, with a rusty neck and a creaky back. He has  “Fragile, handle with care” written all over him. The tiny R and the adult M keep out of his way till he’s managed to scrub off every bit of grime and sweat with the special sea salt body wash meant also to soothe frayed nerves.

Almost civilised, by his own submission, he is now ready to mingle with the two women of the house. Half an hour goes down well with  Camomile tea flowing and M and R taking turns at beating the Bee at Domino. R quickly retorts, after winning the third time in a row, “Well, what can  I say, I’m a fast learner!”  She, incidentally, learnt the ropes  the same evening!

Time the enemy! The Bee’s clock’s ticking and before long the ” Brit to the core” aura announces “It’s 9:00 already, why aren’t we having dinner?  Tiddliwink, aren’t you supposed to be in bed by 9:30?”

With that the evening reverie draws to a close and I waddle off to dish out the final meal of the day, the only one that all must sit down and enjoy together.

It’s a simple meal and with the 8-year-old  eager- beaver laying the table, serving the meal is a breeze. I take pride in dishing out the exotic Mughlai keema I’d fished out of a woman’s weekly of yesteryear and am ready to fish for the compliments as a reward of my toil.

The meal should have gone rather uneventfully. I have already started R off with her dinner before I serve out ours. She takes a couple of detours on her plate before she attacks the keema, the Bee alights to join her.

She looks directly into my eyes and asks “Can I say something?”

Generally our dinnertime conversation is breezy, so I relent.

“Ma, how will you feel if Bau and I praise something you have cooked?”

“Elated, of course!” I am overjoyed. The Mughlai keema can now become one of the standard dinner fares!

“What if we don’t tell you that it tastes horrible?  Instead, we eat it and praise it and then ask you to cook it again?”

“Well, I would think you love me too much to hurt my feelings. And it’s your unconditional love for me that makes you praise it and ask for more !” I can almost hear my heart sinking.

The sprite returns an impish smile, “I’d love to have your Mughlai keema everyday!”

I taste some, and some more to make sure it tasted the way I thought it tasted and a third attempt confirmed my fears. I’m sure the Mughals loved to salt their food while cooking.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2009 in humor, Kids, Life, Love, Uncategorized, Women

 

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Melon Shorbet

Just yesterday I was in the mood to serve some chilled lemonade to the ‘tired to the bones’ B, some of his Bridge cronies and my 8-yr old wonder, R. And, I decided to do it my childhood way.
 
So out came those tall glasses from their resting place , put to rest by the packers unpacking for me when we’d moved into this apartment. I doubted their perspective and mine too, being in the middle of moving into a new city, so I told them “put all of them on the lower shelf of the cabinet, I’ll sort them my way later”. Six months later the glasses still stood there, forgotten along with a lot of my prized but shelved possessions.

I wanted to make it a ritual for my R, just like my summer evenings and melon shorbets. So it was time to scrape the whole lemon for the rind, soak the right proportions of sea salt and sugar in a large jug, squeeze the lemons to their last lees – all the time carefully straining out the pips with my fingers ( a trick I learnt and expertised at an early age), stirring in the cubes of ice to cool the concoction. R, thrilled by the clinking ice cubes, wanted to stir in more, an eagerness so fresh that I wanted to play along, but from the fear of diluting the tangy, sweetness, I had to stop her . And now it was time to stir in the kaffir lime leaves (aptly called Gandharajin Bengali, meaning the king of flavours) and the lemon rind, for the ultimate citrus experience!

After I had handed out the glasses, I picked up R’s glass and mine and headed to the tiny 4×4 kotta stone sit out, right outside the french windows of the bedroom. The chiks  swayed in the cool early spring breeze and I wanted to tell R a story of an evening of melon shorbet.

So there I sat in the ancestral courtyard of my grandfather’s house nestled in a blind alley in the heart of central Kolkata. I could smell her fragrant elaichi (green cardamom) breath as I sat snuggled up beside my Grandma on a cane mat spread out on the black and white marble floor with the kotta border. She was in her fine Tant saree with a cream body and an intricate red border, a custom, I presume, all grandmothers of my time and before followed wholeheartedly (taking to wearing white and red the moment they turned 40). The caged mainah was unusually chirpy today,  the horde of cousins along with my sister cagey and restless to venture out to the stables at the end of our alley but detained till the sun had gone down, Ma and my other aunts fussing over some new recipes in the kitchen. But I didn’t want to bother with any of them today. Not today when I was awaiting one of my favourites, the melon shorbet.

Summer had just set in, Holi was just over, the courtyard had got it’s weekly wash. The otherwise hot and parched floor had soaked up all the water and as the cool early evening breeze rushed over it, it lifted the earthy fragrance stirring yearnings for some early showers. 

“It is going to be a long and very hot summer this year, Anandabazar Patrika says so along with a met office report” I had heard Bhaiya tell  Jethu over their rushed breakfast. “I’ll get Bel (wood-apple)today and prepare some belpanna (wood apple shorbet), it’s the best coolant that nature can provide to keep your body and mind cool from the inside.”

I wasn’t obviously interested in the bel panna. The idea of the thick, sticky, pungent cocktail of woodapple and other necessary evils sliding its way down my throat put me off so much that I felt a retching within me. I had to stop it somehow.

I remember spending the morning in agony, the afternoon in a restless frenzy and when the sun was tilting to the west, in a state of denial. Exactly at 4:00 in the afternoon my grandfather made his grand entry, back from his late afternoon stroll. This was a ritual that was typically followed by his invasion of the neighbourhood bazar and their evening fare. I was sure today being the belpanna evening, he must have visited his favourite fruit vendor, Mukunda for the season’s best. But when his hand emerged from his ever faithful jute bag, out came a musk melon instead of the much dreaded wood-apple. The constant drip from one of the corners also suggested the presence of a chunk of ice from the neighbourhood baraf kal (ice mills). Those were the days when common, middle class Bengali families did not need  modern day luxuries like the refrigerators, tvs, mixers, washing machines (heard of but not in any “must have” wish list) . On a hot summer day one happily quenched thirst with water stored in large earthen pots and ice merrily procured from the neighbourhood ice mills. My heart skipped a beat!

To his dismay, “Mukunda had sold the dozen or so wood-apples he had got for the day, so I had to buy 2 kgs of musk melons! Anubouma (that’d be my mum) get them ready, peel and slice them along the ridges, soak the sugar along with some crushed ice . I’ll make some shorbet out of them for today, I have asked Mukunda to get some wood-apples for tomorrow.”  That was the other ritual in our house, such delicacies would always be made, not under my grandfather’s supervision but by him, his way!

Didibhai fetched her tall gold-rimmed  glasses that had come with a matching glass pitcher and the set made special appearances only for such family evenings when all gathered around it to share the “coolant” concocted by Bhaiya.

Two of the three melons, peeled and duly cut along the ridges, lay on a bronze platter. The sugar soaked in water along with crushed ice stood in the pitcher and some extra ice sat in a bowl beside the melon. By then all the kids, me included, hovered over this exhibition of fruit and wondered. My dad and uncles, washed fresh after a long, gruelling day, gathered round as well. Ma and the other aunts pottered around distributing steaming cups of tea and plates of their evening experiment. My grandma plonked herself on the mat again, this time with some sewing job she barely paid attention to. All this till Bhaiya descended from his first floor perch.

The giant, knuckled fingers wrinkled with seventy-three years deftly set to mash each slice of melon to perfection in a large, white and blue enamelled bowl (remains of  “the military days of Kolkata”). Once done, Bhaiya added a liberal dosage of sugar to the mash and went off to wash off the pulp after a quick “let it soak and then strain it”. A “how much longer?” hung silently in the air as tea cups emptied with the snacks platters.

Finally, strained and blended to the icy cool water in the gold-rimmed pitcher, the shorbet had turned a baby pink and the fragrance was lifted by a quick breeze and spilled all over the courtyard. Added to it were a couple of drops of rose water and served in Didibhai’s tall glasses. The sugary cool rolling down my throat with the distinct aroma of melon and a hint of rose was heady. This , of course, wasn’t the first nor the last time I had melon shorbet but I remember it all, that and many more of my summer evenings of melon shorbet.

 
 

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