Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Powerless in Nashua


Yes we lost power for a day but I spent it cloistered with random strangers in a crowded shopping mall exchanging horror stories of power outages in India. *gasp* Such things do exist :)

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New Year Resolutions. Newer Resolutions

Being in New England pushes you to the edge, daring you to jump off the cliff of wintry boredom, if only to see stars when you hit rock bottom. This winter I plan to do something less dangerous but still a lot more fun. I've decided to sign up for a few Reading Challenges.

The challenge is to read atleast 5 books on World War II from Jan 1st - Dec 31st 2009. The books can overlap other challenges.
I've already read The Book Thief but maybe I'll re-read it next year.
I just picked the ones that intrigued me from the WWIIReadingList:
The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Behind Enemy Lines:  The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany by Marthe Cohn and Wendy Holden
Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman
Becoming My Mother’s Daughter by Erika Gottlieb
Obasan by Joy Kogawa

The second challenge is New Authour Challenge 2009 hosted by Literary Escapism.
I'm taking it up because all the books I'm reading for the WWII challenge are by authors new to me, so might as well kill two birds with one stone. 

Only hitch with both the challenges is the entire 'book reviews' part. Ofcourse, the success or failure of these challenges depend on how well The Implet behaves and how much The Mr chips in so I can read and write :)

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

A place called nowhere

Sometimes a memory is just isn't enough to fill the void.

The picture on the left is of Neduvalavu, the small compound where I spent the best years of my life. I've already written about my grandparents' home. But you can never talk enough about your home. Or can you?

The second house on the left with those steps and railing is the monstrosity that used to be our home. Infact it was a twin house; we shared walls with Chettiar achi. Chettiar thatha owned a dalda store I think. It looks all cemented but when we were growing up it was more a gravel and mud alley. Quite appropriate that our favourite game used to be 'Kall?/Manna?'[Stone?/Sand?] The other houses look the same since 20 years ago. Maybe a fresh coat of paint on some and lots of cobwebs and cracks on the others.

This picture on the right was called 'paLLaththu veedu' because you walked down into it. Everything about this house is unchanged from outside, except maybe now you can nolonger swing your legs from the thinnai. The colour is same, even the old electric box is still there. 

This is also the house where Amma spent few years of her childhood... so it is doubly sentimental. One summer vacation when I was 4 or 5, I danced my lame-ass version of bharatanatyam for the old ladies in this house. Another time [this time a different family had moved in] I stood in rapt attention watching house flies sniffing/eating Baygon Bug repellant and falling dead. Gaah! what is with childhood and fascination for death?

The spot in front of this house is where we played hopscotch most afternoons and evenings. We played cards and talked nonsense sitting on the thinnai. The ex-Thasildar's house is opposite this house. He had 2 grand daughters. In 2005 when I went with The Mr to look at this place one last time before my flight to USA, I met the younger sister. She recognised me and we exchanged 
stories by the anthimandarai plant. This year I learnt that she is no more. There was a history of mental illness in their family and the house remains dark :(

These steps led one to the small one room loft Sankari chithi lived in. the loft was on the roof of paLLaththu veedu. Monkeys used to come and sit on the parapet wall making the climb up a true adventure, for a 6 year old :) There was no ceiling fan and we, my cousins and I, spent many a sultry afternoon trying to make our own stories as the heat became unbearable. 

A huge drumstick tree used to stand in the yard by the steps. Amma recollects that's where they used to tie their cows when she was young. When we lived there, we collected resin from the drumstick tree and tried to use it as glue, precious commodity for trade and make-believe upma :)


This time around, the trip to Tirunelveli was more painful because of all the changes we, The Mr and I saw. Most of the places from our combined childhood had either disappeared altogether or undergone a complete facelift that there was nothing more to tie us to it. Of course, there still were many wonderful spots but chances are they too would be gone by the time we make our next visit.

I guess what bothers me most is that Mayakins never got to see the house I grew up in. Chances are she might make her own memories and they might not necessarily involve popsicles for 50p, bench tickets at Ratna talkies or kothu parotta stalls. I think it's time I stopped hoarding memories for the both of us...because sometimes memories just ain't enough!

P.S: Tomorrow is my Achi's bday and I couldn't have timed this any better.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

*insert creative intelligent-sounding title*

This is going to be one of those posts that has no great beginning, meanders in the middle and you just can't wait to get to the end. So there.

The bloody New England weather cannot make up its mind. Seriously! How difficult can it be? You either snow and be a warm 20F or shut up and stick to freezing rain. I cannot take anymore of this 42F at 10 A.M, plummeting to 15F mid-afternoon, rain at 6 P.M that becomes a slurry at 8 P.M. Aaaaaaarghhhh! It is so DARN difficult to dress The Implet in this weather.

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We went to the mall today as I had to return a bunch of items. Well, The Implet maybe just all of 11 months but man, she is quite 'expressive' when it comes to her anger and disappointment. Since it was just an 'errand run', I did not stop anywhere to play with her or talk with her. Neither did I pick her up from the stroller when she asked me to.  After 2 hours when we finally came home and I held her, she just wouldn't stop hitting me, accompanied by dagger eyes and a really pissed 'blahgaboojoodo'.  If this is what I get in her infancy, I shudder to think of her teenage.

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Oh!Oh! I saw WALL-E! It is awesome dawsome, super shnooper.

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I want to fight...the kind where I can be furious, rude, sarcastic and have the winning arguments that makes the other person cower or shut up or both. I don't know why I have this urge to be really spiteful. Especially this being the season of giving and forgiving. Anyhoo, maybe I should just start an anonymous blog and pour my heart out and then maybe delete it :)

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I want to read Thamizh books. I've suddenly got a craving to read Thamizh poetry, Hindu mythology and folk tales. Only catch being there aren't many on the internet and my grandpa claims he is too old to tell tales now...especially over the phone. Damn! Double damn! I think I should just ask Appa to parcel books to me. Or if there is someone in the blogging world who has a few Thamizh books and wouldn't mind starting a chain where we send each other books by post... wouldn't that be wonderful?
Wait! I already started a so-called mail-chain. I need to check on the status of The Travelling Poet.

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Oh yeah, I am 28, going on 8!!!
Yover and Yoyt!

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Comfort food

It doesn't take much to make comfort food.

Ingredients:
1 big bowl of curd rice
1 plate of maa-vadu
10 cousins
1 thatha to tell stories
1 achi to roll the curd rice into balls

Optional: A cool summer breeze and mosquitoes for company.

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