Saturday, 28 February 2009

Tender Coconuts

I have been drinking a lot of tender coconut recently. Since I am recuperating and rebuilding my lost strength. I love it. I have always loved it. At home, growing up, I would sometimes climb up on to our roof. As far as the eye could see I would see coconut trees swaying in the breeze. We had two mammoth ones in our home, I just LOVED those two guys. We bought them when I was maybe five. They were my height when we planted them. My mum would tell me, look, depending on how you eat, you can grow at the same pace as the trees. Well, clearly, my being a poor eater had less to do with it than other factors, but I always felt a bit guilty looking at them in later years, so very tall and majestic. And me so short.

In those days, when we travelled from Mysore to Bangalore, a journey of about three hours, usually by bus, we stopped mid-way for a break. Rarely used the rest-room though I would desperately want to. But the adult accompanying us would invariably offer us a tender coconut to drink. It used to cost five rupees, I can never forget that. I would be sorely tempted since I love the taste, and in normal course of life we rarely drank the thing (despite the tree at home). But then, how about managing the rest-room requirement? No, thank you I would say. If it was my mum, she would offer to drink half of it (since she would have the same issues and we did not need to say it to each other, since saying it makes it all feel all the more imperative). That would be nice. Those are things I love and appreciate about her. Dad never figured out such things. And other adults obviously could not.

Now the thing costs fifteen rupees. Tastes just as good. I get two at a time in the market across the street. I don't bother anymore with the coconut that you can get on the inside if you split it. I used to love those too. Now I am not convinced its a great idea to eat the coconut, not so healthy perhaps (one never knows. someone will tell you its the best ever. others will insist it has every bad aspect of cholesterol you can imagine. best to avoid, surely something that tastes that good ought to be bad for health). At any rate that is too much hassle since I cannot split the thing here at home, need a nice fat machete or something, and not to mention a place where you can sit down and mess around with a machete and coconut. So thats out. But the drink is just awesome. Sweet and refreshing like nothing else.

I had heard a while ago (of course I don't bother to google such things for you and give you good links, the rule on this blog is that you take my word for it, or not, does not matter, I am just musing and rambling at any rate) that they made a bottled drink out of it. Surely they have some form of natural ice-cream that says the words 'tender coconut' (as opposed to coconut). I will happily avoid such things. They are not for me. I don't ice-cream. I mean almost never. I just don't like it. And I am bound to hate the bottled coconut-drink (not coconut water, thats fine, I have used it occasionally in making Thai Red Curry and quietly drunk some of it, comes in a can, that white stuff is okay no objections to it).

I am glad I don't need to worry about such things anyway. I take my cloth bag, walk across, pay the guy thirty bucks and waltz home to drink to my strength. Meanwhile the husband has gone off to the ritual basketball game. Mum is out walking. And here I am seriously wondering when I can get some exercise. And dreamily thinking of coconuts and hoping all the coconut water and kanji is going to get me there soon enough. At this point, all I really want to do is run.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

What to read?

I always dreamed of a being sick episode where I spend the day lying in bed, reading and occasionally sipping something, electral maybe. Well it hardly happened. The head was fit to burst I could barely focus on words in size 1000, forget normal books, and the final annoyance was that electral made my feet swell up because it has too much salt it. The ultimate ignominy I swear. Not as if I was pregnant.

Now that I am officially recuperating, and people in the office take one look at me and ask me to go home (which I am doing gladly, having always been able to work rather more efficiently from home), I have this time on me. My eyes can focus. I can read. My mum is not allowing me to do much work around the house. I pottered around, went to the office for meetings in the morning, came back early and prepared desultorily for my class and read this and that.

I went over to my bookshelf, newly neatly arranged with some form of order, and wondered. I finished Alice in Wonderland which I bought for the child. I tried Through the looking glass again. I have always been ashamed that I could not complete reading it when I was a child (we had the complete works; a fat green unwieldy monster of a book but a gem nevertheless if you like to read Hunting of the snark etc. ). I am ashamed no more. Through the looking glass is just bad, okay, honest opinion. I had read a Douglas Adams last week, moment of weakness. It added to my hallucinations and I decided to stay the hell away from him till my mind cleared. I read Chatura Rao (Meanwhile, Upriver) recommended by wordjunkie. I thought it was over-long but a good effort and definitely better than the other women from the subcontinent who have been getting awards and considerable media focus. I read Murakami. Now there is something there.

I sometimes like clever books. Whats a clever book? No, not Rushdie. Although he is quite clever in Grimus for example with his anagrams and so on. Shashi Deshpande is not clever somehow although she goes deep into relationships and so forth and is a very believable writer. Ghosh I think is very clever. So much research goes in, and I really like his books, most of all Hungry Tide.

So anyway the Murakami I read was not like that. Of course his running book is autobiographical for the most part and it is about running so that one is an instant hit with me. This one that I read this week called "After Dark" was in essence his first real book (not counting the running one) that I read. It was expensive and I was not sure I would like it. You never know with famous writers, some of them are so difficult to read that its just not worth the effort. I bought it anyway last month and took this opportunity to read it, and may I say, I really liked it. Simple language. Some clever things with mirrors and so on but nothing too clever. Thankfully nothing too gory in terms of sex. That is a problem with male authors, when they start getting deep into descriptions of sexual acts, yawn, boring. And no, not like I am a prude, its fine, does not generally bother me too much, but it felt quite refreshing when it was absent. I am going to read more of his books. Though they will set me back a tidy packet.

I also read Charlie and the chocolate factory and we followed it up (very rare occurrence in our household!) with the movie which the monster & I watched on my computer (not from the internet, I bought the DVD, I only ever watch movies like that, strong proponent of not downloading stuff from shady semi-legal ftp sites). Johnny Depp in a vaguely gay act was cute, as always. The story and the book were really enjoyable too (I have read it before, had forgotten some of it). I expected I would like the chocolates themselves more than I finally did. But then my current taste in chocolate is pure, unadulterated with nuts, sort-of-dark stuff. Yeah, and Five Stars which I have loved despite the tendency to stick to teeth, all my life. Charlie Bucket, the monster thinks, is a very funny name indeed. The moral of being good and sharing and good things ensuing forth has been pretty much ignored. I read many other Raold Dahl kiddie books though it was all before the typhoid I had much fun with them.

Right now the question is back again. What on earth do I read now? Adiga, Deshpande, Feynmann, Wodehouse, Marquez, all stare back accusingly at me...

Monday, 23 February 2009

Its all good now

So as I was saying, I had typhoid. It was an interesting experience. I have never been so sick in my life. A friend of mine had just mentioned in December that I looked strong and fit and muscular. Well ah. Its all gone. I look sick. There are no two ways to look at it. Normally, despite my friend thinking thus, my family always think I look a bit 'weak' as they call it. No matter that I can run and run and do a hundred things through the day and physically it is a stretch to call me 'weak' - they think I am. It also has to do with the head-thing. In my head, I mean, in terms of emotions, tears-on-tap, ability to casually let all life's vicissitudes slide across you, I don't too well. I am too emtionally invested in things. I work from the heart. Therefore I am obviously weaker than a person who uses their brain.

Right now at any rate, I am physically still recuperating. Mornings don't feel very good. I struggle to get started with the day. I feel uneasy in the evenings. But I am somewhat ready to start my work day (yes, I have had to be on leave - I feverishly taught two classes ten days ago and am dreading going back and figuring out what it was I said in those). In my absence, has the world shattered? I will know tomorrow. I am determined more than ever to simplify things at work and focus on important matters and finish them. One of my 2009 resolutions in any case.

There is a four day period in the past few weeks of which I have limited memory. I know my face was so uninspiring that my husband could not go to work. I am real glad about that because I never expected it. He barely even manages to stay home when he is sick. He claims I ate nothing those days (which cannot be true). I remember eating though, our usual meal of dhal. The fever refused to come down. The blood report was not yet there so we were hoping it was typhoid and treating it as such but no one knew. I was lying in bed mostly trying to figure out the headache, which was a constant presence.

Now that I have several more moments of lucidity, and only some discomfort, I feel as if I have come out of a tunnel or some sort. And that I am still in the last stretches of that tunnel. Dark, dreary tunnel of pain, mostly the head. I have nearly fainted in the hospital (strange, people still talk to you though you cannot see them, at least you cannot see their outline. Apparently, you cannot tell when another person is going to faint). I was at the reception and I tried to tell that girl. At least I remember it was a girl, before the fainting spell began, she was a girl. After that she was a blue haze. I wanted water. I was surrounded by men with their little children. I was afraid of crushing a child. I made it without incident to a chair and my husband saw me and I was sweating and he got me water. My body has ached like no other time before. Every single bone and pore ached. There was no position I could sleep or sit in that worked. But I did not faint again. The doctor threatened to admit me and I could see my husband was tempted but I got up and walked out saying we will think of that in three days time (hate hospitals).

It is time to forget it and move on. Time to regain my strength, which I have lost in buckets. Time to build my muscles, which have gone away very quickly, damn them. Time to appreciate how even the simplest of foods taste SO MUCH BETTER when mum makes them than the cook. I am a lucky girl. My husband actually, unbelievably, was here when I needed him most (somehow, he always is). The child was broadly co-operative as I was lying there and complaining about real and imagined noises. Mum could come over day before yesterday which is more than anything anyone can ask for. Time to count my lucky stars.

And meanwhile, we have a vegetable patch in our garden. Bhindi, Brinjal, Dhania, Chili, Beans and Tomatoes. Bhindis are the oldest and going well.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Two days of rest

This is what the good doc advises. I have been suffering uncharacteristically and immensely since Saturday with various things. Finally when the head felt fit to burst yesterday I went to the doctor. It was a high-ish fever (stupid of me not to recognise that - but I asked that child of mine who insisted there was no fever; the maid said her hand was wet so could not tell, finally the cook came up at five pm and declared it as fever). I could only lie down the whole entire day, occasionally shivering. I did crocin and ice-pack (how easy!) late in the evening and felt better though still weak. I am on a diet of electral and crocin and Becosules and thankfully no antibiotics (yet! he says ominously). The question is this: Should I manage the 9:30 class somehow?

Anyway two days later lets see what happens to me.

How do you test for fever if you are alone?
DUH its called a thermometer. Wonder where mine is!

Edited to add:

Peoples, I don't know what is happening in the comments. I have not been checking often either. Apologies. I have typhoid. The two weeks of fever have rendered me completely weak. I am able to finally walk (!) today. I know. Sounds ridiculous. You should see me though. I look like a rag. Worse than ever. But into every life some sun must shine. And it will soon. We will get back to our friendly banter just as soon as the letters stop dancing in front of my antibiotic-filled eyes. You guys go have fun. And please, don't drink or eat random things (not that I do, which is why its strange I should get typhoid. But life is not always logical now is it?).

love you all.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Don't read any further...

if you are the squeamish sort, or, male (not that there is anything wrong with that).

Generally, its awful to have your period when:
(a) You are in someone else's house
(b) You are travelling for work
(c) You are running the half-marathon
(d) You have the GRE exam on a hot Chennai day in a place with no fans

The jugglery involved, the associated pain that you have to mask, the sundry aches that surface with a characteristic lack of logic or reason, and, most importantly, the overall icky-ness of it all, are best dealt with in your usual home, and routine.

So that way I am glad. This place is home. Things are set-up. No travelling (yet). Routine is busy but, well, routine. The marathon is tucked away in a happy place in the back of my mind. I still have a couple of financial transactions associated with the marathon-fund-raising, but else, all done, washed hands off. The extreme craziness that was January 2009, bringing the new year in with a bang, so to speak, is behind me. So bring it on.

I have heard it mentioned that Indra messed up - did something underhand. So women were accursed to have the monthlies. What is the connection? I have always wondered. But the truth is here to stay. On some levels you derive satisfaction from knowing that
(a) You are not pregnant (assuming you don't want to be).
(b) You don't have to deal with any 'traditions' involving something or the other meant to subjugate and belittle you, you, woman with your secretions.
(c) You lose that tummy fat for about three seconds.

But generally you stare at the husband and other male members of the family who are going both guns firing and trying to egg you on for a screen-roll in the evening basketball game, and, knowing you, do not allow you to use this as an excuse (lest you start unreasonably screaming or display other such mood alterations they have learned to anticipate and fob off). You feel wistful. Oh. You think of your age. You subtract it from fifty, on your fingers (ha! No! I would be ashamed to do that on my fingers. Its fifteen goddammit. Back off now). You sigh deeply.

Mum recommends yoga, calcium, iron, multivitamins, milk, and generally gets that pleading note in her voice. A note that expresses her complete confidence that I am 'ignoring my health' as she likes to put it. 'Where does she have the time?' she will be telling her sisters. Okay mum, I don't have random amounts of free time on my hands because I don't want to have it. I am a busy-body, and hello, so are you, okay? Let us remind you that you are 'retired' and 'sixty two' and generally should not be climbing on top of the kitchen counter to clean on top of the cabinets. Even if you crossed menopause several years ago and don't have that to deal with any more.

So that is that. I am here in my verdant home. The TV remote has been located and Aditya the big huge cable guy with a funnily long body (and alarmingly short legs) has come and gone. Another guy smelling of after-shave and wearing his socks around the home has drilled and drilled and inserted wires into some ugly plastic 'pattis' on the wall. I have pattis criss-crossing the walls everywhere now, like a jungle of underground rodent burrows. But still, homes home, even if its not my own. Friends have visited and though I was in the extreme throes of a headache, it was splendid to have them over, as ever.

Let me go breakfast and eat my calcium. Oh wait. Iron supplements after a light meal (i.e. breakfast). And Calcium after a heavy one (i.e. lunch or dinner). Keep it in mind ladies.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Lift me up!

So here Dipali has tagged me to do a story about the 6th photo and so on. I generally don't do photos. I mean not just on this blog. I rarely seem to take photos. And when I do, I almost never download them. And when I do, I never put them anywhere that anyone can see. So they lie there till one fine day the hard disk crashes and oh well. Cut to story.

The guy was called Pothathaana. Close family members will readily recall this person. He was mad. At least we thought so - we are sane, he is mad. I am sure he thought the same - I am sane, they are mad, those two kids with their faces on the iron gate with the creeper of jasmine on top... His claims to fame were many. To list a few:
1. He wore many clothes one on top of the other. Shorts with long pants beneath. That sort of thing.
2. He chattered continuously to himself in long English sentences (wait, that could be another person who was called 'Asper' by us. Maybe they were the same. The mind is weak).

These were his salient features. So whenever the inclination overcame one of us to, say, wear pants and then a skirt on top of it, we called it a 'Pothathaana Dress' and derived much giggling from it, both from the sound of the word and from the concept itself.

The name is attributed, as most creative exercises of my childhood, to my big bear of a cousin. He turned a very unhealthy fifty-two in January this year, but back then he was an angst-filled rebellious fellow in college who gave us many books, drew incredible things starting with two pencil scratches, and amused us no end.

So, Pothathaana. I am sure that fellow has long since passed on to places where he will not be considered mad. But his memory remains in our family. As a sartorial style, a remembering of those long-ago days of jasmines, and that bitter-sweet feeling of many a lost innocent childhood.

(that is a photo taken in a lift and that is an outfit that is meant to be worn 'Pothathaana' style).

And yes, I pass on this photo-story tag to you girls - pg, chox, airspy, wordjunkie.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Where have you gone?

  • Blue, moth-eaten exercise mat for my ab-exercise sessions
  • Pink dabba with puff and a bit of Johnson talc for even application of powder
  • Stash of handkerchiefs for monster and my snot-related considerations
  • Orange carpet-dhurrie thing to replace the dirty brown one with carpenters footprints on them
  • Maroon cushion covers (six) for colour in the living room
  • Grey Jaipuri looking embroidered sheet for hiding nastiness of couch
  • Blue Nike sweatshirt with the bleach-patch in the back for morning gym sessions
  • Black and gold bumblebee costume & pink butterfly wing for packing away in box
  • Large brown Timberland trekking shoes that had surfaced recently
  • Fridge magnets carefully collected over the years (plus have to go a tag on these)
  • Bag of laundry bags for collecting the shirts in
  • Credit card bill since the wolves are now baying at the door
  • Household maintenance bill since ditto
  • Address book with details of maid and cook's loan amounts for giving motivational lecture
  • Normal, 24 hour days; really the jokes gone too far now; I cannot manage this.