Thursday, December 28, 2006

At Long Last, Home

2 things of note.

New home. Total furniture comprises 2 bookshelves, a mattress, some cushions and rugs, and lots of floor lamps. Love it. LOVE it. :)

In approximately 8 hours, god and airlines willing, I shall be on my way across the Atlantic, thence on my way across Asia Minor, the Red Sea and wherever else, en route to Bombay. Where I will revel in Nariman Point dosa-wallah's idli, chilli beef at Leo's, that lassi in a bottle, masala alu sandwich, et al. And also meet some old friends. And thereafter, Cal. Sleep starved and brain-dead, there is still a grin, ear-to-ear, on my face tonight.

More from home, the land of phuchka and shingara, New Market and Park Street, and my room with green leaf sunshine and the warm breath of dogs on my face in the mornings. Huzzah.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Holly, Berries And Yule Logs For You

One of the nicest things about growing up in Calcutta was, I think, the fact that there was almost no festival that didn't belong to one, that one couldn't celebrate. Pujo, Christmas, Easter, Diwali... all were celebrated with equal enthusiasm - either as occasions to enjoy the warmth of family and friends, or as opportunities to overdose on the city's carnival atmosphere: Ferris wheels in corner parks, fish fry and biriyani at food stalls lining the streets, midnight mass at St. Paul's cathedral, huge warm bricks of fruitcake, walking down Lansdowne Road at 3:00 a.m. on New Year's Eve, being passed by cars full of extremely happy people serenading one with new year wishes (or, in some cases, when they had imbibed a little too much alcohol and gotten confused about the date, yuletide greetings). Calcutta took every festival and inhabited it. Every religious festival was an opportunity for everyone interested to get involved and enjoy themselves.

Which is why I find it strange that in the US, it is politically incorrect to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Apparently, some people might be offended by a misplaced greeting, be it ever so warm and well-meant. When you greet someone here, you can, at best, wish them a happy new year, and if you really want to be correct, your greetings stockpile is limited to a bland "Season's Greetings".

But to hell with political correctness. To all, a Merry Christmas. May you enjoy the season with brownies and samosas (as I did every year, after the school nativity play). May you catch the Christmas special on TV, with that little boy with the awesome voice singing "O Holy Night", and may you sing along loudly and tunelessly. May you have fruitcake after inedible fruitcake delivered to your home. May you revive yourself with friends and laughter, wine and feasting, and not be sick afterwards. And may you be big enough to celebrate festivals even when you don't observe them.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Random Thoughts

Atlanta, Georgia. I take the team out for dinner on Peachtree St (of Gone With The Wind fame) and get back to my hotel at 11:00. Work for a couple of hours. Before I know it, it's 1:30 a.m. I have a 4:30 a.m. start, and begin to wonder if there's any point in sleeping at all. Even consider the idea of going to bed complete dressed for the next morning, so that I can tumble out of bed and into the car the next morning. Go into the bathroom (this aids contemplation, in case you were wondering) and stare at myself in the mirror for a while. Brush my hair. And as I do, I see that the few grey hairs I've had since I was 18 have begun to procreate and produce new ones. Almost in a daze, I begin to count them, separating each strand. 1, 2, 3, 4... when I get to 16, I stop counting.

Kansas City, Missouri. On Tuesday night, before I left for Atlanta, the weather forecast predicted crisp, cold weather in Kansas on Friday. As the aircraft zooms down low over Kansas City, I wake up, and notice the ground covered in patches of glistening white. Hard to tell from up here whether it's sand or snow. I remain undecided until we land, and then, as the plane taxies to the terminal, patches of ice glistening on the runway catch my eye. Shit, I think. An unexpected snowstorm the previous day has covered freeways and roads, and on my way to my meeting, I see cars stuck in snowdrifts on the road. Once off the freeway, we get onto roads that the ploughs have not tackled yet - icy roads on which cars have slowed down to a crawl. Absolutely nothing all around. "Buckle up, Dorothy, cos Kansas is going bye-bye" runs endlessly through my brain. The airport has tornado shelters. Needless to say, my flight back to Newark has been delayed - thunderstorms near Newark have caused all incoming and outgoing flights to be grounded. When the boarding announcement for our flight is finally made, the waiting crowd cheers loudly. Suck as it may, I will be glad to get back to Edison.