Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

looking back

I read a secret seven mystery, after maybe two decades. It was a book my niece had left behind after her holiday. What can I say, I not only enjoyed the book but felt the suspense, too. After all, it was the summer holidays!

Since when I can remember, summer holidays meant going to Kerala where the grand parents were. And, since when my mother discovered my love for reading, I was bought a book to read in the train.

During the Nancy Drew – Hardy Boy’s phase, I could barely resist starting the book, which my prudent mother had bought only the day before the journey, in the railway station, while waiting for the train that was already late.

I always asked for and got the topmost berth and there I stayed reading and munching and occasionally, coming down to have the Indian railways meal. I barely saw the landscape then, I did not care much for it all. It was just an annual ritual, which brought much happiness to my mother and father.

Mom used to be joyous and radiant, yes, incandescently so. Dad, what with his quick humour and ability to make anybody laugh, had an air of lightness and belonging, here with his family and among his childhood friends.

I, find myself, in their shoes now. Of course, there really are no three-day long train journeys and connection trains. But, the annual ritual continues.

The pace of the days is so deliciously and languorously slow that there is no place for stress. The children are left to themselves, because unlike in the cramped apartment, there is always someone looking on them and there is always something to do.

Sometimes, it is time for the cows to be milked or the goats to be tied at a greener patch of grass. Or, a group of peacocks decide to prance through the tall grasses in all their pride. The sun hides behinds clouds and the dragonflies hover above us in the afternoons.

There are things to look forward to, like their grandfathers’ coming home in the evening with a chocolate for each of them or the nice lady coming by to drop the day’s milk.

While I am busy catching up with the news of all in the families, meeting relatives, indulging in a bit of shopping and making plans of the next get-together at either the engagement or wedding or some celebration that is bound to happen in the days we are there, little madam and chotte nawab discover them selves with a sense of freedom and independence.

(something I wrote soon after the holidays at home and forgot about)

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...added because, summer holidays are always, green and bright :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

love it


when you say, you will not be able to carry me next year, when I'll be seven years old. or, when you get up really late in the morning and find everyone else awake and say, Oh I must have seen a long dream. I ask, what was your dream. You say, I forgot, but I got up so late, it must have been long.
how you love patterns, "patturms," as you call it. spots, stripes, dots, lines, waves, squiggles, and, oh so many colours. thought I'd make a little note, lest I forget in the hullabaloo of life carrying me forward, leaving me with little time to look back and reminisce.

the first day

of the last month of the year. Bright and sunny. Like the perfect day to muse and look behind, look within, look around and look ahead. Decide what to change and what to carry forth into another year.
I have in front of me my journal, written in hand, with a page titled 'foresight into resolutions.' Can't help but smile that I have managed to fulfill at least two as much as I can. And, there are that I absolutely forgot about.
And, then there are two, which I will hold close in my heart for I did not do them justice at all. #3 ... do something/ do what it takes/ change the things you can, accept the things you cannot... and pray to God to know the difference! #6 Put a seal on your lips, a smile on you face. Talk quietly, think quietly and be quiet in action!
For those who know me and my dramatic ways and the amounts of energy I release as noise or chatter or hyper-anxiety would laugh at #6. But, I am pleasantly surprised that I actually was wise enough, and knew myself as much, more than a year ago.
A friend and reader of my blog told my she carries within her a word and practices it in all walks of her life till, I suppose, it just becomes part of her. And, at the dawn of another year, she imbibes within her a new word, a new principle, a new way of living.
I know my word for 2011. Kindness. I am witty, funny, sarcastic, nice, encouraging and so many more good and bad things, but, I lack empathy in speech and thought. Especially, when I feel insecure, not confident enough or when I, more often than not, have to let go of my plans and desires and live and deal with what God proposes.
I am smart enough to know that what comes out of the mouth in those ungaurded moments is nothing more than what I hold in my heart. To release all that negativity in me might not be possible in a year, but I have to start somehwere.
What would be your word, your mantra for the coming year?


PS
Re-reading this post makes me feel quite naked. I might just not let it be public for long. So, if you read it and want to come back to it and do not find it, I just decided to let this stay within me for a while.


Monday, November 29, 2010

'meaningful'

Everytime I hit a block, I disappear from the scene altogether. How I wish it was writer's block! But, I have realised, that anything not going my way saps me of my imagination, my will to push myself beyond the domestic humdrum and my discipline to carry forward my home, hearth and creative pursuits together.
That I have been told I want too much and that I am in daily contact with people who are content with the way things are was beginning to make me an ingrate. This girl who waited to be 18 to elope with her boy friend finds ecstasy in keeping house and waiting for the man to return. She takes pride in feeding her son and her husband and enjoys spending every free moment with them. She has found her bliss. *winks* at Shalini
Then, there is this girl, with two daughters the same age as my children, who is delighted the amway way. I see her delivering products, interacting with customers till sometimes nine in the night. She has a spring to her step and always a smile on her face. This is her bliss.
I have never seen her looking troubled, not even if the school bus is twenty minutes late. After all she has someplace to go, always. To tell people about the new amway ad. And, she is looking successful with each passing day.
The Story of Success. The title, by Malcolm Gladwell, called to me from afar, on a particularly low day three months ago. I read it to find, there really is no story 'of' success. There really is only the story 'to' success, story of determination, perseverance, opportunity and right attitude.
What tided these successful people through the long days and years in the dark tunnel before they saw the light way beyond was that they found their struggle, their days as the underdog, their troubles and trials "meaningful" and they persevered long and hard.
It is another thing, that in the book, success was when the seamstress' offspring becomes a lawyer or an immigrant offspring excels as a doctor. For me, there really is more to success than being a doctor or a lawyer (I am a lawyer, aren't I).
But, the spirit of overcoming unfavourable circumstances, adding dignity to their menial jobs with integrity and hard work and plodding along till they struck at the right opportunity strike a chord, even inspire.
There really is no true joy than to find one's life, one's daily grind "meaningful." There really is no better bliss than to take pride in oneself and the cards that life dealt you with. There is really nothing more to life but to do the best each day, underdog or best bet!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Children's Day out

The Sunday, before school re-opened after Diwali vacations, loomed long ahead. As the children ate their daily breakfast of idli-sambhar (yes, they eat it every single day and no, dosas won't do for a change) the husband makes plans for a late brunch. We decided to go townside, which is about one and a half hours away with no traffic.

We spiced things up by taking the local train. By the time we reached, after dressing up and leaving as hurriedly as possible, it was after 12.30pm and we tweaked the plans to lunch at Five Spices, a chinese restaurant. After lunch, we packed some cheesecakes for home and set out to see the Gateway of India and decide what to do next over kulfis there.

My secret plan of a boat ride to the Ajanta caves (and, the photo opportunities) were quelled by the long queues snaking across the Gateway front. But, we disturbed the afternoon siesta of a horse and its owner to take us for a ride on the horse-cart decked with red heart shaped balloons. Where only the boats and sea caught the attention of the children, and, the magnificence of the Gateway hardly registered in their little minds, they were mighty delighted for the adventurous ride.

Some pictures I took from the train, taxi and the horse-cart of the day. Stepping down at Chhatrapathi Shivaji Terminus station, i gaped at the stained glass detail. Did never expect it at a railway station!

CST station

The Times of India building, where I had this morbid idea of doing the 26/11 trail.

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Pondering over brunch or lunch!

the guy thing

Totally kicked to see the pin code, because ours is 400218. That's how far we came.

wow

Why don't the clock towers I see show the right time?

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Someone who loves leaves as much as me.

loving leaves

Spotted.

spotted

Stop. Shut.

stop. shut.

The Gateway of India.

Gateway of India

cliched

the Arabian Sea

The Shivaji statue and the Taj hotel, in that order.

silhouetted

the Taj hotel




Friday, November 12, 2010

yesterday

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little miss trainer

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masterchef

a little shock to see my cup of tea hijacked, little miss trainer with her pet and my masterchef!

PS
I should be hanged for turning a blind eye to the little blessings in my life.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

beyond inception

Every day is a new birth. Every thought is the beginning of possibilities. There is hope and positivity in every second of everyday. Inception is, actually, easy. What is hard is the afterwards, the later-on, the middle of every battle.

I am now, in what can safely be called, the beginning of almost everything. My marriage is inching towards the seven year itch, and hoping it will go on for a long time. The kids are in kindergarten. I still feel a novice in the kitchen, and it always feels like my first day at the job whilst juggling the mundane chores, everyday.

in the beginning

Yet, there are moments, hours, days, when the tedium, the sheer repetetiveness of everyday gets demoralising. Telling myself that had I been an editor, I would be doing pages or issues over and over like every other job is not making me feel better anymore.

What has happened, I feel, is that I have reconciled to the nasty truth that I will not be working outside the house ever. Sure, everyone tells me that being a teacher is the best for me. I don't want to be around kids 24X7. God knows I am with kids, about kids, for kids all the time, just that they are mine and they are just two, so there really is nothing to feel great about.

Financial independence is not as enticing as the fact that I need to interact with adults, take on some responsibility and feel good at the end of the day that I have not neglected myself or the kids and chores.

But, what's scaring me at the moment is that I have yet to reach the middle with the plodding without results nowhere in sight, self-doubts and those of the path chosen and the call for higher qualities of patience and perseverance and faith. I cannot decide between wanting to see the future and marching into it unknowingly, unwaveringly.

I am sure by then, I will not have the courage to start again. No way, and let all these years go waste! The way I am, I think I'll just pick up the burden, adjust their weight so I am as comfortable as I can be under the circumstances and continue the journey.

the middle

There will be new friends cheering me on and old friends standing by me, strenghtening me, giving me solace. The 'middle' might not be the most pleasant place, but I would be less confused, more focused and experienced, and much more contained.

Giving birth is easy, not just because I had two C-sections. You are buoyed by anticipation and high on expectations. But, when the charm of mystery is gone and reality stares at you and ages of it, really, it takes much more than courage and strengh of character to look it back and give it all.

Wishful thinking? A girl's gotto dream :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

its 10.59 pm

thought it must be very early in the morning when I couldn't sleep.

something must be on my mind, but, when I think of it nothing comes to mind.

garbha music still playing in the neighbourhood!

what time is it?

get up from bed to look for my phone, which I found in the living room.

what! its just 10.49 in the night.

why don't I log on, maybe someone sent me mail or a message on FB...

nothing.

feeling worse now.

might as well shut down.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

yesterday

... was when my three year old woke up early. Very early, even before the milk was dropped by my door. So, we coochie-cooed, then played with the blackster and then when I went to boil and then cool the milk for him, he did "peentig," as he calls what is seen in the picture below.

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That, sadly, is also my 2010 diary. Yes, I should have have kept it back in its proper place. And, then, after sometime I saw corainder flowers for the first time. Did not expect them to be this soft shade of lilac, ever.

coriander flower

Just one more day to the weekend. On that happy note, I'll get back to making lunch.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Saturday soiree

I was bubbling with excitement Saturday morning as it was Minu's birthday and Harish's day off. I had been hoping it would be, because Minu and I wanted to go clothes shopping in Crawford market and this had been on the cards since forever. At least, the going clothes shopping part, the venue changes from Bandra to Colaba to Kala Ghoda to the then showing exhibition and so on.

Minu is my best friend (and would-have-been soulmate, but she's too elegant and proper for me) since almost five years ago. But, I have known her since the tenth standard. There was definitely a connect then, but she had her circle and I had come to the school too late to have any circle, but fit-in-and-stood-out as always, everywhere.

Now, she lives just three stations away and by Mumbai standards we are technically neighbours. But, then today was Minu's birthday. That was never on the cards. Anyways, our plan was to start at 10.30 am, and as is the case with all mommys snucking out, it didn't happen untill one-and-a-half hours later. Now, at 12.30 pm, with rain looing darkly, thunderingly close, both were sceptical of the hour long train ride to Crawford Market.

So, we went to the nearest mall, just two station away and first, she treated me to kababs and afghani biriyani at Kareem's and we sat and talked and laughed and talked and sat for three hours. After noticing the waiters giving us the 'hate' look we hurried off to the numerous stores and tried on a lot of things that mommas shouldn't be seen in, giving each other the thumbs-up.

Sauntering through the busy mall, we came upon this store that sold jaipuri cotton clothes and nick nacks and well, yeah, this we had to buy. And, it being in a mall and all, it was quite pricey. But, then since we are best friends, we think alike and like alike and we zeroed in on a soft cotton material in blue and green not unlike the colours on a peacock feather and decided to split it half and half and get kurtis stitched. We are so house-wifely thrifty, blah!

After the leg-aching walk in and out and through stores like westside, fabindia, guess, esprit (came to know that the 't' in esprit is silent just a few months ago), we revived our flagging selves with iced mochas. Gee, it was painful getting upto leave costa's, I could have slept in those cushions that sunk in deliciously under my weight.

Luckily, her husband picked us up so we didn't have to do the rick-train-rick stint again and he was kind enough to drop me home before he took his beautiful wife out to dinner. It was a beautiful day, like perfect.

Cut to today, three days after.

This afternoon at lunch, I was thinking, why can't the kids just shut up and eat and I knew that I had had the taste of freedom, of laughter and conversation and that unhibited feeling of being, well, young (for want of a better word)... after a long time. Suppressing the desire to rush out and ring Minu's doorbell so that we could both run away from the domestic humdrum forever, et tu sensible brain, I sat through the messy lunch and the baby talk, resolving to do this again.

dettol
one of the things I bought. yes, we use dettol, what with a dog and a parrot and a three year old menace.

Monday, October 11, 2010

of nomenclature

I love names. Names always have a meaning, a story, and I wonder how and why the name, at times. I love my name, too. My mom was so happy when I told her that because she doen't like her name, Suma. I was named from a name in a Malayalam magazine. Shilpa was not at all a common name then, states mom.

Harish was named by his elder sister for a character in her textbook. I read in Shah Rukh Khan's interview in a second-hand Filmfare in college that he'd love to have a daughter and name her muskaan or suhana. Now, muskaan was too sweet to be "my" daughter, so I hoped I'll be able to name her Suhana, and I did.

Abraham is also my father-in-law's name. Since my son is technically the heir (how very serial-like na), my ma-in-law insisted he be named Abraham and not just in the church. Well, lovely daughter-in-law that I am, I complied, not in the least because she had had a heart-valve transplant only three months ago.

Ahem, the reluctant homemaker was first named 'raving and ranting.' Renamed, after I found some balance in life now that the son, too was out of his diapers. I think I used to be raving mad those days. The blog was actually where I wrote and fretted over posts to the kitchen window, bless its soul.

The kitchen window (I swear I typed gently, there's something about your first blog, job, child that makes you voice soft, eyes moist or makes you bang on the keypad ever so softly, like with respect) was the title of a short story I wanted to write. Inspired by the considerate bonding (very rare) my cook Fathima had for my house maid Farzana. I was pregnant with Abi and I had this crazy idea of getting Fati married to Farzana's son. But, by landlord intervention, we had to move house and that was that.

There are poetic instance of naming, too. Like my cousin Veena named her daughter Shruthi. An aunt of mine named her son Abu beacuse he was conceived on holiday at Mount Abu in Rajasthan. And, now after staring at the screen and listening to the generator for seven minutes, I am convinced I have no more names with interesting stories to share.

But, I'd like to know your anecdotes and stories to your names. Do tell me.


PS
Last week, as Suhana did her homework, I was advising her on how she should do her daily studies and blah and more, when she screams in her sweet voice and tells me that I am making her lose her "contraction." :D See, A muskaan could never have said that!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October wish

wanderlust

Wanderlust beckons, and I am having urges to go out of the house... to see, feel and explore. And, am adding more such landscapes to my flickr favourites!


1. F L Y I N G. Essaouira, 2. Allepey, India [explored], 3. Boathouse, 4. alright, let's halt for the day..., 5. one fine evening, 6. Morning Mist, 7. fence friday (Explore), 8. Foggy Daybreak

Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Friday, October 1, 2010

the first time

Hello October and autumn and all that comes with it. While everyone's thoughts are on nesting, my feet are itching to travel and do something different, not radically, but something out of my restraining routine. Easier said than done!

But, this Friday morning, in stead of visitng the local market for fish and vegetables, my neighbour and I took a "sharing-auto" as it is called in these parts to the next station, Panvel... and walked down to the market there and bought our weekly stock.

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It was my first time in such a rickshaw and I'm glad I did it on the first of the month. For me, it was as exciting as the rides in similar rickshaws in Thailand.

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And, I have a good mind to try something new for the first time on the first of every month!

Monday, September 27, 2010

my cozy corner and link party

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Thunder may roll, lightning may streak the sky and it might pour for four days and nights in a row, but when I settle down at this corner, I can confidently state, 'this too shall pass!'

Linking up with Patricia's September Cozy Corners... thank you Patty!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

deja vu

All was back to routine. She sighed and sipped her morning cup of tea. It had been a flurry of activity and nerves the last three days. Her uncle and aunt were visiting along with their son and daughter-in-law and their two kids.
Se had fond memories of long stays in their home as a kid. And it was the first time they were coming over after her marriage. This felt special and she had wanted to make the occasion special.
After the phone call, she was excited to make it all happen. After all, there were just three days to lunch. And she was surprised to get cold feet because “what to cook?” kept flashing in her mind.
Sticking to what she knew best had been a really good idea, but she had not wanted to make her standard menu of biriyani. The guests were coming from Hyderabad and who could top a hyderabadi biriyani?
She smiled now as she remembered how she had wished and prayed fervently for some creative outburst or a flash of divine intervention to make that ho-hum flavour change to wow and yum!
The next day had been spent cleaning, clearing and sprucing up the house. When looking in the drawer for a table runner, she had come across two rose scented candles that she had completely forgotten about and now were placed on the coffee table.
She had smelt them more than once in the kitchen these last two days. They had brought back memories of holidays in her grandmother’s house in Kerala and the garden with bougainvilleas and ferns and roses and how every meal had a distinct flavour that still made her mouth water.
She had decided then that she would keep the menu simple, homely and easy so that it was also a pleasure to make. Her grandmother had looked happy as she had gone about her daily chores and that happiness reflected everywhere in the house.
She had bought the fish and the meat and everything else that would be needed. On the way to buy ice cream for the kids, in case they did not like fruits, she stopped at the florists and bargained for some pink carnations to match the runner.
That was how flower vase on top of the refrigerator had been put to some use for once. And in keeping with the homely theme, the simple fare was served with all lending a hand and bantering and bits of gossip and lots of laughter.
The hours had flown away and it had been time for them to leave. “I’m so glad you didn’t make biriyani,” her aunt had said, starting another fit of giggles.
All was back to routine now. As she stretched and finished her cup of tea, she was glad she had stuck to her instincts and made the lunch part of good memories for all.



The above excerpt was written more than three years ago, when I was probably obsessed about writing in the third person. But, I found the general feelings and thoughts echoed, as I got ready for friends who came to dinner Saturday night. But, to my credit, I was a lot faster this time!

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As usual, it was simple, traditional and homely fare with lots of yellow roses and strong scents of green tea and lemon wafting from a corner in every room... was a little conscious of the 'doggie smell' that we don't even realise is there. I am thankful for the time spent together, the laughter and teasing and God! do I need to meet old friends more.

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Have a lovely Sunday :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the blackster

Its been four nights that the husband is away and the blackster takes his place as leader of the pack very seriously indeed. But, now, I am able to sleep through the barking bouts hardened as I am to sleep well in between bouts of crying, feeds, nappy changes and colic!

But, tonight he is friskier. Pawing me (the rascal) and pulling off my light quilt, whenever I don’t shush him. I tip toe around the bedroom, the living room and back. There is enough water in his bowl, the bathroom doors are left ajar for when he needs to go, and surprisingly, the other residents are fast asleep.

Back in the bedroom again, I find the floor cold. That is it. I had forgotten to put back his rug, after the evening mop-up. The poor doggie! Not that he needs its warmth… I spread the rug, but with one jump he has it all scrunched up.

A warm growl and two grunts later, he is all settled and blissfully chewing an end of his rug, both eyes on me as I try to find me some space between the kids who are now all arms and poky knees on the bed.

such moments are few and far-between
****
Morning's are a mad rush to catch the school bus. SInce the arrival of the blackster, it is a riot after 7.00 am, when the son is also woken up. FIrst, the pet shows his love to his human siblings, usually resulting in glasses of milk knocked from tiny hands by an exuberantly wagging and strong tail.

If only that were the end of it, the puppy hates that no one pays much attention to him and so tries to be cute by running away with the hair brush or a school shoe or socks or something vitally necessary at that point of time... and he knows exactly what to pick so that he can have me screaming or one of the kid's in tears.

So, dearest Blackie is now locked up and remains so until the kids are almost halfway to school and I saunter back home after a short chat with other mommas. Signing off with pictures of the petulant blackster, who this morning sat on my lap on our couch for at least five minutes licking, sniffing, chewing on me. Then, probably satisfied, that he was now the centre of attention till afternoon he walked away to his spot under the dining table.

My creation


PS
pictures courtesy Harish, my husband and sounding board, who is doing a really good job of documenting our life on the camera :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

revel in the sun

It gives me immense pleasure to have some quiet time by myself before I dive into my day with all its chatter and barking and noise...
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... a really short time it was, but it has anchored me for today, and well, tomorrow is another day :)
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Hope the middle of the week is treating you well!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

brooding

there came this little bit of sun into my Saturday morning filling me with joy and enthusiasm to smile at the world...
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...even my row of newly repotted aloe plants seemed to rejoice!
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till less than an hour, when it was raining and sogging my spirits down..
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except I don't know why I never got the serenity to accept and enjoy the moment like my wise little three year old!!
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

perusing

The last book I read was heavy. It was “the Last Mughal” by William Darlymple and the first book of its kind (a little text bookish and historic and purebred non-fiction) I read. I loved the description of character, opulence, routine life of India in the times of the Revolt of 1857.

beginning

And, I absolutely fell in love with this author, who so deliciously and ingeniously brought forward the nuances of each character, so much so, they actually talked and twitched and narrowed their eyes in my mind’s eye. There also is this chapter, where he brings forth the differences in the daily routines of the British Raj and life in the Mughal palace. The fluid way the chapter connected the two is sheer poetry in prose!

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But, the book was one long chapter in my life and took me three seasons to see it through the end. No giggles or snickers when I show you the size of the teeny-weeny books I picked up last week. That two of them are collections of short stories is not coincidental at all.

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With me now fighting for the much touted and overrated ‘me-time,’ I make it a point to read at least 10-15 pages daily. And, with short stories, you don’t need to book mark, or flip back to remember who’s who and, the best part, a sigh of contentment for at least one thing well done that day.

The title (I do exclaim these days!!) was what made me grab Roald Dahl’s book, while the picture on the cover of ‘the Last Mughal’ captivated me. And, in the case of the soft-spoken Ruskin Bond (I heard him on the TV), I knew I would love his descriptions of the people and sights of rural India. After all, he described and engaged me with his description of foliage and bees and mountains in ‘the Book of Nature.’
Then, these also arrived from Amazon. This is the Bible for now :)

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