Tweet Talk

The cheery morning had us all chirping – much like the world around us. A beautiful, bright, sunny November morning around the time of Thanksgiving is always a special time. The glorious world around us transformed into multi-colored hues, and the auditory world rich with the orchestra of birds made our human companions on the trail more friendly as well. Every single one of them cheerily greeted one another on what a lovely morning it was. The world seemed to be in harmony.

Geese lifted out of their slumbering fields and flew squawking great big messages to one another as they splashed down into the lakes and rivers nearby. The blackbird murmurations overhead trilled and flew flashing their streaks of red in marvelous patterns overhead. The californian blue jays swooped among the marshes and the trees, their brilliant azure feathers twinkling and shining in the rays of the sun. The great blue herons and egrets stood waiting in their great cloaks of grey and white, relishing their solitude and just being part of the great lovely world around them. 

I read somewhere that people who were among many birds were generally less stressed in life, and I could readily imagine why. The joyous chirps, blending together in a great, harmonious orchestra along with the swift usage of wings to fly up and above, taking one’s spirits with you is enough to reduce the stress. 

I sniffed rapturously and we walked on. The ponds in the marshes seemed perfect for reflection, and the mind wandered. I took some pictures: not too many, and certainly not of great quality for posterity. There were talented photographers  for that. I have several friends whose photographs have that essence of transcending the current space and time and tranporting you to that very moment they captured. How they manage to catch the birds in flight is beyond me. I said as much to the son, who gave me an amused look at yet another blurry picture I took of a nesting heron in the marshes. 

Seeing how enamored I am with our winged companions in this world, the daughter got me a book titled Bird Cottage – by Eva Meijer for my birthday. I look forward to reading it. I looked at the son as we walked on in companionable silence, and told him so.

“Now, I am reading a book on hummingbirds.” 

“I am sure you are!” He said with a smile on the corner of his lips.

“Less sass young man. It is a fascinating book. “

“That’s what I meant. You would like to read a whole book on hummingbirds. What’s it about?” he said indulging me as he walked on.

I was proud of the fellow. He had been promised a short, zipping bike ride with the wind blowing against his face. Instead, here he was on a long walk. On the trudge back, he said, “I think I am going to go home and replace my legs with another pair. They hurt!”, and he laughed raucously at his own joke.

“It would be nice to fly on home, wouldn’t it? Become a hummingbird so we can fly swiftly and purposefully home every few minutes if you so wish!”

I told him about this person who lives in Marin County who takes on orphaned hummingbirds and nurses them back to life. “They need to be fed every 20 minutes all day every day till they are strong enough to be released into the wild.” I said.

“Wow. Why do they eat so much? They are so tiny!”

“Well! They are tiny and almost fully lungs – so you have to give them tiny portions every few minutes, so they can survive and thrive. A hummingbird mother is a very busy one. She has to fly in and out of the nest every few minutes feeding, and looking after her little ones, till they are strong enough. Just like most babies.” I said. He looked confused and awed. I addressed that look and said, “Even human babies need to be fed every couple of hours throughout the day for the first few months. You know that?”

He had a vague idea until then that babies were work, but he had no idea they needed to be fed every 2 hours.

He was quiet for a few moments digesting this piece of info. I swooped in, and gave him what the early days of human baby care looked like. I rounded it off saying, “Yep! You do all that, and what do they do? Sass you on walks, and roll their eyes when they are teens!” He laughed raucously frightening a goose nearby, and we spoke of this and that, the great web of life, and the fantastic nature of living.

Pirates Vs Ninjas

I suppose I can laugh about it now. Though the crick in the neck disagrees just a teensy teensy bit.

The whole unfortunate episode reminded me yet again of how marvelous children are. Allow me to mist my eyes up a bit and remember.

“What are you doing?” I said to no one in particular though there seemed to be a herd of elephants in the room above me stampeding through the forests and jumping into the river.

Just imaginating!” Came the familiar reply, and despite the elephants-in-room feeling, I smiled. In our home, the act of pure imagination has been given a verb-form all on its own. Imaginating, we call it, and go about our business of imagination without batting an eyelid. 

A few hours later, I asked him, “Won’t you hurt yourself? Jumping and tumbling about like that – from the bed, to the table and back again through the chairs?”

He smiled and said simply, “No amma! I won’t hurt myself. Besides, it is the only way when you are trying not to put your feet on the floor.” He rolled his eyes. Must adults be this thick?!

I felt a big cloud of fog roll into the brain. “But, why must you not put your feet on the floor, my dear?”

A sheepish grin met my innocent query, and he said he was pretending to be a ninja fighting pirates, and ninjas do not walk on floors like normal people. Pirates, I was told, had no problems jumping vigorously into battle, and the elephants-thundering-sensation must have been the pirates piece of the imagination, not the ninjas.

I praised the universe for an imagination, and went on to soothe my head, while he blithely tumbled and crouched and leapt from one vantage point to another in the battle.

Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea,

There I’ll establish a city for me:

A kirk and a mill and a palace beside,

And a harbour as well where my vessels may ride.

This one is sailing and that one is moored:

Hark to the song of the sailors aboard!

And see, on the steps of my palace, the kings

Coming and going with presents and things!

Robert Louis Stevenson – Child’s Garden of Verse
A Child’s Garden of Verse – Robert Louis Stevenson

The next morning, the sun peeked out from behind the autumnal clouds, wondering whether or not to shine, when it happened. I miscalculated the depth and the breadth of the bed, and tumbled out. I suppose it would have been one of those funny videos when watched in slow motion, but all I remember is a pretty tumble, and a sort of dull crick in the neck before I rolled again and came to be a pile on the floor. 

The sun is a star. We see thousands of stars at night. But do you see thousands of them by day when the sun has decided to show itself too? I wasn’t sure, but that was what I saw. Within moments, I had the loving son rushing downstairs for a glass of water and packet of frozen peas, while the husband tried to help me up, and assess the bone-situation given my propensity of breaking them

For concerned readers, I am fine. Nothing happened except that I am still sore. Three days later, I asked the son wistfully how he managed his imaginating. My neck still felt sore and my head hurt when I tilted it just so. The house needed cleaning and the food needed cooking, and the neck needed resting. What was to be done?

He looked sorry for me, and shrugged. “Maybe you can imaginate that you will win your castle in battle?”

“That sounds like a good plan. My castle only needs cleaning before the army arrives. I can dance and make merry in preparation for the royal ball?!” I said, and we smiled.

I was a royal queen who was also a fantastic dancer as I cooked and cleaned. Robert Louis Stevenson would have been proud.

A Rainy Day Adventure

“Just like that, summer collapsed into fall.”

Oscar Wilde

“I like that quote and plan to use it on my blog!” I said, sitting down in front of the teenage daughter’s wall of quotations, though I was feeling luxuriously wet. Summer had collapsed into fall just like that! How these writers find the exact sentiment!

“Hey! That is my quote.” 

“Looks like Oscar Wilde’s to me.” I said and she laughed. I looked appreciatively at the quotes she had pinned up. She has some saucy ones, some spicy ones, some warm ones and some ‘meh’ ones as she calls them.

The rains had set in with a whim and the day in my mind was magical. It was a Sunday, and for a change we had arranged life so that nobody had anywhere to go that day.  A rare luxury. Marvelous days of rain and clouds with no list of  engagements can be quite liberating, and I had taken myself on a walk with a friend who was willing to bear the elements. We may have had a few close calls in which the umbrellas insisted on flying off with the winds, or the rains lashed in at an angle not expected, but overall, it was a marvelous walk. I felt alive, wind-whipped, cold, wet, and all the smells of nature mingled and tingled my nostrils. 

“Do you remember that little book, A Rainy Day Adventure, that you both loved as children. Your grandfather was quite sick of it. The one where the elephant, tiger, and monkey went to shelter under the tree from the rain, and when the elephant was dry, the tiger wasn’t; and when the tiger inched in, the monkey was wet?” The pair of them laughed at that story. They did remember. It was a sweet book that had served many an afternoon adventure for them. The tiger did not like getting wet at all, and consequently takes off in a huff to find shelter elsewhere. Read in their grandfather’s stentorian voice, it was always accompanied by an hilarious laugh, when the tiger falls into the river and gets completely drenched, and is pulled out by the elephant and monkey.

I sighed happily. “I didn’t exactly plop into the river like the tiger, but I was quite wet. I felt like a little girl in Lovedale again, the winds, the rains, and the scents of eucalyptus and pine were just so. The ducks were having so much fun in the fast flowing waters of the river swollen from a mere stream to a gushing river in the rains.”, I said rapturously.

The daughter had a moment of indecision. Should she, or should she not? Finally, she said, “You paint a promising picture of the rainy day adventure, it sounds fun! Maybe, I’ll try it.” I whooped with joy and then went downstairs to get her set up with a sturdier umbrella and some boots before sending her on the way.

I went upstairs to change, and for the first time cursed the double paned windows that were touted as a marvelous feature when we moved in to the new nest. Mostly, I appreciate them, for there is no outside noise that percolates into the home. But today, I wanted the noise to percolate into the home. I wanted to hear the wind buffeting the dear home, I wanted to hear the gurgling waters as they sped towards the gutters cleaning up the months of summer dust with them, I wanted to hear the momentous crash that sent half a sturdy tree crashing down in the front. But I heard none of that. 

A few minutes later, the daughter crashed into the home, looking like a battered duck that flew into a tree, and said to the husband. “Amma here! She really ought to be checked. The way she spoke about it, I thought it was mild to moderate rains, and you can just listen to the pitter-patter of rain-drops against the umbrella. Nothing like that! I was almost swept off my feet several times by the winds, the umbrella turned inside-out at least 3 times, and all this in a 15 minute walk inside our community! Look at her looking so happy after being soaked like this!” 

I laughed heartily, and said, “Well, I did tell you it was a good rainy day adventure. I never extolled a gentle stroll. I called it an adventure! That is what it is. Come! Admit it – you loved it.” She threw her hands up in the air and shook herself to dry like a dog does. A few minutes later, I found her holding a large cup of hot chocolate that she had made for herself and her little brother. “I am going to my room, lighting a scented candle with pumpkin spices, listening to some music, curling up with a good book, and sipping hot chocolate. That is what you are supposed to do on a day like this, not take off on sloshy walks.”

“I heartily agree. “ I said, calling after her. “Admit it! You appreciate this all the more because of the rainy day adventures.” She laughed in spite of herself.

I recognized the wisdom in her words, and did the same. The coziness of a rainy autumn day is heavenly indeed. 

The river after the downpour

The Magical Optometrists

“Isn’t this such a lovely family outing?” I said. I was smiling and genuinely happy at the mid-week outing. It felt special, and I felt this merited acknowledging it.

The daughter, leaned forward in her car seat and gave a genuine throaty laugh.

“Oh gosh! Why must you be like this huh?”

“But it is nice.”

“Yes ma! We are all going on a very special family outing to the optometrist.You remind me of this little fellow – loves traffic jams indeed!” she said.

I chuckled with her. It was true. The son did say he loves traffic jams, and almost had his sister snap at him the other day. The fellow’s rationale is that he gets to spend more time in the car with us playing car games. I love the innocence in that statement.

We all laughed in the car but it felt special to me all the same. There are many things about modern living that irk me.  Doctor appointments for instance. Every time, an appointment needs to be scheduled, I am astounded by how busy our medical community is. 

“Well – I see you are wanting to get the gut checked and that you cannot stand properly because of the pain. One minute – hang in there. Here you go, Dr FeelBetter can see you on Thursday 3 months from now. “

A WHAT? And a moan later, you realize that this is the sorry state of affairs. 

Or if you are setting up a well-health check for both your children, the schedule is pulled up – I can accommodate your daughter on Tuesday morning at 10:30 3 months from now and your son on Thursday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. 4 months from now. Highly exasperating, since even months out, they are unable to get one day in which one can plan to be at the doctor’s office. 

This particular optometrist, on the other hand, set up a family appointment block, and there we were, the whole family piled into the car listening to songs, chatting and clutching a dear book in hand to read at the optometrists. I sang and danced into their office. 

We were the only family there, as all the other patients had finished up earlier in the day. We sat there, quietly reading, whispering about what we heard, and generally having a nice time.

As we went in and out of rooms, getting eyes dilated, pressing buttons for testing our peripheral vision, and having the doctor peer at us wearing huge scuba driving like instruments, the experiences felt nothing short of magical. Like I said to the children, “When during the work-week do we get a chance to be in one room, hopping in and out of tests with exotic instruments and reading books together?”

I felt like I was living in a Dr Seuss book. The instruments, the tests, the pictures of the retina and the blood vessels were all nothing short of magical. Those of us needing new glasses, and contact lenses got it, and when given free samples of eye drops looked very happy.

The optometrists, their assistants and the staff probably thought we were a naturally ebullient lot, or pegged us down as needing re-evaluation when the weather cools down again. 

Oh well! After all, it is the simple things that give us the greatest of joys.

The world is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.

W.B.Yeats

Kimêtawânaw – we all play

The daughter was giving me Tea. 

‘Tea’ I was enlightened earlier, is not the beverage that I love, but interesting events of note in her life. The child told me about her new teachers, the classes, the people around her – the ones who were mean, and the ones who weren’t, something about Discord, and something else about friends with their heart strung in different directions. 

“How long since school reopened?” I asked bemused at this barrage of interesting information. 

She gave me a sheepish smile, “Well… Mother. Would you like to hear this or not?”

I nodded and she rattled on about the joys of companionship. 

The son patiently listened to all of her tales with an intent and bemused expression on his face.

“What about you my dear? How have your days been going?” I said turning to him.

Thankfully, elementary school children are still spacemen and super-heroes. The throes of the heart have not yet occupied their minds. In his stentorian voice, he regaled us with a tale of a newly invented game that others had been willing to play along with. Time-tastic Adventures. 

Apparently, the den was tasked with picking a date in the past or the future, and then, they all play and enact games during this period. Medieval times, times in the future, making their way to the stars, or the fields for strawberry picking, it was all done together.

“Such an interesting game! Did you come up with it?” I asked

He looked shy and proud at the same time. “Yes! Did you guess because it was all about time?”

I nodded. His fascination with Time and playing outside is well known.

What about you ma! What’s your highlight for today? 

I told them about the antics of a particularly adventurous little squirrel that hot summer’s day when I had gone out on an errand. All the world preferred to shelter in the trees, or stay indoors, but this one was practicing for a hurdle race. He or she ran gaining speed, and elegantly leaped over the mounds on the fence. Not once, not twice but at least for 100 meters. The Olympic committee was probably cooling off in the summer heat, but I was there – I pulled the car over and watched the little creature leap joyously.

That evening, I opened this beautiful book, We all play = kimêtawânaw By Julie Flett 

Kimêtawânaw – we all play – by Julie Flett

In simple language and beautiful pastel colored pages, the joy of play and companionship is etched.

I smiled my way through the book, and as I closed my eyes to sleep, I thought of the little squirrel jumping over the hurdles in the heat.

The little squirrel somehow embodied the spirit of choosing joy in the pursuit of happiness on that hot day. 

Often times when out on a walk I would stop to enjoy the different creatures playing outside. The ducks splashing together, the squirrels chasing each other up and down trees and running across one’s path, the co-ordinated flying of the geese, and the deer bursting into what looks like spontaneous sprints. The urge to skip and pirouette in the sunset often overwhelms me. When I think there aren’t too many people about, I give in – feeling thrilled and somewhat sheepish at the same time, for adulthood frowns on these displays of spontaneity. But, like the children say, “People know you are the official kook of the house, so you’re okay ma!”

Well, kimêtawânaw – we all play!

How to close a Black Hole and other topics

I don’t know what people usually do after they book airline tickets for their parents to come a-visiting. I found the husband contemplating deep philosophical questions about the universe while staring into a black hole. 

Image taken by a friend who is an amazing photographer

Baffling behavior really! We had trained ourselves and our visitors to avert their eyes from the hole in the ceiling. I joined him in the kitchen, and we looked long and deep into that hole above the kitchen. The universe, they say, is visible in the spaces in between. It is true. We could see spider webs, a spattering of tubes and pipes that modern plumbing usually hides from us, and a great gaping space with nothing there, not even light. The roughly cut ceiling hole was like the event horizon and we slowly learnt not to perceive past the event horizon.

As I write this, I am thinking the narrative is loose. I need to back up. What black hole? What hole in the ceiling and where does philosophy come into the picture? Valid qs – bear with me, while I set context and all that.

I’d like to take the reader back to the day after we moved to the new nest a few months ago. The kitchen ceiling was dry, birds were chirping and all was well. Things became wetter when one went to take a shower upstairs.

It turns out that something had been chipped between the kitchen and the shower upstairs. So, to make a l story s, when one showered upstairs, there was a rain-like shower in the kitchen downstairs. We plopped a bucket on the kitchen counter, and within minutes, the husband was making a call to the insurance company.

The leak itself, I am glad to say, was stopped quite competently and quickly. It is after that, that the tale of the black hole expands. The repairman sent by the insurance company had torn out an ugly assymetrical hole in the ceiling to repair the leak, and said to us that he would be back in 2 days to patch it up again. The trusting toons that the husband and I are, we wished him well, and then, many a week and month has passed waiting for the mystery man to come and fill the hole. 

We would jump at the sight of an unfamiliar vehicle in the streets outside. Maybe it is them. Then you see a man come up to us mistaking the welcoming gleam in our eyes, and ask if we would like to have the trees outside the home dusted, and the pair of us say in unison ‘Yes!’ ‘No!’. (Great minds think alike)

In any case, what I am trying to say is that there are several things like the black hole that have slipped by the wayside. Furnishing the new abode for instance, fixing the showers, the garage, the switch, the shelf. You know how it is.  

Apart from the fact that we seated our friends on the floor, learnt to divert our eye when spotting the hole in the ceiling, and had a system when it came to showers and things, all seemed good and we muddled along.

But the airline tickets ignited a fire in the man of the house. The man became The Man, The Machine, Street Hawk. A super hero in short. He whirled about the house taking care of chores, calling repairmen, plumbers, and carpenters sending reminders and thank-you notes like his career depended on them. 

A fascinating exercise really. For every time I have reached the reminder and chores section of our chats together, the man gives those large yawns. (I fear his jaws are going to tear off.) Yet, here he was, the very image of his parents a-visiting, being the epitome of efficiency.

What I must do is to book these tickets periodically whether or not they are able to come.

The Kaleidoscope of Life

Donkey Days

It isn’t everyday that one gets to meet the inspiration behind a star. 

Not just any star, but an internationally loved one, with no scandals or gossip magazines thrusting their weight of circulation and readership behind them. Where do such stars exist? you ask thinking of all the gossip columns, and the entire magazine staff making their monthly rent (and amenities) writing and analyzing their lives.

Well, such a star could only be a much admired animated character, and therefore the joy is doubly special.

It was a hot day, and the earth was baking lightly when I announced my intention to go walking with my friends in Palo Alto. The smog from forest fires nearby was almost unbearable: birds drooped and took refuge in the trees, plants smacked their lips and dug deeper for some water.  

“You’re nuts you know that? Who goes for a walk on a day like this?” , said the daughter.

I beamed in return, and said it mattered not one whit that it felt like a summer stroll on Venus, for I had very cool friends to walk with!

The daughter, being the daughter, giggled and patted my hair patronizingly.

The son, being the son, rattled off some statistics basically letting me know that Venus is far worse. But you, dear reader, I am sure you get the gist without knowing the exact megatons of carbon dioxide in Venus’ atmosphere. (For those of you still curious, please watch this video from Kurzgesagt : Terraforming Venus) This is a popular topic with the son and I have another post to write on a walk in which we discussed these seemingly impossible things. 

I meander like a drying up river losing its senses along the way on a hot summer day. Where was I? Yes – meeting a celebrity. Anyway, there we were in Palo Alto – my c.friends and I, walking down a wooded path trying to shake off the oppressive heat, and being marvelously uplifted by the conversation. 

At journey’s end, we stood there humbled by the stars of the day. Our friend had taken us to Barron Park, where the local family had maintained donkeys, and they had become a local attraction.

One of the donkeys in front of our eyes was the inspiration behind the donkey in Shrek – that gullible, loquacious, annoying donkey. These donkeys, Perry and Buddy, though were remarkably quiet, enjoying their pasture, and gazing serenely about their surroundings. 

Perry – The inspiration behind Shrek’s Donkey

Standing there and looking on these sturdy marvelous gentle animals made me think of all the loving donkeys in literature. The ones who appeared in Panchatantra stories, the fables of Aesop, Sally who is Gerald Durrell’s pet donkey, the beautiful days of life with sultan the donkey, and of course the loving term I use to sometimes refer to the children, “Kazhudhai”(meaning baby donkey in Tamil).

I headed back home with glee, and called out lovingly to the children, “Hey kutti kazhudhais. Guess who I saw today?” And out blurted the whole tale of the darling donkeys in Barron Park, and the daughter amidst her giggles said, “Oh! I thought when you called me kazhudhai, it was an insult, but it is a loving insult huh?”

I laughed. “Well, yes, I called out to Buddy and Perry, and they gave me the exact reaction that you give me. “

“What is that?”

“Acting as though they did not hear and kept on grazing happily in their little pasture.”

Her laugh would have made Donkey in Shrek proud.

I loved the donkeys of literature, the endearing “donkeys” in my life, and the gentle, sturdy, hardworking, peaceful animals that inspired the world starting from the days of Aesop, through the mangers of Nazareth, to Shrek’s donkey

School Days

It was the first day of school – back to school in-person after a year and a half of remote learning for the Elementary school goer in the home.

There we stood – the husband and I- masked, behind a line holding a throng of anxious parents at bay. The children were coming out to the school environs after such a prolonged time in front of their screens. The nervous energy, chatter and activity, muted through masks as it was, was enough to uplift the senses. 

As Miss Read says in her chronicles of life as a school teacher in a village school: The first day of school has a life and energy all its own. Even if the preceding days have been somewhat dreary, she says, the first day manages to be bright and sunny. We live in California, so our summers are not dreary. If anything, they are all too glorious with the sun beating down on us, wildflowers hanging fully on every bush and tree. Even so, the energy and bright first day of school was marvelous.

It was only as we standing there with the others that I realized how much I missed this particular experience. I used to enjoy those precious little moments in the morning looking at the children enjoying their play. (Read: Recess as the basis of culture)

The arrival of the pandemic was like an unexpected blizzard that enveloped the whole Earth in its swirl. While the swirl continues, lessening at times, picking up pace at other times, there are times when post-vaccination, we can hope to remember our normal. 

Great Red Spot - Wikipedia
Great Red Spot on Jupiter

I stood there taking in the morning energy from all the young scholars gathered in each other’s physical presence after a year and a half, and smiled to myself. The mask has its advantages. I could observe the teary young parents of kindergarteners as they embarked on this great adventure, the weary parents of the older children who were happy enough to see their children out in their school, interacting with other children again. 

I glanced at the son who’d finally found his classmates and was amused by what met my eyes. One fella had learnt how to tie his shoelaces a different way, and he stooped and showed the admiring knot of his friends not once but three times, while they watched patiently, a light shining in their eyes at this new learning. 

I couldn’t help smiling.

A few minutes later, I noticed another young fellow, good samaritan that he was, double out of line, and race towards the field, and throw a football that was slowly rolling away from them to the center of the field. He came running back and nicked back into line just as their teacher came out to summon them in, and he was met with huge roars of appreciation for his citizenship. 

Who said education only happens in the classroom?

As I walked slowly back to the car hearing the receding chatter of the young and the studious, I hoped that they would have a normal-enough year. The vaccination isn’t here yet for younger children, and we would have to keep an eye on things as they proceed. Look out for each other, help keep one another safe, and navigate this together.

Enjoy the present has taken on a new meaning in Pandemic times. Senior Sunrise

The Nature of Light

“Uggghhhhh – guess what time I have to get up in the morning tomorrow?” , said the daughter as she piled into the house. School has started, and that means the poor teenager has had to get snippy while the time was still in the ‘AM’ . No more lounging around in those horribly comfortable looking baggy pants till well past noon, or late night giggling with her friends late into the night. Transitions are always tough, and I chuckled at the troubled face. 

“Stop laughing!”

“It’s okay – the first week is always hard. It is Friday, and you will be better off next week!”

“No…really! Guess what time they are asking me to come tomorrow. I told them I am not going at that unearthly hour!”

I raised my eyebrows. 

“Senior Sunrise if you please.”

“Oh that is lovely! But you must go. Of course you must – it is beautiful with all the marvelous colors, and think of company after the pandemic. I will get up, and wake you with a smile on my face.” I said.

She gave me a withering look. “Of all the people to wake people up early in the morning, and that too with a bright smile, you take the biscuit. “

I did not care too much for that flaunting hair toss, but I can take the rough with the smooth I suppose. 

Later that day the son and I took out our bikes and headed off into the sunset. The cumulus clouds overhead were marvelous early in the evening, and we knew the sunset on a day like this will be beautiful. But, like nature usually does, we weren’t quite prepared for the kind of marvelous it had in store for us.

I learnt a few beautiful words the other day from a post on Facebook: Nephophile ( A lover of clouds) & Opacarophile ( A lover of sunsets)

Light has always fascinated mankind. Photons, wave-particle duality all aside, it is the one thing that illuminates our existence. The wavelengths that we can see is enough to make our experience magical. The differences in the world as perceived by other creatures is even more marvelous to behold. 

We drooled and drank in the sunset as long as we could, and headed back home to see a beautiful crescent moon rising among the plethora of clouds. An orange hued moon, multi-hued clouds and the setting sun against the beautiful waters were more than enough.

I came home that evening and opened the children’s book, Every Color of Light – By Hiroshi Oshada Illustrated by: Ryoji Arai

Beautifully illustrated, each page is a joy. The subtle colors of a rainy day, an earth enhanced in its beauty by the light of the feeble sun through the clouds, and the lovely light of the sun setting before the stars start shining down on the benign page are all therapeutic.

I returned to the fray with the daughter, and reiterated the magic of Senior Sunrise, with the silver lining: she could see and talk to her friends again. An eye-roll later, she accepted.

Off she went the next day at 5:45 a.m. to catch the sunrise. She came home, and said, “Actually, I am kind of glad you made me go. Nobody really watched the sunrise – it was pinkish and just got brighter I suppose, but it was kind of beautiful and it was fun hanging out with everyone. I think I am remembering how to talk to people in the 3-d world again.”

It isn’t often that I get this kind of acknowledgment and if I gloated and herded the family to catch another glorious sunset, what of it?

Is This Bohemian Chic?

We have been gallivanting across Boston and New York the past few days. 

I remember reading a children’s book a long time ago about the country mouse who came to visit his cousin who lived in the town. Not surprisingly, I commiserated with the little country mouse who was dazzled and sprazzled by the city. 

I felt the same way when I first visited Bombay, now known as Mumbai, as a little girl. From the hills of Nilgiris, where bus drivers stopped so we could safely straggle across while learning to ride the bicycle, and train drivers stopped for the mother running to the station, to Bombay, where no one, it seemed, stopped for anyone or anything else, was a long journey – 2 days and 2 nights by train to be precise. I clutched my father’s hand, the whole time in Bombay, and never let go, especially on the electric trains. Maybe, some of those calluses on his old hand, are from that trip. 

I have the same feeling in New York. The city sprawls in all directions. The people, the subway, the sights, the movements feel too fast for a country mouse. There is so much to do – the energy exhilarating and enervating at the same time. 

I said as much to the children, and they gave me pitying looks. “What you need is some Bohemian Chic!”, said the daughter diagnosing me with a severe expression on her face.

I had no idea what that meant, but told her we would do our best to find Bohemian Chic.

We had great fun running in one direction, only to find the little GPS dot turning slowly away from where we were supposed to go, and then charged back again. “Is this Bohemian Chic?” I asked.

One time, we stood looking diffident and muddled when a pair of flamboyantly dressed gentlemen stopped and asked us directions to get to some square. We told them we were new to the city too, and agreed that it was best to ask someone else. A good twenty minutes later, we had boarded the train in the wrong direction, gotten down at the next station and came back riding the train in the correct direction, and found the gentlemen boarding the train too. I swear they tipped their bohemian hats and winked!

I splashed into bed after 2 hectic days in New York City, and felt spent. I had no idea how much we had walked. We had spent so many hours and days in the city, soaking in sights and the sounds of traffic, that I yearned to see the moon rise over the hills, the ducks squawk and geese fly. I had no idea how much these things refreshed me. 

Subconsciously, I think, I had selected for my reading during this time of city-living, the book:

Birds, Beasts & Relatives by Gerald Durrell.

Birds, Beasts and Relatives (The Corfu Trilogy Book 2) by [Gerald Durrell]

A sequel to My Family & Other Animals, it is the second set of autobiographical tales by naturalist Gerald Durrell set in the beautiful sun-lit island of Corfu near Greece. After the hurried, panting days of New York, I bathed in the refreshing days of Corfu and the young author’s adventures ranging from rearing sea-horses and hedgehogs, to bear-dancing, and donkey-riding. It was all that was necessary. 

“Coming from the calm, slow, sunlit days of Corfu, our arrival in London, late in the evening, was a shattering experience. So many people were at the station that we did not know, all hurrying grey-faced and worried.”

Gerald Durrell – Birds, Beasts & Relatives

I remember feeling a similar kind of gratitude to Peter Matthiessen’s Snow Leopard on a similar long urban trip to the crowded cities of South Asia.

Today, we decided to walk around Brooklyn and not much more. The day was sweltering: the children wanted a bookstore-day, and we ducked into a couple of them with gratitude. After a cool few hours, we staggered out with books, and very pleased expressions on our faces. 

Do you have any books by Gerald Durrell? I asked the lady at the counter, and she looked it up, and said, “I have My Family & Other Animals!”. I have the book, have bought it several times to gift it to others, but I still felt a strange sense of calm at this. 

Is this Bohemian Chic? If so, I like it!