November Novelty

A Version of this post appeared in The India Currents Magazine – the article focuses on communication.

The quality of the evening was ethereal. The cold November evenings had begun to set in. I had turned the thermostat up a couple of notches, the white light effused a warm glow against the fall colored curtains. Halloween was still fresh in everyone’s memory, Diwali had snuggled in, and spread its share of warmth and joy even amidst some moments of disquiet with raging fire and wind whipped storms.

 

 

I surveyed the house and felt a surge of warmth course through me. Dear friends and family were visiting, and I was glowing with pleasure at the companionship of the evening. The house had been through the cleaning wheel: which is to say that the closets were groaning and stuffed to their very brims. I warned guests to open any closet with care warning them that a dozen things could tumble out. All the children – residents and visitors, nodded with sincerity, but I found them an hour later playing hide-and-seek, and amazingly finding place to hide in the very closets that I thought sent me a clear memo to not put anything else in there. Oh well!

The conversation was ebbing and flowing with the fine food and beverages among the young and old alike. Jesty topics were making their way towards hefty ones, and laughter was being sprinkled with wrinkled looks of concentration as differing viewpoints were proffered, and evaluated. The beautiful feeling of minds changing slightly from their earlier stances mingled with the exasperation of trying to string complex thoughts into words – one word at a time, were at work, and I marveled at humanity once again.

“The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard.”
― William Hazlitt, Selected Essays, 1778-1830

Can we get better? Absolutely. But I sometimes feel we lose sight of marvelous gift we have of empathy and of trying to understand one another. Moments in which we bestow upon one another the inestimable gift of attentive listening with a view to understanding. I was reminded of the saying, that I read somewhere a while ago.

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity – Simone Weil

When we talk of meaningful moments, it is moments like these that we wish to savor. November is unusually so – whether it is because it is my birthday month or the time for Thanksgiving, and therefore a time for gratitude, or something else, I cannot say, but I find it is a good time of year to look back on the past year, reflect on the grains that made up the texture of the preceding months, and those months layered upon years, like a tree adding a ring to its makeup.

Sappy perhaps? But so is life. 

 

 

It is the time of year when I select books with happy endings, the time of year I make it a point to snuggle in with my books and children,  buckle down and write more for November is Novel Writing Month.

The air is nippier, the nights longer. It is also the time for crunch parties for in the area I live the trees are resplendent with the colors of Autumn. The gingko trees are turning gold (post coming up soon). There is no greater joy than seeing life scurry about in these changed surroundings. The promise of rain is in the air. Misty mornings make for a magical start. Even the waxing and waning of the moon brings with it a new joy for the nights longer and the evenings bring with it a different texture of joy. Kawaakari is sooner (Kawaakari – a beautiful Japanese word denoting the rays of the setting sun on a flowing river)

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It is a time to send thanks for all the small and big things in life. A time in short for us to enjoy Hygge. A wonderful word the Danish have, denoting the warmth emanating from inside even as the winters outside grow colder.

Here is to a wonderful season of the upcoming holidays, of nurturing light in a dark world.

A Pluviophile’s Song

The night lamp was on, and I had a harried, desultory look on my face. It had been one of those days in which a lot had happened, but nothing had really happened. Days sent to try stout persons souls. The husband came and told me that I should probably try meditating for a bit, but I shook my head stubbornly. What if I fell asleep? 

He looked at me amused. His eyes danced with the unspoken words: Who are you and where is my wife?

I laughed, and understood the look. A Lover Of Her Sleep if ever there was one. I  told him I wanted to read a little, since I have been falling behind in my reading, and he shook his head indulgently. I really do think you should sleep though – you look so tired!, he said, a line creasing his forehead as he looked at me. I swatted at the idea like a pesky fly, and surveyed the bedside table. 

I don’t know how to use the word Tsundoku correctly in a sentence, but I had Tsundoku-ed the local championship leagues. Piles of books were stacked – children’s books, fiction books, non-fiction books, and all looking enticing and inviting. 

Tsundoku is a beautiful word denoting the piles of unread books by one’s bedside.

Tsundoku (Japanese: 積ん読) is acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them.[1][2][3]

The term originated in the Meiji era (1868–1912) as Japanese slang.[4] It combines elements of tsunde-oku (積んでおく, to pile things up ready for later and leave) and dokusho (読書, reading books). It is also used to refer to books ready for reading later when they are on a bookshelf. As currently written, the word combines the characters for “pile up” () and the character for “read” ().[4]

I picked up a serious tome, and settled in. I had no idea I had been scowling till I started smiling a few minutes later. It was the musical patter of the rain. The beautiful rain was coming down in bucketfuls. I opened the curtains, and reveled in the beauty of the rain lashing down against the windows, soaking the tree tops, and flattening the flower beds. There is nothing prettier than the night skies sending torrents of rain. 

I loved the word Pluviophile. Meaning a lover of the rain, it seemed to have a nice ring to it, a word meant to bring a smile to one’s face.

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I opened the door, and watched the rain. I felt the cool breeze caress my face, and felt a surge of gratitude. I had said to my friends only a few days earlier that it will be lovely to have another bout of rain before the summer months set in and the neighboring hills turned brown. The Earth had already started emanating a slightly thirsty aura, and I yearned for the smell of rain against the hot Earth. 

I have been looking for the word that captures that welcome scent, and found one recently. 

Petrichor (/ˈpɛtrɪkɔːr/) is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek petra (πέτρα), meaning “stone”, and īchōr (ἰχώρ), the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.

The Pluviophile in me smiled at the word and tucked it away for future use. 

The weather forecast had predicted a Storm. In the US, it is never Rains but Storms. The rain I had watched was not a Storm. A Storm is when the rain huffs and puff and stomps its weight around. But this was no Storm. The street lights cast a lovely light on the clouds overhead and the raindrops pouring down. The world looked mellow and in that moment of watching the rain, a calm descended upon me.

After a few moments, I traipsed back to bed. I lovingly surveyed my Tsundoku pile again, and set my tome aside. It was time to read a Children’s book. Storm by Sam Usher beamed up at me, and I snuggled in with the lovely book.

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A beautiful book that captured the joy of playing outside after the rains and storms. I have never flown a kite successfully, and the book made me want to. The illustrations are mellow works of Art, and after admiring all the pictures in the book, I slept the sleep of the tired but happy.

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