Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the view from the 202..

six flights of stairs..cement stairs..
on the outside of a new building..
she was wearing a faded peach sari
which dragged a little as she climbed.
carrying a basket of bricks on her head,
she took each step slowly..sasheying lightly..
savoring the balance she found afoot.
she walked as if she was meeting her sweetheart;
the bridegroom at the top of the stairs.
i lost her somewhere on the roof top.
when she re-appeared,
she carried the basket in hand
heading down the steps brisk as a cup of tea!

he was doing his sister's work...
tugging the clothes off the line,
piling them up on the cement rooftop.
saris and shirts, britches and knickers..
slips, socks, handkerchiefs.
he dipped into a plastic tub,
pulling out the same only wet this time..
throwing the fabric over the line,
he picked up the clothespins with his toes,
bent his knee behind him,
captured the clip and snapped it on the garment..
on to the next..
he looked up..
i waved..
he turned to see to who..
who me?
he smiled white and wide..
then finished the task.
he was heading to the volleyball field
when i saw him again.

the plastic bag was rolling slow along the road.
instead of picking it up,
the man kicked it a few steps, then lost interest.
the young boy, however,
thought that seemed a game worthy of his time..
for a few kicks, anyway..
he put it on his head and danced away!

Thursday, February 7, 2008


mega-bites or nano-bites..

here's some i've been chewing on...

cucumber salad..
with lime

i remembre when i left home,
off to seattle to be a nanny
for jonathan and jo farwell's
two girls..to finish high school
at queen anne because they had
an awesome drama department..
the farwells were actors with seattle rep..
the girls were 11 and 13..
i was 17..

we had a luscious garden that year back home..
for my 18th birthday, my mama drove south
to deliver me a fresh cucumber..
i have loved them ever since!

every morning, in mysore..
there is a wagon filled brightly
with tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers;
an array of vegetables for the day..
the peddler has the most compelling voice..
the language is not my native tongue
yet i can decipher each taste treat he has to offer!

mini idly!
i have these for brekkie every morning
with sambar and coconut chutney..
they are dear, little round rice patties..
the size of a rupee coin..
very light and easy to digest!.

phulkas and masala dosas,
fresh lime sodas and paneer tikka..
salt lassis and water balls!
chat, uttampam and vada..
jal jeera, pakodas, pakoras
AND there is pan!

shoe bites..
that is what my friend meenal calls blisters!

Friday, February 1, 2008

elephant skin

while i was sand-walking for a few days
at cherai beach outside of kochi in kerala..
the timing proved impeccable..
an utsavam!
an elephant festival..

it started with a competition~
which elephant was the tallest?
we arrived at 8 am to find two elephants
standing side by side..
one definitely had the edge..
but the show must go on..
the one who won the tallest award
would carry the idol at the main event that afternoon.
with lots of cheering and pumping of arms,
the crowd egged on the pair..
indeed, they both did stretch and find a few more feet..
however, the bigger one was the bigger one!

the smaller one gently bowed out..
such a humble tip of the head..
voting for the small one myself..
i closed in to rub elbows with the wonder..
o my o .. the skin is so thick..so used..so precious!

later that afternoon,
we arrived just as they were heading in..
on the narrow streets were 3 elephants..
side by side..all dressed up and heading to the temple grounds.
on top of them were cheer-leading priests..
in front of them,
leading the way were more priests..
playing horns the shape of elephant trunks..
coming from the opposite direction,
3 more elephants..also taking up the entire road..
lead by the drummers..
whose hands moved like elephant trunks..
more trunk-shaped horns..
flames from holy lamps..

everyone was encouraged to feed these gentle, ginormous ones!
we bought watermelons and handed them over
to the trunks themselves.
they rolled up the melon curling their trunks,
then the tongue got in the action and crush! melon-ade!

once inside the temple grounds,
two rows of fifteen elephants stood facing one another..
all the while the priests kept changing the parasols..
all different colours, all different textures..
such a sight to behold..in the middle...

on the way home,
i stretched out to tickle a tusk..
scolded mightily, i was..
worth the reprimand..
the tusk is holy ..
may it be just so!