Tuesday 6 December 2022

Bellingham Diaries - 3

 The Tale of the Wife's bath

The adjusting of the hot-water-cold-water has become something of a challenge for me. Talk of a neat challenge after the 40s - teaching new tricks to old dogs could be well, tricky! As much as I love bathing, it has become an exercise of planning and mental prep for me. First, I am more of a cold water person so you could possibly imagine the pressure of using hot water. Next, the long and inviting bathtub seems to be mocking at me whenever I head to its vicinity. It beckons me no doubt but is plotting its revenge on this bucket and mug loving middle-class Indian. Woe to me when I had imagined myself sipping gin and tonic in a bathtub while soaking my tired nerves on a normal day! Well, the wish had come true but at the cost of me spending minutes trying to figure 1. the shower/tap toggling and 2. the hot/cold toggling. After much swearing and exasperation, I figure out the p-r-e-c-i-s-e requirement only to find that the shampoo has been forgotten in the suitcase! Phew! I have to invariably call out to the ever preoccupied husband who finds it difficult to find stuff even if it is in his hands. After all this ordeal, I complete my bath and come out to spend an hour mulling over my existential issues of trying to be someone who manages everything fairly well. 

And not forgetting the semantics of showering and bathing which is a puzzle to me!

I also realise that I have a similar post on bathing when I visited Belfast in 2010. And, sure I am happy to know that certain parts of me haven't changed at all. So here you go: Deliberations of bathing in a foreign place.

Dear reader, I hope that you find baths that satisfy your body and soul. 

May the water temperature suit your body and may you be refreshed and happy.

Until the next adventure, take care.

Saturday 3 December 2022

Bellingham Diaries - 2

 Snow is always romanticized in the imaginations of those who don't experience snow in their regions. Well, I was also one of those whose imagination was fascinated by the whole idea of snow, white Christmas and so on. I first experienced snow when I trekked the Himalaya in 2006. Snow is beautiful, no doubt but it is also slippery, chilly and demands layers of clothes if one has to walk outside when it snows. Like the rain, snow is also beautiful when indoors with a regulated warm temperature. So much for the 'idea' of snow. That said and done, this morning when we woke up, we opened the doors to find it white. Our first expression was of awe by the sight of the beautiful whiteness. We rushed to find our mobile phones (camera) and capture the beauty of the romance known as 'snow.' I took many pictures and shared it via Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook and bang, the magic of snow was paused for some time. After some time, it was forgotten as we got into the more important tasks of preparing breakfast, and attending to other morning chores.

The view in front of our home in Bellingham

But I do know that when I narrate the sighting of snow in the future, I would be all wonder-eyed and soft as I render the story of my first snow in Bellingham; My listeners in return would be dreaming when they will 'see' snow for real in their lives. Both of us dream - one about the past and one for the future.

Well, tomorrow is another day.

Another view

See you tomorrow with more snippets of my sojourn in Bellingham.


Bellingham Diaries - 1


Seattle from the skies

It has been a long time since I actively posted in this space. I just slid the glass pane over the mesh window because it was getting chilly. Well, the temperature here is now 4 degree C and I am getting used to being in a place without fans and curtains. My husband has been here in Bellingham since August and he seems to be managing well. This is my first day here. I had arrived here last night (01 December here) and after being up and about, I thought I would engage with my readers (if I still have them) and sharing my new experience. 

The view from the front door

The journey from Goa to Seattle was quite smooth save the unsmiling faces of the Charles de Gaulle airport in France. Everywhere I had people glaring. Perhaps I with no knowledge of French and looking tired might have irked them. Well, no complaints, I did meet some kind faces too. People are different in diverse places - some respond to a smile, some don't; some have kind eyes, while some have scrutinising eyes; some welcome strangers with a kind face while some have a wooden expression. I guess when we talk of travelling and crossing the borders of home, we are filled with exciting thoughts and create a huge pink bubble where we romanticise the onward journey. Well, a journey is filled with myriad people and diverse experiences.

This is the second B of my international travel, the first one being Belfast. Both these journeys have a gap of twelve years, in the interim where a big chunk of my life was spent in getting a Ph. D., marrying, setting up home, getting a new job, reveling in my students, getting high on life, learning, unlearning and relearning many taken-for-granted stuff. 

Well, here's to Bellingham and newer stories.

See you soon.

Sunday 8 May 2022

After the Fire!

On the 08th of April while most of India was sleeping, a kind and alert neighbour who has never called me before, called me on my mobile phone. The time was about 04. 43 am. The number was unknown and my groggy self was quite baffled to decipher as to why someone would make a call in that time. After confirming that it was me, he indicated that there was smoke coming out of our kitchen and asked us to get out of the house. I awoke my sleeping husband and along with our nonhuman companion, rushed out of the house but not without opening the kitchen door and trying to see what was happening; I could not make out anything. Later we found out that our fridge caused the fire burning the entire kitchen in the process. 

We were homeless for a week, living in a temporary arrangement for we could not live in the house which was blackened by soot carrying a strong odour of burnt residue. 


That was a month ago.

Today we have shifted our house and still settling in the new house. Alongside everything, my meandering mind was shuttling back and forth to the old dwelling place from where we were unceremoniously driven away. It still seems strange to us that while we retired to our bed the previous night, little did we know that exactly a month after, we would be waking up in a different house. The uncertainty of life hit us hard but we were quite gracefully accepting the blows. We did not panic. But there were many questions from some of my friends; They argued whether life was trying to tell us something or we were being warned by the divine power. R and I were just focusing on what had to be done - clearing whatever was available and packing the things in boxes to be carried to the other house which was thankfully in the same campus. The whole memory trigger which was laying still chose to hit hard while we were packing. Most of the items reminded me either of people, incidents, moments or generally a time in the past when things were different and we were younger. While I was thinking of something and mechanically packing, my husband was quite focused on meticulously packing (thanks to him, I cannot find many things). 

While bits and pieces of our stuff still remains in the boxes, we have completed most of it. It took us a month to get used to the present house--the walls, the switches, the nooks, corners, and everything else. Sometimes I sit and stare at the new rooms that my old stuff occupies and feel weird because though I know the items, I imagine them in my old place and picturing them in the new place is something that I have to get used to. 

Cooking in the new kitchen though exciting suddenly pulls me back to the crammed kitchen and I search for an item in the exact place that I had kept it in the old place. Then I physically shake myself and nod--a nod to remind me that we have shifted to a new place. 

Getting up in the mornings is also a challenge at times but yes I am slowly getting myself cocooned in the present house and forcing comfort out of the walls and windows. Whether one lives in one's own house or a house provided by the employer, the lived experience is the same. We form a kinship with the nooks and corners, passages, walls and bathrooms.

Well, life has to go on and tomorrow is another day.

Saturday 15 January 2022

What's your Proustian madeleine?

Reading an article of Raghu Karnad this morning, I came across the phrase, Proustian madeleine. The phrase led me into the magic hole of nostalgia where I started walking the sweet lane of my growing up years. What were the sweets that I enjoyed while I was living through a time when I didn't realise how precious those years would be in the coming years. 

There was peanut candy where peanuts were soaked in liquid jaggery and hardened to give a fine texture. These candies can be found even today sometimes the taste unaltered. It was eaten mindlessly during different times of the day. It was so commonplace that one attached no value of significance to it. It was called kadalaimittai. It is not much of a nostalgia because one feels this emotion when one misses something. But the simple sweet is much available. Perhaps nostalgia is for the lost days of yore.

Another sweet is the then mittai. I don't have many memories of the sweet except for occasional treats now and then. It isn't nostalgia material for me. But I remember the taste of the sweet and I don't see it anymore. It used to melt in the mouth oozing honey; it was a stark difference to the texture of kadalaimittai which was hard and chewy. 

Another sweet we used to enjoy was the palkhoa or the milk sweet. My grandfather used to treat us with the palkhoa and sev which is known as omapodi. The combination is a deadly one. We were looking forward to eating that combo whenever my grandfather used to return from his daily outings. Now neither my grandfather nor the omapodi is relished by me - the grandfather is no more and the omapodi disappeared after his death. But once a while my sister and I talk about those days. In spite of the omapodi still available in the market, it isn't the same!

I guess I wasn't much of 'sweet' person to remember the delicacies of my growing up years. But nostalgia makes everything sepia tinted and mellow which led me into a sweet trail of Proustian madeline!

What's your Proustian madeline?


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