Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Jeoli Good Times

Have you ever set out on a holiday with complete misgivings? Wondering if the men will disagree, worse still - agree to speed, will the sisters kill each other, the mother fret, the father fume, the roads turn into serpents, the destination into a bhoot bangla?

Did that sound neurotic? Well the mother fret may have something to do with it.

It was October 2004; the boys were dressed as though they were going camping in the Berkshires! We set out for a 6-hour journey, replete with several layers of food and the misgivings mentioned above. But we had to stop for aloo paranthas right? Which the only Punjabi refused to eat - the expression on his face – “who eats this kind of hick food huh!”

We arrived in Jeolikote - actually Jeolikote popped right out, close to sundown. The Berkshire campers unloaded their oh so urban bags at the Cottage ! We were greeted by a tall gentleman who gave us the ‘look over”. Which was explained later.

Many bundts & several cups of tea later, the six degrees of separation theory was proven yet again , and we settled in, further charmed by the gracious hostess . In the ensuing conversations she did mention that she has "Bauju" (the tall gent who greeted us initially) give her guests the look over. If you were from Karol Bagh, or from the "Gurgaon", and wore a handlebar moustache, or blared music, or Anokhi is an alien and rare word in your world - the gent would probably turn you away with a genteel yet steely "niet". Turns out the gent is also responsible for the awesome kebabs served at dinner - attributed to an old rajput recipe, where the meat is ground by hand and reduced to pulp. Now you see why the adjective "steely ".

Needless to say, some of us were extremely gratified that we had passed the test and the bond had been established - since there really are no suitable places to spend the night unless you count the tea stalls. Or the liquor store.

The weekend passed by - not without its hiccups. There was the loony father looking for his "joba" flowers everywhere. Some of us were put on the job to search. Others had enough of the wives & outlaws & escaped to the river down below. They returned several hours later, with A. looking very flushed. His wife jumped on him - "you were drinking without me”! He responded with a bunch of flowers that closely resembles large ocean lilies. We hastily put them away in our rooms, rather pleased with the men.

Till the gracious hostess emerged and exclaimed "Dhatura, the nightshade, its poison!" At which point A paled, the flush gone forever, and said, "I sucked the nectar, it tastes pretty good". Not a surprise - given that it is a hallucinogen!

The neurotic mother fretted further, the hostess gave her enough competition! Fortunately it had a sobering effect on A - which is not a bad thing if you know him!

The rest of the weekend passed by without any further disasters. Unless you count the father asking a gentleman from Ghaziabad , "so tell me , why do you live there? " Who lives in Ghaziabad! The visit to Sat tal & the neighbouring lakes was really quite awe spiring. The evenings were spent by a fire on the terrace of the cottage with D consuming most of the old monk. She does her teetotaler father proud! My guess is she wants to be Irish!

On our way home we figured we had chastised A enough for the Dhatura drinking incident. So we turned our attention to U & barraged him with questions - what were you doing? Why didn't you stop him? what were you thinking?

He stared at us for a bit, rather nonplussed, let the volley of questions go by and responded with " There was a passing stream. A man's gotta do what he's gotta do!

Sat Tal & Jeolikote, India, 2004 Posted by Hello

Friday, May 20, 2005

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Shetland Ponies: What are they feeding you? Posted by Hello

Oranges and Lemon

Kuchesar. September 2004. I didn't think mud forts were my scene - wallowing in mud, self pity perhaps! But mud forts no. The neemrana tag may have helped. Or sheer ennui.

Looking back it is probably the beginning of the end. Sounds very tragic. But beginning of a new life perhaps. P leaves soon after, R goes the baby way & we go to the Neverla.. sorry ... Netherlands.

It rained, poured, thundered. The drive to Kuchesar was splendid. The Hapur toll road was spectacular, with mustard fields on either side! T made us believe it was his mystery woman - the Toyota Qualis Mystere that made it magical. Perhaps!

Once we got there - it felt like being back to one's grandmother's house. (If you had a grand mother who lived in bucolic surroundings, that is). Large haveli, plenty of mango orchards, a small mud tank, a few peacocks & a couple of resident ghosts. Did I forget the warmth & hospitality? As I am often wont to do - I insisted there was a railway connection to the food. Must have been the liveried old world charm of the bearers!

We played marco polo in the rain in the mud tank. R wore a polka dotted outfit that she refused to be photographed in! Which was funny - given that J spent the entire day getting candid shots & bits of salacious gossip into his new toy - a state of the art digital camera! He felt all-powerful and promise dire consequences with some of the footage - however that was not to be! Laziness prevailed & none of us have seen the footage -mercifully!

P was extremely concerned about the missing peacocks - i didn’t want to tell her that the fowl curry for lunch did smell of something foul....

The most fun part of the day was probably sitting outside; all of us huddled under a Jaipuri razai Indian (not our kind of Indian) style, drinking plenty of chai!

We were wistful when the day was over...perhaps a premonition that life was changing.

A spectacular sunset, stealing bits of sugar cane from passing bullock carts, and idle chatter did life our spirits somewhat. Not to forget my self-admission that the thought of stopping in a dhaba for masala chai was more fun than drinking it!

Also a 1st - the beer we carried with us came back intact - were the langots growing older?

PS I hear that J has misplaced his camera since. Whodunit?

Oranges and Lemon Kuchesar 2004 Posted by Hello

Trivial Pursuits


Am back blogging after quite a while! Just came back from my trip to Delhi - funnily enough, I don't miss it any more! Perhaps it could be attributed to a bad case of delly belly , or I finally have outgrown Delhi.

Well, can one outgrow home? Probably not. Definitely not in number terms. Compare the population of Delhi with that of Den Bosch ! Defence Colony to Den Bosch may be a more fair comparison!

I guess the realisation that I don't have a home in Delhi any longer may have helped overcome some of the blues I felt in March. Of course - I still have more friends, family and foes there than elsewhere.

I am now pursuing some utterly trivial pursuits. Like collating old pictures, writing blogs long overdue, connecting with friends I haven't heard from in a while.

A dear friend and an ex boss (yes, it is the same person) called the other day seriously concerned after an email is sent her. It read "sos...Is this mini uttapam recipe alright?"
Needless to say , she was extremely concerned about my well being. In the past she typically received email from me that read "sos ....The customer ppt for tomorrow doesn't look good, do you think the pitch needs to be altered?" . Hence some of her angst is understandable. She isn't the only one. Yet another ex- colleague was terrified when I threatened to send him some fresh home made bon bons ! Another wanted to check with my husband if all was well when I rabbited on at some length about a couple of orphaned elephants I saw on animal planet called jabu & tembu. What's scary is - I don't think even my husband believes they exist.

Yes ...This is my new found world. Of elephants , bon bons and mini uttapams! There are other joys too - that of not having to live by an alarm clock being amongst them!

This morning I was running along the Bossche Broek, I stopped like I do every morning. To smell the flowers. To watch the rabbits. To be chased by ducks. To fawn over the dogs.

Carpe Diem!