August 31, 2007


Last night I remembered one of the many stories by grandfather used to tell me. Once there was a man who was sitting by the roadside crying. Another man passed by and asked what the matter was. “I have only fifty paise, and my hens, my horse, and I….we’re all hungry. I cannot figure out whom to feed with this little money.” The passerby said, “It’s quite simple. Buy some kharboojas with the fifty paise. Feed the rind to the horse, the seeds to the hens, and eat the flesh of the fruit yourself.”

Of course my grandfather did not recalibrate the story for inflation since his childhood, but you see the point.

Kharboojas (muskmelons) were in regular supply in our home. They came in those delicious early days of the summer I secretly felt thrilled that though it was May, it was not really as hot as summers are wont to be. It even rained once or twice, to delude me into believing we were going to have a cool-ish summer. Kharboojas are all about the heady fragrance and succulent coolness of the early summer, and when the blazing heat kills the infant summer, it tries to make up for its crime with the frontal attack of the mangoes, making the kharboojas taste bland in comparison.

Each home probably cuts up and serves muskmelons in their own unique way. Our style was long slices (never cut along the ridges on the skin of the fruit, for some unfathomable reason) from which the rind was separated with a clean sweep of the knife, but left joint at the end…maybe to catch the drippy juice, maybe for ease of holding, maybe as an umbilical connection. Thus each one of us had a pile of rinds on our plate when the kharbooja session was done. My pint sized sister made sure grandpa had no more slices than she did, being born in a democracy and all…

Another ritual was to save one half of the first kharbooja if it turned out to be exceptionally sweet, in case the rest were disappointments (the family being in the insurance business). Some were so bland that we refused to eat them, but Grandpa stressed their “utility value” as roughage, an argument that has never historically worked with children.

The kharbooja sitting in the fruitseller's shop is so unyielding of its mysteries. Who knows what lies underneath its thick skin? Many standards for selection were tried with varying degrees of success: dark green lines, sharp contrast, no lines, small ones, light ones, early ones, late ones….

And now we go to a fancy vegetable store and but Sardas (called some fancy name in English that I refuse to look up). They look like lemons gone berserk sizewise and have very thin skins, few seeds, and are almost invariably sweet. All the fun of the kharbooja, and none of the mystery or hassle. I love the taste , and hey, they’ve been here almost the whole year now… But they’re non-magic food.

I can live on sardas, grandpa, and I don’t worry though they’re close to 25 rupees for one now. But what about my horse and hens?

August 17, 2007

August 14, 2007

Blabbering About Illness Generally

As magically/mysteriously as I had fallen ill, I have recovered. One side effect is partial amnesia: it took me five minutes to remember the name of my apartment complex, and frankly, when I saw my parents’ and my husband’s face, it took me a little while to figure out what they REALLY looked like. It’s the end of an era of taking my temperature obsessively, looking up terminal diseases on Wikipedia, reading books and watching movies, and lots of medicines and delirium.

I’m going to take some time to regain my strength and fit into the “fit” world, most importantly the job about which I seem to have only vague recollections now…

People use their illness to rethink their lives and priorities. I don’t think I used this opportunity well enough, but I did manage to get some thinking done. That’s confidential, of course, but what is quite public is my fantastic experience at the very multicultural and very bumbling-idiot-like hospital in London, from where I emerged no better, with no medical guidance, with a painful hole in my arm where a very inept Mallu doc inserted one of those contraptions that make a semi-permanent input-output channel into your bloodstream, and a painful hole in my ankle where the X-ray lady rammed my pretty yellow wheelchair in (ow!). The hole in the ankle persists feebly, while the four inch purple bruise on the arm is now faded, after excellent service as Voldemort’s death eater mark in my Harry Potter reading days.

Also, what is it with putting you in that nangu hospital gown???? I mean, it’s all strings, and after I took ten minutes to tie it up, they came and told me it was backside-front and whatnot! They expected me to tie a million knots behind my back??? When I am sick enough to need emergency treatment?? Loonaticks! The gown was not even pretty!!!! And they gave me a cheese sandwich in unopenable packaging for a snack in the evening, which looked oh so tempting but my drip-waali right arm was no good at opening it, so it just lay there…

Compare this with the Emergency section at the Delhi hospital where my parents took me in Delhi as soon (I mean AS SOON) as I landed. The nurse knew more about everything than any doc in the London hospital, told me which tests would be negative even as she drew my blood, put me in a wheelchair that was not yellow but which she did not ram into my ankle, and packed me off in an hour, while in the neighboring cubicle a young man was reassured that he DID have heart disease at his young age, as did a lot of other people, and that the swank hospital could not be funded by the heart diseases of the elderly alone… It is another matter that the hospital’s thermometer recorded 103 degrees temperature in my left armpit and 98.7 in my right (Hello!) and there is some reason to believe they messed up my samples. So basically, when you are ill, you are in the hands of God Almighty only.

So children of the world, rest adequately after a baby viral or momma viral and granny viral will come get you…do not mix your paracetamol and ibuprofen…stay away from Wikipedia when ill, and trust in God. Change your path labs till you get normal results, and try and have whatever fun you can. And I am serious: No Wikipedia!!!!

August 08, 2007

Strange Birthday

It is the Happy Birday today, but the fever has somewhat peed over the happiness. The doc has given me till Monday to cure myself, otherwise she will do bad things to me. So I am dressing up pretty pretty and being spoilt by doting parents, and sticking a thermometer into my mouth every two hours to check progress. Which reminds me, I counted and figured I’ve used eight different thermometers in the last 20 days!

So I am 28 now, and though no maturer, infinitely more happy than, say, at 25. Which is great. So thank you God for everything!

August 07, 2007

On The Brighter Side...

Books read in the last 20 days:
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (Funny!)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (queued up at Piccadilly AND Covent Garden for the launch. Kiss my little finger.)
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Re-read, again during an unexplained fever)
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (Which probably explains why I am not getting better)
Short Stories by Roald Dahl (Creepy but nice!)

Movies seen in the same period:
An Inconvenient Truth: Overrated
The Namesake: Weeping copiously into airline orange juice makes a nice mocktail
Flushed Away: Loved the Underground London!
Cheeni Kum: Ok. Again.
Moliere: French for “I Kick Shakespeare In Love’s Ass”
Annie Hall: Funky Cool!
Sideways: What was all the fuss about?
Music And Lyrics: Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. What? You want a story too??
Blades of Glory: Hilarious!
The Pursuit of Happyness: Hype killed it for me a bit I think.

TV Shows That I Can Now Write Dissertations Upon:
Home Improvement: Did not rest until I found out where the third kid went in the final season!
Eight Simple Rules: Too many broken families on TV
Scrubs: Not nice to watch a hospital all the time when sick
Frasier: Amazing as ever
Hope and Faith: Irritating but addictive
Friends: Forever!