Belated Diwali greetings, dear readers! This was my first ever Diwali in India and I was eagerly looking forward to celebrating it along with witnessing all the festivities. However, while a nagging cough meant that I was unable to participate as fully as I did have liked to, I was nevertheless privy to the sheer carnival of colors, sights, and sounds that preceded the festival. Diwali markets particularly left me visually stunned what with stall after stall in our local market crammed with miniature earthenware lamps, painted idols of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi, glitzy, glittery decorations, rangoli stencils, and flowers, saffron marigolds either heaped into hillocks or strung along the lines like dangling chandelier earrings.
I can already smell winter in the air. It smells of woodsmoke.
|Patterns and Solids|
The vegetable stall is loaded up with generous gifts of the earth: most familiar, some unfamiliar. I poke through massive bundles of spinach, fat, purple-streaked spring onions, ivory-hued cauliflowers, green-flecked red tomatoes, and startlingly vivid ombre hued radishes. I examine a vegetable which appears to be an offspring of cauliflower and Brussels-sprouts. I mentally cook recipes inside my head, wondering which vegetable to marry with the other. At the nearby fruit-stall, I place shiny red pomegranates inside my vegetable-stuffed bag: at home, they temporarily become photo-toys before being consumed.
A year ago, I was standing in my apartment balcony in Pittsburgh, smiling in delight at the spectacle of the tree outside my apartment having turned crimson overnight. Now, thousands of miles away, as gorgeous fall postcards fill up my screen on various social media, I peer at the still, silent green trees outside my new apartment balcony. However, when I step outside, I glimpse the poetry of fallen leaves everywhere: they may not exactly be autumn leaves but as if to assuage my fall yearnings, the leaves collectively are graduated shades of yellow.
|A God in Every Stone|
I had been waiting to read this book for a long time ever since it was published in April this year. I first discovered Kamila Shamsie when I was searching for a good read for a long-haul flight from London to Muscat during my student days. I was on the verge of purchasing a quintessential Soutth Asian novel, redolent of pungent mango-pickles, shimmering silk saris, and jasmine flowers;) when I chanced upon her second and newly published novel, Kartography. As I read the opening lines, I knew I had found an author whose worlds and words would thoroughly involve me - and not just for the flight. Shamsie plays with words, has a facility for phrase and prose, and constantly presents a kaleidoscopic Pakistan, far removed from the universe of generic media reports and stereotypes. I have read all of her novels and even had the pleasure of hearing her speak at the Jaipur Literature Festival several years ago. This book meanwhile hopscotches from Ancient Greece, early 20th century Europe, and colonial Peshawar, remarkably interweaving archaeology, colonialism, patriotism, history, love, betrayal, a city of flowers, the poetry of letters, and the inkiness of death.
How has your week been so far?