November 19, 2014

What My November Looks Like So Far: Bandaged Trees, Whimsical Walls, and Germinating Poetry

It's almost the third week of November.

I resist the perpetual temptation to say, where has the year gone by? I know the answer this time. This year so far has been made of: dismantling and farewelling a home, making cross-country and maritime journeys, setting up a new home (again), hearing a city's new chatter, the colors of its dialect,  and studying its costume, its embellishments and fabrics.

The winter light is elegant, immaculately composed, a bit elusive completely evanescences by the time dusk falls, leaving behind a leached, bereft world. Seeing the mauve shadows, you think, the world feels a better place in the presence of such good, strong light.


I take pictures as long as it's there.


One of my simple pleasures soon after moving here was buying a mogra bunch every few days. When I went to the flower-seller yesterday, I once again asked him if he had any mogras; he shook his head, gesturing instead towards the piles of saffron marigolds, tooth-white chrysanthemums, and pastel-hued roses girding him. I will have to wait until next year to breathe in their giddy, monsoon-scent.

Bandaged Branches

The trees here may not be burning yellow or orange like their peers in other parts of the world; however, I am amused to see one tree adorned in these colors for an ongoing literature festival at the India Habitat Centre. I like to imagine whether it is a wounded warrior tree, bandaged in colors of blood and turmeric, pain and healing or a flamboyantly dressed one, eagerly showing off its sinuous curves in crimson and vermillion?


I wander into Shahpur Jat, an urban village, ostensibly to admire its iridescent, whimsical walls, the glad subjects of a street art festival. However, I stumble upon a maze of characters: contemplative, sad old women, hookah-smoking and gossiping men, freshly-slaughtered fish, roasted peanut, and thoughtful, kind momo sellers, pre-teen girls manning their fathers' groceries stores while intently watching a Hindi soap on a tiny TV, and a playful brood of puppies, who joyfully bite our fingers as we feed them Parle-G biscuits. There are stories of stores tucked here and there; when you walk inside them, you feel as if you have stepped inside someone's doll-house imagination, their parallel universe. I like these stories-stores. I like these walls. I like Shahpur Jat. I want to come here again.

In a white walled, gray-shiny floored gallery, I glimpse an artist's fictional maps. When I was a little girl, I would spend hours reading the atlas, jigsawing the countries together, how Austria was pink, USSR the largest country in the world, tracing the ocean between India and Oman. I even made up my own country, Trontia although I never went as far as to become its cartographer; it still exists somewhere in the landscape of my imagination. It's been years since I have thought of Trontia though. It's also been years since I thought of space colonies and I only just remembered my sheer awe at the thought of a home other than Earth when I saw Interstellar yesterday. At the same time when I was mapping Trontia in my head, I was poring through science encyclopedias, hungrily inhaling everything astronomical: black holes (unimaginably frightening), the sun ageing into a monstrous red giant, nebulae, aliens, and space colonies, the artists' depictions of them resembling Earth distilled and bottled in glass rings.  

It Happens in the Unlikeliest of Places

There are poems waiting to be written too. Here is one gingerly poking its head through the stone, plucky, salad-green, and glossy. I let it emerge. There will be plenty of time to let it and others grow. 

What  is your November looking like so far?

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