Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Year Of Change

I'd like to begin by wishing my readers and friends a wonderful new year.  Annus mirabilis, a year of wonders, miracles and more.  I'd like to thank you for continuing to read my blog, considerably infrequent though it has been these last few months.  I have been taken over by a flurry of events at home and hospitals and have been unable to do justice to my blogging.  This situation may continue for a few months but I hope the blog will eventually pick up again, at least I will try (one of this year's resolutions!).

One of the reasons the blog is going so slow, as I explained to a friend, is that my life is currently submerged in trivia.  Not that I mind but I wouldn't want to inflict it on my readers.  "Write about the pursuit of trivia then", he suggested.  I turned this over in my mind for several weeks but it did not seem satisfactory enough.  This week, however, I realized I had to make some kind of change in the contents because my activities are more restricted for the time being.  To keep the blog going, I realized, that I would have to shift from fact based blogs to thought based ones (or a mix of the two).  This may test my writing skills and your patience, but let's see how it goes!

I am in Delhi for a few months.  It is supposedly a cold winter, a few degrees lower than usual.  The smog descended, as it does, but only for a few days.  Now it is sunny; winter holidays are still on, and parks are full of families and the ubiquitous couples.

I am staying in our family house, a mix of old and new structures.  I am staying in the room that my grandmother used to occupy, the oldest part of the house.  It looks onto a large verandah in front and a sunny strip of balcony behind.  A charming room, but there has been much work to do to make it comfortable and practical for me.  Wires are always a problem; we have been fixing the old wires in the bathroom to get enough light, working out a way of fixing night lights, reading lights and more.  The telephones in the room screech and crackle - more wires to be taped and fixed!  The room is quite cold in the winter; fortunately we now have new heaters which are perfect for gently heating rooms without drying the air out.

The problem with too comfortable a room temperature is- mosquitoes!  Yes!  Those days of mosquito-free winters is long gone.  Once the digging for the commonwealth games began (a couple of years ago I think), mosquitoes have filled this city, never to leave.  Now they linger outside and rush in wherever they find a warm spot.  Fortunately there are no epidemics these days but I know it is just a matter of time especially as the weather warms up.  Normally we use chemical repellents but I am trying to find natural means of keeping them out.  I begin with the chemicals, then clear the room of the sprayed air.  End up by lighting large sticks of citronella incense.  This works, but only some of the time.  Often, one or two remain - and one is enough to cause havoc at night.  Next week I plan to buy a local mix of camphor and herbs - the Bengali dhuno (which is used to create a dramatic smoky effect in the pujas) - and smoke the rooms every evening, the way it was done in our grandparents' time.

I spend time opening out drawers filled with old memories - many papers and scribbled notes lying forgotten for decades, which are no longer required.  Make a separate space for photographs, which are fluttering everywhere and spilling out of envelopes.  Air out the cupboards, line them with fresh paper and begin to unpack and stop living out of suitcases.  Make some changes so I can easily take care of my food requirements - buy a small juicer and some microwavable crockery (in this process I end up buying a porcelain dinner set for six - utterly useless for now but I hope to use it sometime in the unpredictable future.  Ah! the perils of shopping!).

The house is filled with workers as well - we are installing some new soundproof windows.  Noise levels in Delhi have risen tremendously and one can no longer open any window that faces the main road.  Fortunately one side of our house faces a park, but this year planes seem to fly overhead periodically.  These are loud but not too frequent.  Certainly nothing compared to the explosions from trucks when their tyres burst in front of our house - like bombs!

Well, we have been working away, my father and I, and I think in a week's time everything should be dealt with.  It's a pleasant way to begin the year - by scrubbing clean unwanted remnants of the past, mending and buttressing existing structures - and waiting for the new to step in!

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