Sunday, March 01, 2015

The Difficult Deed | Return

I was travelling for almost all of February and have been unable to put up posts linking to columns, deadlines and such.

In February, the prompt seems to have done most people in; I had one submission to The Sideways Door and my response column, The Difficult Deed, has been up for a week now. 

In a few days I will have to come up with another prompt. But I won't think of that just now.

Instead, I want to say how happy I am to return to a rainy, cloudy and cool Hyderabad. It finally feels like home. Spring is the best time and here in Hyderabad, despite the rising temperatures of the last few weeks, spring feels the most personal - the jerul's new leaves have sprung and are brushing at my window. The tabibuia are in bloom and if I look, no doubt I will see a swarm of bees buzzing around the flowers. The bare branches of the frangipani are now little bouquets. And this morning, on the ride back from the station in a auto that had no headlights, I smelled the rain before I saw it dotting the windshield.

So much relief.

If I post about the readings at all, it will be only after a few days' respite.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Upcoming reading from Escape Artist in Delhi and Bangalore

I should have done this last year, but it's not too late. Readings from Escape Artist are happening in Delhi first and Bangalore next, in the course of the next ten days. 

Heads up!

In Delhi

Friday, 20th Feb, 6.30 pm, The Toddy Shop, Hauz Khas Village

That's the day after tomorrow! If I don't have your email or number, consider this an invitation.

In Bangalore

Thursday, 26th Feb, 6.30 pm: Atta Galatta, Koramangala.

Friday, 27th Feb, 6 pm: Alternative Law Forum, Infantry Road.

Come to both, either; bring your friends.

See you soon!


In other reminders, two days left for submissions to The Sideways Door.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Karachi. A murder.

Of crows. Tsk. What were you thinking?

This is from my hotel window on the last evening. 

There will probably be one more photo post and then I'm done talking about my trip. Mostly because I'd like to let the experience steep in silence but also because the series is now in serious danger of becoming exotic and banal all at once.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Karachi: Cricket

On a day when India and Pakistan are playing in the World Cup, there must be cricket photos.

These are at the Aga Khan University Medical College, where Kavery and I had gone to do a reading with writers from the University.

AKU cricket

AKU pavilion

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Faiz Aman Mela

Tomorrow in Lahore there is to be a Faiz Aman Mela, to celebrate the 104th birth anniversary of the poet. We were told about it on our hasty trip around the city and we regretted the lost opportunity.

Here is a poster marking the event, caught in passing, as we caught everything else, from the window of a car.

Lahore: Faiz poster
Aur bhi gham hai zamane mein mohabbat ke siva.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Doha Diary: Layover

We had over eight hours in Doha and Qatar Airways were obliged to give us a room. It took an hour for the paper work and travel to, but we had plenty of rest and a shower and tea and felt somewhat human by the time we returned to the airport.

In the interval, we saw glimpses of Doha from the bus and from our respective room windows. I got construction.

Doha: View from my room

Kavery got a mosque and kids playing football. That's the luck of the draw. 

Doha: View from Kavery's room

(That aged look to the photos is merely badly washed window panes.)

On our way to the hotel, we found our driver speaking with a strong Malayali accent and - because that's how these things happen - I was speaking to someone in Tamil for the first time in ten days*. 

Oh, and the guy at Reception was Pakistani and I got to hear someone say, one more time, 'Koi maslaa nahin." The gap between experience and nostalgia gets shorter and shorter.

Before all that, however, there were timely reminders that it was time to return.

Lahore: Paradise takeaway
 If there is a Paradise...


*Excluding conversations with my mother, of course.

The Sideways Door: February Prompt Column

I'm back home and have realised that while I tweeted the prompt column while in Karachi, I failed to post it here.

So with one week left for submissions, here is The Sideways Door's February Prompt Column: The Direct Deed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lahore Diary: Goodbye Lahore

We came, we saw, we left.

This is the short version.

The long version is: police verification early, a hasty breakfast bolted down, workshop with some fantastic kids, a hasty lunch, shopping at Liberty and Beech Tree/Khadi, a grabbed dinner, an early night. Followed by a more leisurely morning, with a little walk, a day out in the old city and some strategic re-packing. 

Now, for dinner in a couple of hours, followed by another early night because of - you guessed it! - an early flight.

You will ask Neruda-like questions and perhaps I ought to give you Neruda-like answers but I will say it with photographs. They will tell you how I saw the city just as clearly as what it was I was able to see.

Now? Of course not. Once I'm back.

Lahore, hello-goodbye.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Lahore Diary: Late night, early morning

The flight attendant says it's 16C out at 11pm. I am sceptical butsomewhat reassured though I wonder what I'm doing with the coat in my lap.

The woman next to me on the flight is Air Blue crew and she's not on duty but obviously feels she has a calling because even from the middle seat next to me, she's directed people to their seats, told people how to stow their laptops correctly so there's place for everyone else, and has asked me if she could have my aisle seat - I refuse, naturally - but continues to officiously sidle out to speak to those actually on duty. At the baggage carousel, she raises her eyebrows at the baggage porter on duty, as if she could get him to conjure our luggage by doing so.

Outside, we're met and though it's dark, to me the air feels like early winter in Delhi and I am overcome with a wave of nostalgia. I conclude that it's the air, just that right amount of bite in it that's on this side of sharp.

In the parking lot, a scatter of broken windshield glass is another sign that after all, familiarity is unavoidable. Perhaps it's unnecessary to avoid it; it's enough to mark it when it happens.

We stop for bread, I borrow my friend's phone to text home though I'm fairly certain it won't go - no text messages have, so far. LUMS is not far and even in the night, it's easy to see that it's going to look like a posh version of JNU. All red brick, trees, clean lines of roads and students confident in their right to the place.

Skipping lightly over the bits where I can't sleep and still have to (have to) wake up early for police verification, I discover the early morning is gorgeous with the sunlight slanting over the peepul outside my picture window. We're on the ground floor and in this brief moment before the day begins properly, I can look out at this natural component of institutional beauty and admire it.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Karachi Diary: Goodbye Karachi, Hello Lahore

It's been six days since we got here. In an hour or so I will be at the police station for paperwork before I leave for Lahore. There will be other ends to tie up and then it's a new city and a new air.

I've made so many friends in these few days and if I stop to think about how wonderful people have been, I will want to behave in an extravagantly foolish manner to accurately express how I feel.  

I arrived in Karachi in the dark, on a night when the full moon had not yet set and was hanging over the airport like a paper cut out. Tonight we will see Lahore for the first time, also in the dark. 

It's apt - this slow revelation, this adjustment of the eyes and the senses to something new.

Goodbye, Karachi. Hello, Lahore.