Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Happy Place

I have traveled quite a bit around this country of ours, but whenever people ask me my favourite place, my reply is always the same- Himachal Pradesh. Perhaps it was because that was the first posting of Appa's I was old enough to remember clearly, perhaps the wild, cold beauty of the mountains appealed to something in my impressionable ten-year-old soul, but I have always known that some day I will return there.

We lived in a house on the side of a mountain. A road wound in lazy spirals around the entire girth of that mountain, hedged by wild honeysuckle that bloomed in giant sprays of pink and yellow. The valley was almost a sheer drop from the side our house was on, with only one steep gravel path leading down. A stream flowed in that valley- icy cold in the winters and angry red in the monsoons. The sound of that stream was a constant in our lives, I came to associate the sound of running water with silence. The view from our terrace was breathtaking. There were giant mountains all around. the nearest one was just across the valley- terraced mustard fields dotted with yellow farmhouses. Behind it were dark green mountains covered with fuzzy pine trees. And further behind was a giant, craggy peak always covered in white, even in the summer.

One winter Appa, Ken and I set off in quest of snow that we could see on that faraway peak. But the further we trudged, the more distant that elusive snow capped peak seemed. We walked through the pine forest and discovered a forgotten pool in its heart. We imagined leopard treads and collected pine cones to take home for Amma to exclaim over. We kept expecting snow, just after that next peak we'd cross. We stood in the middle of a cloud on a mountain peak and looked at the mountains around us, in the winter sunshine.

We never did find that snow- the fog rolled over and we had to turn back.

When I was writing that article on life in the Army, Appa hunted out a few photos of the Kangra valley for me. They reassure me that the valley is indeed as beautiful as I remember it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The King is dead. Long live the King.

I first read that line in an Asterix comic, I think. I never thought then, that it would apply to my life. Of course, I was six years old and not really worried about philosophy. My primary obsessions were food and dogs at the time.

This is going to be one of those ranting, self deprecating, insecure posts, I can feel it coming on. Lately it seems that no matter how much work I do, there always seems to be more. Just as I finish one giant task, another one looms up, too urgent to be ignored. A great deal of this is my fault, I agree. I can not seem to make myself do work ahead if time. Don't get me wrong, I'm great at planning. I can make excel sheets and calendars with the best of 'em. It's the doing that always fazes me.

But eventually, when my sins catch up with me, I have nothing left to do but put my nose to the grindstone, surfacing occasionally to write rant filled posts on my blog. This here's the first of what I gloomily predict will be a long series.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Clawing my way back

It's been a week of suspended reality. Home was wonderful, as was Diwali. Unfortunately, even after I returned the suspension continued. Have you ever felt like you're caught between two worlds and you're not really sure where you stand? You wake up in the morning and wonder why you should ever get out of bed, brush your teeth and face a new day. Now however, I'm reluctantly wiping the mists of the past few days away and returning to this which is my life.
At times like these, cake always helps. More so, when the cake is the exact colour of sunshine. Our new house has a plethora of lemon trees, so Amma and I went scavenging one afternoon and returned with scratched arms and four gorgeous lemons still warm from the sun. So it is that in this, the last of my food posts for a while, that I bring to you the lemon pound cake I baked for all my friends at IIT. The cake is long gone, but the pictures remain.