Yes, I know it’s been some time since I last wrote, and that is so only partly because I wanted the last post to be on top for a while. Fact is, I have been distracted. I took a break, spent some happy time with my daughter, read some books (the latest Muzaffar Jang mystery thriller, Crimson City, by the way, failed to satisfy – too many loose ends left loose – while Kings of Albion by Julian Rathbone was fun, 15th century Europe seen through Indian eyes, and found wanting in a great many ways; Pankaj Mishra’s The End of Suffering is an interesting and thought-provoking assessment of the Buddha’s relevance in today’s world), and enjoyed watching the Blandings TV series… Lord Emsworth, bless Plum Wodehouse, can bring a dash of good cheer even amidst the worst gloom. And been attending to chores like filing income tax returns and replacing worn out plumbing. Besides maintaining the daily work routine, of course. More than that I cannot do, with the shadow of death looming over the house.
It’s the height of the monsoon we are going through right now. It rained all night yesterday, and very heavily again this morning [this is being posted two days after writing]. It is still drizzling as I write, and the met. Office says this might continue for a day or two. It’s so dark that I can’t read indoors without switching on the light, and the drains (does anybody have any idea why half-educated Bengalis always refer to them as ‘high’- drains? Is it a confusion with hydrant – a word nobody seems to know? Given that ‘mamlet’ was in such wide circulation till only a few decades ago – a mishmash of marmalade and omelette – I wouldn’t be surprised). I have always loved the rains, of course, but I found out the worst things about them during my Kolkata days and never got over it (now my daughter is doing it, and it’s a very good thing that she does not hate the city as I do, nor has to live in it during its worst days as I did, nor in the worst parts of it, where waterlogging is a recurrent nightmare). I was glad to have come back, and thank my lucky stars that I work from home especially during this part of the year, and that I have so little muck and slush around me and so much of greenery. One of my dearest sensations, ever since I was so high, has been listening to rain as I fall asleep at night, or half waking up in the wee hours to hear the rain pattering outside as I drift off to sleep again. God has been kind.
It just occurred to me that the pujo is only two months away. Christ. How I wish I could run away to someplace quiet and secluded and free of Bengalis during that wretched week – such as to a guest house in a tea garden – and come back only when I can settle into my routine again! If God had granted me a few more wishes, I’d have had rich favourite ex students who had such places to invite me to, rather than modest-income IT workers living in cubbyholes in Bangalore and Gurgaon. Not the latter’s fault, of course, just my bad luck that I couldn’t inspire young people to grow up into fat cats.
I have been writing little travel reviews for tripadvisor for more than a year now (see this), and they tell me that I have got a sizeable number of readers already, including some who write in to say thanks and ask questions about places I have visited. Funny how these things happen. I started off just to oblige some hoteliers whom I had liked. It would be nice if a time comes when they start offering me various concessions at hotels and resorts simply because I have been writing for them. There was an old boy who once told me about his plans to launch just such a travel website and pay me for writing about my sojourns here and there, though nothing came out of it.
I have just begun reading John Keay’s The Great Arc, the fabulous story of how early 19th century British military geographers measured and mapped India (a vast and arduous scientific exploit that puts many of the so-called wonderful achievements of scientists in the last fifty years to shame, though largely forgotten today), and Suketu Mehta’s book about the horror that is Mumbai, Maximum City, on my daughter’s recommendation, though I am not sure whether I can stick it till the last page.
I shall take my leave of you for now, dear reader. Until the next time, which may be when a sudden inspiration strikes me, or when someone has said or asked something which I find interesting enough to reply to.