26 June 2015

Z is for Zzzs

At last it's the end of the A to Z blog posts and naturally it should end with zzzzzs--sleep beautiful sleep.

Z is for zither, zip, zig-zag and zit
Zero and zest, zingy and zeitgist
It's also for Zamorin, Zachariah, zebra
And last but not least, zzzzs and Za!!

25 June 2015

Y is for Youth, Yesterday, Yawn

Youth is what seems so prized, that today, so many people--who can no longer make any claim to youth--wish to continue looking young and put themselves through so much, to achieve that end.  But I am guessing that even those who want to look young, won't really want to go back to their youth.  Whenever I think about it, I am quite glad I am no longer a teenager, especially in today's world, where anything deemed as weakness can be exposed and ripped apart cruelly, not just by your own circle, but by the world at large.  When one is young, one is so conscious of one's shortfalls,plus the need to impress the world around is so great.  The angst of the young can be so torturous.  It's good to grow out of that.
Now youthfulness is another thing altogether.  To me it signifies someone with the mental/physical energy of youth, but without the angst, someone who has gained wisdom from all the experiences they have been through and still have enthusiasm for life.  I have a much older cousin like that, still ready--at 83--to have fun, and it's not that she's a super healthy 80 year old either.

Yesterdays are what those folks, not in their youth, have plenty of.  My yesterdays form a kaleidoscope of colour, some blue, some really dark, dark and some bright and rainbow-like.

Yawn, sleepy time --  "Yawn, yawn , yawn your sleepies out (3)
                                      And wiggle your waggles away. "   A verse from a song my junior school kids sing :-)

24 June 2015

X is for Xylophone and Xi, and Xu

Xylophone, the musical instrument made of wooden panels, picture from Wikipedia
"Xylophone" by Roumpf - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

  Incidentally Wikipedia says that the xylophone may have originated in Asia.

Of course, for this X post, I just had to look up the Scrabble dictionary, for 2 letter words with X and there were just the 2 words--Xi for a letter of the Greek alphabet and Xu, a Vietnamese coin.

23 June 2015

W is for Wait

Wait--don't go
Wait--the night's still young,
Wait--I'll be alone
Wait--I'm scared of the dark
Wait, please wait with me
'Til I'm gone.

"Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the tempest is done,

Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
After the shower is gone.

Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice."

Septimus Winner (1891)

22 June 2015

V is for vintage and vegetables

I had always associated the word Vintage with age--wine of a certain age or vintage clothes.  But, on searching online dictionaries for the precise meaning of Vintage, apparently the word means not just aged but the finest quality of a certain period.  From that it figured that if some Senior is labelled as vintage, it should be taken as a compliment--the finest from that age/year.  All those who have grown old gracefully are certainly vintage then, which is why it is a pleasure being with such people, just as wine of a good vintage is a pleasure to drink :-)  Here's to such people.
Vegetables are good for us as we all know.  But try telling that to a majority of children, and, a large number of Syrian Christians (the community I belong to).  For them eating vegetables is a sad necessity and usually done only during Lent. I remember my husband's grandmother, who never ate vegetables when it was not a Lent time, because, as she used to tell her daughter, she observed all the Lenten days of the Orthodox Church calendar ( quite a large number) and was a vegetarian on Fridays.  So she felt she ate enough vegetables to make up for the rest of the year.

21 June 2015

U is for Umbrella

Here in Kerala, umbrellas are a very important accoutrement, especially during the monsoon.  Since schools here begin their new year, with the start of the monsoon, one of the very important back-to-school items is an umbrella.
The ads for the various umbrellas start from sometime in May.  The different brands vie with one another, in coming up with interesting looking umbrellas.  But frankly speaking, since our monsoon rains are really strong, not even a really good raincoat can keep the wet out on a really rainy day, let alone an umbrella!  Hence, at the school which my kids went to, the junior classes were not allowed to use umbrellas and were allowed only raincoats.  So, it was almost like a rite of passage to becoming a high school student, to get an umbrella.  I remember that my boys and friends took to carrying the old fashioned umbrella, a black brolly,  to announce to all that they were no longer 'little'.
Here is a picture of the original Kerala umbrellas

Old style palm leaf umbrella

20 June 2015

T is for Teaching

I have been a teacher, off and on, for around 35 years.  I did short stints, at the school where my children studied, as a substitute teacher.  Then, in 1982, I joined my friend, who started a pre-school and have been there since then, with a 10 year gap in between.  I enjoy teaching pre-school and junior school.  Teaching, to me anyway, is to be part of the hope of a future.  You read and hear about disastrous happenings and dismal news.  But when you teach and you see the kids around you, you feel that possibly, one or more of these kids will grow up to be game changers, change the way life on earth is viewed, change the way things are done maybe--endless possibilities.
Besides, teaching small children helps keeps my mind from atrophying and keeps my mind young.

18 June 2015

S is for serene, serenity

Serene--the dictionary says, means calm, tranquil and Serenity is the state or quality of being calm.
Now, to me, certain places make one feel calm , but certain people have that quality too and that is what some saintly people seem to radiate.  There is also, always, music that makes one serene.
Places that make me full of serenity--the seaside, especially at night, with the sound of the waves, walking in the mountains, being out on a dark, clear, star-filled night, watching some living being going busily about it's business, an empty church--all these give me a feeling of calm.  Also, having a cool shower on a hot, sticky day, lying on a comfortable bed after a tiring day, drinking a tangy lime-mint drink in the shade, with the breeze blowing, having a baby sleeping on my shoulder (provided I'm sitting in a comfortable chair), watching a boat making it's way down a river or into the sea, all these too make me feel serene.

16 June 2015

R is for Reminiscences

  1. 1.
    a story told about a past event remembered by the narrator.
    "his reminiscences of his early days in Parliament"
    synonyms:memories, recollections, reflections, remembrances, anecdotes;
    "her reminiscences of a wartime childhood"
  2. 2.
    a characteristic of one thing that is suggestive of another.
    "his first works are too full of reminiscences of earlier poetry"      ] 

Well, I am talking about the first meaning here.
For each day that one lives there are memories and hence, the older the one gets the more memories there are.  I started a blog of reminiscences  , but unfortunately, I have not kept up with it.  But I am also linking to my late mother's blog(which I didn't have the heart to delete after she passed away 8 years ago).  The last few posts were by me, but if you are interested in a few old time reminiscences, you can read her old posts.

15 June 2015

Q is for Quizzes, qi and qat too

This post is really short because, after all, how much can one do with Q, especially as we don't have a Queen in India, whom we could write about.  So......
I love trying all sorts of quizzes and so, when I found the Quizzup app, I loved it.  I'm also a sucker for trying all those Facebook quizzes--'what is your brain like' type of thing.
And as for the words Qi and Qat, they are the beloved of scrabble players, because they don't need the mandatory u after the q, so that one can place the q before a free i, or arrange qat very nicely over another word with, hopefully the q on a triple letter score, and get a huge number of points!
A board with QI on it.

14 June 2015

P is for Pineapples and Papayas

Pineapple is one among my top 5 favourite fruits.  [I am an avid fruit lover.]  Pineapples grow quite well in our state, though they don't look like the Dole pineapples at all.  Whatever it is, I love them, prickly skin, eyes and all.  Incidentally, if you do not want to peel and cut a whole pineapple, you can cut half the pineapple and leave one half, unpeeled, cut side down, on a plate in the fridge and it keeps quite fine for a couple of days.  If you don't have a fancy corer for your pineapples, just use the lid of a small bottle to punch out the cores.  Sorry I don't have any pictures.
Now for the papaya.  I like papayas too, though they don't figure even among my top ten favourites.  But, they grow easily around here, and one rarely goes out and plants a papaya, unless it's some fancy variety.  We use the raw papaya too, but cooked, not like the Thai papaya salad, which is of raw uncooked papaya (which is delicious).  Here are two pictures, one of a young papaya tree and a ripe papaya from that tree.

12 June 2015

O is for Old and Opals

Yes, I am growing older-I am certainly not getting any younger anyway.  But now it appears that the 60s are the new 40s :-).
According to the old Indian tradition, completing 60 years on this earth was a big achievement and with that one could put aside earthly responsibilities and devote oneself entirely to the spiritual.  That was when one went on pilgrimages, if desired.  But in those old days, without modern medicine, 60 was quite an age and the years beyond were a bonus.  But now 60 is no longer that old.  As long as we keep ourselves active, there are so many options for keeping ourselves busy and happy.  I am now 63.  My body may protest if I try to do quite as much as a younger person, my skin is not dewy, my hair is sprinkled liberally with grey and my face is lined.  But what the heck, I don't care about all that kind of stuff any more.  I may still want to look chic, but I no longer care that I am not skinny and that my flesh is sagging (big time bat-wing arms!).  How liberating that is!  So I think I'm pretty contented with where I am in time.

Opals are the Libra stone.  I love their changeable colours.  But my favourite is the greeny blue kind.

I'm taking a break tomorrow, because it is my grandson's birthday and I'll be attending that and staying over at their place.  So next blog post on Sunday.

11 June 2015

N is for ...............Night

Before deciding that I would choose Night for N, I was reading words beginning with N in the Scrabble dictionary and what fun it was coming across words like nudzh (another word for nudge) and nis (friendly goblin).  I did think of 'niggling'; the very sound of the word seems to convey the meaning of 'niggling doubt', 'niggling worry'--like a sheet you pull flat and iron out, but with a tiny bump.  But I finally went for night.
I love the night time and walking outside in the dark, when the weather is fine.  Somehow boundaries seem to dissolve and I feel I sort of dissolve into my surroundings.  I feel closest to my Maker then.  Clear moonlit nights are an absolute delight.  But then clear dark December nights, when the stars seem so near and clear, are beautiful too.  At this time of the year, with the monsoon just beginning, there are plenty of fireflies and the frog chorus is loud and varied.
 I love to watch the silhouette of the big fruit bats flying overhead, see the occasional owl, alight on a branch near me, hear the crickets call.  Here, in Kerala, there are snakes--after all it is the tropics.  But usually I have a dog with me, somewhere around and I take care not to walk at the edge of the road.
Sometimes, just sitting in the dark, doing nothing, is very soothing.
We need the night to rest our eyes and our bodies, and for our minds to process the day's events.
I love the night.

Almost night

10 June 2015

M is for Monsoon-of course

Monsoon!  This is the monsoon season , the rainy season brought by the South-West trade winds.  In a good monsoon year, the rains begin by the end of May or first week of June and then it is rain, more or less continuously, till August, after which the rains lessen a bit.  It would still rain everyday, but not the whole day.  The monsoon is essential to India's economy.  The whole country waits for the arrival of the monsoon for it to ease the heat of summer.  Unfortunately, it should have begun early June and it should have been raining heavily and continuously now, but alas not so.
The sky today............

and how it should be...............

Hoping for it to improve.

08 June 2015

L is for Libra, Learning

Yes I am a Libra--
This is, most of it, so correct, except the artistic bit :-)

Learning, as defined in the Oxford Dictionary is both (1)The acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught, and (2)Knowledge acquired through study, experience, or being taught.
As one grows older, one is supposed to become wiser through the second type of learning-knowledge that is acquired.  But for that to happen we have to be open to the first type of learning, whether it is learning from our experiences, or through self-study or through training to acquire new skills.  Being open to the idea that we can always learn from the world around us keeps our minds young I think.  Realising that, in spite of whatever knowledge we have acquired by the very fact of having lived so long, that there is still so much we do not know and will never know, is essential to keep us humble.   As we grow old, many of us do tend to act as though we are beyond new learning, because we have seen it all. But, even an old dog can learn new tricks, or at least learn that there are these new tricks,which he may not be able to do.  The fact that there all these tricks he can already perform, doesn't necessarily make him the most learned dog on the block.

So tomorrow on to M.

07 June 2015

K is for Kerala, Kovalam.....

Kerala is the state I'm from and where I live--advertised as 'God's won Country'.  Here's a tourist map of my state.  Nice one!

Kovalam is one of my favourite beaches, also because it is the best beach, reachable in less than half a day.  There may be better beaches for swimming further north in the state, but I haven't been there.
Kovalam is a little south-west of the capital Trivandrum.  Since my grandfather lived in Trivandrum for a while, I have been visiting Kovalam for almost 50 years.  So I have seen it grow from a small fishing village, but with a beautiful beach, to the touristy place it has become today.  The now much more popular beach there--the so called Eve's beach--was a very difficult place to access when we were young.  It began to be developed around 30 years back.  Now it is the main tourist hangout in Kovalam area.  A picture of the sunset there, one of the many I have taken.

K is also for Kolkata, where I did my high school.  Of course when I was there then, it was spelt with a C!  I haven't been to Kolkata now for over 25 years.  So I have no pictures.  I have been planning a visit there for a while.  Hope to make it not in too distant a future.

06 June 2015

J is for Jazz and Jackfruit

Jazz is definitely my go-to music.  I love Western and Eastern Instrumental Classical Music as well as, of course, oldies from when I was young-60s and early 70s mainly--and Latin music too, but there I end up listening to Latin Jazz.
My all time favourite piece--Take Five.
I was introduced to Jazz by my elder brother when I was about 15 and my love for Jazz has only grown with age.

Now for the Jackfruit.  It is one of the very common fruits here--from about January till around June end.  It is supposed to be the largest tree borne fruit.  The wood is also hardy and is often used to make furniture here.  Here is a picture of one of my trees with fruit.  The fruit is cooked and eaten as a vegetable when raw and, when ripe, eaten as is or made into sweet dishes.

05 June 2015

I is for icecream

Our very own Amul ice cream

Summer is getting over in my part of the world as the monsoon starts.  Once the monsoon is in full swing, ice cream generally gets the go by.  But we had plenty of ice cream during the summer vacation, especially with my four grandchildren around.  We had plenty of  Amul Vanilla ice cream.  I also made this awesome Mango ice cream from Edible garden's recipe, which, in spite of being really easy to make, was decadently smooth and so yum!
I am linking to the Wikipedia page on ice cream because it's interesting (What's not to be interesting after all)

04 June 2015

A break

I should have been posting I for____, whatever but I am taking a break.
Someone in my friends' list, on Facebook, had shared this post and photo by Sheryl Sandberg and that was the first thing I saw this morning.  I started reading and I could not continue beyond the first paragraph.  I was taken over by a storm of weeping.  I had to force myself to read the full post through a thick curtain of tears.  I wanted to reach out to her and tell her that I know just how it is.  I thought of my daughter-in-law, and how she's doing a pretty good job at 'beating the shit out of option B' although I know she still wants option A pretty much most of the time.
Sheryl Sandberg says she learned compartmentalize is healthy.  Oh I endorse that completely.  It's the only way to go on living.
I had recently re-read this post of mine about the bank of shelves in my mind.  A year or so after I had written that post, the bank of shelves had sort of faded, because most of it had been looked and sorted.  But now the huge chest-of-drawers is back, but full of stuff related to my son.  Some are tightly shut and I dare not open them, some occasionally come open a bit, I peek in and shut them up again and some I open and look at and sort and sigh maybe, but it is something I can open again and again.  And so that is how my mind compartmentalizes.

02 June 2015

H is for Happiness

Happiness is apparently what everybody wants and is searching for.  But, the meaning of happiness is so personal and unique to each person, formed by our personalities, which in itself is fascinating.  For example many people say that love is essential to happiness; yet love itself, and the meaning and expression of love is different for each person.
For me, happiness lies in fleeting moments, which even the memory of, gives me joy.
Happiness is--family close by, an unexpected hug from little children, because given freely; a walk on a moonlit night, reading a Terry Pratchett, or P. G. Wodehouse or--the funniest book I have read--Rosie is my Relative by Gerald Durrell :-); listening to music, exercising to music, feeling one with the universe on a starry night; singing/jamming with family and friends; all of these bring happiness and leave happy memories.
Wishing each one happiness.
I am adding a link to this old post of mine about favourite things.

01 June 2015

G is for Grandfather

My maternal Grandfather is the only one I have seen.  My other Grandfather died quite a few years before I was born.
My maternal Grandfather was really special.  He was already a widower when I was born.  He had 7 children of which my mother was the 5th.  He was  someone who participated wholly in life. I remember him visiting us in Bombay and then visiting his other daughter in Pune.  He was not an old fogey at all.  He was a fun grandfather when we used to visit him at his home in Kerala.  My mother used to come home to her dad every year, with the three of us younger siblings.  I remember him having made a tree house for my brother and me in a small guava tree and him telling us stories--my brother and me again as my sister was a baby then.  He taught us to play ping-pong, as he used to have a table at home and he had a beautiful table with an inlaid chess board and beautiful chess men.  He also loved cards and played bridge and canasta.
When he could no longer live on his own, he lived with one of his sons.  Towards the end of his life--in his nineties, he lived with his eldest son.  There he used to play bridge with some other friends from nearby, till he thought he was become a liability to whoever had to partner him.  All his grandchildren loved visiting him, because he was always interested in each of us.  He was always interested in the world around him; BBC radio was a constant companion.
He was a civil engineer and supervised the building of my parents' home in Trivandrum city, when he was in his eighties.  The house is such a good construction and so well done, that the folks who bought it from my parents are very happy with the house and have done minimal work on it.
He died when he was almost 97, the year my youngest was born.  Unfortunately he passed away before I could take my youngest to show him to my granddad, as I had done with my other two kids.
We all still remember him with great affection.