Random musings of a wandering soul

Robert Kincaid, again

Reminiscing the Reads

Books are like memories, connected in explicable ways. You start on one, go on to another and before you know you have reached somewhere far away from where you started, a place where you would never even have thought of or imagined.

A picture of three frogs perched one on another took me on a search for an old family photo where the spawns were perched on the man in the same style. That journey brought me to this picture, and my immediate reaction was one of total disbelief. How could I, a die hard fan of Francesca Johnson and Robert Kincaid, not have known about this? Obviously, this was a book I’d either seen somewhere or was in my possession. If I’d had it, why hadn’t I ever read it? Or of all strange things, having read it, had I completely forgotten about it? But how could I forget…

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On Adulting

As the son starts college….

Dearest Georgie,

“I know you can’t wait for college to start and get out of the here,” I shouted in a fit of rage some time ago. Pat came your reply, “and I know you can’t wait for me to get out either.” And the two of us burst out laughing. It was a mix of truth and jest and we both knew it.

Today, you started college. Alas, still at home though. The speech that I had been preparing in mind for quite some time lay unsaid. Maybe because I could foresee your reactions as you squirm in your chair with your eyebrows raised far above from where it should naturally be, your mouth turned up in that typical bored and exasperated expression. I don’t have too much patience these days, you know. Not that I ever had it in abundance, anyway you might point out. But say, I must. And there is no better time than now. 

So instead of a long sermon that will make us stomp off in opposite directions, I am writing you a letter.

Clichés say this is where you begin life as an adult. There is some truth in there, we have to admit. You were always your own person and I’ve always encouraged it. But the fact is, as parents the two of us were always there in the background, emotionally and physically. We knew what was happening in your life.  We could sense if something was wrong by the way you behaved, by what you said and not. That luxury will not be ours for long. So here are a few things that I hope and pray will stand by you, whenever you are in a dilemma or have second or third thoughts about anything. Even otherwise.

I will not go on about how important it is to do well in studies, how you should make something of yourself and such usual tropes. You are mature enough to know that by now. If you don’t, hard luck and you better be ready to face the consequences.

For the first time in life, you will be living somewhere other than home. Have strangers as your roommates, have food that you might love or hate. Stay out late at night, doing whatever young people have always done and maybe something new too. I hope you get to experience everything at least once in your life. Mostly good and some bad stuff as well. You could argue that good and bad are subjective. So be it. There is one thing though that I fervently pray and sincerely hope you will not even feel the need to experiment with. Drugs. Never ever, please. As someone well read and aware, you should know the perils and the damage it can cause. Not just to your brains, but to your entire ecosystem – physical, emotional, familial, financial, societal. So, please don’t. Read ‘Beautiful Boy,’ if you can. It’s there on your sister’s table.

As you meet new people from all over the world, may love find you. May you fall in love, and out. A few times over. As your sister would say, it would be foolish not to. Else, how will you know who is the right one? But then, there can also be a first love that could be for life. That’s perfectly alright too. It’s your life and none of us can or will decide it for you. We might have our opinions, that’s the way parental love works. I just might not have it in me to keep my mouth shut, and that’s just a mother thing.  One thing I promise, though. Whoever you chose to be with, will always be welcome in my heart and home. I do not expect that to be reciprocated. And that’s a promise.

A few things while we are on the subject of love. This goes for friendships and all relationships. Love does cover those too, as it should. Never betray the trust that someone places in you. As for your partner, fidelity is the core, the very base of what you share. Two timing is the biggest insult you can inflict on anyone, there’s no excuse good enough to justify it.  Yes, you may fall out of love which is perfectly fine. Be honest about it, talk about openly with kindness and then move on. God forbid you be the cause of such tears and may He help you if I ever come to know of it.

Be kind, that’s what the world needs the most. You might not remember it, so let me refresh your memory a bit. You were the one your first kindergarten teacher entrusted other kids with. Your younger cousins always used to pull you into their games, you’ve always indulged them. Unlike with your sister. Talking about her, I have to tell you how much I treasure the special bond you share. I hope you continue to annoy her for the rest of your lives, she is sure to anyway. My deepest prayer is that the two of you will be there for each other. Always, unconditionally. 

If you ever get into a fix, irrespective of what it is, do let us know immediately. We will be there, no questions asked. We may have some later, but that’s besides the point. The door to our home will always be open for you, the purse might be another matter altogether.

May money be the least of your worries. May you love what you do, do what you love and make a living out of it. Do travel far and wide, at times aimlessly too. I do hope we get to make a mother-son trip sometime in our life. Be alone with nature, its forces, there is no feeling that comes close to it. Honestly. 

Dream, a lot. May the ones that you truly yearn for come true. Spread your wings far and fly high, but have your feet firmly on the ground. Paradoxical, isn’t it? It’s so possible though. Remain true to yourself and to your loved ones.

Most of all, have fun. Laugh a lot. 

Sing and dance, even if it’s with yourself.

May faith and hope lead you. 

May peace, joy and contentment be your lot, for life.

All my love,

Amma

p.s. after scribbling on a note pad for hours, typed this out here. Want to send this out to him from time to time. What if he loses those papers? 😉😉😉

Petit Bistro

The taxi took a right turn today instead of the left that usually takes me back to one hotel or the other. Five visits in the last eight weeks to this dry and sleepy town with some amazing people, before i decided enough was enough. Dine out, instead of just eating, was the mantra of the day. Google to the rescue as always, and then keeping the fingers crossed.

Less than three minutes into the trip, the scenery changed and how! Lush green on either side, the road seemed to have been cut through some prehistoric hills. Kelly, the uber driver confirmed, “my grandmother used to sing, we’re passing through the mountains.” Well, grandmothers are always right, aren’t they?

“You going to the Bistro? They serve some amazing food there,” she continued as she turned right on to a deserted road with more greenery on either side, not a building in sight. And then, on the right side, a quaint little cottage in stone that might have rightly belonged to one of the three witches.

“This is the place? Wow! “ was all I could manage.

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Slowly pushing the green wooden door open, I peeped inside. The man at the counter looked middle aged and the beard was French. Most definitely.

“Sorry, I do not have a reservation. Need a table just for me,” a tone of mild apology in my voice.

“It’s all yours,” he replied.

It was true. I had the whole place, all to myself. Sometimes, owning a place has a totally different meaning, you see😉

Glancing through the menu, I knew a main course would be something that would be a little too much. And the desserts looked quite interesting. Extremely interesting, actually.

“Would you suggest the Tuna Tower?”

“Hmm, it’s slightly raw inside,” my Frenchman had recognized the Indian in me.

“I would suggest the Crab Cakes,” he continued.

It didn’t take more than five minutes. Two cakes on a bed of arugula leaves and two sticks of asparagus charred to perfection. How in the world do they do this, I wondered. Do they time it to the exact hundredth of a second to present it to be just so? The meat was shredded so fine, it felt like the fluffiest of clouds. A few pieces of tomato skins seemed to be the only additional ingredient. Again, fried to that millionth of a second’s perfection.

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The Frenchman had started smiling by now. Did he recognize a glutton when he saw one?

“What do you think I should try for dessert?”

“The Creme Brûlée or the Chef’s Cheese Cake Du Jour,” the answer came in an instant. The Creme Brûlée arrived in what seemed like another instant.

A gentle touch of the spoon was not enough to break the barrier of the browned caramel crust. These guys seem to have invented the Holy Grail Of charring anything under the sun to perfection. Oh, the custard that lay beneath the crust! The eyes closed the moment it touched the edge of my tongue. What followed was a languorous, dreamy, waltz. Filling all the senses, one after another.

I was not ready to go, yet. “Think I’ll try that Cheesecake of yours as well.” The man was all wide grins by now.

Have you locked eyes with your lover across a room? Found yourself slowly drifting towards each other? Your arms encircling each other’s waists tenderly? Your cheeks touching ever so softly? Your lips searching for each other tentatively? Your tongues talking to each other in a language only they can understand? With all the passion you could muster, but with slow abandon?

No? Never?

Never mind. Have this Cheesecake instead. No kidding. This could be even better. Maybe.

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I could see the goofy grin on my face. As if in a mirror. I could feel the warmth from the glow that spread on my face as the alcohol infused cake found its way down my tongue and floated down the throat. Bliss? Too mild a word.

I was still not ready to go back. The weather beaten wooden benches, the huge tree that guarded them, the rustle of the leaves, the cool breeze that caressed my face and tossed my hair aside, called out, “Come, sit with us. Breathe, let go, be you, just be.” And I could not but heed their words. For, those were words of wisdom. That we seldom remember.

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So I sat there. Did something that I’ve been planning to, for a long time. Opened the notebook, took out the pen. And wrote a letter. To someone whom I love deeply. Forever.

The first born.

The uber driver asked on the way back, “Do you like trying out different kinds of food?”

“Oh yes”

“There is this place that serves excellent Columbian food….”

………to be continued next week 😄😄

(p.s. wasn’t it just a few days ago that I found someone saying , “it’s only witches and shamans that enjoy spending time by themselves”? Well…….😉 😉 )

Reminiscing the Reads

Book #18

Blessed serendipity. How else would a writer from Uruguay appear in my horizon from I don’t remember where and why would I go in search of a book that I knew fairly nothing about? But then, why should I be bothered about inanities like these?

It may not also be strange that I started reading this while discussing Yuval Noah Harari’s much acclaimed ‘Sapiens: A Brief History Of Mankind’ with a friend. Having tried to read it a couple of times and not being able to move beyond a few pages, I had given it up for good. As years go by and the sheer volume of the TBR pile goes up physically and virtually, if a book doesn’t hold interest for long, it is tossed away with no regrets whatsoever. Metaphorically, of course.

The number of pages at six hundred plus was a deterrent, before I opened…

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The crab that caught me

Souza Lobo. Since 1932. One wonders.

What is it about places like these, that generation after generation of customers keep coming back?

The path that leads to this part of the beach is like any other typical tourist destination. Glaring lights, yesteryear’s Bollyywood disco music blaring away from loudspeakers, souvenir shops that peddle exactly the same stuff and dirty roads made even dirtier from the downpour of the past few days.

“There is a side lane somewhere here, we do not have to go by the beach,” mutters the husband. He is right, a medium sized board points to the left. We turn into a dark lane. A few shady shops and the piercing smell of urine, and we turn right. The place looks like an old house converted into a restaurant. On the right is another of those ubiquitous loud places, belting out ‘Hawa, Hawa.’ Time of another kind seem not to stand still, but run on a treadmill – fast, but never moving forward.

We take the steps on the left, and step in to another world. The manager is courteous, and informs us, “Sorry, for now we have just one table, but the fan there doesn’t work. I’ll move you to another one as soon as it is available.” The table is at the end, and right next to the one man band. A small dance floor. A few kids, a middle aged gentleman and a lady and her teenaged daughter dancing away to glory to the tunes of ‘Maria Pitaashe.’ The crowd is mostly local, families and a groups of middles aged men in between.

Before we could even open the menu, a pleasant waiter arrives, “Who gave you this table, sir? The fan doesn’t work, it’ll be hot soon. Come I’ll seat you elsewhere.” We are led to the other end, and as we look around, a couple who was seated by the window leaves. Something spicy for the appetiser and an extra pleasant waiter suggests Masala Fish Fillet. The dish arrives, bathed in red. That aroma of coconut vinegar and red chillies, with a hint of ginger garlic, the fish perfectly grilled. The husband looks on an unusually silent me in amusement. Yes, perfectly cooked fish does that. Renders me wordless.

Main course, we go up and down between a King Fish steak with Parsley Rice and Crab Curry with rice. Now, it is the waiter that has an amused smile as he says, “Sir, I would suggest just the crab curry combo, the quantity should be sufficient for the two of you.” So be it, we decide.

And then it arrives. A slightly chipped ‘mann chatti’ and the ‘chiratta thavi’ that reminds you of glowing red embers, blackened earthen pots, smoky chimneys, grandmothers in ‘chatta’ and ‘mundu’ and their wizened helpers. The aroma is heavenly. He was right, quantity is more than enough, a family of four could easily fill their tummies and then have some left over. Rice is cooked just right. Fluffy, but not sticky, soft as a heap of freshly plucked jasmine flowers. We complement each other, the husband and I. He eats to live and I, the vice versa. To see him grinning like a looney, inhaling the flavours, heaping rice onto his plate and drenching it in the Orange – red gravy and pieces of crab is a sight that I’ll never forget easily. And the grin, it stayed on our faces even as we wiped our plates clean.

The waiter came smiling, “Sweet dish, sir?”

“The crab was excellent, we don’t want to spoil the taste in our mouth,” we reply.

He comes back after a few minutes, “Where are you from, madam?”

“From Kerala, now settled in Bangalore. Why?”

“Are you from Kochi?”

We are curious, “How did you know?”

“No, I told the chef that you loved the curry. And he said you must be from Kochi.”

Now we are even more curious, “Is he from Kerala as well? Can we meet him?”

Chef Vinu. With an unassuming smile, he accepts our gushing compliments shyly. A man of few words, he’d rather have his dishes speak for himself, we realize. In response to our question, “From Kollam,” he says and promptly goes back to his kingdom.

Our waiter comes back, “He, 27 years!”

But he looks middle aged, I think and ask, “He is only 27 ?”

“No madam. He, here for 27 years. His two brothers here, too”

Ah!

Souza Lobo. Since 1932. No wonder!

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