Daily Post Writing Challenge: That’s Absurd

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How often do we say “I wish I could be a fly on the wall” ?  Absurd?  I don’t know about you, but I have thought of that fantasy many, many, many times!  Admit it, you must have too :)   While this is absobloominlutely impossible in real time, even if you put on one of those Halloween fly costumes … yes you will look like one but will that fly be able to fly?

So you are left with your fantasy in which you can drift in the air, doing loop-de-loops, swoop down on cakes left open, circle the rim of pots of jam and irritate the heck out of a human by jumping from cake to jam, jam to cake while she, armed with a rolled-up Los Angeles Times tip-toes to the most recent landing spot, raises her arm and plans to squash the target only to have missed again!  So here is an absurd story I cooked up.  My first…ever.

Rasp Berry wanted to enter her secret jam recipe in a cooking contest sponsored by the Life is the Berries jam company.  Her neighbor, Lingon Berry,  an equally good cook also entered the same contest.  They both made a superficial gesture of being excited that they were in the same contest in a  “may the best person win” kind of way.  Secretly each wished the other’s demise.

Rasp kept hinting at her “secret ingredient” which would easily send her jam sailing to the front of the line and make her the undisputed winner.  She enjoyed throwing out false clues to Lingon who would then spend entire nights trying to figure out what it might be.  The only sure thing she could tell Lingon was that she would be making a special trip to get this ingredient two days before the contest, because it had to be fresh.

With the contest only two days away and Lingon at the end of her rope, she decided the only way to find out was to stalk Rasp as she set out on her trip.  She had to be careful not to be visible, so after consulting Brunhilda the local witch she asked to be turned into a fly so she could follow Rasp wherever she went and into the tightest of spots.

The dawn of the next morning saw Rasp Berry leaving her house with a hooded, red cloak and a small basket, with a small cup in it,  over her arm.  She walked fast, with her head down and thought she better hurry lest she met one of the neighbors and had to answer too many questions about the early hour of her sojourn.  Lingon did not care.  She just flew merrily behind Rasp, sometimes leaping in front of her, at times buzzing furiously around her cloaked head and once even landing on her nose to Rasp’s irritation.

They had left the neighborhood now and were coming up towards the small Buddhist Temple and Meditation Center which had beautiful bamboo groves, stone benches and a lotus pond.  But Rasp was not interested in any of these.  She kept going until she came to a small patch of flowers and setting down her basket she tried to lift the pollen off the delicate stamens.  But every time her fingers tried to accomplish this delicate task, she would crush the stamens and lose the powder because it would get all soggy from the juice of the stamens.

“Aha!” thought Lingon, “So that is the secret ingredient.”  She danced in front of Rasp’s face and buzzed loudly in her ears every time she tried to obtain the pollen.  “Damn this fly!  Why is it picking on me?  I wish it would leave me alone.  I have to get a pinch of this pollen for my jam.”   Suddenly loud cries of “Hey lady, what are you doing?  You cannot pick any flowers! This garden is private!” .  The monk who appeared a few feet away was visibly perturbed and there was no peaceful way for him to express his displeasure…not in these circumstances he thought.  Rasp was so startled that she lost her balance and crushed the flowers, except one.  She struggled up, turned around and ran .  However, Lingon bringing up the rear,  buzzing  and swooping and having the time of her life lingered a while in the garden.  There was only flower left there now and Rasp was desperately thinking of how she would return tomorrow to get the pollen.  “I will just break the flower and bring it home and then get the pollen … it will be sort of fresh.”

Lingon had only an hour left before she would turn back into a human.  “It’s now or never” she thought.  She flew back to the flower patch and slowly drifted and soft-landed on top of the flower and nestled deep inside its petals, wiggling her wings till they were covered with the pollen, collecting more than a pinch because some might fly off on her journey home.  She flew gently, coasting most of the time with the precious cargo clinging to her legs and her wings.  Landing on her kitchen counter, she hovered over the open pot of cooling jam.  Shaking her wings off she safely deposited the pollen and moved away from the pot.  In a few minutes she turned back into a human, whistling a happy tune.

There was a loud knocking on her front door.  It was Rasp!  “Is something wrong?” asked Lingon.

“I was just wondering if you had some extra sugar and …  what’s that yellow stuff on your feet?!”

“That? Oh that’s just some spilled mustard powder.  Clumsy me.”  “Well did you get your secret ingredient?” asked Lingon innocently.  “You said you were going to get it fresh today.”

“Almost did” Rasp said gruffly. “If it weren’t for that pesky fly that caused me to lose my balance and fall.”

“What fly?” Lingon asked, very concerned.

Things I have never finished (and those I simply failed to do)

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handwrittenonly:

I laughed out loud when I read this blog and I’m sure so did many others. It deserved to be reblogged in the hope that many more will read it and identify.

Originally posted on tryingsohardtobegood's Blog:

I confess to being a little in love with Pintrest. However, only a little.

You see, I don’t really need it. My head has always been some kind of scrapbook; a collection of quotes, a montage of things to make-and-do, outfit inspirations, projects to pursue, tips and other things I might try and, somewhere, I’m sure, if you searched hard enough, even the odd recipe or two. Ideas don’t seem to be the issue.

But implementation all too often impedes me. I’m a dreamer not a doer. And, alas, here I am with a thousand or so things unfinished…

A painting of a boy

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Have you ever been so head-over
-heels in love that the colours of the world come alive? Of course you have, haven’t we all? Well, I tried to capture them. And his features. Tried and failed of course. A blue canvas boxed away in a room…

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Daily Post: Absolute Beauty

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“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” … I agree.  I knew a well-known photographer who found beauty in the images of poor Indian women in the villages of Bihar.  What would have appeared to other eyes as poverty and the mundane was captured, through a special magic of her individual perspective, as beauty and soulful by her camera.  She has since passed on but I have the honor of possessing three cards that she had gifted me.

My favorite is the one of an older woman, her body brown, lean and taut.  She is sitting on the floor of her hut, grinding spices on a stone. Her back is straight as an arrow, her haunches perfectly folded and her feet squared on the ground.  Her wrinkled face is happy and focused on the grinding stone and the perfect grinding of the spices for the food she must now prepare for her family.  Nothing else matters … the spare surroundings, the lack of furnishings …  just this beautiful woman, her grinding stone and her spices.  With a limited color palette of orange, burnt sienna, white and black, the interior of the hut provides a complementary background to the brown body of the woman.

While some might see only the material poverty in this photograph, I only see beauty.

Writing 101: Unlock the Mind

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9:13 am.  So I have until 9:29 am.  Anyway, I better begin.  Images of the Van Gogh to Kandisky exhibit at LACMA  are still with me.  Loved the colors and intricate paintings of Kandisky… kind of looking at a “Where’s Wally” picture.  Had to stand back several times to catch the human images embedded in the swirl of colors, criss-crossing lines and geometric images.  I skipped all the “traditional” paintings of pale, insipid landscapes saying to myself “Nope, skip, skip, skip, aaahh!  Looks at the colors!’. Learned enough about Fauvism to figure out that I had unknowingly been using that style in painting my masks.  Wow!  what a discovery … I mean I thought all along that my choice of colors was pretty wild but there was a method to my madness … albeit I did not know it.  I feel like my soul has been fed for a while. Today I feel satisfied that an important part of me was cared for by ME.  I know it will last for a while. Like the movie “The Hundred Foot Journey” which by the way I saw for the 4th time!  Why did I do that?  It fed some part of me … the warm yet feisty family ties, the soul of cooking, the sweet, unintended coming together of Marguerite and Hassan, the blending of two cultures and the seductive scenes of food preparations.  Every one who has seen the movie with me has expressed at the end of it … “I am hungry!”  or “I want to go home and cook with soul”. Okay enough of this as I have to go for my workout and also later to my office. Wish I could do this all day.  Have to seriously protect my time and space.  Trying, trying.  Maybe one of these days.  I have a small canvas. Perhaps this evening I could try an image and go nuts with the colors!.

Daily Post – Overload Alert

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“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” — Gertrude Stein

I agree …  guilty.   I have roughly 20 books on writing, not counting the ones I have discarded.  After reading all of them in the hopes of finding a magic pill that will make the stuff flow from my pen, I come back to the thought that has been hammering in my head all along … “Write dammit, just write.”  Your common sense … just listen to it.

WHO OR WHAT WAS YOUR THESEUS?

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 In Greek mythology Theseus was the heroic prince who liberated princess  Adriane from the labyrinth of the Minotaur (half-creature half-man) after slaying it.  

thes-ari

 

We all have moments in our lives or The Moment in our lives, when  we encounter someone symbolizing Theseus or some circumstance symbolizing Theseus  who dares to  take our hand, turns life around and liberates us from the internal labyrinths that we have roamed for so many years, lost and looking for the exit.

Sometimes there is more than one Theseus and these heroes have appeared at different times in our lives to show us the way out of the different labyrinths in which we are stuck and confused. They help us out of that dark, confusing space by gently guiding us toward the right path in the maze and lead us out to clarity.  They empower us with knowledge of our latent strength and aver its potency, something that we have either  chosen to ignore or have accepted an image of ourselves … albeit foisted on us.

There have been different Theseus’ in my life … some rescuing me from peripheral spaces in the labyrinth so that I have seen the exit and hastened to it.   However, it is the  brave Theseus who has rescued me from the deeper recesses of the labyrinth of my mind, spaces which were comfortable in some ways … enough to make me settle for the darkness, hesitant to  leave them because I did not know any better place. These are the heroes who bravely crossed the seemingly impenetrable lines we often  draw around ourselves, and entered unknown, private terrain to lead me out to the sunshine.

These were souls that could not bear to see me unfulfilled, believed in me and risked their being pushed away. But that is why they are heroes who take chances to  lead others to discovering the light within themselves.   Perhaps you also have experienced this phenomenon.

Who or what was your Theseus?

 

KONDI – My maid

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KONDI

Moving effortlessly on her haunches she would sweep the floor with a jharoo, a broom made of long-stemmed grass loosely gathered together and bound at the bottom where it would be grasped. Keeping a sharp eye out for the dust she was corralling, she would wait until it was just the two of us in the bedroom, out of sight and earshot of the others, as I rushed to dress and head to work.

“I saw you again in my dreams last night” she would always begin and I would unfailingly respond, “How much do you want today?”! By now that certain smile would start playing around her mouth. “Well, I want to take my daughter to see this new movie. You know, Lata rarely gets to do things like other girls her age. I cannot ask my brother for these luxuries as he has done a lot already by sheltering me and my daughter since my husband left. I cannot ask for more than that.”
Most of the time it was I who initiated the weekly slipping of money to her, keeping in mind how much cash I needed myself until the next payday. However, when Kondi needed the extra cash for a special purpose it was she who roped me, a willing participant, into a little game she played.

“How much do you need?” I ask again and then decide to hand her twenty- rupee bill for two movie tickets and some change left over. She takes the money, promptly rolls the note and gets ready to tuck it into the cleavage of her sari choli but looks at me hesitatingly before she completes the action. “Only twenty?!” Lata has to have popcorn and a Coke during the intermission like all the others children!” I put out another ten rupees. By now I don’t want to let Lata feel left out! I might as well make the movie experience complete for her. “God will grant you many blessings” she murmurs taking the extra money. Sometimes it was for other things that she needed the money and both my anger and guilt for being part of a society that did not pay her fairly, made me a soft-target for her pleas.

Kondi was slender, of medium height, dark complexioned with intense black eyes set above hollow cheekbones, and her oiled, black hair was combed back and wound into a bun at the nape of her neck. There was no vermillion dot or tilak in the center of her broad forehead. The most popular tilaks are the smaller, red dot (teeka) and the sindoora, red powder smeared along the parting of the hair on the head of a married, Hindu woman thus making a continuous red line from the forehead going back. Kondi’s husband was absent in her life since she had been pregnant with Lata and so her status was not considered worthy of the red teeka.

On most mornings, she arrived at our Mumbai flat at 7 am to begin the day’s work. If she was even fifteen minutes late, my mother would launch into a predictable monologue of how we could not rely on help these days, and how ungrateful they were, etc. etc. She also had a theory that if you needed Kondi to come early on a special day, like a birthday or New Year it was best not to alert her as this would definitely ensure either her late arrival or total absence, thus throwing a wrench into our daily lives.

On regular days, Kondi, like most of the daily maids, swept and mopped the tiled floors, cleaned the bathroom, washed our clothes, ground spices for our meals and washed dishes every day for years. Greasy dishes were first cleaned with sawdust which soaked up the grease. This was followed by a good scrubbing with ashes and rinsed. No washing machines for her…clothes were washed in buckets with soap and then rinsed and hung on clotheslines. She was paid “a fair sum of money”, or so they said, for all this drudgery. It was seventeen rupees per month to be exact. I found this extremely unfair, despite all and sundry justifying it as being the norm. I would vow that when I earned my first pay I would make it up to her. So I did. I would slip her an extra few rupees every week when I started working.
Unlike the other maids we had in the past, she never wore a single piece of jewelry. The absence of it always made me wonder. Even the poorest of the poor among her class wore a silver anklet, armlet or an earring, jewelry given to them by their parents as part of their marriage dowry but she wore nothing. Once she asked me for a large sum of money – seven hundred rupees. It was a large sum, considering that I was only earning five hundred rupees as my starting, monthly salary. I could not even imagine how I would produce this kind of money for her except that I was expecting my yearly bonus. She revealed that she had pawned her wedding jewelry and now wanted to claim it back.
Later, seven hundred rupees richer, courtesy my first bonus salary, she appeared the following day for work, bedecked like a young, happy bride replete with ornaments at her neck, wrists and ankles. While sweeping the bedroom, minutes later, she rose up with a jangle of silver bracelets and then touched my feet with gratitude.
I avoided looking at my mother’s puzzled face. “Why do you think she came all decked out today? How could she have afforded to pay the pawnbroker?” For the next two days Kondi flaunted her stuff and then just as quickly, she was bare again. All of it gone. Not even one piece adorned her. “I had to put it all away” she said. “It is dangerous to wear jewelry these days because one never knows if someone will rip it off of you.” I try hard not to believe my father who says he has seen her betting money, lately, at the local center for matka, the poor man’s lottery and thought of all the twenty rupee bills I had slipped her. His theory was that if she did not show up for work for a few days because of a fever, that she really had “ matka fever” and had made a little money at the lottery.

Once she had not come to work for about ten days and my mother, concerned that Kondi might be sick, sent me to her home to find out. The chawl where she lived was a collection of old, grey, peeling tenements with little windows displaying brightly colored clothing hung out to dry. Ragged, partly-naked brown children played happily in the squalor. Old people, toothless and contented, sat outside in the sunshine, looking at me with curiousity. “Where does Kondi live?” I ask. “Oh, Kondi, she lives on the third floor.” I start to climb the stairs and find that three little children are tailing me. “We will show you the way” they say happily, welcoming this diversion in their daily lives.

I found her sitting in a hallway, outside her dark, small room. She looked thinner. She has had a high fever and will come to work in a day or two. This was clearly not “matka fever” as my father usually thought.
When I left India, she came to my parents’ house with coconuts, Indian sweets, flower garlands and touched my feet to bless me for my journey to the U.S.A. Embarrassed, because she was my elder, I quickly bent down and raised her up. “Take me with you to America” she would often say to me. “I predict you will have two boys and a girl and I will look after them and do your housework, when you are married.”
I always saw her on the few trips I made back to Mumbai and on one trip, Lata, now thirteen would help with my children, sometimes taking my younger son for a walk in his stroller.
A couple of years later I received a letter from my mother that Lata had died at the age of fifteen from typhoid fever. Kondi had asked if I could please send her a copy of the photograph I had taken of Lata with my baby son? My good intentions of enlarging the photograph and framing it before mailing never got off the ground. I was guilty of “being busy” and every now and then when the photograph would surface in my mind, I would say “Tomorrow, definitely tomorrow.”

Kondi died, shortly thereafter. She never got the photograph and I have never forgiven myself.

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