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Posts from the ‘Summer’ Category

Reading Recovery

Published in the year of his death from cancer, Henning Mankell’s After the Fire is a slow examination of a seventy-year-old’s confrontation with solitude and loss.  The protagonist, a retired doctor,  lives in a archipelago being visited by an arsonist, and we begin at the site of the first fire. Finding the arsonist is relegated to the background, as what it means to live in a community where trust is replaced by wariness is explored, even as death and old age is the larger specter in the forefront.  Yet this is an optimistic novel, where friendship and family, however distant, is embraced, sometimes gingerly, sometimes with affection.

This was the one of the last books I read before I broke my wrist, but not the last book I’ve read since.  There was a fatalistic stoicism in the narrative that strikes me deeper as  I now try to fill my days with no-impact activity.  Thus constrained to cat care, lackluster weeding, a great deal of sighing, a fascination of one-handed bottle opening techniques, elevating my arm on pillows, watching repeats of mysteries, instagram, I am reading with an awareness that my situation could have been worse.  The Great Believers by the quite brilliant Rebecca Makkai, a Claire Messud novel, Elif Safak‘s Forty Rules of Love,and a wonderful novel by Caitlin Macy called Mrs. Now, biding my time, easing insomnia, I am romping through Kevin Kwan‘s Crazy Rich Asians, which will become a film*. it has an all-Asian cast, for it is story about Asians.  Apparently, one filmperson wanted the heroine to be re-cast white, but no.  She will be a wary non-rich, non-crazy Asian woman portrayed by an Asian.

Sometimes  the fates shift the balance.

*the book is different than what the film preview shows, from dialogue to fashion, alas.

gallery of roses

Drinking Chocolate, Verb & Noun

Indira Ganesan, Drinking Chocolate, 2018

 

Let me try to describe it.  You open your mouth to take a taste, but it is like swallowing a thick river.  Then you remember to sip, and the maneuver works.  It is chocolate, but more so, in a cafe crowded for the weather, customers lined up for “hugs in mugs” ( TM) and hot mocha.  I order two thin chocolate lemon peels, thinking of espresso.  The taste complements, tart sweet.  Actually, that is almost the name of a smoothie here, made with beets, cukes, and more good things.  An eleven-year-old in this sweet shop orders it ; bless him.

Another circle, another fan

This time in my aunt’s house, in Chennai.  Can time be measured in circling ceiling fans, beating back the heat?  In the afternoons, perhaps, but mornings, papers rustle, the breeze cool.  It’s been almost ten years since I’ve been here last.  The family has gotten smaller, and grief leaks.  My father; my uncle.  Meals are served, the rustling papers read.  Outrage over the news.  Could not a million be spent than in the personal acquisition of Princess Diana’s private letters?  Imagine if that money was given to produce a play based on the letters instead.  The best line I’ve recently read is in Interred with Their Bones, a novel by Jennifer Lee Carrell:  “If you must choose a church, go to the theater.”

Yes, in India, musing about the royals, reading about Shakespeare, under a circling ceiling fan.  Outside, the air is thick with the noise of traffic, worship, capitalism. The indifferent cows only come out at night.

Unpacked, Mostly, with Some Photographs

Indira Ganesan, Light in the clouds

Indira Ganesa, Light in the Clouds2016

There is an essay by Natalia Ginzberg in which she writes about disliking summer: the heat, the crowds.  I felt a kinship immediately.  Summer for me is the cool shade, sipping cold drinks, and reading.  It is seeing the sea in the mist, the sharp clarity of mountain air.  And it is vacation to other places, something which is rare for me in most of summers.  I am two weeks back from a  family trip to London and Paris.  I traveled on Wow Air, packed a new Tom Bihn bag, realized I liked the journey to much more than the journey back, despite very good seatmates.  On the way to, I had the window, and much to anticipate.

Indira Ganesan, O Wow, 2016

Indira Ganesan, Wow View, 2016

 

In London, we saw the Chelsea Physic Garden, full of herbal lore and a nice tea.

Chelsea Physic Garden

Indira Ganesan, Chelsea Physic Garden, 2016

C.P. G: fruit

Indira Ganesan, C. P. G: fruit, 2016

C.P.G.: rose and lily

Indira Ganesan, C. P.G.: rose and lily, 2016

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Indira Ganesan, C.P.G: roses in trees, 2016

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Indira Ganesan, C.P.G: Bench with trellis, 2016

The reason for the trip started last October when my brother, sister-in-law, and niece logged in for theater tickets.

And after the play, there was more: to Stonehenge on a bus tour with an archeologist; Paris, where the croissants were drenched in butter,  and the gardens in bloom; and back to England to see my cousin & family. Discovering a mall underneath the Louvre  In between, I snuck a trip out to the country to see an old friend; met more old friends,and later floated floor by floor one afternoon in Waterstones.

 

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Indira Ganesan, Stonehenge, 2016

Indira Ganesan,Stonehenge II, 2016

Indira Ganesan,Stonehenge II, 2016

Waterstones mailed me a package covered in brown paper, filled with books.  It was already waiting for me when I got back. I might have used the same method to bring presents for friends, I realized too late. Reason enough to go back.

 

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