Category Archives: Travel

mist, heat, light, rain

I broke my wrist.

I broke my wrist on Wednesday, planning to leave for London on Monday.

I broke my wrist on Wednesday, planning to leave for London on Monday, attend a masked ball ballet on Thursday, after visiting the queen’s gallery.

I wanted to meet an old dear friend and his dog, visit museums and gardens galore, and see how many cake shops and tea rooms I could visit.

I was going to research in the British library, see a scholar on south asian art, but I broke my wrist on Wednesday.

I uploaded the London transport app, the London bus app, trip-mapper, and culture whisperer with high hopes, or no hopes because it was practical. I bookmarked a dozen or more must-see lists.

Then I was going to fly to Moscow, visit St Basil’s, the kremlin, go for a banya, drink at the metropole, flood instagram with photos of old world Russian architecture from The Golden Ring.  I planned to eat blini. dark sweet bread. Food from Georgia. But for the wrist.

I planned to return to London, see Mark Rylance in Othello, hear Sir Simon Brattle conduct at  Royal Albert Hall, and return, sated, tired, and fully limbed.

That was the plan… but my tryst was with a trying wrist.

The quiet back home


The silence within my walls is profound.  In India, there is quiet punctuated by the sounds of activity: the vendors, the motorcycles, the cook coming in, the incessant phone.   Here my silent cats sleep, and as there is a chill, my windows are shut.  The noise I hear is the fridge, mildly roaring.  I miss my family, the hundred daily things that makes middle-class life in India so livable, from the coffee served first thing to the hot water available through the geyser switch.  (I wished I fared as well here, where warm water is now a rarity in my shower, which seems to have gone on vacation.)  Yes, there were the power cuts, the unbelievable humidity of an August day in South Chennai, the stickiness from the heat one feels before sleeping, but daily life needs are taken care of.  Suffice to say I did not have to clean or cook for myself for eighteen days.  Here, I am faced with  endless days of grilled cheese and pickle, and a hankering to window shop online.  But all is never lost.  There is a stack of books waiting to be read, and recipes to be followed.  I brought back a trove of new clothes, so perhaps these days, I can get back to the rhythm of life in America as a single woman.


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.