Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The nonagenarian beauty.

Sometimes it is hard to associate old age and beauty, specially when the old age in question is actually 92 years. That is ancient by all standards. Isn't it? So what comes to mind when you hear 92 years? Scantily clad scalp with a handful of sparkling silver strands. Texture - texture and texture. As in well defined wrinkles on skin that hangs loose on a thin frame, hard hearing, poor eyesight and immobility. Well, it is pretty much how I imagined it till I met this nonagenarian beauty.

I found out her name in our second meeting. Kumudamma. So Kumudamma can give Aarti a run for her money in enthusiasm and curiosity department. Her gaze looked preoccupied but she spoke pristine English. Yeah, English of all the languages which made my interaction with the Tamil speaking beauty possible. I found on in our eventual meetings that she speaks Hindi too with the same ease. She used to narrate her visits to the USA. The way she went to New Orleans for MadriGras and saw Niagara, Disney land and all tourist attractions in the USA for that matter. She used to ask endless questions and tell endless stories though some of them were repetitive. Her zeal never died out though...she would tell her twentieth story with the same animation as she would tell her first. From our conversation I'd learnt about her Doctor daughter and son and numerous grand kids and great grand kids.

She would sit there on the garden bench every evening, the garden that looked like a mini oasis in the concrete jungle of Mumbai. "What a wonderful place to be" she would exclaim - looking at the expanse of the lush green lawn before us.
One day I helped her stand. She stood tall though she wasn't very tall:-) The texture of her skin felt like that of a plush toy. She was as frail as a new born, as curious as a toddler, as inquisitive as a child, as enthusiastic as a teenager, as active as a young mom and as wise as a 92 year old. Kumudamma taught me one thing - that age is indeed a number and a life well lived has more to it than a huge landmark birthday.

She taught me to look at life from a different perspective. To actually stop and enjoy the cool evening breeze or to be genuinely interested in the person you are talking to. She personifies to me beauty, strength and a fighting spirit. Above all, her love for life is infectious.
The many lines on her face and body unfolded to me the joys and sorrows she must have lived, the love she must have spread and the inspiration she had given to numerous people like me that had crossed her path.

My ubiquitous camera captured a few of her images. "You are beautiful" I meant and exclaimed as I took a close shot of hers. "Thank you" she giggled with stars twinkling in those pre-occupied eyes. I am sure I did not imagine that color in her cheeks as she thanked me:-)

pic 1 - Kumudamma lounging in the garden amid the concrete around.
pic 2 - The beauty herself.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The chili red Chantal.

It's brewing time. Meet the new accessory on my stove top. An actual tea kettle. Who'd have guessed that I'd develop a passion for tea since coffee and tea were never a habit?
I fell in love with the architecture of the kettle, the loop, the silhouette and most importantly the color. Red, the color of passion brews passion. Chamomile, herbal blend, green tea bags immersed in hot water form this slick pot... Ah, the simple pleasures of life!

Here I come 2009.

A fresh new way of reviving my teens is right here. Though the pleasure of running the fingers through a sleek key board is irreplaceable, there is something more satisfying and fulfilling. Yes, notebooks! The one I scored today is a 2009 engagement calender that features the immortal Frank Lloyd wright and his works are placed there in an almost three-dimensional glory, thanks to the photographer Alan Weintraub. Like most of us do on most new year eves, I had decided to write this coming year and write on a real paper with a real pen.
I said this will help me to relive my teens and tweens since writing journals was a passion that dated back to those times. I used to hug the brand new diaries my Dad used to give me every year. Used to smell the pages. Some had smells that would make me remember the days of kindergarten when I used to open my texts and inhale the aroma of a new book.
A pen and a book is probably the best marriage ever. And to commemorate this holy matrimony moi decided to write - not write as a writer does, but scribble, doodle and etch as a confused creative would do. I am in love with my new diary. My biggest score of the month. Now I just need to find a smooth pen and a little something to scribble about ;-)
And no prizes for guessing what I wanted form Santa... Notebooks! Are'nt I uncomplicated?
Here's more info abt my little hardbound treasure.

Photographs by Alan Weintraub This calendar's thirty-two color photographs by Alan Weintraub show houses built by Wright all across the United States. Each photograph is annotated with historical information and accompanied by a quotation from the master builder. Also included are a brief essay about Wright, fifty-four weekly grids, twelve full-page monthly grids, lists of international holidays and international calling codes/time differences, double-page spreads of 2009 and 2010 yearly grids, pages for notes, and a personal information page. Size: 6 5/8 x 8 in.; 112 pages; hardcover Wire-O bound.


The lady who'd lost her 4 carat De Beers Diamond in a museum recently said that she wanted to give the diamond to her grand daughter and when the museum staff looked for the lost diamond rummaging through the contents of the vacuum bags and found the rock, the woman was ecstatic. "It kind of denoted that a diamond is forever" she said.
So, friends, what stays forever? Definitely not us - mortal beings. But don't we seem to plan and work things out in our mind's map day in and day out like we are here to stay? We live in an illusion that we are forever. The irony is that we kind of subconsciously acknowledge that we'll go away, but we still hold on to silly things - grudges, heart breaks, disappointments, worldly possessions, feelings and many more things. We can look around our adobes and finds tons of things that we hoard. Things that could be given away, that could make a difference to some one else. Things that can open up our space and de-clutter it if we let them go. Things that simply our lives and lighten our baggage both physical and emotional. Let go of those hard feelings, forgive and forget. Give and live. We all seem to know this. But we just hoard stuff like we need them since we are here forevermore.
We plan young. This necklace will go to my eldest daughter. My mom used to plan and decide what she wanted to give to each of her daughters when she was the age I am right now. I do my own plans for that matter. I look at each piece of my jewelry and foresee that Aarti will one day wear it or just put it in her curio since they will be too outdated for adornment. I look at the letters Sarat and I had written to each other and hope that a grandson would stumble upon them and get to know a love story. I plan for the day I'll have to leave but hold on to the first jeans I'd bought in the USA, the many little clothes that Aarti had worn in her initial months, the numerous quilts and comforters that do not co-ordinate with the size or the color of my current bedroom just because I might need them if a guest comes and decides to sleep on the couch watching TV. I imagine having another child or one of my sisters or cousins having a girl to use those clothes Aarti had long out grown, and a guest that would want to sleep on the couch just because I cannot let go of the things that I own. But I do plan on giving away the more precious stuff since all of us, not just me, know that we are not forevermore.
I lightened the burden of this house by a few tens of pounds since I donated Aarti's outgrown clothes, toys and all those quilts and comforters and also those Sunscreens and extra baby cremes that would hit the trash if they are hoarded for another year. Somewhere a little girl might need those clothes, a baby somewhere doesn't have a single toy perhaps. And what will all these possessions mean in the big picture? Yeah, nothing!

Memories are meant to be the ones that linger in the heart. May be an occasional dress or a trinket that was bought on a special occasion can be hoarded. But the rest will not mean a zilch once the person that deems those things as something meaningful is gone.

We hoard, pile things and emotions up making us weak, placing us in an enchantment that makes us consciously act like we are forevermore. A diamond could probably stay for ever - the person who wears it will not. Just like the things we plan to pass on, we should probably plan to pass on the love and lead a life a little selfless and a lot less self centered.

We take with us what we give away. What we keep will just stay back right where we left them.