Still No Pirates

You got that right.

Instead, it’s books, rain, and writing.

I just finished a good but uneven book on India by Siddhartha Deb.  The book had enough padding to keep you warm outdoors on a wintry day.

At least the writing is going well: 65 pages in three weeks (plus 75 at home).   The chef is getting the cooks into shape.

Speaking of chefs and cooks: Last night I had a tandoori chicken that was the best I’ve ever had; moist, clearly slapped against the clay, delicious.  So why can’t the cook get it together for breakfast?  Blended juice?  A dosa strike?  And lunch?  $5 grilled cheese sandwiches?  I struck back: I refused to eat lunch.  Bought 10 rupees worth of pappadom at a roadside shop.  Now we’re talking.

Tonight I’m told it’s “stir fry chicken, Kerala style.”  If the kitchen was any lazier, it would shut down.

It’s a shame, really, given the splendid, plentiful tropical fruits and vegetables.  But then: They’d have to cook.



Blue Skies Over the Arabian Sea

I am certain that if there were pirates that we would see them, but not seeing them I know they are not there.  Blue skies after days of rain lends confidence to this admittedly solipsistic thinking, but every fool must have paradise and this is mine.

Yesterday, throughout the rain, I struggled with consciousness.  Not just class, race, and gender, although such thoughts did occur, but staying awake.  Succumbing around 2 PM, book in hand, I dozed briefly, then showered, shaved, and wrote all afternoon.

Having finished reading the sensational bestseller, “The God of Small Things,” which is well edited, but lurid, facile, sadistic, shallow, and didactic, everything that art mustn’t be, I’m turning now to “The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India.”  Siddhartha Deb, a West Bengali, got into Columbia and now lives in Brooklyn.  So far it’s a splendid book.  Why, I wonder, is “portrait” in the subtitle here and also with Patrick French’s book, “India: A Portrait.”  Are these guys writers or painters?

Anyhoo, as Ma would say, limited options ahead.  Iddli for b’fast-kitchen won’t serve dosa–and OK ‘wichs for lunch and while a dinner of grilled fish smeared with spice is delicious, it ain’t saucy, and it is lazy cooking.

Somehow we shall persevere.  After all, the sun it came out tomorrow.  Tomorrow!  Tomorrow!  The sun will come out tomorrow!

Onam Comes But Once A Year

It’s the month of Chingham in Kerala, boys and girls, and we all know what that means!

It’s ONAM time!

Onam, for the non-Keralites tuning in, is a huge holiday in Kerala that ostensibly celebrates the harvest (annual harvest in the tropics?), but is rooted in commemorating the reign of King Mahabali.

The King, who ruled during A Golden Age here, eons ago, was a wise, great, benevelont ruler, etc., and naturally this got the gods envious and they put an end to his reign.  Onam is when Mahabali’s spirit returns to enliven the souls of people today.

We went to a jungle temple on The First Night of Onam, following a procession of decked out girls and women, who were preceded by bare chested drummers.

Onam lasts ten days, I’m told, and if you are very lucky, you may find yourself at a meal called Onasdaya: Many courses on a banana leaf, you get the picture.

Me?  I’m hoping to find another temple tonight.  I kind of like the idea of celebrating a human’s spirit over the gods even if that person was royalty.  Science has to begin somewhere, right?

War Zone Holidays

We’re on the Arabian sea–draw a line from the horn of Africa and keep going East and that’s our position.  You can’t see Somalia, but knowing it’s there?  Priceless.  Just north are Pakistan and Iran, and just NW are Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.  You want to play?  I said: Do you want to play?  I didn’t think so.

Just arrived about four hours ago and still no sign of the pirates, but just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there, right, Virginia?  The sea, for example, is choppy and the color of lead.  Could something be lurking beyond the horizon?

Awaiting further clarification, I’m sticking to writing about chefs and guarding the fort.

Wait!  What’s that I see?