Monday, November 28, 2005

cogs in motion

we've finally started to settle into a routine. spent the past 3 days setting up our studio in the city at my masi's house. this has been more work then i might have guessed.

my masi lives in the states, so her house is boarded up much of the year. they're tearing up the road out front, so there was a couple inches of dirt piled up everywhere. veena, our nanny/cook/caretaker/cleaner extra-ordinaire, has had to spend a lot of time getting the house in shape. oddly, the biggest pain has been arranging for the heating gas (locally called sill-ANDER) - apparently the indian government rations the amount of cooking gas available to people. you have to apply, then wait in line for 30+ days. of course this wasn't an option. since the economy here is quite creative, the black market usually supplies, but even the black market can be taxed. apparently the wedding demands on black market cooking gas are extreme this time of year (we're in the peak of wedding season, and typical punjabi weddings have many hundreds if not thousands of people eating many meals over many days). after some hemming and hawing and connection pulling, we now have our gas.

we have begun painting a lot. started out with a lot of sketch work. i ordered a bunch of canvases, and they're starting to come in now. we spend our days on the kotie with chairs and munjis and paint and cha. its a lovely day. ameen and i are worried our work is melding together since we're staring at the same stuff. we've spent the past few evenings cruising the back gulliahns snapping photos CIA style of random things here. its amazing how much just being here makes me want to paint - i think its a combo of the new sites, huge time blocks, and local materials.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

returning to health

the mystery medicine appears to be working. today nayan downed a bowl of cereal, 2 cookies, and a piece of toast. even though he can't quite partake, he waxes enthusiastically about returning to the chase, and once again, tearing through these palatial halls after his cousins enforcing the residential nayan-approved boli.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

toilets and tund

nayan woke up with the shakes and a temperature. soon he was sprinting toward the toilet. escaping the "loose motion" is a western traveller's fantasy, but the reality involves much more mystery healing and porcelain. ameen and i were struggling to isolate the culprit. was it the milk? no - all of our milk on the farm is boiled. what about the yogurt - nope, made from the boiled milk. what about the 8 french fries he ate at a dhaba 5 days before? doubtful, given that he was sprinting through the halls screaming 'punjabi bolo nay tha chundi' non-stop since he ate them. what about his fingers that explore the dirt on the floor, then roam inside his nasal passages, and on occassion, find themselves yanking on his tongue - this is my running theory at the moment. mamiji et. al. are convinced 'tund lagai' - translated: the cold got to him. this is a mystery illness i can't quite seem to buy into, but there must be something to it given that everyone takes it as WHO and NSF supported fact. there exists a theory here, that since the temperature difference between sunny realms (about 80 degrees) and shadey locales (about 72) is so significant, people need to wear a coat and socks. by this theory, since nayan was sleaveless and sandled, "the cold got him". this theory seems odd, especially given that our temperature differences at home are more extreme (50 degrees outside, 70 degrees inside), but nonetheless, in the quest to retain solid stools, nayan will be thoroughly socked and sleaved. taking advantage of the situation, we've also scared him silly about his roaming fingers.

Friday, November 25, 2005

wide awake

it's 4 AM, 5 days after arrival - significantly past the typical jet lag recovery date - so, why am i still lying here wide eyed? the room seems to have exactly one mosquito savoring its thanksgiving feast. we've created colorful homemade mosquito nets for the kids out of ameen's chunnis, but alas, the little-uns toss and turn, and the delicately balanced teddy-bear-cum-tent-post repeatedly falls over, transforming the net barrier into a circus tent, where the trapped carnivore is blissfully free from distractions of the prowl, and can now focus on the face at hand. ameen, with pundit-like foresight, added a second defense - little mosquito killer devices plugged into the wall and filled with some aromatic mystery juice. ameen, usually relatively cautious of 3rd world toxins, assured me with the same line reserved for the locals, translated roughly from punjabi, "chill out - everyone uses these things, and they're all fine." to which i respond, "well that's just because everyone eats their parathas with 3 tablespoons of butter." so the device buzzes on, the clock ticks loudly, and i stop writing.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


well after many days of travelling, we are finally here in jallandar, punjab, basking in lovely 80 degree weather, and perfect sunshine. travelling with 2 kids is more difficult than i would have guessed. this, despite the fact that nayan was an angel on the flight. ananya hardly slept a wink, but thankfully, nor did she cry. yesterday was a lovely day. we took the kids (my 4 niece/nephews) to "wonderland" - an entertainment testament to india's new rise as an economic power - an emerging middle class in jallandar can now bask in their very own theme park. i was braced for the worst - the usual muck and laisez fair work attitude applied to theme park rides w/ jerry rigged welds, flowing slop, etc. i was shocked, the place was great. due to the lack of cheap plastic, abundance of cheap labor, and random sources of wonder, wonderland - the place where a sign told me i would find my soul, somehow wound up done eco stye w/ amazing landscaping and handmade mosaics. the fact that the middle class hasn't quite risen as high as the new international investment levels, left the place blissfully uncrowded, maybe a hundred or so people. we had a hoot. ameen was particularly excited by the bhangra blasting everywhere and the high fashion sense - we both had forgotten how indians love to dress up for this sort of thing. just so things don't sound too wonderful, we drove past a crowded buffalo pasture that had caught fire by our farm the night before - it was a horrific sight - many buffalo's charred and burned alive. some just standing black stumps, others still smoking.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

dilwale dulhania le jayenge

movie review: just saw Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge last night. i'm sure i'm veering out of the desi mainstream when i say this, but this flic was just too steriotypically blah. i honestly felt guilty when it was over for wasting so much of a beautiful sunny sunday afternoon. here were my problems: i was shocked when intermission showed up, i could have sworn we were wrapping up, but alas, we were simply leaving england for the punjabi homeland, which we certainly could have done sooner. the lamborghini/motorcyle/fight w/ the juts/prancing switzerland business is so stereotypically bollywood - its been done over and over and over again. i also tire of the 'i love india' speeches, and the brainless 'east is west, punjab is best' type one liners. still, some things were good - for one, we were spared shahruhk's stomach gurgling 'i'm so sad' acting. less cynically, the songs are pretty good, as are the dance scenes. perhaps i'm just feeling ready to trash a film since the past few i've seen have been so good. had i seen this last year when i was wallowing in a long string of muscle-flexing-junior-high-school-machismo-bollywoods, i might have been more sympathetic. for now, i give it 2 1/2 stars, while seriously contemplating dropping it to 2. more at:
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