Category Archives: Travel

Flowers

She is seated on the floor by the entrance of the empty ladies compartment when I board it at Chengalpet junction. She is in my way and I step around her, not too carefully, and sit down by the window. She is holding one of those readymade, shiny, pre-wrapped cones of marudani, smelling strongly of acetone and other chemicals. Her shabby, oversized frock, clearly discarded by some tasteless, rich child somewhere, her knotted hair bleached to a unhealthy brown in the dust and heat, her left-handedness, I become aware of these even without paying much attention as I wait for the train to leave.

I can see her hands from here, but not her face. She applies the dark paste clumsily to her right palm, trying to draw a flower. It smudges when the trains lurches forward in that drunken way of all trains about to depart, before they recover their dignity and roll out more gracefully.

But the smudge does not worry her. Deftly, she wipes it on back of the seat in front of her and continues. She is absorbed in the creation of this dark, green garden on her small, grubby hands. Women enter and exit past her; she makes no attempt to get out of their way. The right hand is complete now. She stands up triumphantly, losing her balance a little for she has only one serviceable hand with which to steady herself as the train rushes on.

She holds the decorated palm outside the train, allowing the wind to dry it. But she has little patience. Two stations later, she sits down again, holding the cone in the half-dry right hand now, unmindful of the smearing her lately gathered bouquets are receiving.

She struggles a bit, clearly her right hand is not as dextrous as her left. But a short while later, she rises again to hold out the new squiggles on the other palm to the wind and sun outside. Again, her impatience overtakes her and she squats, bending over her feet, her new canvas. The cone is back in the recently-adorned left hand, confidently covering her dry, sallow skin with flowers of every shape and curve. As the train pulls in to Guindy, a heavy arm suddenly pulls her up and out of the train, while a voice overhead yells out something about the mess she’s made of herself. And then she is gone from my view.

But as my compartment rolls out, I see her standing small in a crowd of haggard and harrassed-looking women, proceeding to cover her bare arms with new ornaments, lost to the noise and haste around.

Doors and windows of Europe – Segona Part

In Gandesa, Catalunya, Spain

In Gandesa, Catalunya, Spain

Horta de Sant Juan, Catalunya, Spain

Horta de Sant Juan, Catalunya, Spain

Arnes, Catalunya, Spain

Arnes, Catalunya, Spain

Poblet Monastery, Catalunya, Spain

Poblet Monastery, Catalunya, Spain

Poblet Monastery, Catalunya, Spain

Poblet Monastery, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Brugge, Belgium

Brugge, Belgium

Brugge, Belgium

Brugge, Belgium

Brugge, Belgium

Brugge, Belgium

Doors and windows of Europe – First Part

Cardiff City Hall

Cardiff City Hall

Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral

Oxford. Don't remember which college this was.

Oxford. Don't remember which college this was.

Also Oxford

Also Oxford

Some church in Oxford

Some church in Oxford

Oxford, again

Oxford, again

The windows are behind her

Undergraduate humour in Oxford

Undergraduate humour in Oxford

Internet on the Shatabdi

Free wireless internet. On the Shatabdi Express. Discovered entirely by accident. Provided by a Chennai-based company called Zylog. Being used to post this.

Clearly, I am too thrilled to speak (or type) in full, coherent sentences.

Updated to ask: Who does one thank for this marvellousness? Been trying to locate a number to call, an email or regular mail address to write to, a name I can use in what is likely to be a rhapsodic communication, but can’t find anything. May have to resort to writing a letter to some editor. 🙂

Tawang in pictures

My last post triggered a small bout of nostalgia and I went climbing over hillocks of unorganised photographs and scans on the storage disk, looking for old pictures from Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. Here are some that I found. (Bad scans, poor color correction, please excuse!)

Pangkang Teng Tso

Ei (grandmother) at Thrillum village, Tawang

Chorten at Gorsam

Man and child at Gorsam

Chestnut-headed sparrows, Zemithang

More as and when I find them.