Sunday, December 11, 2011

Go with the flow …. And you might run 5K, get two hamsters, share 25 ice cones and have a wonderful weekend

This weekend I had planned to
  1.  Meet a friend for coffee
  2. Volunteer at an orphanage
  3. Go on a night hike
  4. Clear up the huge pile of clothes that is cluttering up my room
Neighborhood kids all excited about the tiny
pets (pests??)
Out of these I only met the friend for coffee. The night hike and volunteering session were sadly cancelled - one had too many people and one too few.

But I ended up -
  1. Getting two dwarf hamsters home. The naming is still in progress but Ashvin has chosen Cutie and Cutie-Cutie. Ankit (inspired by Amritansh Uncle) is looking for weightier names РSchr̦dinger is the latest.
  2. Going for a 5K with neighbors at the Bangalore Midnight Marathon. The moon put on a beautiful eclipsys show for us. There were drummers and a band playing – moves like jagger. The kids ran faster than me and we gained all the calories back at an impromptu pizza party.
  3. Visiting  a Lion’s Club fun fair with friends – enjoying the afternoon walk but really enjoying sharing shaved ice cones with twenty-five kids.
  4. Finding my favorite pani-puri person who had gone missing for over two weeks now. Happy to know he has stopped working for a pani-puri chain and has started his own business. I did not know there were pani puri chains. I will interview this dude someday.

All this was unplanned and all of it wonderful. Going with the flow gets you a lot these days. It got me an awesome weekend. Now if only the clothes would clear themselves up.

Twenty-five ice cones and twenty-six smiles.

There is something about ice creams and me. A single cone will never suffice. I had a hundred when I was little (remember - One hundred Ice Creams ) and today I got twenty-five of them. I guess it is hard to see people sad with an ice cream in their hand.

Coming back to today – we had walked over to Lake View farms down the road to check out a fundraiser Lion's Club had going. It was a Christmas bazaar of sorts, with stalls of handicraft and food items for sale. Amongst attractions for the day, there was a dance, by the Siddapura school kids later in the afternoon. This was a school sponsored by the Lion’s club using funds raised by such bazaars.

I met the twenty kids that showed up for the performance when Ashvin wanted to play in the little playground where they were waiting. There was a single see-saw and a balance pole that comprised the playground and the twenty children seemed to be making full use of them. What surprised me was how welcoming they were. They helped Ashvin balance and put him on the see-saw. They shared and made him happy. They made me happy. Full of questions and smiles and dressed in their best clothes these were better sharers and happier children that I had encountered in a long time. A bit of a contrast to some I meet with their nannies in the playgrounds around here.

Long story short I bought them all shaved ice cones (due to the lack of other ice cream). It was funny when I asked the guy at the stall how much they were.

“Forty rupees” he said.
“I’ll take twenty” I said.
“No, ma’am, I can’t give for twenty, it is forty only”
“I am not asking you to give it to me for twenty, I want twenty of them” I replied laughing. “But do you offer a discount?” I added hopefully.

He didn’t give a discount and somehow I ended up buying twenty-five and not the anticipated twenty. The news of free ice cream travels fast I guess.

As I said earlier, I have never seen a sad face on anyone with an ice cream in hand and today I saw twenty (five) smiling ones.  Yes, I know it is better to give in a channeled manner but there is enough wrong in this world that sometimes making a few strangers happy is not too bad. And sorry, it was not twenty-five but twenty-six smiling faces - mine had the biggest smile.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Missing the North Indian winters

Bangalore Dec 2011. Waiting for corn to get roasted.
Bangalore does not get cold like Delhi or most of North India so I had not realized it was December and winter already. Then last night I walked back home near midnight and it was a little cold. Some darwans - security guys - had gotten a makeshift bonfire going. We had stood by a cart as corn was grilled on coals. The air was slight misty and the roads suspiciously empty.

I grew up in North India with very chilly winters. When we were little there was no central heating. Winter bought little coal firepots that were placed in the bedrooms. We would warm our feet over them. Washed clothes would be hung around the fire - on chairs and clothes racks. With time the coal heaters were replaced by electric ones - the rectangle things with three angry red coils but the clothes rack stayed the same - layered with damp clothes that kept the room humid and warm.

Bangalore Dec 2011. Waiting for jalebis to get cooked.
Winter also brought the hot, calorie dense comfort foods. Suddenly all the carts in the market were fitted with coal grills, huge griddles or fryers. Many still had the signs and prices for ice cream, kulfi and fruit salads from summer but were now selling chicken rolls, roasted fresh corn, pakoras and hot jalebis. We'd huddle around the cart, our breath fogging the air as we warmed our fingers while waiting for the hot snacks.

There were huge displays outside stores showcasing yarns of wool that aunts would buy and knit into questionably fashionable sweaters. Groups of people wrapped in checkered blankets huddled around makeshift bonfires was a common sight.

So today I took another walk and found fresh hot jalebis. They were good but nothing compared to the ones you get up North. I don't think it was the taste that made them average. There is just something else about eating them when your breath fogs up the air.