Several Things

It rained last night – the first rain we've had in 2006. It was about 10:30 p.m. I walked out of the drawing room into the atrium, and heard it drumming on the glass roof – and dripping through several cracks too, onto the leaves of the plants inside. I've never gotten used to living in a place where rain is an event, something fleeting, to be savoured. In half an hour it was over.

In the bathroom I was startled by one of those big, pale spiders which can grow to the circumference of a saucer. This one was only about 3 inches in diameter, but it disconcerted me. When I was travelling here as a student, and stayed in the cheapest possible hotels, I would go down the hall or across the courtyard to bathe, and find one of those giants sharing the room with me. I knew they were harmless, but they scuttled, and I felt they were staring at me, though I couldn’t see their eyes. They seem to like the damp air of bathrooms. This one, which was the first I’d seen for years, reminded me of those poor but exciting days. It’s still there. I’m not able to kill it, but I do hope that it will decide to go somewhere else.

I’m scanning some photographs that R took as a boy, when he was too poor to own a camera – some friend would lend him his, so that he could shoot a roll. The prints came back in these small envelopes, about 2"x3". Who knows, the shop may still be there - Calcutta seems to bring all of its past along with it, in many and varying shades of decay. (I'm talking about the fifties, mind you - not, as you might gather from the illustrations, the nineteenth century.) Update: Balaji informs me that the camera in the illustration above is a Voigtlander Brillant. Which I wouldn't have known in a million years. Thanks!

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