NaNoWriMo 2006

Getting ready for NaNoWriMo, I have gleaned a couple of references to free programs / gizmos for writers. There are lots more, which you can find by browsing the Nanowrimo forums. Go and sign up -- the time to write your novel has come!
Papel - 'the intuitive tool for creative writers'. I just started to use it, and it's wonderful. I've made one 'papel' for my novel, and another one as a kind of idea dump - for blog, poetry, short story ideas. It has a desktop with text documents which can be moved around, as in mind-mapping - for scenes, characters, notes, or whatever you want.

A cute pocket storyboarder.

Noisy Keyboard makes your keyboard sound like an electric typewriter. Turn it on or off, according to your mood.

As to my novel, I've decided to have fun, and not to worry about being intelligent, or about who might read over my shoulder and sneer at me. Maybe I'll actually finish this year.


A terrific thunderstorm last night. I saw a bright flash, as if a light bulb had exploded, and glass flying and clinking on the floor. A window had blown out. I photographed it as if I were a reporter at a crime scene, and tried to sweep up the shards. (In the morning Lakshmi found more, 15 feet from the window.)

I looked out the door where the watchman was sheltering in the porch, and said, "What was that?" He said, "Minnal" - lightning. "Is that so?" I nodded, and went back inside.

Still Here

I’ve been so down about the image-less state of this blog – and by extension, the fragility and futility of the world, etc. etc., that I was on the verge of chucking it. The blog, that is. Then R persuaded me not to.

I was driving through driving rain today: it’s been going on for several days now; parts of the city are flooded, and everything is a soggy mess. I was listening to Ernst Bacon’s Remembering Ansel Adams, for clarinet and orchestra, and it became apparent that the inside and outside of the car occupied parallel but completely different universes. It was a dangerous illusion, given the need of the driver (me) to pay close attention to the splashings and swervings; but so pleasant, being cocooned in cool and meditative sound.

Beyond that, life goes on in its usual soggy and messy way. We saw a very good film, Indian but mostly in English: Being Cyrus, with a good cast, and excellent acting by Saif Ali Khan. Divali, the festival of lights, came and went, with some squibs dampened by rain, but enough remaining to create a continuous wall of noise from morning to night. Oh, and I painted a shell that I like. That’s about it.

My husband's take on the same shell.

Coconuts and Poochis 2

Back in March I wrote about how we had applied a medicinal poultice to the crowns of our three coconut trees, because insects were spoiling the young coconuts. And whether because of our efforts or not, the next crop was superior. Now our newish gardener has declared that the coconuts need another dose. He's from the countryside and knows farming - certainly our garden has never looked better - so we have obeyed. In addition to what we had applied in March: rock salt, mothballs, sambrani (a kind of incense), turmeric, and edible camphor (used here in some sweets), we have now added asafoetida and a fragrant bark called (I think) vaasambu. Lakshmi, Ethiraj the gardener, and a coconut-tree climber worked to pound the ingredients between two stones in the ugliest part of our house, the area behind the kitchen:

The coconut-tree climber has an interesting looking container hanging from his belt to hold his machete. the rope over his shoulder is his climbing sling. He wrapped the pink cloth around his head to make an informal turban, shinnied up the trees, cut off excess leaves (how does one determine this, I wonder?), cleaned the crowns, applied the poultice and shinnied back down again. Now let's see.

Two French students by Ramesh Gandhi

An Elephant Crackup

There's a fascinating / scary / terribly sad article in today's New York Times magazine: An Elephant Crackup? It is primarily about African elephants, but it mentions Indian elephants as well; and the problems are apparently evident among all elephant populations:
... today’s elephant populations are suffering from a form of chronic stress, a kind of species-wide trauma. Decades of poaching and culling and habitat loss, they claim, have so disrupted the intricate web of familial and societal relations by which young elephants have traditionally been raised in the wild, and by which established elephant herds are governed, that what we are now witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture.

It has long been apparent that every large, land-based animal on this planet is ultimately fighting a losing battle with humankind. And yet entirely befitting of an animal with such a highly developed sensibility, a deep-rooted sense of family and, yes, such a good long-term memory, the elephant is not going out quietly. It is not leaving without making some kind of statement, one to which scientists from a variety of disciplines, including human psychology, are now beginning to pay close attention.

Several Things

It's fever season. We always have malaria and typhoid, to greater or lesser degrees; this year we have chikungunya. I'd never heard of it; it has emerged after 37 years. And more recently, there's dengue. Dengue is usually more prevalent in the north, but I heard from someone here a couple of days ago that he had been diagnosed with it. Both are carried by a day-biting mosquito.

When we sit out on the lawn at night and I get bitten, I think, "Never mind, it's a night-biter," and if I get bitten during the day I think, "Never mind, this one isn't likely to be carrying anything." So far, this primitive magic has worked.

One night, very late, there was such a thunderstorm that it was like a very austere musical composition: concerto for thunder, with the soloist right overhead, and supporting thunder all around. It was so beautifully spare a piece that the only frill was the percussion of rattling windows. By the time the rain started, I had already gone back to sleep.

Petrol bunk red:

For Once, Then, Something

I suddenly wanted to read poems by Robert Frost. I had read him in high school, then did not for many years. I found this poem, which I had not known before, but which I found beautiful:

For Once, Then Something

Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven, godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths-and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

Good News and Bad News

Regarding my recent disappearance from the airwaves, Blogger has sent me this note:
I have some good news and bad news for you. The good news is that your blog is now back online and publishing correctly with all your posts and archives intact. The bad news is that everything you have uploaded to your page such as pictures and images have been lost. We deeply and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Once I get over being stunned, I will begin to try to replace those images. Anyway, here I am. Blogger has pulled me out of the hat. Tada.