In Mahabalipuram

The sand under our feet - me and my friend P - as we walked toward the shore temple. Fishing boats drawn up on the beach. One or two traditional silver-grey catamarans, trunks of worn wood lashed together; the rest modern boats; some with the names of relief agencies on the sides, given after the tsunami. The tide was coming in, it kept washing up to my knees. We would move higher up, then come down to feel the water swirling around our feet. Then it would rise up again, and we would move back, so that we seemed to be staggering drunkenly, laughing. The way people customarily walk on a beach, in fact.

At lunch: A lobster was on display, along with a grouper, a snapper and a hoomoor (?), laid out on small round white stones. The lobster was beautiful; ornately stippled, striped and decorated, dark brownish/greenish, a baroque jeweller's decoration for a wealthy dining table.

The red snapper was more bony than I had expected, its flesh came away in soft flakes. A wafer of chocolate mint afterward, wrapped in gold foil and encased in a hexagonal black paper box. Sula white wine.

Afterwards we lay in string hammocks tied to palm trees. I photographed my feet crossed on the tapering end of netted cotton rope, the long fronded leaves spreading above me. The breeze was strong enough to sway me from side to side, and I found myself humming Rockaby Baby, not part of my usual repertoire.

It was one of those precious days, on the cusp between cool and hot seasons, between land and sea, time out from ordinary time.

A Saffron Umbrella

I was feeling aimless, discontented. I was babbling. I said, "I need a designer. I need a personal trainer. I need a guru. I need Sai Baba and his saffron umbrella." He was in town yesterday, we had driven by chance past a place where he was walking among a group of gawkers and devotees, blocking traffic and crowding around him so that we could see nothing but the slowly-moving top of his umbrella.

R said, "You don't need Sai Baba - all you need is a saffron umbrella. It would shade you from the sun, and you would be fine." We laughed at the absurd image, and I felt much better.
[my remarks] "out of proportion blow kiya hai"

Hema Malini said this, trying damage control after saying that North Indians who have a hard time in Mumbai should go back where they came from. I posted it because it's a wonderful example of Hindi-English. At the same time, my mouth really fell open when she made the first statment; some years back, South Indians, of which she is one, had a very hard time in Mumbai, thanks to anti-outsider campaigns by the Shiv Sena political party. I want to say 'what was she thinking?' but I think I already know the answer: nothing at all.