I was roaming around the house aimlessly, wondering what I should be doing, and suddenly I saw it as if I were a visitor. When you pass through the same rooms everyday, their contents are hardly visible, a white-noise hum. The indistinct background of a dream. Turn on a light switch, and things pop into view. That (object)! How long has it been lying there?

My paper stash! I must throw it all away. Seize the moment! I reach to clear the shelf, and almost before I know what my hands are doing, I am folding papers into signatures, punching holes, hunting for the waxed linen thread. I sew graph paper, wrapping paper, opened-out envelopes together, and make a book.

R's photographs are lying all over the house. Boxes of enlargements, envelopes of negatives. In a plastic shopping bag I find faded 2x3" prints, outtakes. Their blandness is mysterious: I feel obliged to look long enough to find meaning in them. I glue a few into my book.

I can’t sleep. At 3:00 a.m. I come downstairs to get some writing paper. As I pass through the atrium I hear a splash. In the fish pond, concentric rings of water are lit by the moon. A dull brown fish has made itself known. Usually they are silent, gliding along their underwater paths. They eat puffed rice and mosquito larvae, and survive. I feel a pain in my chest, as though they were very dear to me.

I draw Julius Caesar, his stone face split down the middle as if struck by lightning, and then other statues. Repetition is order is harmony. Their blank gaze is soothing: they are not interested in my nooks and crannies.

Should these water buffalo vertebrae, which I picked up off the ground from some land we had once, still be on that table, fifteen years after I casually dropped them there?

On the way to the car, bones:
White shards half-buried. Old news,
not enough to make a whole of anything.

And those chairs in the hallway! Only crazy people would not have discarded them long ago – their foam collapsed, home to generations of lizards, whose miniature broken ping pong ball eggs we sweep up from time to time. Can I point my finger and dissolve them into atoms?

The big copper water vessel, those pinecones from the hills. That brass thing from Thailand that someone gave me, I never even liked it much, but here it is. Too many books! Too many dishes! I'm sinking, I'm about to disappear.

The utility room! so full of old newspapers, bottles. I must call the scrap man with his cycle-cart. But first I pull out some torn paper, and glue it in.

Okay, I'm feeling calmer now. I’m listening to a cheerful Hindi song, with a chorus which means approximately, "You bastard, you're finished! You've had it!" It's so incongruous with the bouncy music that it makes me smile. I'm drawing and singing along under my breath -- 'tu saala kaam se gaya!' The house is still a mess. Never mind.

The Inner Life of Things II

A prehistoric survivor, Corkscrew soars above an unsuspecting populace.

Twittering My Life Away II

R advised a friend to start an effigy-making business. “Since they are burned every day in India, it’s a good source of income.”

My cook asked if she could sell ten of our surplus coconuts for 30 rupees. I said okay, while holding a packet of imported pasta costing 285 rupees.

A Marwari wedding procession passed my house, the band blaring triumphal music from a film about a Mughal emperor. The bridegroom on horseback, not quite kingly.

A rare sight: a monkey loped into the garden, bearing a stolen melon. I went out, our eyes met, it leaped into a tree.

The monkey coolly picked insects from an extended leg, while all the crows in the area gathered to heckle it. I went back inside.

All became calm again. From the window I saw crows pecking at the melon, and no sight of the monkey. Order was restored.

Indian sounds are different from American ones: I heard a hissssss today from the pump; Lakshmi said it was a pusssss.

Our good new gardener has not been seen for two days. The cook says young men are too distractible:  they always want to go to the movies.

It may be 104 degrees outside, but on the other hand, it's mango season. Something is taken away; something is given.

Saw old movie Deedar. Blind hero regains sight, is rejected by beloved, blinds self again. I groan. My husband says: You don't understand that kind of love.

Days of unbearable heat suddenly broken by darkness, wind, thunder... the merest dribble of rain. Then back to our regular programming.

The monkey who crossed our garden last week is back. My neighbour prowls his garden with a stick in each hand, looking up, wondering what to do.

Spicy snacks frying, attar, vehicle exhausts, stirred together and baked in tropical heat. The perfume of urban India.

A man at the party said, In a cave in Uttaranchal a stalagmite/stalagtite will meet in 200 years; then the world will end.

I suppose it's only in Indian film songs that lovers vow to meet up with each other lifetime after lifetime.

The Inner Life of Things

When I drew this, it was metal; but my drawing seemed alive - not 'human', but 'animal' -- a streamlined relative of a pony perhaps, ready to nod its head at me. A little awkward, but good-natured. Thus we infuse ourselves into the things we produce.
I began twittering at the end of 2007. Since my early efforts are buried somewhere in Twitter's back pages, I'm posting a selection of some tweets that I like, that bring back sharp memories:

My cook's granddaughter started menstruating yesterday. Big loan from us for the festivities. She gets a ring and a silk sari for her pains.

At dusk small bats swoop through the garden. One divides our conversation with a swift brown blur.

Driving home under a discarded lemon-rind moon, a yellowed fingernail-paring moon.

I love the sound of the Urdu word 'chilman' -- a split bamboo or reed curtain; and its half-concealing, half-revealing qualities. It’s a one-word poem.

In Mahabalipuram: A sea-turtle dead on the sand. It must have been caught in a fishing net. Crows crowd it, pecking.

A friend who came with us to Mahabalipuram showed me a rubber wedge, brought to keep the door from blowing shut. "They say you should always pack a wedge."

From Hindi film Jab We Met: "No no, it's not what you think: we are just by-the-way friends."

A typical-looking Indian godman interviewed on TV - long hair, flowing robes - said in an American accent: "This is not a fashion statement."

Movie review: ''Sharath Kumar's new film is a reincarnation and revenge drama.” Ho hum. How many r&r dramas can there be?

At Amethyst, I bought magenta orchids and a bouquet of long-stemmed pineapples, each fruit 2 1/2 inches long. Slender spiny leaves - ouch.

There's a big snake in the garden, watchman says. Not a cobra. Poor creatures, where can they go, with construction everywhere.

A giant ant bit the side of my toe like the sliding in of a splinter of glass.

Our three coconut trees are being poulticed with neem powder, turmeric, camphor and salt. The coconut-man shinnies 30 feet up to the crown on a circle of rope.

Cleaning out a cupboard, I found a stack of old 25-paise postcards and gave them to my maid, who said, "But everyone talks on the cellphone nowadays."

Man on the Street on the TV news: "This area has been called Prabhadevi [Hindu goddess] since the time of Baba Adam [Muslim/Christian first man]."

Waking Up

I had left this blog behind, but my sister kept telling me that I should return to it, and how could I refuse her. Let's see how it goes. While I am putting the key in the ignition, releasing the clutch, etc., I can be found on Twitter:

In its first incarnation, this blog was focused primarily on my life as a foreigner (American) living in India, and on Indian arts and culture. I'd like to be a little looser now, and to throw in a few sketches and this and that. Nothing fancy.

So. Onward.