Us. And the lives around us.

Sometimes you miss some things you’ve left behind. When I read a friend’s view about a photograph I’d posted on my Facebook page under an album named Us and the lives around us, I realised just how much a part of me that setting in that picture had become.

This was my ‘writing’ window in one of my older homes. The dried rose petals, the foggy glasses, the parked car, they all mean more than just what they are.

Many of you have been to my neighbourhood through me, let me take you into my house today. It feels good to be celebrating what I have. What we’ve created together, my family and I.

When we’d shifted to this new home, it was just about to begin — the summer. This bird bath served its purpose during the hot months. When the monsoon began, it kept standing there, rainfall after rainfall, until one day it began to heat up again after the monsoons. Keeping its vigil for any thirsty bird or small animal, it stands unerring — providing water.
This champa (frangipani/plumeria) guards our main gate. My grandmother was called Champa, so the plant holds a special place in our hearts as well.
There was a rush to grow grass on three sides of the house before the monsoon arrived. We planted grass, it grew well. Until the dogs decided to play their feet out. The monsoon arrived and it was terrible, as you can see. Nothing could be done, except placing these beautifully random-shaped stones until it stopped raining like there was no tomorrow. The rain gods found tomorrow after three long months.
I’d planned to not only make the garden green, but also full of these divine-smelling flowers called mogra, or bela before my child arrived. I didn’t remember that newly planted plants take one whole season to settle down to bloom the way I wanted them to. Apart from a few blossoms here and there, we had to make do with the lushness of the leaves.
And it was completely coincidental, that the child we were waiting so eagerly for turned out to be a girl, and we named her Bela. Well, one beautiful Bela has blossomed for sure. Our hearts are perfumed, and full.
Our neighbours, my mama and mami (maternal uncle and aunt), who’ve been living here for almost a decade, have a decent collection of roses. Whenever I felt like taking pictures of flowers, I’d go to their climber rose, and shoot away to my heart’s desire. And burn my heart in jealousy occasionally.
The idea was to have beautifully clear water in this lily tank. That took months, too. The fishes grew in numbers. Living in such an ecosystem has magically turned them into beauties. Especially the guppies. I wonder if this happens to all — living in a place you are naturally intended for will make you brighter, more beautiful, more active. But how do you know what place you’re intended for?
We finally decided to forget grass. And opted for this beautiful gravel. Pros — cleaner, neater, less maintenance, dog poop clearly visible. Cons — less greenery around, can’t walk barefoot (ouch), the raised flower bed on the left is no longer raised, so when the dogs pee, the plants die.*

* I’ve recently discovered, however, that spraying chilli-infused water keeps the chaps from using your beloved plants as a toilet. Such a relief!

Since this gerbera is in a pot, it’s saved from our horrible, horrible dogs, and it blossomed! Such yellowness.

Red gerbera. It looks so much better in real. And the red is not so idiotically garish. I can never take a decent picture of a red thing. Did I tell you that?

The tallest plant is a tree called gulmohar. I do not know when a tree sapling stops being a sapling and becomes a tree, but I call this my saviour tree. It stands right in front of my bedroom window. When I am soothing my daughter in the afternoons, I see it swaying gently outside. It’s my soother.
Let’s come inside for now. Our horrid dogs are darlings, actually. Very protective of our baby. Which is why we constantly forgive them for mucking up our sofa. Do you see Moti using one of his front legs as a pillow? I think it’s the cutest thing ever. Cuter than Bulu’s angelic snoring.
This blue fridge was supposed to store raw meat for our dogs. But they’ve refused any meat ever since they’ve come here. So the fridge is now a ‘cold pantry’, storing all the grocery that would otherwise get sacrificed to insects that ruin food in humid areas like this one. Cool, eh?
And they’ve moved on to Drools, a kibble brand we find better than others. We were snooty, you see. Never thought any kibble was good enough for our dogs. But since they’ve converted, we had to, too.
There’s another thing I want to show you in this picture. It’s that photo gallery. Black and white or sepia pictures of immediate family. When I now take up Bela to look at them, she looks at them.
Between rains, there was sun, and that’s when all the cushions and pillows went up to the roof for sunning. Getting them back was a chore, and guess who did it? Yours truly. And the husband?
He ‘hung’ the laundry. Though we’re proud of our decision to not buy a washing machine and a dryer, we do pay the price for it. Thankfully I’ve come out of that long phase in which I thought drying laundry ‘visibly’ was uncool. It’s just natural, I think.
Here’s what the balcony view showed us. Until they cut all of the trees except one. No more about trees here, it breaks my heart, and the post is supposed to be about things that rejoin it.
Like this buffalo on the left. I find the curve of their horns so very enticing. Yama, the god of death rides a buffalo, it is believed. I marvel at his self control. I’d have never let go of my buffalo’s horns.
Or, if I was one of these children, I’d have taken a ride on one of these… Gosh, I’m wowed with just the thought.
Back inside the house to show another of my husband’s responsibilities. Aquarium? No. Stacking the newspapers.
No matter what, we love him. Particularly when he comes back home with food. Or we think it’s food. The certainly a good thought when we’ve just yelped because silly rose thorns happen to stand in our way to the door.
Poor roses, though. Silly caretaker’s over-manured them, so they no longer retain their fragrance.
And then she goes on to make amends by writing her mantra down.
(It’s become difficult to use the wrong pronoun, so switching back to myself).
I read somewhere that writing your mantra of choice down and not concentrating on the mantra, but on ‘how’ you write it. That the alphabets are well written, the page is neat and so forth. It’s helped me. Especially if I can also have a cup of ginger and basil chai with it. Chai’s the latest addition in my list of addictions. It wasn’t my cup of tea until recently, when it became my cup of tea.
Let’s come out again and look at these hazy fish! Just because I want you to.
Ah, the clothes line next to the lily tank. No one will ever listen to me when I tell them the clothes line is not a clothes line, it’s just a line. Do NOT dry napkins on it. And do NOT use the baby’s clothes pin here. But who listens? Will I ever see this line free of clothes?

 

But I was meant to see the lily blossom! I missed the first one. It bloomed when I was visiting my parents. The bud remained closed for a number of days, and the day I was leaving, I hoped it’d stay closed until I came back two days later. It opened that very day, almost as if it was waiting for me to go away.
When this one bloomed unexpectedly, it was like an unasked for blessing.

 

I wonder if these terrible mosquitoes bite the poor lily as well. Should you ever come this way, wear proper netting, these mosquitoes have such painful bites, you’ll forget dogs have teeth, too.
I couldn’t resist inserting another picture of this long-awaited friend.
And another. Sometimes, the lives around you make yours so much more worth living, wouldn’t you say?