Tag Archives: india

Drops from heaven.

I was never an athletic kid. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy being outdoors, it’s that I didn’t want to be chained to a set of rules that governed a particular sport. I wanted to sit and daydream. I liked being indoors, drawing, reading, looking out the window. And the view from the window is never better than when it rains.

My love affair with the rains started a little late in life. When I was 16 or 17, when I was in my first year of med school. Being in a boarding school in the north of India, as a kid, I missed out on the crazy monsoon common to the west of India, where I live.

The first year of medical school was a crazy time for me. The syllabus was huge and time was at a premium. Our finals were in July, coinciding with the fury of the monsoon. The exam schedule was relentless, no breaks between exams. I used to start studying at 9 in the morning and typically, my day ended at 3am the next morning. There were times when I’d be frustrated, the brain would refuse to soak in anymore information and slowly start to delete whatever I had uploaded in the recent past. My brain can be a real pest sometimes.

In those days, window air conditioners were the norm, you know the ones with their metallic square butts hanging outside the window. So, when it started to rain, there would be this lovely splattering sound you could hear, like you were sleeping under a tin roof. For some reason, I found that noise very calming. Almost as though the rain arrived to purge the fatigue from my mind. I’d lean back in my chair, close my eyes, take in the sound and be refreshed in a matter of minutes. The perpetual smell of coffee in the room, the cold temperature of the AC, fat medical books and the sound of rain, my own little world of happiness.

And the rain had an uncanny sense of when I needed it. Days when I was most frustrated, I’d hear the pitter-patter and smile to myself. Days when I feared the worst at an exam, it would start raining, reassuring me that it would all be ok. And it always worked. Days when it rained, I found myself more motivated to do well, more aggressive in my answers, more imaginative in my essays. It became the Robin to my Batman. If it rained, you couldn’t beat me. Period. I was like a med school Michael Schumacher. Yes, I live in my own little mental happy place.

More than all the selfish reasons for which I love the monsoon, there are quite a few others as well. I love how an overcast sky makes even a small Indian town feel like London.

I love how all the plants in the garden look freshly scrubbed. I live in a dusty town and the leaves are usually covered with a thin layer of dust. The monsoon washes it all away, revealing all shades of green. On our porch, we lower the old school bamboo curtains, drinking masala tea in the evenings. You feel like you’re holidaying at a hill station.

For most of my teenage years, I lived at my grandmother’s house. A specialty of hers during summer and the monsoon is lightly roasted groundnut. Then, ideally, when they’re still warm, crack them open and munch on the peanuts within. Juicy with a slightly charcoal-y flavour. Team that with a tall glass of chilled Rose sherbet with a little squeeze of lemon. Perfect.

Have you ever tried the Alphonso? It’s the King of mangoes, actually, the King of all fruit. Beautifully golden, packed with flavour. It’s like an explosion of India in your mouth. The only problem with monsoon is that it signals the death of the alphonso. I know people who actually get upset at the first rains because it is a sign that the supply of their favourite fruit has now dried up.

We have frangipani trees all over our gardens at home. It drizzled a little last night and already the trees look more alive. The flowers look so fresh.

I always try and get a few of the season’s first raindrops on me and on the people I love. Hoping that it brings them and me good luck for the rest of the year.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope that now you shall also look at rain as the harbinger of all things good in your life. And I hope that you shall also try to get a few drops of the first rain on yourself and your loved ones. God bless.

View from my kitchen

View from my kitchen

Rose sherbet with a hint of lemon

Rose sherbet with a hint of lemon

Lightly roasted groundnut

Lightly roasted groundnut

The King of fruit. The Alphonso.

The King of fruit. The Alphonso.

The sun breaking through...

The sun breaking through…

Bamboo curtains

Bamboo curtains

Frangipani

Frangipani

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“Fride” rice and the poor man’s Hermes.

The affordable Indian Hermes.

The affordable Indian Hermes.

Spot the mistakes...

Spot the mistakes…

Lovely view of the lake palace, Udaipur.

Lovely view of the lake palace, Udaipur.

We went to Udaipur recently. It’s a lovely little city, ‘the city of lakes’, in Rajasthan, India.

We went for lunch to this wonderful restaurant by the lake, with stunning views of the lake palace and the jag mandir palace. Everything was perfect except the spelling on the menus. I felt like leaving them a Wren and Martin as a tip. It’s ridiculous how many spelling mistakes are there in one snapshot.
Fride = Fried, Panner = Paneer, Gralik = Garlic and Mashroom = Mushroom.

On a side note, someone sent me this pic recently. Hermes dry fruits. I wonder if the dry fruits come in an ostrich leather pouch with an ‘H’ clasp. What’s next? A Louis Vuitton lassi outlet?

Anyway, found this funny. Thought I’d share.

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Hate Math. Love Art.

I love drawing. Especially cartoons. It all started when I was in the 5th grade, my first year at a boarding school. I was in Scindia, by the way. I hated math and had a terrible math teacher. Also, did I mention that I was a stubborn little critter? My way of protesting was to doodle in my math book.

The very first comic strip I drew was called ‘Big Mac’. It was about a guy who wanted to become a boxer against his father’s wishes. He’d get beat up every night and come home with a few teeth missing. One day, after some 70+ episodes, I got caught and ‘Big Mac’ got confiscated. And that’s all I have to say about that.

In 8th grade, I had an art teacher called Mr. Jojo Jacob, who I really liked, mainly because he encouraged me to bunk classes and hang out in the art room. He was a pothead which I learnt much later on. He was never really liked by the other teachers for his very anti-establishment outlook. In his head, the poor guy was still in woodstock. He made me start a cartoon strip mocking every teacher, one a week. All to be taken in jest of course, but it was petrifying. The teachers took it well though mainly because I kept the humor a little above the belt.

As with all Indian students, the years from 10th to the 12th grade were a blur. Periods of intense studying and even more intense praying. Getting into a medical school was not easy. Whilst in 11th, I met this bunch of really fun people, all of whom wanted to pursue engineering abroad. We had a blast and it was very sad when they left after 12th. So my third attempt at a comic strip was starring this odd bunch called ‘God Save Us’, chronicling all the good and not so good times we shared. It was the most finished product I had ever come up with, inked with special rotring pens and india ink, it looked professional. And very well received, remembered to this day.

So, when I came across Marjane Satrapi’s work, namely Persepolis and Embroideries, I was taken back to what was my beloved hobby. I want to crack open my pens and dust off the cartridge paper sketch books and start doodling again. This stupid doctor profession keeps getting in the way.

The only question is, who’ll be my muse? My wife? The mother-in-law (that would be a funny strip)? Or the kids in the house?

And just for that feeling of fresh enthusiasm, thanks Marjane.

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