Saturday, July 13, 2013


I was waiting to go for a conference on water in Dehradoon of 19th June, and while watching the news on tv on the 16th June, I saw the houses crumble into the raging river. I cancelled my participation, knowing immediately that the roads would get blocked with people getting away, and that since I have sclerosis I would be a detriment to the others in the taxi with me, if we got jammed somewhere. The hills have absorbed the density of middle class longings for several years now. When I a made a trip to Sattal last year, I noticed the overbuild, and the river had a thin, mangy vicious look to it, as if it had been gutted, and neglected and misused and would be back for the kill. I shuddered and looked away.
My house in JNU gets regularly flooded, so I spent most of June, pushing out the water from the porch. And then the abandoned flowering of hibiscus took over, and the climbing jasmine, as well as the blue flowers that only show up in the rain. My house started looking like a Kerala house, and the grapes I had planted last autumn, started climbing steadily. The vine will create a shade for me from where the sun strikes hardest, all clear and bright after the rain.
Its a new chapter in my life. Meera has finally moved to Married Students' Quarters, it took her two years to really feel that she could write her Phd dissertation anywhere except in her room upstairs. Sandhya has gone back to Bengaluru to continue her studies in Design. Mallika has got admission in JNU at  School of Arts And Aesthetics for an M.A course. In short, they are all now grown up. I was preparing for this period for a long time. Shiv continues working with his colleagues on subjects beyond my ken, what industrialization does to traditional societies, calling himself a Social Science Nomad, like the Scythians and Parthians were still around. I was talking to a young engineering student yesterday, and it occurred to me, that neither Delhi University nor JNU teaches Industrial Sociology. I have always been interested in the survival of traditional agriculture, probably because I spent my summer holidays in Kerala as a child. The slow pace of life in a village was quite delicious, it gave you time to dream, and while our parents as busy professionals helped with household chores and read or chatted, we would be left free to roam and discover the grass growing wild and the beetles with them.
So how will I spend the years of solitude ahead of me? Meditatively, I hope. Teaching in a busy university never allows you to feel that you are alone. When I was seventeen, I would go for long walks on my own, and see the open sky. To me, that always seemed the familiar space of my dreams. So the sky is still there.
On Monday, my youngest daughter went to give an interview, and then when she came out to catch a bus, she got hit by a motorcyclist. So she fell down, and hit her head. She phoned me. I was watching Karan Thapar and K.V Thomas discussing the Food Security Bill. When I heard her whimpering I was aghast. "I've got into an accident." When I asked her where she was, she said Hanuman Mandir Jumna Bazaar. She had come out from Ambedkar University and had decided to catch a bus. The Police immediately took her to Susruth Trauma Centre opposite Metcalfe House. The doctors on duty had stitched her up neatly, and she was sitting with a bandage over her curls, looking woebegone, but well in command of the situation. Given the traffic jams, it had taken me an hour to reach her. And fifteen minutes after I arrived, her father and his colleagues arrived too from Haryana. Meera and her husband Saagar came in a taxi soon after, and the relief, that Malli was alive and well was huge. She was a lucky girl, the police acted immediately and the surgeon who stitched her scalp, and the bridge of her nose which was split open was one of the calmest people  I have met. So in India, we have this, the sense that one belongs, that unknown people are brilliant at their work. Maybe I have middle eastern blood that came down the family line in the early twentieth century, when my grandfather married a sparrow like girl who was a Cananite, (a community of Christians from Baghdad, Cana  and Nineveh, who came to India in the 4th century AD) because her father was a trading partner. But to me it seems that one can never be a foreigner in the country that has been one's home for a decade or for seventeen hundred years. Friends who live in New York say that its home, because it feels like home. Now Delhi feels like home.


  1. It so good to know that Mali was in safe hands after her accident. How is she now?

  2. She is fine, the stitches will be removed tomorrow at Max hospital around the corner from where we stay. The surgeon there was impressed with the care she received at a government hospital, which is twenty kms away from where we live.