Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spreading my wings...

I wander'd lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

This was more or less how it was when I chanced upon blog world.
A host of brilliant writers.My brother was into blogging right from the first year in college and I used to read his blog alone.It was only 4 years later that I took up the art.What surprised me the most was that the majority I found were of non-literature or arts background.It was challenge enough for a student of Literature to wake up and squeeze out the creative juices.

Now,consistent encouragement and appreciation are the essential babyfood for any blog-ling(if I may call new bloggers so).I was lucky to be fed in plenty by none other than the likes of Silverine and Mathew.These two geniuses also happen to be wonderful people.Blogging has also given me virtual friends; total strangers who connect with the simple things I write.Deepti who recently touched and surprised me with a sweet gesture is one unforgettable name.The other names on my blogroll are people who enthrall me with their versatile writing and make blogging a very entertaining and informative hobby.Since this is not a milestone post I do not engage in a detailed gratitude acknowledgment.Heartfelt thanks to all who have visited and encouraged The Bower.

Now as I stand at the threshold of a change in my life status from a dreamy student-hood to the fast paced corporate life, I am at a loss for words.Don't seem to be able to fix the tone of the post.Is it a valediction or just a "be right back"? Life's taking a drastic change, from the cozy walls of home to an independent life in a big metro.In fact, thanks to blogworld I already have a patchworked picture of what to expect out there.I have found people from all walks of life;students,professionals,homemakers and old timers blogging away with exemplary spirit.Really hope I'd be able to make a come back once I get settled down with the work life.There are umpteen number of blogs that are proof that nothing can kill the writer in you.So I leave with a consolation from the Bard himself :

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. **

Adieu! for the moment, dear friends,will miss this space,hope to be back among you soon...!

*Daffodils, William Wordsworth.
**Sonnet XVIII -Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day, William Shakespeare.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

To health, the sweet way...

Tiny white plastic bottles with multi-coloured caps, labelled and filled to the brim with balls of sugar.Once upon a time our medicine cabinet used to be full of such bottles.A sneeze,a cough or a slight temperature change, and we'd be bundled off to the clinic of a famous Homeo doctor in town.A handsome old man with the sweetest disposition treated us of most of our childhood ailments.The two clinics he ran,one at Jawahar Nagar and another at Pazhavangadi were our regular haunts and the long wait in the lobby,an adventure to two very active kids.

To Neil and me, he was the epitome of the art of homeopathy.We mistook the picture of Samuel Hahnemann hanging on the wall to be that of the old doctor himself.His home in Jawahar Nagar was perhaps one of the pioneer modern homes in Trivandrum with a landscaped lawn, a pond with lotuses ,a grand aquarium and a beautiful view from the window of the consultation room.Perhaps it was because we were his regular patients,the softspoken doctor gave a patient ear to any complaints we had.Even if it was just one of us that had an illness ,the other would also be considered for any discomfort of health.That I once told him in a grave voice "Doctor,my finger hurts when I break pencil nibs" remains the most cliched and embarrassing anecdotes of our visits there.After the consultation we'd wait to get the medicines at the dispensary and were friendly with the staff there too.They let us go inside the counter and watch with wide eyed wonder as they opened a huge bottle of sugar balls.Neil and I ventured to ask where we could find a similar bottle.The heady smell of the medicine,the trays of empty plastic bottles,the colourful collection of caps,the label strips, all caught our fancy.Sure enough the healthy one was given a bottle of plain sugar balls as a compliment.

Now the problem when you have sugar balls for a medicine is that the prescribed 3 pills twice a day is hardly satisfying.So half the bottle is over before noon(one more won't hurt,being the thought behind the stealth).Once it got over too soon that I had to refill it with sugar from the kitchen lest Mum noticed!Thankfully we never suffered from an overdose.
Apart from the sweet pills we also used to get tasteless fine powder in neatly folded packets.Now those powders went down only with a spoonful of sugar.
Homeopathy was always the remedy for minor illness and preventive medicines.Come summer and there would be fresh bottles of the sweet preventive medicine in the cabinet.

I have come across very interesting people in this profession.The most memorable one was Ammamma's doctor who claimed to be treating her with imported German medicine.Mummy has this habit of reading all advertisement boards on the roadside and she found this lady doctor in a unfashionable house, brimming with confidence.The consultation took as long as three hours during which Ammamma and the doctor shared pleasantries,sob-stories and gossip and if they had time,the stomach trouble, while Mummy dozed in the other chair! The lady burned a huge hole in Ammamma's purse and sent home enough bottles which helped me practice abstinence.

One of the common things I've noticed about most Homeo practitioners(especially ladies who run clinics at home) are their unassuming consulting rooms(living or dining room or the balcony),messy tables(the stethoscope and pens resurface after a frantic hunt),and an unimpressive dressing sense.I once consulted a nighty-clad doctor looking every inch sickly herself and another time a cat jumped on to the table while I sat with a thermometer clamped between my teeth.Nevertheless their prescriptions worked just right.Sometime back a doctor surprised me when she cured my chest congestion by giving me an oral shot of the medicine.It was immediate relief.

Homeopathy is one branch of medicine which has always faced ruthless criticism from their counterparts.The homeopaths valiantly defend their profession where "like cures like".The argument continues.But for me, it is a 'sweet' memory and a very sweet reason to fall ill. ;-)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Temple-haunters

"Suddenly the heavens opened up for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him."(Matt 3:16)
I saw it happen,at the Basilica last Sunday!
The Holy Mass at 9:30 had started 15 mins late and the priest was racing along trying to make up for the lost time.Even the choir with their keyboard,guitars and tabalas hardly kept pace with him.And then it happened.
A grey pigeon landed gracefully on top of the Crucifix at the altar.

The Sanctuary at the Basilica is quite ornate with the entire heavenly fleet painted on it's vaulted ceiling.(When the homilies get boring the ceiling provides an ideal past time.Papa once told us that faces appear there when people die.As kids,Neil and I used to look for Appapan there.)The Eastern wall features the Crucifix in the center with the Nativity scene and the Risen Christ on either sides.The pillars in between have a spacious landing which is the roost for a couple of pigeons.From the ground level it doesn't seem to be particularly comfortable but the pigeon-tails are always seen whisking away in industrious haste.They keep flying in and out at whim,never once disturbing the sacred procedures going on below.A family of sparrows inhabit yet another wedge in the Sanctuary.They too twitter in and out with their birdie chores,deftly avoiding the blades of the numerous fans that dot the ceiling.They build a nest,lay eggs,hatch them and feed the little ones and see them take wings in the austere air of the church.

There is a quaint monastery church in Trivandrum which has a dovecote beside it and the inmates of the seminary feed the birds.It was in the same place where I've seen the birds perch on every saints head.
The old Portuguese-built church at Palayam with it's tall turrets is home to a murder of crows.These fellows don't care much for grace and timing.Sometimes they fly low,straight at you,missing your hair by inches.(Probably because you weren't saintly enough).They also occasionally "bless" the pews with their droppings.
Our parish church was one of those modern buildings which didn't attract similar roosts due to lack of dark nooks and corners.

Another favorite perch of birds are statues of great leaders.Sparrows on the outstretched arms of Christ atop churches, pigeons on the shoulders of a sad faced Gandhis,and a lonely crow on the raised arm of Subhash Chandra Bose.There was once a newspaper snap of the statue of Akkamma Cherian(freedom-fighter),near the Raj Bhavan in Trivandrum, with feather on her Gandhi cap!

I was visiting a friend's flat on the fifth floor when she pushed aside the curtains to reveal a plastic basket tied onto the window rails.In it were a couple of long leaves.It was brought in by a pair of tiny little birds trying to build a nest on the curtain rod.However hard they tried it would never stay and my friend had this bright idea of helping them out by providing a basket.Her 4 year old was seen guiding the birds, appealing to them with "killee ivide vekku..."However they didn't seem interested in the "rented" home.The pair took turns to bring in blades of grass,and by the time I said goodbye,there was a heap of grass on floor by the window.My friend was muttering that the silly birds had dirtied her floor.Mr and Mrs 'Bird' were not giving up yet.
On my next visit, the birds had finally succeeded in building a huge nest which looked like a bearskin hat.And my excited friend informed that there were already eggs in it.

"This guest of summer,
The temple-haunting martlet, does approve,
By his loved mansionry, that the heaven's breath
Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze,
Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird
Hath made his pendant bed and procreant cradle:
Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed,
The air is delicate. "

(Macbeth, William Shakespeare)

That the Bard uses these lovely lines as an instance of dramatic irony is a different story.But I guess that's how dwellings should be,in harmony with Nature.