Lunch and a story at The Eagle, Cambridge

A week ago, we drove to Cambridge with a friend who was visiting us from Singapore. It was such a wonderful trip (more pictures and snippets on that soon). I want to quickly share a little accidental discovery that we realised later and the irony of it.

It was one of the hottest days in UK and after being toasted and roasted and crinkled from the sun (it is a thing here too, people), we decided to walk into a restaurant that catches our fancy; after all, our intuitions with food have been good in general. As we walked along Benet street, we came across “The Eagle” and we absolutely loved how dated it was and how much of a character it had. It is a traditional 16th century English pub with wooden flooring and just a very lovely rustic feel to it that I love.

They only have a couple of vegetarian options and I chose the mushroom ragout with pasta and a fantastic garlic bread to boot and some lentils. The meal was very good with the only shortcoming being the low spice and flavour in the lentils.

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So here is the juicy part – apparently, this was the place where Watson and Crick announced that they had discovered the “secret of life”. I was just reading more about this pub while posting it on my instagram and then saw that it has such a juicy piece of history. I do not know for sure how true this is, but isn’t it fantastic when something like this happens to you? To have been in the place where the discovery of DNA was talked about – the secret of life, indeed! To imagine the kind of curiosity, condescension, wonder and hesitation that may have greeted such news!

We all strive to become someone, to do something significant with our lives, to make a discovery, a change that touches one life or a few, that leaves us immortal, makes us proud and gives our short time here some greater meaning – and to have shared one such space for a brief moment albeit years later, is a happy reminder to prod on.

The Bun-Man

Beeeeeeeeeeep. Trrrrrrrrrrr.

The sound jolted her out of her sleep. She knew the sound too well. For the past few days, she had been looking forward to it. Infact, 5 P.M. became associated with the sound and the familiar sight that had now become perfunctory. It was a sight that one could watch on forever. It exuded love, warmth and oodles of unbinding and yet the most loyal affection and belonging. So much so that everyone stopped their evening walk and stood transfixed to watch the scene as though mesmerized at the very sight of it. It happened daily but nobody seemed to mind.

From her window, she could see the luna stop right infront of their red gates. An elderly man in the same grey tee and blue tracks got off it. Oblivious of the now gathered mini-crowd around his, he carefully untied the huge plastic sack that he had had meticulously tied to his handle and held between the legs as he rode the luna. A big big sack.

She could see that now the windows of every first floor and second floor were open and many pairs of awestruck eyes peered through the multi-coloured grills. Little kids stuck out their podgy little fingers through them and tried to get as much of their head out as possible. Some ran out to the balcony but not making a sound because nobody wanted to disturb such a beautiful sight. Nope. Not a sound.

She saw that the road was now getting more crowded. Not by people so much. But those who waited for his arrival loyally everyday started to come out from every nook of the locality. She wondered why she hadn’t seen even half of them during the day.

They came to him from all directions. Those new ones with beseeching eyes, the ones with charming eyes, the ones with brown coats, the ones that had just recovered from marismus (she didn’t know what they called it though), the ones that look plump but never seemed to have had enough anyways, the ones with the snow white coats, the black coated round-eyed ones, the little ones that wagged their tail so much that the tails seemed to fall off, the pregnant mothers – everyone was here.

He lovingly opened the packet and with a firm and yet tender voice, he said “hirrup boys! Come get them” and pulled out the buns one by one, divided them into 4 pieces and played a catch game with each member around him. How he managed to have so many buns to feed the increasing mouths without disappointing a single one baffled her. How could he know how many extras he needed?

And how he divided the bun into pieces ! It looked as though he could perfectly divide them so that every chap there got the right piece and none was made to feel less loved.

She loved the way his hands, firm and gentle all at once played with them. She loved the way how this one small sight that lasted about 20 minutes united the otherwise busy neighbourhood. She loved how every mother promised to show this piece of heaven to their child every morning to entice them into going to school.

She prayed to God that the greying man should never die and continue to captivate everyone through this small act.

The dogs loved him. They reciprocated their love for him through hidden smiles, love-struck eyes and the gentlest nudges. They smiled and nodded in approval. It was their time of the day.

The bun-man had come.

P.S. This is one my most treasured memories from my childhood. To this day, he is easily one of my most favourite human beings in the whole universe.

Little touches.

A week or two back, as I chopped some cabbage to make some palya (Kannada for a dry vegetable stir fry dish – there are a zillion varieties), I realised yet again how much of my mother resides in me. In the past month or so, I am increasingly beginning to take notice of this. Of how far I have come and yet how much of home lives in me.

Ma used to never hurry or half-heartedly make anything. We may not have had elaborate and extravagant meals that seem to flood social media these days where a regular meal has half a dozen fantastic looking (and tasting) dishes. What we did have was one fantastic regular meal that was cooked with panache. I say this because ma always had some idea of up-ing a dish – maybe a different oggaraNe*(Kannada for seasoning) or some ground paste or a not commonly thought of vegetable combination. We were not big foodies (I am a foodie now thanks to K) but we appreciated good food. But it was not just about good food with ma. It was about giving yourself and giving it all when you take up something. Cooking, cleaning, making flower garlands, saying a prayer, meticulously looking at bank statements – everything was done to completion and to the best of her abilities. It did not matter as much to her how perfect the outcome was so long as she had given her best. And not a thing has changed. The lesson stays on.

So, as I chopped the cabbage and then pictured a possible paste that would amp up this palya, I thought to myself, “I will make it the way ma makes it, that would go better with…”, and then caught myself smiling. It is strange how these things rub off on you unwittingly. Which is why I do not feel as disappointed when something does not work out inspire f giving my all. But if I feel disappointed for something I haven’t worked for, I catch myself and remind myself of how it was more about me and not the circumstance. This mentality has helped me a lot and I am so grateful for it.

Small little actions that we did not notice as much back then but they have now become part of us, my brother and I. It warms my heart every single time I realise how close my parents are to me inspite of being thousands of miles away. And I cannot emphasise how beautiful that feeling is.

P.S. The featured image is the palya and it was great, incase you were wondering.

Taking the plunge.

It has been almost a year since I “started” this blog. I find it funny that I am writing now considering how this has been on my mind for so long. I have been toying with the idea of what my first post on this blog would look like, sometimes looking at photos from my travels this year (there have been quite a few of those this year, I tell you) and making repeated mental notes to write about them. Or, like yesterday when I was rearranging my wardrobe and wanted to write about this saree. Yet, it has taken this long, why?

Sometimes I wait too long. To make that perfect beginning, to want keep this place a reflection of my best. Now, this is really funny because, I intend for this space to be an honest me. After all, it is my life and times. Yet, I crave for a fantastic start. Like, when I start writing in a fresh notebook. I cannot tell you the amount of effort I put in making sure that the first page is my best writing, my best work. Sometimes, it takes too long. And something snapped. I don’t want to be that person anymore. I want to just start – and let it flow, uninterrupted by my unnecessary obsession for a “great” start.

So.

We moved. Again. From Singapore to UK. Surrey.  I still travel to sunny Singapore, am still a graduate student. And well, Singapore will always be my home, wherever I am. I found a third home I guess. At least I am warming up to the idea of UK being home. Before the big move, we heard all kinds of jokes from friends in Singapore about the 5 days of summer that London has, on how we must enjoy the sun while it lasts yada yada. Even the electrician who came to fix some stuff in our UK home didn’t understand why we would move from Singapore to England. I wish I could thrust this weather at them and see what jokes they make now. It has been so hot and sunny for two months now, sans the humidity that Singapore has in abundance (that we do not miss at all). I am not a sunny person. I mean, I enjoy sunshine but it does not decide my mood. I dislike hot and humid. I love winters (okay this maybe coming soon, but for now, I love them). It has been okay so far. I do like sunlight until 9 PM, so we are enjoying it (while it lasts).

We have found a home, all our shipment is unpacked. It was pretty daunting to see how much two people who do not have a hobby of collecting anything, can accumulate. I am not looking at you, books. Tsundoku is my thing, it adds value to our lives. At least I have convinced K of it. Seriously, all the travel and moving has made me watch videos on small homes and minimalism. I have not shopped for 2 months now, or maybe, three. It is liberating. That’s fodder for another day.

The thing is this. You don’t need much else to be happy about, in Surrey. There are so many wonderful surprises you encounter on a random walk in our neighbourhood, like this.

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If random walks lead to a gorgeous sunset behind that veil of green climbers, I am all for you, Surrey. I cannot wait to see what you have in store for us and what we make of you and our time here.

 

Namaste.

Namaste.

After much mulling, random 3 AM thoughts, pondering over coffee, flashes of inspiration from instagram and web-hopping , here I am. This isn’t the first time am foraying into the world of blogging/ internet diary-ing. I have had an active blog in the past for a couple of years before embarking on a new journey. Blogging has always been a creative expression of myself, one that is honest, liberating and joyful. I have shared my travels, little stories from my everyday life, experiments in the kitchen, movies I have liked and books that linger. My earlier writing delights me as much as it makes me cringe. But, am grateful I wrote them down because they make me bask in the past and remind me of how far I have come, of how some events all make sense now. And all those wonderful memories seem to become more concrete when worded. I may even repost and share some of them here.

I now feel like making a fresh start. A new space on the www. A new beginning. A lot of my reactions, opinions, ability to take perspectives, choices and perceptions have changed. Sometimes, I catch myself thinking of an issue and consciously realize how I would have formed an entirely different opinion or gone through a different thought process like 2 years back. My interests now span a diaspora of topics and I am raring to share my outlook here for myself and for any of you visiting me here. I am an aspiring polymath and look forward to sharing my thoughts and stories here. Do say a hi anytime!

Welcome. I’m Piyu.