Monday, April 30, 2012

Dreamscape

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I rarely recall my dreams. Encouraged by @krist0ph3r who asked me to blog about the one I tweeted about (see above), here are the details: 

We are seated in one of the 10th Standard classrooms of my school. No uniforms. My best friend in school, P, is also there. Strangely, I can't recall any other 'faces' or 'names' but it felt like everyone was attending. We were definitely there to study. Definitely not a reunion. P says that now with her child (a son), she's not sure how regular she'll be at class. While I, the single one, am quite enthusiastic about studying again.

Suddenly, I notice my bag/books are actually missing. Even my mobile phone is not there. Thinking that I left it somewhere on the school premises, I leave the classroom.

First, I go and meet Ravi - the school watchman. He doesn't know a thing about any bag or books or phone.

So I walk up to the chapel, which used to be the library during our actual school years. And then I spot something that looks like a phone at the base of a religious statue (again, no idea whose statue but it was wooden and sunshine had directed itself to its feet). As I pick it up, I realise it's not a phone at all but a part of a phone or toy phone (like a screen). Strange. I pick it up quickly as I start to hear voices. So I stay put and wait quietly in the shadows. They don't know I'm there. A boy and a girl. Students. Standing there. A couple? Not sure. And a nun has also arrived. Lecturing them about something. I can't really hear their words. Were they caught red-handed? But I get the vibe that they are just friends.


That's it. I can't remember anything else. I'm sure there are hidden meanings in them, especially in the chapel incident. The whole I'm-single-so-I-can-do-whatever-I-want theme is so blatant though.

A penny for your thoughts, Kris?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Going mmm... over books!

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My mother is an avid reader. Has always been for as long as I can remember. Her funny sitting position perched atop a chair or the sofa or even on the floor with any reading material is an enduring image in my mind. That love for the written word has probably been passed down to me genetically and I remember how we'd devour all the newspapers and magazines that were borrowed from our old Goan neighbour, Cajetan Menezes (God bless his soul!). 

Uncle Cajee used to work with The Times Of India and had a free-flowing supply of not just the daily broadsheet, but also magazines like Femina and Filmfare and those amazing Indrajal Comics. As a child, I never really had access to a lot of children's books. They were far too expensive to keep buying and the only ones we "invested" in were the massive 22-volume hardbound World Book Encyclopedia series (still have the full set!) and a few books that some travelling nuns sold to us at our doorstep. Some books came by way of birthday presents or annual day 'prizes'. I loved them all. 

And then libraries happened! First, in school - where I was introduced to the Magical Faraway Tree, laughed at Mr Meddle's silly ways, went crime-solving with Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, and imagined boarding school life at St. Claire's. And later, in college. Not just any regular college, but the one which housed TWO libraries: St. Xavier's, Mumbai. While a lot of my time did go to academic reading in the 'Reference Library' and its special 'Honours' section, the 'Paperback Library' also held its charm. Sometimes, a romantic charm. We'd walk - literally - into couples getting cozy behind shelves of books in dusty corners. Or had to race to the mezzanine area to hog one of those comfy chairs to snooze on. Occasionally, the action would be punctuated by the librarian sternly berating a student about books returned late. Another cool thing about studying in South Mumbai was the number of street vendors selling books for cheap. With a princely sum of a hundred rupees a month as pocket money, those guys were a godsend. A favourite haunt of mine, though, was The New And Second Hand Bookshop near Furtado's music store in the vicinity. Established in a forgotten era, the store was crammed with books from floor to ceiling with barely any space to move around. I'd squeeze in between a proper shelf lining the wall and a tower of stacked books (sigh, I was thin then) and gleefully browse through them all. Only to finally emerge - triumphant - with a book that I could afford and a layer of dust all over me. I heard the store has now shut down. True? Hope not.

And looking at the lack of libraries for children in my own locality, I always harboured a dream of starting one. I had started buying second-hand children's books for this very reason. A friend, who I had casually discussed the idea with, handed three of his own books to me as a 'start'. I had even christened it The Reading Tree (a bit lame now that I think of it). But somewhere along the way, that dream took a backseat while work took over as a priority. Space at home was already a constraint, so where would I house a library? My own reading habit took a beating. So when I read about the Mcubed Library in Bandra, I was thrilled. And when I actually visited it, there was this warm feeling and not to mention, a silent kick up my backside for giving up on my own dream. It was possible. But I never tried hard enough. Nevertheless, kudos to the three ladies who strived towards making this library into a reality.

Mcubed caters largely to children at the moment. But shelves have appeared in the next room ready to be lined with books for grown-ups. Even film screenings and a mathematics class have been organised here. Do swing by the cheerful place and say hi to Vibha - one of the brains behind the library - or the ever-smiling Medha who mans the registration desk. Volunteers are more than welcome to lend a helping hand, and you can also contribute by donating books (and anything else the library needs). Just ask!

Contact details are given below (go!). For some more photos, click here.

Mcubed Library, Bandra
  
Mcubed Library 
(Maharashtra Mitra Mandal),
Princess Building,
D'Monte Park Road,
Next to Bandra Gymkhana),
Bandra West,
Mumbai, India - 400050.

Tel: +91.22.26411497
Email: mcubedlibrary@gmail.com

Open everyday
Weekdays: 4pm - 8pm
Weekends: 10am - 8pm

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bookmarked!

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Here's yet another one of my spur-of-the-moment projects: bookmarks

You may recall my posts on the lovely writer's group that I've been part of recently. For that first meet in Thane, while I was burning the midnight oil over my assignment, I thought why not make something with a personal touch for everyone as a little token of my appreciation. And what could be better than bookmarks, no?

Now, it was really late that night. So I didn't have much time to ponder over the look and feel of the bookmarks. I decided to make them of plain - but slightly textured - paper along with polka-dotted red ribbon to go into the punched holes. While going through my notes from the Kala Ghoda Travel Writing workshop, it made sense to jot down learnings from it on the bookmarks. They'd serve as reminders of the insight we gained and the fun we shared.

See some pictures below of those bookmarks (click on them for a larger view):

1. Folded the paper sheet sharply and wrote the text at intervals

2. Cut up along the folds, punched holes, threaded the ribbon

3. Stopped to take stock

And voila! Here they are!
Need to rack my brain over what to work on next. Birthday greetings and bookmarks are done. Now what?

Thanks for reading.
~j~

PS: Happy to report that a lot of the people did like these simple bookmarks.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Halla bol!

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A picture postcard from the Rajasthan Royals vs Mumbai Indians match I went to last night at the Wankhede Cricket Stadium, Mumbai... 

Kevon Cooper fielding close to the boundary line near our pavilion

Detailed post with some more photos to follow. Watch this space.

~j~

PS: Since no cameras are allowed into the stadium, photos were clicked on the phone. Hence, low on quality.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Mulling over mulberries

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"Here we go 'round the mulberry bush, 
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush. 
Here we go 'round the mulberry bush, 
So early in the morning..."

And then I learned that mulberries don't grow on a bush. Ok.

My first memory - and the only one till recently - of the mulberry tree is from childhood. Probably as far back as 20-25 years at least. That tree was in a neighbouring compound but its branches hung over the wall that separated its owners and one of the buildings in our colony. Behind Building No. 2 actually. Where the water tank was. Still is. We'd sit on the tank surface to play make-believe games like Teacher-Teacher and House-House (was the word repetition for effect?). And during the hot summers, we'd happily fight for the red mulberries that were within our tiny grasps. Red because we were impatient. Red because we didn't trust birds or insects or friends enough to let them survive to be purpley-black-sweet. Along with the tiny avlas we'd pluck from a tree in our own compound, the mulberries were a favourite of mine, their slight tartness savoured with much delight.

Cut to 2012. I had forgotten all about mulberries. Till a random walk through Bandra's Bazaar Road one Saturday afternoon led a friend and me to a drab-looking transit camp where we chanced upon this glorious sight...

Lining someone's humble abode, a little tree stood tall. One whose roots were unfortunately trapped in ugly, grey, hard cement. But one whose lovely green leaves were interspersed with bright red and purpley-black fruit. When I looked up at those hues against the sun, scenes from my childhood flashed across my mind. The friend helped me pluck a few berries and I was thrilled to get a taste of that very childhood in that brief passage of time. 

 
Click on the photos for a larger view
A lady seated outside her home opposite the tree looked at us in amusement. She mentioned that the local children did pluck the mulberries and even though the branches over the roof were tough to reach, they'd still make a dash for them. A man seeing us in conversation chipped in with his two cents. Said he's been living there since 41 years and that the tree has been around all those years. Really? Then an elderly woman passed by and mumbled in Marathi about how eating too many mulberries caused one to feel terribly hungry. Or that's what I thought I heard.

The tree in my neighbourhood is no longer there. Probably hacked down by the owners. Sad, no? But... Mulberries! Who would've thought these tiny clusters of fruity beads could spark off such long lost but precious thoughts? 

~j~

PS: While reading up on mulberries, I learned about Vincent Van Gogh's painting called The Mulberry Tree which was inspired by a "superb autumn". Look it up!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Massage Raju

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Walking around Bombay certainly has its rewards. Like this little gem we found on the sidewalk of a badly traffucked (Twitter term for being stuck in terrible traffic) lane of Bandra last weekend: Massage Raju!


Was that a title? Or a sentence where "massage" is a verb? Ewww...

And then S used G's phone to call the advertiser in question who said something about doing "chest massages" which left us in splits. Maybe madame can update us on the actual conversation sometime soon...?


Monday, April 02, 2012

The rugged cross

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At the cemetery of St. Peter's Church, Bandra

Gallivanting...

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April is already here! Just imagine... three months of the so-called "new year" are already done and dusted with. Time just doesn't seem to like us human beings, no?

So little time, so much to do. 

Anyway, in another attempt of making the most of the little free time I get, @culturelites and I decided to go rambling around random lanes of Bandra. Our route was short, but the Saturday turned out to be extremely enlightening and fun. 

What our day was like in a nutshell:

Watch out for some notes and photos in the next post. This is a crazy week! *goes back to email wars*

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