Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Street Corner

At the end of the road, right by where we would wait for our school bus to pick us up, used to be a cycle repair shop. With a thatched roof at one point and then a tin rake, the small boxed shop was a permanent fixture of my childhood. As was common it started with the father and then the son took over.

You'd go there to fill up air or get a puncture fixed - thorns were abounding those days and tubes were precious. Cycle tubes would have multiple patches and I don't think I ever had to replace one.. ever.. in all those years from learning in the back lanes to riding along the beach road.  I still remember how fascinated I was, that very first time, by how he ferreted out the puncture in the tube.

Another lazy Saturday afternoon. The sun streaming down in all its glory. Wheeling the cycle down the three blocks to the corner of the Double Road, breathing in the clean air; not that one thought of the air in those days. Weekend afternoons were for siesta; you'd hardly pass anybody on the streets. If it was a good day, the person at the repair shop would be puttering away at things, else you would call him awake from his snooze under the shade.You would fix the price for the repairs first and then he would prop up the cycle and pull out the tube. His hands very efficient at what they were doing.  Skin tanned to dark chocolate leather, palms all blackened from handling tires, tubes and grease all day. He'd fill up some air in sad flat tube. They had this bowl with some water in it - at one time it was a slice of a big truck tire; people were resourceful back then, repurposing everything. He'd patiently go all the way around dipping the tube in the water and watching out for.. bubbles. He never stopped at the first one. Went all around to make sure there were no more punctures. Once he'd marked out all the spots requiring fixing, he'd get the tube out wipe it off let the air out and start sanding out the spots with the holes. Then would cut out rectangular patches of some old tube, blunt out the edges, sand that up a little bit. Apply adhesive on both ends - the patch and the tube and stick them together. He'd let the whole thing dry out, fill out some more air and go back and do the bubbles test again. Once he was satisfied he'd got them all, the air would come out again, the tube would be put back into place in the tire and then pumped with air to the required pressure.

A very meticulous and conscientious person. I have much to learn from him.

Monday, November 3, 2014


I have spent many an hour tossing & turning over my actions. The choices ranged far and wide - take the stairs/ the elevator. Go out with friends/snuggle in. Accept a dinner invite/cook at home. Get that coffee/ drink that refreshing glass of water. Stay close to home/go overseas and try new lands. Break out of a relationship/see it through. Wear orange/carry my umbrella/bike to the station/roll out the car/call my Mom.....

They were all important decisions, or so they seemed. And then today morning I wake up the the news - "Death with dignity advocate, takes life with pills". I didn't know how to react for a bit. And then my world went for a toss. I mean, I know people have done this before. But I had seen her video just the other day and she seemed to be coherent and doing decently well. She did mention that she was looking better than she was feeling. But it just seems soo.. final. What if a miracle had been in the awnings waiting to happen. We'll never know.

But one thing I do know. I have today. I have now. And even if it isn't great, it is worth more than lying on bed reading some random BS. It is one more healthy day. I owe it to myself to make the best choices and make the most of it.

I hope I do.

Friday, October 31, 2014


There is something about this season which evokes retrospection. While the city is going wild around me, I'm ensconced in my throw with a cup of tea and a slice of cake on my laptop browsing away the night.

Why the city is going wild you ask? Well the Giants won the World Series. I know I know. World Series. But hey, thats America for you. To celebrate that we had the parade today (of which this is my fav photo (absolutely not mine!)).  Also happens to be Halloween tonight. Or day of the dead. Take your pick.

And so while the revelers revel and the ghosts visit the living, I'm clicking away at some keys getting deeper and deeper into the realms of the cloud. Thats where the internet seems to reside these days.

Things of note since the last few posts:

I've been on an almost sans sugar diet! For a bet, I'm not yet a health food geek. Except for one day of the week. And inevitably I seem to go bonkers on sugar that one day. Take today for example - started the sugar day with ice-cream at 9 in the morning. And then one more at 10. This despite knowing I was doing too well with dairy these days. And then I went on to get some seriously evil hot chocolate they make at this place called Dandelion. Has become my haunt for sugar days. And of course lets not forget the said slice of cake idling on the side table right now.

Got denied entry to a Country. Yea, apparently I'm a person of harmful intent to Costa Rica. Costa Rica. But then again, taught me a lesson to respect the edicts of VISA requirements. So I made a day long trip to Costa Rica and back on an expired US VISA. Also learnt in the process that as long as you don't cross the immigration border of a different country and you fly out from US, you have strictly not left the US soil yet. Even if you fly some gazillion miles away and back.

Changed roles at work and now have this amazing amazing boss. Though the work satisfaction is still taking a hit. I'm blaming the timeline of the move for now. Learning foosball. Have picked up some tricks. Oh and PacMan!

Have been on more backpacking trips. One more half dome trip. Visited Bali! How could I have almost forgotten that?! Thailand happened somewhere before that. Oh, and Zion NP. And Bryce Canyon. Beautiful. Thunder storms and hail adding spice to an already wonderful trip. Though missing out on the narrows hike due to the same was a bit of a bummer.

Married off another cousin.

Volunteering with Trail building/cleanup.

An eventful year all in all. And its not yet at an end.

Just occurred to me that maybe its not the season, its the rains bringing on the retrospection. Incidentally has been raining on and off all day. But then again winter and rains go hand in hand here. Guess thats one more reason to look forward to the rains. The other major one being the drought CA is facing right now.

PS: Eeeeks!! I have just one hour left to relish that slice of cake! Have to get at it!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Turns out.. it isn't just another ramble

So. I've not been able to think of any fictional stuff to write about. Most everything I write these days are diary entries or something in the same vein. Am sitting in this cafe I frequent and trying to come up with something to write about. Decided I'll just ramble till that happens.
Its a rainy day and  the cafe is full. Not necessarily due to rains. It hardly a rain anyway - just a miserly drizzle. The people around me -
A - an elderly man, lean, not mean, getting ready to dig into his BLT (?).. With a MacAir in front of him. Seems to be the laptop of choice around here. All the laptops I see around are mac. Damn.
B, C - two bubbly, cheerful girls. Early twenties? Tucking into those coffees. Plural per. C has a lot of jewelry on. Gold colored.
D - old, portly (I'm being biased by my own size) man ruminating in the magazines with a sailors cap on. Wonder how people select what cap they feel "fits" them.
E - solo traveler. Punching away industriously at her laptop. Young and enthusiastic worker ant.
lots more others around - a few who hardly lift their gaze from the screens in front of them. In their own heads literally - with the music playing in their earphones. (Aside: I found that article about the apparent source of music really fascinating). Busy worker bee-ing away.
I find my view very fascinating - the drizzle visible offset by bottlebrush trees on full bloom. With the two chefs from "m" discreetly working away. Filling lunch orders. A couple of wet benches waiting soggily for people to occupy them. They're sadly abandoned today. Voices buzzing through my noise isolating headphones, undeterred.
What could be the story encompassing all this? I just saw this movie the other week about how most stories are real life incidents narrated to authors who then personalize them but essentially not completely fiction. Maybe that can be how to go about this "writing" business. Hmmm. Now there’s a thought.

A woman, FiFie, just walked in. Toting a canvas bag, in a striped T-shirt hitting mid thigh. Dirty blond hair pulled off her face. Glancing around she walks up to the guy ringing up orders. Looks around for a list of beverages on offer. Finds it and decides on her drink. Gets billed and finds a chair for herself. Just another person finding her way out of the now gusty rains. The cafe absorbs her into its fold.
The stairs leading up to the WC are a well trod path today. I've always wondered why the rains have that effect. The BLT of the guy next to me is a thing of the past now. Some crumbs they only evidence that it ever existed. Funny how that is. Some things are so inconsequential, but if you look at how it got to be what it was, it is anything but.
FiFie has settled into her spot, canvas tote slung down on the leatherette window seat she is now occupying. Or not. I can see her asking Worker Ant if she would look out for her stuff while she trudges up the stairs herself to avail of the relief her bowels were demanding. Worker Ant pops an ear-bud out, acquiesces and returns back to her uncharacteristically focused path for the day. Cafe courtesies.
The table does its whirring thing again. Like a cellphone ringing on it somewhere, only it’s stronger than a mere cellphone vibrate. The mysterious workings of the floor buzzing up from the underworld through the table.
I look down at the clock and see 1:23pm. I smile – coincidences are fun. B & C are long gone. Their table taken over by G, H and I. School kids collaborating on assignments. FiFie is back and browsing her phone. Definitely not in a hurry to get on with work. Her tote lolling next to her. I’ve always wondered what women have in their bags. I mean, being one, I’m supposed to know? But no matter what I do I can't seem to justify carrying a tote around unless I have my laptop with me. Which she didn’t.
A stream of new comers file in and queue up to place their orders. Cafes are the terminals of people not flying anywhere. They check in, buy their drink. Stay around till their time is up or take off to catch up with that appointment. There is always a steady stream of ingress egress.
The rains have stopped but I guess Worker Ant has consumed enough liquids to warrant a visit to the wc. FiFie returns the favor for her. Worker Ant squeezes by the adjoining table and clomps off up the stairs. Her boots beating an impressive rhythm to accompany her hasty flight up. The two chefs are still working away in the window. Lunch crowd has tapered off but not stopped yet.
FiFie is ready to leave but Worker Ant is not back yet. She shrugs, folds up her laptop, tugs it into her bag and walks out. Finally finding her purpose.

Just another day at a coffee shop.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Ungodly Hours

Woke up at an unaccustomed hour today. And didn't know what to do. My earliest memories color me a wastrel.

Thats when the household set out on the start of a new day. The crows still silent. The sky a sleepy spread blinking with fading stars, dawn yet to break. The water put on boil. The cows milked ready for the hungry spawn still ensconced in peaceful sleep. There was an efficiency in the work; no frivolity. Everything done was in response to a need.

I wake up with soft hands couched against my neck for warmth, day break close. And wonder what I could do. This life of comfort and privilege renders me floundering and lost in this early hour.