Picture taken by the ancient gateway of Kapaleeshwarer Temple in Mylapore, Chennai
A light lunch.
Picture taken in my sister’s garden in Wiltshire, England
Father and son:
“Teach us to pray..”
A family at prayer in Kurisumala
Saying goodbye to family or friends is always a little difficult.
Saying goodbye to my first grandchild, knowing I’m unlikely to see him again for at least a year, is even more poignant.
Nine thousand miles can seem an awfully long way…
Picture of me with my grandson taken by my daughter-in-law
son and grandson.
Picture of my son, trimming the finger-nails of his own son, taken by my daughter-in-law
My son has just sent me this picture of my grandson.
I understand he might soon graduate into a cot.
Photograph taken by my son in Bluff, as he showed me some of New Zealand’s great beauty. I also took a picture of this landmark signpost – but to my chagrin, his was much better!
Picture taken in Cochin.
Late on Tuesday night, thousands of miles from here, in the USA,
my beloved youngest son and his beautiful wife gave birth to their first child:
my first grandchild.
Let joy be unconfined!
And now two months have passed:
Then she sat in convalescence;
I, about to fly.
Medicines, oils and remedies still line the shelves.
Family gifts, time, photographs:
Her silent companions for the evening soaps.
All gaze quietly down,
Idly wondering when last she left the house.
Books, her bible, pills and lotions,
These have proved her daytime friends and props,
To fill the hours when serials take their sleep.
Support surrounds her.
She is safe to field her troops:
Competence and authority unquestioned.
Her arguments for independent living.
Like chess pieces
Carefully placed upon a board.
Conversations marshalled as military manoeuvres,
White Queen swoops,
Her castle defended:
“Did your finger leave that piece, Auntie?”
“I think not.”
If you dare…
We take our tea,
Discuss our aches and pains.
A granddaughter’s immanent stay.
Recite once more the mantra of the middle-class:
The importance of good staff;
My lame jokes elicit a young woman’s laughter.
Our generations have met and flirted.
My houseboy and the driver are summoned,
Fed, while deftly probed.
Then both dismissed
To wait outside,
In their proper place,
Out on the verandah.
They can sit,
As she must.
And now once more it’s time to leave.
My aunt will sit and coach her armies,
While, once more, I fly.
In India, working for the family business starts at an early age.
Picture taken in Cochin.
I am back in Britain.
A birthday and a marriage have called me from the exotic beauty of India to the more mellow attractions of Europe.
“I confess freely to you, I could never look long upon a monkey, without very mortifying reflections”
William Congreve (1670 – 1729)
“A family’s photograph album is generally about the extended family—and, often, is all that remains of it.”
Susan Sontag (b. 1933)
Pictures taken on our trip to the Nelliampathi Hills
Since January we have had a fairly constant stream of guests staying.
I suspect my regular cast enjoy the excitement. Taking care of “Sir” must, at times, seem relatively humdrum.
They have always been cheerful
But they have worked hard.
Yesterday, as a small token of thanks, I took them away for the day:
A “works-outing” to Nelliampathi.
An SUV was hired to transport us.
We were a party of eight, plus driver:
Shaji, Dalila and their two sons; Anu; Robin and his nephew; and myself.
The destination had been Robin’s idea
And he carried a list of suitable eating places.
Setting out shortly after dawn, we broke our journey for breakfast, then continued until reaching the Pothundi Dam and its gardens.
The day was already quite warm.
We stopped for tender-coconut water before reaching the relative cool of Nelliampathi Hills’ tea plantations.
Here, we took a walk
Then a stroll through the forest trail and across ancient lava flows brought us to the dam again, this time, thousands of feet beneath us.
Finally, the journey home.
Our driver had been safe and friendly.
The car held its own along the often challenging roads.
The only mishap: a short-lived episode of travel sickness in the youngest member of our party.
By now conversation had quietened, our legs were tired and the children were sleeping.
It was a splendid day, full of laughter and gentle excitement.
Looking back, it seems already a dream…
My son and his wife are still with me.
The evening climate is warm and welcoming.
Our garden supper, in an elegant restaurant, was the excellent end to a gentle day.
I opted for a rich, cheese and tomato, home-made ravioli.
“The children” both settled on “fisherman’s dream”, a medley of sea-food, served on basmati rice, with a coconut-based, curry sauce.
Their chosen dessert: miniature chocolate samosas, accompanied by fresh mango coulis.
They are jet-lagged.
They are exhausted.
But they are here!
They have put behind them the frustrations and disappointment of their cancelled Christmas visit.
They are trying to forget the staggering inefficiencies of Air India and the total indifference of their ground staff.
They are coming to terms with being marooned for eight hours in Mumbai, with no one apparently interested in helping them finish the last leg of their thirty-six hour, booked and confirmed, flight schedule.
My youngest son and daughter-in-law have arrived from Washington DC.
Now is the time to relax and celebrate.
During supper at Oceanus Restaurant, a leisurely five-minute stroll from my home, all the tensions and uncertainties that bedevilled their journey slip away.
What better way to mark the last evening of my son and future daughter-in-law’s stay than a beautiful meal in a graceful garden restaurant,
While being serenaded by Carnatic musicians?
The “children” are now thousands of miles away, en route to Europe.
The house seems quieter
And just a little sadder…