Category Archives: THE STUFF OF MEMORIES

East marries West

As I spent an idle (how wonderful a feeling is that!) half hour this afternoon in one of my favorite spots in the whole world -the jhoola in the balcony outside our living room; truly, one of the nicest feelings in the world is its hypnotic gentle swing -my eyes paused once again at a  happy marriage of East and West that’s taken root here.


European basil and the very Indian curry leaf- two plants from very different parts of the world -have co-existed, in a pleasing state of harmony, in this single pot for several months now, and both have been doing quite well, too. The seeds of the former landed at some point from a neighboring pot, in which I grow basil for our pasta salads, pesto, and a tomato and basil pasta sauce, in to the latter’s pot.

The curry-leaf plant appears to have graciously made room for the basil seeds, which have since grown and blossomed in to a healthy plant.

Nature played nice here so easily, I think each time I see this pot, why can’t people?

My little friend Marc

As write this, I am traveling back to Pune on the plane from Chennai. I’ve been thinking back to the conversation with Guru – meeting him after 15 years was the most incredible feeling – and reflecting how some of the things I said were only half the truth.

Yes, I am happy to be back in India and for these opportunities to meet good, old friends after so many years and to find that the same kind of comfort exists between us.

But then, as I also looked back in my mind at the people who made up my life in France, a memory popped up in my mind of Marc, the younger brother of Emmeline who was Indira’s best friend at school.

Marc is a year younger than Noor, and I liked to think that we shared some mysterious cosmic connection. He and I took to each other soon after we met when he and Emmeline joined the Trois Collines school when he was 4. For the longest time,  every day when they all came out of school, he hopped once as he spotted me – with pleasure evident on his face – and then called out to me in the most excited voice, “Indiiira !!!” Ingrid, their mother, would tell him every once in a while that I was Chandna, not Indira, but he continued to call me Indira until just a few months before we left, and I thought it was just the most adorable confusion.

Little memories like that make me tearful for everyone that  I’ve left behind who gave me so much affection and took me easily in to their lives….

Their first drinking cup

Recently I have been sorting through all the cupboards in the apartment and the various suitcases and boxes in the cave, before I begin packing for the move back to India. So many memories have been tumbling out in the process, as this one did from the back of the kitchen cupboard when I cleared it yesterday of the things I will not take back.

My ma gave this little tumbler to me when Indira was about 6-9 months old, to help her transition from breast-feeding to drinking from a cup. Noor learnt that trick with this same tumbler too.

Unlike some of their other baby things that I like to think I might keep for their babies, I don’t suppose I’ll take this tumbler back with me. But it was so very useful at the time and I’d reccommend the idea to anyone wanting to avoid using the bottle to feed their baby.

A Nice celebration

That may not be the most clever post title but it does suit !

We went to Nice today for lunch, to a restaurant called The Indian Lounge that we’d heard about from lots of people. A mum at school has often said it’s her favorite Indian restaurant here, and I could see why it would appeal. The surfeit of ethnic Indian decor (colorful sarees with zari-work borders draped across the length of the ceiling such that not a tiny inch of the plaster was visible, lots of jharokha-style mirrors, lots of Ganesha statues in different styles, lots of ornately embellished cushions in typically bold Indian colors, Oriya cloth lanterns hanging over every table with flower garlands draped over the suspending wire, the latest Bollywood music videos playing on one wall (the “screen” space on the wall – and this was a clever touch, I thought – was the space within a lovely, carved wooden arch) felt a little over the top to me, but Indira especially loved it all.

The memory that will stay with me though is of the ferris wheel ride that Noor and I sat on together (while Indira went with Shri for the accrobranche). It was another gorgeous sunny day, and the views of old Nice and the sea were just superb.

The girls had a lot of fun on the “elastique jump” too.

The second-best morning of my life

After the two mornings on which Indira and Noor were born which tie for first place as the best days of my life, today surely counts as the second-best.

Though I set my alarm for 7.15am as usual, I eventually woke up after Indira did and I was aware vaguely of her being up and about while I snoozed. When I finally got out of bed and walked towards the kitchen, I saw her dressed for school already and setting two cups of tea, that she’d made for Shri and me, on a tray….

It was just the most amazing, “wow” moment, a memory I’ll  cherish forever.

A great walk and a super trooper

It’s been a wonderfully sunny weekend, the kind of warm winter days that I feel it’s a crime to spend indoors.

So in the afternoon today I asked the girls if they’d like to go out for a while, though Noor has a case of chickenpox and one that’s not as mild as Indira’s a few days ago. But she does seem to be her usual self despite that, and I thought an outing would cheer her up especially since she was obliged to miss the birthday party yesterday, due to the infection, that she and Indira were both invited to.

The girls were game for a walk so we went to Antibes to the very popular Sentier Littoral that winds around a part of Cap d’Antibes. The often very narrow and rocky path follows the shoreline -and has safety rails running along the side to offer protection from the bigger waves that must sometimes crash on the rocks – and offers the most gorgeous views of the sea and the surrounding region.

The whole walk took us almost an hour and a half to complete, since the girls stopped often to step on to the rocks along side the path.

Noor walked as well as any of us, and Shri carried her for only a little while at the end.

I thought it was very sporting on her part to keep up with us despite having a reason to beg off.  So I want her to know, when she reads this some day, that she was a good soldier today.

An enthralling experience -an evening of Ballet

As ballet performances go, this was as world-class as others of that league.

We watched the ballet company of the National Opera of Perm, Russia perform Tchaikowsky’s The Swan Lake yesterday evening, at the Palais de Festivals in Cannes.

It was the sort of uplifting experience that stays with you a very long time. The dancing was just so breathtakingly elegant and Indira, Noor and Tvisha, all little ballerinas themselves, said they’d have loved to have been up there on the stage with the dancers!

An extract of this ballet, performed by members of the Bolshoi ballet company – the most prestigious in the world – is here. It is a marvellous piece.  And an extract from another very fine performance of this ballet is available to view here.