Sunday, April 27, 2008

Let it grow

Mint, Coriander, Chilli (Cayenne as well as Jalapeno), Tomato - that's going to be the crop for this year. The exotics like Okra and Aubergine have been given up as pipe dreams. They asked for hot and dry, and we could only guarantee cold and wet. We offered partly cloudy and 50% chance of showers, but they wouldn't bite. Given their dismal performance last year, we finally took all offers off the table.

Planting has been delayed due to travel, which is a bit of a bother. But the tomato seedlings have germinated already, although the chillis are taking their own time. It's a strange thing; you can always buy some of these plants at a slightly grownup stage for not much money, but that's not nearly as fascinating as watching them go through their entire life cycles.

Days have already grown considerably long. I am already able to take the shortcut through the woods back from work even at 7:30 p.m. The woodpeckers in the woods are really hammering away rat-a-tat-a-tat for their spring worms. You can hear the sweet crack of cricket bat hitting ball as you pass open fields. Everyone seems just a little bit more cheerful with all the regeneration in the air.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Detour

Bangalore and Madras, India

Just back in the UK after finishing off a last leg of travel in India. The pace of change there is dizzying. Materially, there is virtually nothing you cannot get anymore in India. But all the old neighborhoods are gone, apartment blocks are everywhere, and the traffic jams look set to rival legendary Bangkok. Yet, as they say, the more things change, the more they remain the same. An upcountry weekend break with family shows clearly that relatively little has changed in the hinterland. Lying on hammocks at night by the riverside, we watch the night sky heave with stars, a visual treat that one seldom gets to enjoy in Northern Europe. Fireflies provide a parallel show at ground level. Hidden between the layers, the India I knew still exists, it only takes much more looking for.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Hibernation mode

Khon Kaen, Thailand

I am a hermit and this flat is my cave. Since the weather is hot outside and I don’t have a means of transport when Bee is at work, sometimes days may pass before I venture outside. The laptop is up all day, and I get to chip away at accumulated work without much distraction.

It is a tiny third floor flat in a concrete block in a row of identical concrete blocks. I suppose it sounds like one of those horrendous Stalinist apartment buildings ubiquitous across Eastern Europe, but thanks to the Thai touch, it is spotlessly tidy and very cheerful. The rains have arrived rather early this year. Around sundown, more often than not, clouds gather, frown darkly for an extended period, and then let loose a tremendous deluge. It never drizzles as in the UK, it only ever pelts down in fury.

I am out of touch with the semi-communal living of such blocks, but staying here brings many childhood memories back. Always, the sounds – someone splashing water on themselves from a bucket next door, the vegetable vendor playing an electronic tune to announce himself, the children laughing and screaming up and down the stairs. In Asia, you are never alone, and it is sometimes quite a comforting thing.