Why Evenings Have Changed

Sunset
It is early evening. I can hear the birds chirping excitedly, convening to discuss the night’s meal and if the chicks are going to be happy with what they are taking home. The lights have started coming on in the windows I can see from mine; there are candles in some. An old man is slowly walking on the pavement, carrying a bagful of pastries for his grandchildren. I can hear their faraway giggles from the neighbourhood’s park; they are glad the swings are no longer covered in snow. Perhaps they aren’t his grandchildren. Perhaps his grandchildren are away, in another country, and he only gets to talk to them on Christmas and birthdays. Maybe he is taking the pastries for his wife. Maybe for himself. But I digress.
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Chasing Sunshine

Last week, from Monday through Friday, the sun came up every single morning. It was bright and sunny at 6 AM and the rest of the day remained pleasant, even if not too warm. This was a welcome change from the long winter months of grey skies and snow and rare, if any, visits from the sun. I determined to make the most of this change over the weekend when I would venture out into the sunshine and let it warm my winter-beaten fingers and toes. I would also finally discard my black fur jacket which has been my constant companion in the last few months. While it is pretty and smart (considering I made sure R spent quite a lot of time helping me pick one), I have tired of its weight and its brooding reminder of how winter beats down on us still, relentless and forlorn. Continue reading

The Sounds of Solitude

Vaccum cleaning that starts at 7 AM in the morning. Drilling work at the house being constructed across the street. Wailing toddlers making a last attempt at looking miserable so the parents would say it’s okay, school is off. Barking dogs enthusiastic about their morning walk.

Who says the mornings here are quiet?

My little residential area here in Vienna is full of odd noises throughout the day. Things slow down in the afternoons, when the leaves sway in the wind and the rainclouds pour. But there is still the sudden shout from the kids going back home from school, a distant volley of giggles from a group of college students. And sometimes, people calling out to each other in a mix of sounds that could even be Hindi. And yet, I hear a lot of, “Isn’t it absolutely quiet there? Don’t you get bored?” Continue reading

Ghosts From the Past

Our paper skeleton didn’t look half scary. To be honest, he had such a goofy smile on his paper face that he couldn’t scare anyone even if he started jumping on the parapet. By his side, our felt-paper witch stood demurely, waiting it out till the sparkle on her hat dried.

“They make quite a pair, don’t they?” I asked Mom, nudging her as she put some final touches on to our jack-o-lantern. It was quite a task placing it at a location where our curious cats wouldn’t be able to overturn it and create a fire hazard. I watched as she carefully set it aglow and put the lid back on. The stairway lit up – a soft, gleaming light that dispelled all melancholic thoughts of early winter, even from my granddad’s mind. He joined us in looking at it and also dropped a few chocolates into the owl-shaped pouch we had hung by the window. We hadn’t explained to him yet what it was that we were celebrating. But he knew very well that chocolates were universal tokens of celebration. Continue reading

Shades of Autumn

I loved drawing big leaves all over my school art-book. I would then colour them in green, orange, red and yellow.

“The reds and yellows and oranges are for autumn,” I’d tell mom knowledgeably, “You know the leaves turn into those colours before they all turn white in winter!”

It is another story that I never really saw these colours in the trees outside my house in Delhi. They’d sometimes get a muddy yellow at best. This is why, when R and I ventured out for a walk by the Danube the other day, I was in for a glorious surprise.

All the trees around us have metamorphosed into autumnal delights. Their leaves have been painted, presumably by the heavens, into striking colours that look very like the crayon drawings in my old art-book. There are huge scoopfuls of leaves strewn all over the roads, almost like a leafy carpet. It is the proverbial autumn. And if it wasn’t for my jackets and headgear that kind of restrict movement, I would have jumped into the piles of leaves like I have seen some dogs do.

Vienna in Autumn Continue reading

There’s Something Very Special About This Morning

Schönbrunn Palace

It rained last evening, and well into the night. I didn’t see much of it as I was tucked in bed, tired out after the long walk in the gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace. I dreamt of the people who must have lived there years ago, their gowns and dresses long and flowing, their kitchens fragrant, their mornings occupied in tending to the glorious gardens. In fact, when I woke up this morning, I still felt half inside the palace, imagining myself to be a house-member, perhaps the princess who had two big, furry dogs and an apple strudel for breakfast every morning. It took me a while therefore to realize the skies outside had changed… Continue reading

Hello From Wien!

There are large trees lining the lane outside my little home. Their leaves keep moving relentlessly all day, catching even the slightest wind. They seem to be soaking in every bit of sunshine they can – and delighting in it. In a month or two, sunny days will be rare, the skies grey and heavy. That said, I feel none of this heaviness inside me. Not just yet. I am lapping up the sunshine too and slinking inside my blue Jaipuri quilt at night. I carry a jacket with me while going out but sometimes don’t get a chance to wear it at all. The weather is playing with me and I don’t know the game. It is, after all, my first week in Vienna. Continue reading