• Travel

    Sweet Autumnal November, I Was Waiting For You.

    I have a natural affinity for November. I was born on the 9th day of the month. With the passing of this day every year, I spot tangible changes in myself. Physically and mentally. It is a bouquet of mixed emotions. Wisps of grey hair, fine lines upon the forehead, a wistfulness that the years are going by in a jiffy, the recognition that I am changing as a person too. Subtle changes. Like how I used to love being social. Now I am content in the company of my husband, the geese and the squirrels (they who have taken the place of the English sheep and horses). The gulls…

  • North America

    The Spell of Halloween

    I don’t know about you, but I have had a banging day. What, already? Why yes, you see it started with a serene morning of writing and then marinating Cornish hens in a buttermilk bath for a roast dinner. It was rather smooth going. I kept thinking about our night last year in the city and wishing that Halloween had placed itself strategically around the weekend, instead of dab in the middle of the week. It would have been neat if we could have caught Christine and the Queens performing in Brooklyn tonight. You know, the French singer Héloïse (I have shared videos of her below). She of the phenomenal abs, badass…

  • Travel

    An Autumnal Reverie

    That folks are the leaves of my childhood. In Calcutta, when they arrive, they are the auguries of autumn, clear blue skies, gentle breezy days and the night jasmine. These leaves that sway their wise white heads in the wind are called kaash phool in Bengali, wild sugarcane in English. They are also a sigil of the Bengali festival, Durga Puja, when the Goddess Durga is celebrated for 5 days at a stretch with plenty of eating and fasting. The fasting only sharpens the appetite for the feasting that follows and the feasting is naturally followed by indigestion and plenty of digestion supplements. Durga Puja arrived and went in mid-October…

  • Travel

    Clingsman’s Dome: The It Place in the Smokies

    In the land of blue smoke that the Cherokees called Shakaney, a fine mist cloaks the top of the hills. There is an illusory sheen to this vista. The soul feels transfigured, as if ready to be lifted out of the body, to roam free over those uneven folds in blue that meld in, wave upon wave of them stretched for as far as the eyes can travel. Now picture this. The sun is ready to call it a day, a stretched out orb of gold gleaming through a break in the clouds, kissing the hills, the white and purple flowers growing wild upon them with golden love. You arrive at…

  • Travel

    Cataloochee Valley

    It is the beginning of autumn here on the East Coast. I can feel it in the softness of the sunshine and in the nippy breeze that flows in and out of our home; ’tis in the hint of colour as the leaves on some trees in the park have started to flame out into brilliant reds, others have graduated to lime green, the rest are plain ol’ slowpokes holding onto their sheaths of green; I can feel the change in the simple pleasure of walking a couple of miles to the library, which might not be too a distressing figure at all, but smack in the middle of summer…

  • North America,  Travel

    Cades Cove

    The hunting grounds of the Cherokee people once, Cades Cove is an isolated valley of supreme beauty within the Great Smoky Mountains. The Cherokees called it Tsiya’hi. Translated, it means Otter Place, hinting at the fact that otters did abound here before European settlers arrived in the 1800s to dispossess the tribes of their land. They say that Cades Cove was named for the wife of a Cherokee chief, but no one really knows how it came about. The road to the cove was straight out of my dreams. I have a weakness for those that curve through old forests, where the trees tower and look like they have a…

  • Travel

    Snippets From Wears Valley

    The road below the cabin dipped alarmingly. So sudden was this drop that it felt like rolling down a playground slide in tar. This road then led us on a serpentine drive up and down the mountains, past burnt-out trees, skeletal and stripped enough that it was a surprise they were standing at all. Half-built cabins too. A reminder that all it takes is a wildfire for every effort of man to be laid to waste (but here we are, creatures of toil and industry). The green was so very green, the hills with their stubbles of bluish-green startling, the sky thick with batches of clouds who could not make up their mind…

  • Travel

    A Cliffhanger of a Cabin on Old Smokey (Beloved of a Mamma Bear)

    A band of cicadas serenaded us as we got off our Outback Subaru. Their singing seemed to intensify as we hopped off the car, me casting nervous glances at the cliffs and trees around us, the thought running through my mind that a welcome committee of bears might be awaiting us in the dark. The drive from North Carolina to this chalet in Tennessee, built into the hills of the Great Smoky Mountains, had been one of unimaginable beauty. The sky, riddled with billowing clouds earlier on in the afternoon in Winston-Salem, was suffused now with a crimson glow that continued to intensify till it dissipated in pastel hues. The hills…

  • Travel

    Salem

    Way before we drove into Salem, part of the hyphenated metropolis of Winston-Salem, my mind had travelled before my body. It had daydreamed about The Salem of the witch trials. The prospect of chancing upon stories of witchcraft, swirled in my thoughts, of the detail being in the devil just as in the case of the Pendle Hill witches of Lancaster. Could the famed Lancastrian occultists have given their Salem counterparts a run for their money, who knows (it’s such tosh anyway). In Salem the absence of the bad girls were notable. Where were they? Adi shrugged, saying: “I was hardly interested in the history of any place before you…

  • Travel

    The Colours are Gold & Black at Winston-Salem

    My connection to the southern town of Winston-Salem in North Carolina is my husband. He lived and studied in this sweet sleepy place, laid out by a cigarette baron and his philanthropic wife. It is the town where they till late handed out cigarettes for free in offices, even at the university that the same baron funded in the mid-1800s. Shocking? Hell yeah, but you see how the world has changed for the better, even though we might carp about it from time to time. In more ways than one, the story of tobacco tycoon R.J. Reynolds and his wife Katharine Reynolds is intertwined with the story of this institution…