Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On a Winter's Evening

This post a couple of days ago, took me back to the end of a what was a very cold December. It was just after Christmas, and it was bitter cold. We were stuffed to our gills with fragrant Thai curries and rice and as we stepped out of the restaurant, the cold wind snapped through the high-rise buildings and stung our faces while we braved ourselves to walk towards our car.

It was bitter cold and the fact that the blood circulation was all directed towards out stomachs made it much worse. As we walked across the store flanked paved courtyard, I noticed a conspicuous pile of clothes by one of the display windows.

This was odd.

It was upscale part of town and pile of clothes and trash were certainly never a common sight. As we walked closer, I realized that the pile was not just old clothes, but there was someone in those old clothes.

A man.

He lay huddled amidst layers and layers of old clothing. His bed was made of bits of cardboard and his sheets were old newspapers. He was half asleep, I think. It was dark and Chip was shivering and we walked past him. I called out to BigGeek, and pointed out the man to him. I am sure I wasn't the only one that saw him. It's a fairly busy neighborhood. Someone would have called the authorities, said BigGeek. He must have refused to go to a shelter.

I sighed and walked to the car and thought nothing more of it. Until the next day. I could not get the sight of the man out of my head. How could he survive such bitter cold all night? Guilt overcame me. I should have called. But who? I had no idea who to call, I would have had to look up. But I should have looked up the numbers and should have made that call. I hope that the man is alive and was not frozen to death.

In the VA suburbs of DC, you can call the Crisis Hotline if you see any homless people out in the cold-

  • Arlington County : 703-228-1300, 703-527-4077((after hours, weekends and holidays)
  • Fairfax County: 703-691-2131
  • Loudoun County: 571-258-3033

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

10 Random things going through my head

10 Random thoughts going in my mind right now

1. It’s so warm here today. Just 30F (-1C for you metric types). Finally Chip can play outside.
2. How am I going to manage to go to all these parties over the coming weekends?
3. I want to buy stuff. But what? Actually, where do I start?
4. Big Bang theory is the funniest show I have ever seen. I heart Sheldon.
5. How long am I going to fool myself and my friends that I am fully committed to the C25K program?
6. To have lunch now or later?
7. I need a vacation.
8. How best to tell BigGeek that I really don’t want to install the closet shelving when I get home this evening without breaking his heart?

As you can see, I am really out of things to write.

Monday, January 4, 2010

It costs peanuts!!!

A ten day trip to India with a wedding thrown in is very, very frenzied, to put it mildly. There is stuff to be done, jet lag to be gotten over, family to be met, cranky child to be pacified and kept awake. Not to mention dealing with your own crankiness because of lack of sleep. In a jam-packed day, there is not a moment to be had for the self. After all, what is the point of travelling half the way across the world if you want a moment to yourself?

But in this sea of chaos, an island of some us-time was found. In an unplanned sort of way. After BigGeek, Chip and I met Kiran and Rohini and the delightful Krish and Ayaan and baby Tarana, Kiran dropped us at the Shopper’s Stop. In between afternoon tea, and dinner with the sister-in-law and her fiancé, there was work to be done. BigGeek had forgotten to bring his ties , so we had to buy ties and cuff links and I needed to buy some stuff for the wedding for my sister-in-law. It was work-work.

An hour passes by in five minutes when you are shopping. We climbed down the steps of the store and I said to myself, “I need to find something for Chip to eat. He is 5 minutes away from a meltdown.” Almost, as if in answer, singdana-wala stopped in front of us. Peanuts!! Perfect snack for Chip. Also an experience for him. I called to Chip and asked he would like some peanuts. Chip was mesmerized with the singdana-wallah’s basket with a small coal burning in its center. But there was a problemo grande. How much does singdana sell for these days? Will I get laughed down if I asked for a 2 rupee singdana? 5 Rs? 10? 25? How much? BigGeek was even more clueless. We stood like two dense, naïve people who had just gotten off the red ST bus from Alibaug. In the end I asked for 10 rupee singdana for Chip. Chip was handed a small cone of singdana to his utter delight, while I thought we were taken for a ride. Then he interrogated the singdana-wallah. In Marathi. What is the coal for? What are the other things you have in your basket? Why do you have a basket? Where do you get the singdana from? The singdana-walah was quite amused. He could understand Marathi, somewhat and Chip pretended to understand Hindi, so we played translator but got tired of it and herded Chip away.

We sneaked some singdana too – Singdana here is so oily, you can’t eat it without getting a headache.. I love the dry, crisp singdana we get in India. Chip was still hungry and we were still figuring out where to eat dinner. We saw an Aarey booth and there is no way BigGeek and Chip are going to go past an Aarey booth and not drink Energy. Chip’s and BigGeek’s petrol tanks having been filled thusly, we went about looking for an auto to take us to Pali Hill.
In the end, we changed 2 (or was it 3 rickshaws) because the “place we are going to eat dinner” changed with the minute hand and in the end, the buck stopped at Moti Mahal. Chip obviously was very sleepy – the rickshaw ride had kept him awake. Also the Q and A sessions he had with the drivers of rickshaws. And the analysis of visual and functional similarities of the rickshaw starter with the starter of the lawn mower.

But the minute we entered the cool space of the restaurant, he drank his lemonade and slept blissfully (without dinner) while we chatted and had a raving good time with my sister-in-law, her fiance and my brother-in-law.