All that matters


The baby birds in our balcony are officially old enough to be left alone for short periods of time. Their mother now allows herself occasional short stretches of ‘me time’. She was absent when I came for my early morning rounds, and I was a bit worried when I saw the little downy lumps all alone and shivering in their nest.  They are yet to grow into their beaks, for God’s sake! But mommy arrived soon, and all was well and fawning. 

No Brexits rocking their world.

We had repotted the overgrown aloe in the balcony on Wednesday, an act that infuriated mamma bird. We took a lot of care to be silent, but ever since her chicks have arrived, the lady has been in an aggressive mood. She even tried to do a Hitchcock’s ‘Birds’ number on Appu when she caught him alone in the balcony!  


At the end of repotting, we were left with a ton of aloe leaves, and it seemed a colossal waste to bin it, what with so many good things being said about aloe. So I looked up ‘how to store and use aloe gel’, and Google told me that I can skin the leaves, take out the gel, blend it with lemon juice and freeze it to store. Which seemed oh-so-simple on screen, but turned out to be a shoulder-wrenching affair in practice. Adu helped, but my motherly heart could not bear to watch his struggle with the wishy-washy gel and a steel spoon for too long, so I patted him on the back and set him free.  

The aloe gel has since been cubed and zip-locked safely in the fridge, and I’m now adding it to detox water – my latest fad. It’s all Juhi’s fault – she served us an ice-cold glass of one at the end of a hot sweaty evening when Lisa and I had gone over to her place. Mission Detox is now into its second day at home, and while I have no clue how long it will last, it’s good while it does. The clear liquid with slices of green looks good in its clear IKEA jar, and tastes fine in the summer heat – despite the aloe gel. 


Did I tell you that the mint that has gone into it comes from my balcony garden? It stands next to rosemary and basil on my window sill, where I can reach it from the kitchen. 

I like to think that I have a green thumb, but Mrs M claims her green thumb is greener than mine. Maybe. She has populated my balcony with her own two bits: a mango sapling and a ginger shoot that have taken over my glazed grey pot are her contributions. 

So I love green. Green plants, green buildings, green peas curry (that’s my Malayali gene at its most virulent), cold drinks laced with crushed green chilies, green chutney, green vegetables…even Brussel sprouts for that matter. And though I haven’t tasted it, my green chicken curry is reputed to be good. I remember an F&B professional calling it ’Nilgiri Khorma’ once. I also remember feeling elated – the names does sound grand. I like green window frames too (like the ones we have back in our Kochi apartment), and green words as against white or red ones. 


And yes, green dresses – how could I forget those! So much so that I recently bought some bright fluorescent green sports innerwear just for the heck of it. At my age, I can’t get away with wearing fluorescent green outerwear…

I’ve never seen anyone wearing green shoes, though. Wonder why. 

There’s the memory of a Salman Rushdie novel I’d read long ago that has references to a green widow – one that declared emergency, if I’m not wrong. It tainted the colour a bit. And there’s of course the green monster. 

Too bad. Green is such a lovely colour otherwise. 


Yesterday, while at the radio station, I found out that there’s a ‘cough button’ for guests that allowed them to cough (what else?) if they needed to, without the entire city having to listen to it. There was none on the RJ’s side of the table though. If they coughed, they coughed for humankind.

I had sorely wanted to test it out, but for the whole hour I was there, not a single cough came to my aid. Today though, while having lunch, an errant rice grain landed in the wrong pipe, and I coughed until my nose turned red and my eyes were streaming. 

I have never been known for my timing. 


After the interview, Namitha took us home, and we tasted the best homemade watermelon mojitos ever. Muskan, her daughter, had turned some cupcakes into works of art, and it was only greed that made me eat one – I would have preferred to keep it as a centrepiece on my living room. Later in the evening, my thoughts kept returning to the two of them. They have seen so much together; way more than most people have. Yet, like the birds in my balcony, they have created a nice, cosy world of their own, and embellished it with little joys, much like Christmas bells on a winter morning. Pain and sorrow can wait outside, if you please.

One part acceptance, one part attitude, and two parts courage. Perhaps that’s the recipe for good life.


At twilight yesterday, I entered a mosque for the first time, and partook of iftar with a few good friends. The air of hushed spirituality and the sense of reverence with which the ritual was conducted were a revelation. Outside, over a thousand hungry men were sitting under a canopy and having their first meal since sunrise. I could see no difference between man and man right then. 

Hunger is a great equaliser. 

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Last night, before going to bed, I tried to capture a poetic Ramadan moon with marginal success. And fell asleep to random thoughts on letting go. Of good things this time – like a smile, or a song…or love. Open the hand…and the heart… Let it all flow, or fly away, or fade like mist. If it doesn’t come back, that’s okay too.  

You are.

I am.

The world is.

And that’s all that matters.

For now. 



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