Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Canton Michigan

“OK then, when are you coming here?” was what my sister in law Bhanu always ended her calls with and from March this year, she had answered it herself and ended her calls saying “you are coming here this summer”. Her husband Vishwa and children Dharini and Dhruva provided the chorus and it was their love and attachment that had pulled us to the US. They had pulled and now they had to put up with whatever they pulled.

So, 4050, Kimberly drive, Canton, Michigan was to be our home for seven weeks and we settled here very comfortably as if we had been living here all our lives. Bhanu and Vishwa made us feel that we are doing a favour to them by visiting the US and took care of not only all our needs but all our whims and fancies too, and thanks to them, I began the first real holiday of my life.

The city of Canton MI is about 30 kms from downtown Detroit, has an area of about 100 sq kms and houses about 85,000 residents. Along with other suburban cities like Clinton, Livonia, Taylor, Novi etc and about two dozen smaller satellite cities, it makes up the Detroit metro. Whatever I have described in my earlier posts is based on what I saw in Canton and the cities around it. I tried to calculate how much space each residents gets but, since my arithmetic is not much better than that of Lucky Singh of “Munna bhai,” (who, since he could not count properly went on beyond the approved limits adding floor up on floor to his buildings) gave up the struggle after fifteen minutes. I think it gives quite a lot of space for every house and they can afford to have houses standing well apart in individually developed areas called sub divisions having their own roads, gardens, ponds and woods. The shops, smaller ones, are located in what they call a ‘strip-mall,’ a designated area for shops which contains about a dozen commercial establishments (invariably including a Dentist) in a large area usually at the junction of two roads. The large chain stores stand in their own huge lots - hundreds of meters away from the roads, with ample landscaped parking space and greenery around.

The area around a strip mall or chain store and those around the houses are maintained by individual owners or the housing sub divisions (association of house owners) and whatever common space is left is well maintained by the community or municipality. So, the whole city has the appearance of a very large garden with buildings dotting the place here and there. There are no multistoried buildings, and the apartments only have a first floor.

The city is very pleasing to the eyes but kills the legs if you intend using them for anything other than pressing on the accelerators and brakes. There is no public transport system except in down town Detroit. They say that the three major auto makers, GM, Chrysler and Ford who had control over Detroit, managed to keep it that way but whatever it is, one can not manage here with out a car.

This made us entirely dependent on Bhanu and Vishwa for our movements and they had to accommodate us in between (apart from their office work) dropping and collecting Dharini/Dhruva to and from 1. Schools (different schools), 2. Swimming and soccer for D1 and tennis for D2, 3. Music (I do not know what music) for D1 and Violin for D2, 4. Maths tutorial for D1 and Maths Olympiad for D2 (again, I do not know the difference between tutorials and Olympiad) and assorted birthdays, gettogethers and such other activities. I do not understand why they bothered to buy a house at all. They could have lived in their cars. It appeared that the only purpose that their house was serving was housing us! The purpose of course is good, as far as we were concerned and I have no complaints. In spite of all these compulsory activities the couple managed to find time to drive us around Canton and introduce us to all the major stores and places of local interest. The sun setting at 10 pm and large stores closing at midnight, with some of them open 24 hours, helped a lot in this activity but confused our jet lagged systems further.

It is more than a month since we arrived here. We remained in Canton the first fifteen days and once the schools closed, went around the country as far as we could. I knew that I would not remember what we did each day and tried to make a note of things. I did and the note pad is around here some where near the computer but presently lost amongst dozens of chargers, connecting cables, MP3 players, and hundreds of CDs, DVDs and associated material that vie for space around the computer. It will take a while and I will be back shortly.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jetlag and first few days.

It took two days for me to accept that I had been affected by “jetlag”, which, I had always argued was a non existing condition concocted by those who travel comfortably(?) by air, so that they have something to complain about.

It was 5.30 in the evening when we reached home and after the initial excitement of meeting close relatives located faraway got subdued to a certain extent,(which took about an hour and a half with everyone trying to speak about everything, most of which had already been talked over the phone for hours together, earlier) I went for a refreshing shower. Taking a shower was anything but refreshing as I had to 1. Learn to stand upright in the bath tub which has a rounded base and maintain the position during the showering process 2. Learn to use a single knob on the tap - I had to turn the knob left and right, move it up and down, pull it out and push it in as required- to get the water in right temperature out of the right outlet. 3. Prevent my elbows from knocking off assorted bottles of shampoos, conditioners, soap dishes, liquid soap dispensers and other stuff stored in the cramped “shower” area while trying to reach different parts of my body and 4. Had to take care that the shower curtain remains in position all the time keeping the shower water flowing in to the bath tub so that the next person entering the bath room does not need a boat to get in. (Since the next person, most likely was my wife, I had to be doubly careful. If it were to be any other person in the house, he/she, out of consideration for me would have simply fetched the boat from the garage with out complaining and got in, though it would have taken a while to search for the boat amongst the other things in the garage). I have seen quite a few bathrooms during my three weeks stay. They have a huge mirror and wash basin but a small bath tub or a tiny shower cubicle. I do not understand why? Now, let me not give an impression that I came to the US to learn to take a shower standing in a bath tub or study the bathroom details. Let it suffice to say, that in spite of the learning process involved, a shower after two days was refreshing and we sat for an early dinner so that we could get some much needed sleep. I had not slept well either on the flight or during the two preceding nights and expected to sleep like a log for the next ten to twelve hours and get up fully refreshed to soak in the experiences of a foreign country.

As it turned out, I could neither eat anything during dinner nor get any sleep.After rolling around on the bed restlessly, getting in and out of it again and again, trying to read, watching the TV and searching for snacks through out the night, disturbing the whole house hold, I was feeling much worse in the morning. I was neither fresh, nor sleepy but was in a state of tired drowsiness with out any interest in anything happening around. To top it, my intestines got terribly confused with the unusual activities of the stomach and the brain and the bowel movements went haywire. Attending to their needs using the toilet paper is another story but propriety determines that I do not go in to details. I will just say that we use a lot of tissue paper during treatment in my clinic, cleaning and wiping around the mouth and since I knew to manage one end (not mine, other’s) with the tissue, it was not so very difficult to mange the other end (not other’s, mine) with the same.

After I remained in that state for more than 48 hours I accepted the diagnosis of jetlag and as suggested, tried to remain active with out attempting to sleep during the day and so, managed to get a few hours of sleep at night. It took a full week for me to be normal again. I will be more considerate in future while dealing with relatives who live abroad, when they complain of jet lag after a long flight.

I used to be awake very early in the mornings and went for long walks around the locality. I was terribly impressed with the clean and even side paths running along the roads, the absence of dirt and dust, presence of manicured lawns and gardens everywhere and the consideration shown to the pedestrian by the car drivers. It was extremely hot and sultry when we left Goa, and the atmosphere was very dusty because of summer and pre- mansoon winds. I hate heat and dust. And the sight of indiscriminately thrown garbage irritates me no end. I think the absence of these irritants and the visibly better civic sense of the residents is what made me get a very favourable impression of the country I was visiting. I walked around, though a bit drowsy, enjoying the surroundings, and if it was still dark, surprising a hare, some ducks or a raccoon which had reached the side path in the course of its activities.

I had seen the pictures of houses in this country, standing well apart amidst green lawns and with out any boundary walls and had always wondered why can’t we manage our surroundings like that? At least those of us who consider ourselves civilized and educated? Now, walking along the road looking at the neat and cozy looking houses exactly as they were in the picture post cards and clicking pictures of almost every house and garden, I felt very happy.

After closer observations some questions seem to have cropped up and other thoughts have been forming but I will come to them later at appropriate times, if I remember. But right then I did feel that I was in a paradise.

The courtesy car drivers show to each other and much more of it accorded to pedestrians (specially to those who have grey hair) is very heartening. Back home, I am used to standing by the side of the road waiting for the road to be clear before crossing it. I am used to hearing a loud honk if I try to cross a road when a vehicle is approaching and can almost feel the accusing hand stretched towards my face. I am used to side stepping with agility to prevent myself from being knocked down. So, when ever I reached a road junction I stood by the road side waiting for the cars to pass. The cars reached the junction and they stopped. I thought they were waiting for the signal but the signal was green! I was wondering what was wrong with these drivers when I realized that having seen me standing by the side, they were impatiently waiting for me to cross. I hastily crossed the road, the drivers heaved a sigh of relief and drove ahead. I notice the same consideration while I use a bicycle too. Feels very nice.

The pictures I got in my mind and the feelings behind them are formed by the initial look at a tiny part of one of the states. More exposure, close observation and thinking may bring in whys, whynots, rights ,wrongs, heres and elsewheres (sorry about grammer and spellings) but let me not bother about them now. I was happy to soak in the pleasant experiences of the USA all of which I had read or heard but all of which are still exciting and enjoyable when experienced first hand.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


It is about forty years back that I read ‘Golada mElondu suttu’ a travelogue in Kannada written by Sri T K Ramarao who was a well known Kannada novelist. He had written about his tour of the US and Europe. That was followed by ‘Naanoo amerikege hogidde’ by Sri Krishnananda kamat, ‘Amerikadalli gorooru” by Sri. Gorur Ramaswamy iyengar and ‘Aparavayaskana amerikaa yaatre’ by Sri A N Murthy Rao all in Kannada. Apart from these, I have read few more, whose names and authors I do not remember. I can not recollect the exact contents and details of the books that I have mentioned but I very well remember having enjoyed reading all of them.

Golada melondu suttu was descriptive in a very appealing way and I remember having liked it and reading it for a second time. What had appealed to me most and has remained in my mind even today is Sri Ramarao’s description of the ‘Greyhound’ bus service, explaining their speed, punctuality and comfort, along with the passenger facilities available en route. Compared to the bus service we had back home at that time it sounded out of the world. After reading that, I had longed to travel at least once by a ‘Greyhound’ bus. The bus services in India have improved a lot over the years and I feel that they come very close, if not equal to, the services provided here. But in my mind, the greyhound continues to be the picture of speed and comfort. It is a pity that after decades of imagination, when I am actually here, whatever travel I am going to do in this country will be by car and flight, and I am disappointed that I have not seen any greyhound buses on the freeways till now. I am yet to travel to many more parts of the country and at least hope to see one of them at close quarters. Coming back to track, I am surprised that I do not remember any specific part of 'Amerikadalli goruru' except that it was laced with Sri Gorur’s signature humour and Sri Murthy Rao, if I remember right, has pondered more over many other aspects of life in general than his travel experiences in his book. If any of you have read the book and feel I am wrong, please correct me. Sri Kamat gave a very good, description of American living in a light hearted way. I think that he stayed here for a year or more and so, had a closer view.

What am I going to write about? how and why? I have no idea what one has to concentrate up on while writing an account of one’s travel and experiences in a new place. I do not know what exactly to see from the point of view of describing what was seen, and how to assimilate the thoughts that cropped up on the spot and express everything clearly. With the information and communication facilities that are in place now and with the tremendous increase in the number of people going abroad on education, jobs and pleasure, almost every second person has seen what ever one tries to write about. And from India,The United states must probably be the most visited foreign country. Every Tom, Dick, Harry and Raghunandan have visited this country, seen it with their own eyes and have their own impressions. Why should anybody bother to know what I feel? But, I decided that I will write whatever I saw through my eyes and describe the thoughts that formed in my mind and so, will go ahead.

As we disembarked from the aircraft and headed towards the immigration and customs, I was anxious about the food stuff that we had carried with us. I had to marked ‘yes’ for the question ‘are you carrying any food’ in the questionnaire that had been given to us on the flight, (I was glad to fill it up. It cut about 30 minutes out of boredom) and was wondering whether I should have just said ‘no’. My sister in law, who had trained us about conducting ourselves in front of visa officers back in Mumbai and the immigrations and custom officials in the airport, had overlooked this questionnaire. I decided to emulate the father of our nation at least while in foreign air or on foreign soil, and had been truthful. But I was now wondering if all the jackfruit chips, banana chips, Dharvad pedha, cashew barfi, bhakar wada and assorted packets of ‘ready to prepare’ curry powders would go into the trash bins?

The immigration officer asked the same set of questions that were asked when we went to the visa interview in Mumbai (I do not know if they had mailed the questions too along with our finger prints) and waved us through. Because of my truthful ‘yes’ for food, we needed to go through the agricultural products channel and fortunately there was a good natured officer who had had a good lunch and probably a bit sleepy.

“What do you have there?”
“Home made snacks” (they were made in homes alright, though not ours)
“Do you have any curry leaves”
“Cumin seeds?”
And we were through.

After a short ceremony of facing the camera with our luggage trolley, with out which my sister in law, i call her Bhanu, would not allow us to set foot in Detroit (she is even more adamant then the US immigration in these matters) we were on our way home.

The very first American whom we saw on his own soil was the policeman regulating the lines at the immigration counters. He looked very alert and smart in his black uniform. I had seen the US cops in movies and they look even better in person.
Just out of the airport, I was immensely impressed with the wide smooth roads, side paths, well maintained common space and the systematic traffic. As I looked around after getting out of the car in front of the house, I felt that it is a part of paradise.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


It is two weeks since we arrived in Detroit. I am lagging behind in my reporting. I can blame the jet lag for the inaction during the first week but has nothing to cover up the second. I have moved around the suburb of Canton a fair bit, thought that I can easily find my way around and got lost yesterday. I will come to the details later, as and when my travelogue brings me to the point. This is not the way I intended proceeding with my reporting but can’t help it. I am clueless about the future path and whenever I attempt to proceed in certain direction some impressions that have formed in the mind come forward trying to gain attention and in the process clutter the thoughts. So, I will state them first with out bothering to think if they are right or wrong. If required I can correct myself later.

The city is beautiful and very pleasant to the eyes. Compact and comfortable looking houses with very well maintained gardens and well maintained lawns that stretch everywhere.

Big squirrels, brown hares, raccoons, ducks and a variety of other birds, make the picture prettier.None of them were obliging to wait a bit and pose. Roads are wide and clean and almost everywhere there are side paths for walking and cycling.
I like the absence of boundary walls and presence of well maintained lawns everywhere.

When he is outside the house, the American is either in his car or on his lawn mower.

When he/she does not have the steering wheel in his/her hand, he/she has to have a large (minimum 1 litre) glass of coke/pepsi, coffee/milk shake or at least water in hand. (had to focus on people to picture them and did not, for fear of offending them)

In general dogs seem to have better life than humans. this lady walks her Boston terrier in the drizzle, comfortable clothed (dog, that is) in colourful raincoat.

Policeman looks very smart and alert. (picture taken with permission. have no intention of getting first hand experience of an american prison too.)

Huge stores sell lot of unwanted stuff brought home in huge cars and stored in huge refrigerators to be dumped later in huge garbage bags and left out to be collected by huge garbage trucks.

Grow as large as you can and buy larger cars to accomadate yourself is the motto. (this is not one of the competitors but only an also ran)

Garages are for dumping stuff, arranging garage sales and parking cars . ( Mrs Cindy is very happy and considerate to pose for us during her garage sale) – in that order.

Now that this compulsion is out of my mind, I will try to think clearly and hope to bring out a proper narrative in the near future.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Breakfast and Frankfurt

I thought that I will take a break for breakfast and then continue with my writing on the flight. But consuming the breakfast was not as easy as I had thought. When they had supplied snacks the first time, it was contained in a small box with out any accompaniments and I could just open the box with out difficulty and eat the contents. This breakfast was an elaborate experience. I did not know that we were required to be nimble with our fingers and also possess the combined skills of a juggler and an acrobat to eat breakfast in style on a flight. The breakfast tray contained lot many things like bread, rolls and some cooked stuff in one box and accompaniments like cheese, butter, yoghurt, cream, jam, sugar, ketchup and water in tightly sealed separate plastic containers. Taking the individual sealed packets out of the larger sealed container and arranging all of them on the small extendable tray attached to the seats in it self was an achievement, let alone opening and eating them. A little effort would not open them. An extra effort would tear the packet and spill the stuff and also make the elbows go out of control knocking off the co passengers stuff out of his tray. And I had to keep the pillow and blanket balanced on my knees while doing this exercise. But I managed to open them and ate all that was left in the containers after I had opened them. My co passenger spilled some juice on to my lap and so, had lost the right to complain about my smearing his elbows with butter and jam. I very wisely kept the packet of fork, spoon and knife untouched and used my fingers, thereby avoiding disasters.

I was exhausted with the effort of eating the breakfast and after the tray was cleared, tried to sleep a bit. Moreover, the passenger who was in front of me decided to push her backrest further back and there was no chance of opening my writing pad. I wanted to continue my observation of the progress that our air craft was making, but the airline had decided to entertain us with the antiques of Shahid kapoor. I switched off the monitor and switched on the music channels. There were some twenty eight channels of western music all of which sounded like the wailing of various animals to my uninitiated ears and one bollywood channel which sounded like all the animals howling together. I switched off everything, closed my eyes and tried some meditation and failed. I think that I did doze a bit, for, when I opened my eyes again, the monitor showed the plane hovering over Frankfurt and was giving out detailed instructions about the layout of the airport, various terminals and what we were expected to do on arrival. We landed at Frankfurt right on time, 27th May 2010, 07.35 local time.

In spite of having heard that Frankfurt airport is very big, I was expecting our arrival and departure gates to be close to each other as they were in the same terminal. Soon after arrival we wanted to locate the departure gate and then spend the five hours that we had there, leisurely. We started in the direction of gate A62 and after a walk of what seemed like a kilometer and half, and a ‘sky train’ ride of another kilometer, found that we were only half way through. By then, we had reached a large hall from which we could look down and see a lot of shops, restaurants and lounges. The area looked very attractive and we were tempted to abandon the search for gate A62, go down and spend some time there. I even managed to find the gate leading to the place but was stopped by an officer at the entrance. I explained that we were in transit, had about four hours for ourselves and intended looking around. He advised us to do all the looking around from where ever I was at the moment and added that if we go out of the gate, we need to enter again through another gate miles away, passing through three levels of security and assured me that, by then, our flight to Detroit would be half way over the Atlantic. We gave up the idea of sight seeing in Frankfurt airport and trudged along towards gate A62.

This departure gate, which I was expecting to be a small opening with limited space around, turned out to be a lounge of the size of a tennis court having comfortable seating arrangement with the toilets and food kiosks close by. It was very pleasant to lounge and move around. We freshened ourselves, ate the food that we had carried and I went to buy a bottle of water. I had heard that Frankfurt is expensive but had not expected a bottle of water to cost five dollars and half cup of coffee, three. I made my first transaction in foreign currency. Even though I paid five dollars for a bottle of water I did not feel bad. That is how airports are. But I really felt cheated to find that a cup of coffee costing three dollars was really one fourth of an ‘indian cup’, that is, half of what we get on Indian railways! And worse, it was not even hot. Coffee that is not hot is not coffee. Coffee left a bad taste in the mouth, but otherwise Frankfurt airport was fine.

The Frankfurt airport experience reminded me of the Maya Sabha built by Pandavas in Khandavaprastha which flummoxed Duryodhana. What looked like a door was not a passage. A thick glass wall was actually an entrance and I was wondering what I should do when the lift doors did not open on reaching our level, when my wife noticed that it had opened at the back!.

The sight of an aircraft landing and taking off always fascinates me. When ever I go to an airport to receive or drop somebody, I try to find a vantage point from where I can see take offs and landings and spend some time watching the action. These days, with the security controls in and around the airports, I never get to reach a place from where I can have a good view. Sitting in the lounge of gate A62 in Frankfurt airport I had a clear view of the runway and during the two hours that I spent there, watched enough landings and takeoffs to last my life time. As I calculated, from the runway that I was seeing, there was a takeoff or landing every half a minute. I had thought that the nose wheel of an aircraft touches the ground first while landing. I found that it is not so. It is the wing wheels that touch the ground first. A correction to my collection of useless information.

Frankfurt airport has shops, hotels, lounges and offices on the first level, arrival gates on the second level and departure gates on the third level. There are four sections of departure gates A,B,C,D, each having about 65 gates. All together, about three hundred fifty gates! Boarding to our flight to Detroit which was to take off at 13.35 was called at 12.55 and we stood in the long queue in front of the gate. Those who needed assistance were to board first, followed by people carrying babies and small children and then senior citizens. My grey hair reduced our waiting time in the queue and we overtook many real senior citizens who had dyed their hair. Grow old gracefully(and fast). It helps in an airport. Flight was uneventful and since there were no Kapoors or Khans on the monitor of our Air Bus A330-300, I could spend the time watching the monitor and recollecting lot of forgotten geography. We landed on time at Detroit, 16.25 on 27th may.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Flash back

The monitor attached to the ceiling of the Boeing 747-400 shows that we are flying over Baghdad. It also says that the altitude is 10972 meters and the ground speed is 552 mph. temperature outside, - 54F. Though I am a bit cramped in the ‘cattle’ class, it is not worse than the Bangalore- Goa KSRTC ‘Super deluxe’ bus as I had imagined, and covered in the blanket provided by Luftansa, I am quite cozy. Four hours into the flight, my leg has just started bothering me, but it can be ignored for another hour or two.

But my stomach has started growling. My wife packed some snacks for herself in spite of eating a hearty dinner last night saying that since she is going to be awake all night, she is likely to feel hungry and offered to pack some snacks for me too.
“You have had your dinner as usual is it not? You will feel hungry again only at breakfast time tomorrow morning. The airline will surely provide something by then. Whether you are sleeping in your house or flying in an aircraft, you have the same stomach. I don’t understand why it should act differently. Don’t fuss unnecessarily.”
In spite of my wise remarks she did pack some snacks and it was in her hand bag.

I did not carry a different stomach for the trip either, but my usually well behaved stomach has started acting differently. I am used to eating my words and I may have to do with that for the time being.

We had reached the airport at midnight and had boarded the flight at 3AM. Soon after take off the airline had provided considerable quantity of quite edible (I may even term it tasty) bread like thing stuffed with some unidentifiable substance, ketchup and juice. My wife refused it and I had consumed the whole lot ignoring her “Is it already breakfast time?” taunt. Now the stomach is growling again and my ears are awaiting the squeak of the trolley. If nothing comes around for another half an hour I will need to surrender my pride at her feet and ask her to open her bag.

We had to travel to Mumbai by an early morning flight from Goa and in my anxiety about oversleeping and missing the flight, I hadn’t slept a wink last night. I had thought that I may be able sleep on the flight. With out realizing it, I am getting excited about the trip and the excitement, along with the hunger is keeping me awake. Every one around me are sleeping peacefully and I can hear some one snoring too. Since I am unable to sleep, I am trying to pen down my thoughts with the overhead focus light on, and I have a feeling that I may be annoying my co-passengers. Any moment I am expecting a tap on my shoulder and a request to switch off the light.

I am unable to believe that I am on an international flight heading towards America, the ultimate ‘foreign’ country. ‘Foreign’ countries were places where the lucky people of the world lived in their fabulous houses and moved around in shining sleek cars on smooth roads. Only the luckier lot of our country men got to go there and what was left to us was to watch the planes flying high above us carrying these people. Our flight of fancy was just to get close enough to them in an airport and see one of them landing or taking off. I can not forget our excitement and happiness when my father accompanied his employer to Cochin on an Indian airlines flight and had taken us with him to the airport. We stood on the roof of the airport, waved to him before he got into the aircraft and imagined that we even recognized him sitting next to one of the windows. It is not easy to believe that I am inside one of those airplanes flying to a ‘foreign’ country. The plane, other passengers, the airhostess and everything else appear to be real, so it must be true.

I can see the airhostess approaching, handing out hot tissues for freshening up. I hope that the trolley is not far and the tray again contains something that I can eat. No need to rob my wife’s snacks. If my stomach settles down I hope to catch a wink and I will continue later.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chapati - Sabzi

I did start writing something in what I felt was the proper way and also planned to include some pictures in it. Now I realize that while it is easy to pile up the pictures, it is not easy to prepare the words. In other words, I intend preparing stuffed ‘paranthas’ and while the stuffing is ready the dough is not. I have a feeling that while I wait for the dough, the stuffing may get spoilt. So, I decided to give up preparing ‘paranthas’ and stick to the easier ‘chapati – sabzi’ and even there, serve the ‘sabzi’ first and ‘chapati’ later. I am hoping that my friends have a big heart and a hungry stomach and so, will accept whatever is served. here it is.

After I typed the last post at the ungodly hour of 1.30 AM, I made few more unsuccessful attempts at going to sleep. After further disturbing my wife by getting in and out of the bed every half an hour and also disturbing the whole household by switching the lights on and off and opening and closing the refrigerator door (which feels like the locker room door in our Ponda bank and with as big interiors) I went out for a walk at 5 am and others went back to sleep in peace.

It was already getting bright and I had carried the camera in hand. First I got the picture of my neighbourhood for the next one and a half months.

After moving up and down the sidewalk and ensuring that I will not be arrested for going out walking, I walked along the main road. It is a walker’s paradise. But where are the walkers?

In my walk around the locality of about an hour the only other living thing that I saw on the sideway was this bird and a hare which bounded away before I could focus my camera.

It is a very pleasant neighbourhood. And I walked slowly and peacefully along. Enjoying the sight of this small laake.

Some years back, I had attended yoga classes in my effort to bring about some order into my yoga practice. At the end of every session the yoga master made us do the shavaasana. He would make us lie flat on the floor with our limbs stretched and urged us to relax the body and concentrate within ourselves. He suggested that we imagine ourselves in a serene and peaceful place like the bank of a gently flowing river or the top of a hill with gentle breeze, close down the sensory organs, keep the mind empty and reach a fully relaxed state. My ears always heard the roar of the truck passing next to the window or someone having trouble kick starting the scooter and the mind never went beyond the worry of the possibility of the yoga master delaying the session and the milk in the booth getting sold out. Also, I could never imagine a serene and peaceful place which my mind would accept as very pleasant. Now other things remain as they are but I can always imagine myself lying on the banks of this lake.