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The Scenic Route

A beautifully haunting post.

R. Sativus

For backstory, I’ll give you this: my friend was having some problems and needed a ride. Fifty-nine miles away and in another state.

So I was driving.

I’d started the trip thinking about how I’ve become completely unable to resist someone in the midst of a crisis, simply because no one had been there for me in the midst of my own. If you call me crying, and I care the least little bit about you (which of course I do, because otherwise you wouldn’t have my number), I’ll do whatever I can to help you. It’s the fault in my stars.

As I neared the state line, I stopped thinking about that, and moved on to my surroundings. I passed an old abandoned hotel, named after the hamlet in which it was located. It only had about sixteen rooms, and may in fact have had less square footage…

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Hello, how are you ? I’m Susie Shy

Susie Shy- that introverted blogger- trying to say hello to the neighbours. This is a difficult task for me. With my advancing years, I find it all the more difficult to meet new people and introduce myself to them. At the back of my mind, lingers the thought that perhaps I’m making a fool of myself .
It was not always like this- when I was younger, I could head off and talk to people like nobody’s business. Things changed when I went to college and I found out that in my college, there was a tradition for newcomers to be seen rather than heard. This hampered my speaking abilities. Ever since I have had it difficult to talk to new people.
My neighbours are a Middle Eastern : Russian couple, who have been there for at least the 10 years that I have been here. Last year, they had a little baby-so I was forced to go say hello and meet the newcomer.
It took me several days of planning and plotting to decide how to do it. I thought I would do it alone but when my daughter came to know of my plans ( she is 15), she wanted to come too. So the two of us made our plans.
Days of watching and observing made us conclude that ever since the couple had their new baby and with 3 other children to care for, with no domestic help, they were ordering a lot of takeaway. ( aka the large number of KFC and MacDonald remains in their trash). We decided that they would appreciate a good home-cooked meal.

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So we got to work. The problem was what should be on the menu. Given their unique heritage- should it be Middle Eastern or Russian or just plain Susie Shy stuff. I decided to go with Susie Shy stuff- things I know how to make well.
So it was that I decided to fry home made bread in hot oil ( one of the delicacies I know how to make) and combine it with a hot mash of delicately flavoured and spiced potatoes. “Yummy! ” My daughter said, as she sampled some of it. It was hot but tasty.
For the sweet at the end of the meal, we decided to bake doughnuts and ice it as we knew how. So the dough was made and doughnuts shaped and baked- they turned out nice and brown. The icing was my daughter’s work. She had a talent at that sort of thing. So armed with out hot home-made food and baby clothes I had crocheted myself- we went to our neighbour’s house.

baby booties
On the first knock, no one opened the door. So we knocked again. Adam, the last but one child, opened the door. He put his golden brown head out the door and his eyes went wide to see us. I imagined him looking at my food with hunger. Anyway he told me his mother was busy with the baby and could we come later.
Though disappointed, we decided to hand over the food to Adam and Ibrahim ( who had joined him at the door now) and left for our home.
A few hours later, Adam knocked at our door- we were surprised to see him. He said, ” My mum can see you now”, so we dressed up in our best but now armed only with the baby clothes, we made another trip to our neighbours.
At the door, Victoria, the mother greeted us in the fashion typical of Middle Eastern homes with a hug and kisses on both cheeks. Of course, I said” hello” and shook hands too. With the hug and the hello, we managed to communicate in spite of our different tongues and traditions.

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Blogging U.

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The Maths teacher

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Teacher’s Pet.”

Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?

I have almost never been a teacher’s pet. There was R who was the Music teacher’s pet because she could dance( call it reverse logic or what you will). There was A who was the physics teacher’s pet for no other reason I could see than that he was a boy. Then there were some who were the physical education teacher’s pet because they were members of the volleyball team. I had refused to be part of the volley ball team because I might have had to stay back after school for extra practice and so lost out to becoming my P. E teacher’s pet.

So I began my 9th grade with no hope of becoming any teacher’s pet; with a 13 year old mind, I had concluded that I was not intelligent enough or good looking enough or talented enough to be any teacher’s pet.

Enter Mr. R, a new Maths teacher. He had retired from the Army and his dressing and style were like a military person’s. Dressed to the T, with neatly pressed shirts, and trousers, he was the epitome of discipline. Strictness and he were close companions. His pet topics were the theorems of geometry, starting with the Pythagorus theorem – going on to tangential theories of circles and their corollaries, theories of algebra, of congruence and similarity and much more.

We had to learn not just the theorems but their proofs and if the theorems defied logic and could not be proved, we used reverse psychology or something similar to start with the end result of the theorem and going backwards from there. Suppose xxxxx were false, this and this would happen and we would go on to disprove ” this and this”, thus proving by reverse logic that our initial assumption was wrong, thus proving our theorem was right. Talk of mathematical confusion and we had it right there in our 9th grade.

Mr. R came to know that I had been a student at the school he came from previous to his appointment to this school and so he started noticing me. In addition, I was infamous for knowing my stuff but never scoring a perfect 10 in my Maths tests. So gradually his interest in me turned to a kind consideration and concern of why trying to prove I was a mathematical genius who had constantly been misunderstood, thus explaining my low scores in the subject.

Gradually I started understanding the concepts of Maths and learning how to tackle problems with ease and confidence. My scores naturally went up and so did my teacher’s pride in me. He had never shown any thing which would make me think that I was his pet but my classmates certainly thought so.

Later on, when I went on to complete my degree in Medicine, I was in correspondence with him through letters. And he called me on the night before my wedding to wish me good luck and his wishes are certainly with my marriage, as I like to believe.

He was transferred from my school a couple of years later and retuned to his home town to a life of retirement and tutoring students who needed a little fillip with mathematics.

Today Mr. R is no more. Our school facebook page mentioned that my Mathematics teacher has passed beyond that elusive curtain and never will he teach mathematics to students again.

But his legacy lives on as I teach my daughters their tables and their theorems, I am constantly reminded of how well the principles of mathematics were taught with precision and discipline to a 13 year old girl. At 45, most of what I learnt at that age, remains with me. Thank you Mr. R and hope to see you again, sometime, someplace.

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New books and temptations

I was travelling over the last week and on the way back home, found a couple of good bookshops in the airport. I live in a country where books are very costly so when I saw books that were relatively easy on my pocket, I decided to indulge. This is in spite of having been warned and having had to return some books on my previous splurge from the WH Smith bookshop in the Dubai airport. The fact is I go mad when I see so many books together. I am possessed by a rare spirit which tells me to buy all the books I can with gay abandon. I pay for them using my debit card, being a very diligent person and not having a credit card of my own, I am almost never in debt except for hovering around the nil credit level. Anyway for the entire time of my holiday, I had not bought any books though I was sorely tempted.

temptation

Finally I just had to give in to my addiction and bought 8 books including one cooking book. They cost me little compared to what I would have paid here at home. I sat on the airport chairs and rummaged through my newly bought books, trying to decide which one to read. I wanted to keep them all for later, savoring them like a delicacy. But, of course, I could not contain myself.

Soon  I had selected one of them, the one that seemed most interesting to read at that time, though it might give me a headache on the flight. So it was ” Inferno” by Dan Brown, that won the day. It is a book which mostly refers to Dante and his works, as I understand from what I have read so far. As is usual with Dan Brown’s books, there is ” constant running”- either from the authorities or from killers or from their own selves; anyway there is a lot of running and it is about that now-famous character ” Robert Langdon” , the famous fictional art teacher from Harvard. I wonder how one person can know so much. I have been trying for 45 years to know something but each day I am reminded about how little I know. But Robert Langon is a character, perhaps by virtue of his being a figment of Dan Brown’s imagination, knows almost everything about art – modern, medieval or ancient. He knows all the codes, all the history, all the myths, lots of Latin and much about codes. Codes are a central theme of Dan Brown’s books. Here in the ” Inferno” , Langdon is accompanied by a young doctor, who poses as his sister on many occasions( in as much of the book as I have read) and who is has been an infant prodigy.

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So here I was, waiting for my flight and reading the ” Inferno”. When the boarding call came, I had completed about a 100 pages of the book. So far so good ! While in the plane, belted and buckled, I took up my book to continue with my reading but found my eyes closing off. So I found out that I could fall asleep in the middle of an exciting chase and run. I found out something new about myself. I am still reading. I am now typing and reading this book even while working.

Books are my personal beeswax as Junie B. Jones would tell you. I love books and love buying them. I can read anything but my wallet is not big enough to house my bookish temptations.

So I am now reduced to buying books on those rare occasions when I travel or when I am alone because unfortunately my better half does not like my indulgences. Sigh!!

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I wish I could have all the money in  the world, so I could buy all the books I wanted and even donate all the books I didn’t want to keep to those who wanted them. This is for my bucket- list.

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Fire side Chat with blogger Sheen

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fireside Chat.”

I have read a lot of posts by blogger Sheen of Flowers and Breezes and would love to meet her in person and know her story. Her life seems interesting and each little post she writes is a story on its own. Her blog posts make me realise that every incident in our lives can be a story and a lesson in itself, if we choose to understand and learn from it.

If I could, I would invite her over to my house and we would have a chat over a cup of tea. We would talk of past lives and of future plans and perhaps about plans together.

Perhaps our lives will cross some time.

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Of routines and rituals- the clockwork of life

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Two Right Feet.”

What are the things you need to do within 30 minutes of waking up to ensure your day gets off on the right foot? What happened the last time you didn’t do one of these things?

I got up early today to see what I would do within 30 minutes of waking up. The first thing I did was to wonder why I couldn’t sleep in longer. After all my daughter had a holiday today and as miraculously, the traffic isn’t so bad these days, my husband does not have to go so early to work, I could afford a lie-in. But I couldn’t of course. Pictures of an unmade breakfast and its accompaniments shook and woke me up in a jiffy. I need to wake up fresher and readier for a new day than usual.

Once I got to the kitchen, I saw my hungry cat rubbing his tummy as though he had a rumbly. This reminded me to feed him. I tried to remind him that we were running out of cat food and he needed to economize but of course, it didn’t work. He needed his food all the same.

I tried to think of what would happen if I started off from home a half hour late- would the traffic be too bad, would I be late for work, or would it be okay?

After cooking breakfast and ensuring my family of four ate it, I went to shower and lazed in the hot water for a good 10 minutes after my bath was over. It was bliss- again, I was wondering about many things and one of the things that I thought about was- how different animals were from human beings- they would never ever contemplate taking their own lives. They were grateful for whatever small life they had and they lived them to the fullest. I imagined my three out door kittens- whose very days were numbered. I never knew if I would see them the next day when I went to bed. But each of them seemed happy in his/her own worlds. All they needed was some food and a good belly-rub. A leg to head bonk would be good too.

So it seems most of my first 30 minutes of waking is spent in wondering and in dreaming about things that cannot happen and things I wished would happen.

It seems as if there wasn’t a day in recent years that I haven’t done any of these things but I can imagine what would happen if I didn’t wake up early or make breakfast or feed the indoor cat or forget to feed the outdoor cats or water the plants on the roof. It doesn’t happen at all because I do all these things as if by clockwork but if I stopped doing these things, what would happen.

For instance, if I stopped waking up at 4 am and making food, my family would remain hungry. If I did not feed the cats or the flowers, they would dry up or die. So with so many lives dependent on me, I would not dare to stop doing the things I usually did within 30 minutes of waking up.

I realize that our lives go on with amazing regularity and with preciseness and that lives around us are dependent on our own clockwork mechanisms. If any of us stops, the entire machinery may collapse, and perhaps even lives may be lost.

So I dare not ” not perform” the rituals I usually do.