One doesn’t always have to go seeking entertainment, you know. Sometimes, entertainment comes to you or it just happens around you.
This story begins on the day my loyal cell phone of 5 years finally decided to give up on me.
I was quite heart-broken for we had been through a lot, my cell phone and me. I had clung on to it in spite of its many eccentricities, but that day it just stopped working. And I knew that it could not be repaired.
So off I went and got myself a new one, and that too a smartphone. This also meant that I could not use my old SIM card and would have to visit the nearest outlet of my cell phone service provider to get a micro SIM card.
So there I was waiting for my turn to be served and trying to read. But the snatches of conversations that I overheard was too interesting and after about 10 minutes, I switched off my Kindle and listened unabashedly to the exchanges happening around me.
Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music—it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. This becomes my “now’”song, and the “nowness” (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.
The music selection blared out by the various pandals at the ongoing 10-day Ganpati festival has not thrown up any surprises. Hindi and Marathi film songs, and film songs from other languages as well; remixed bhajans andaarti songs, and at a pandal near my house some Vishnu Sahasranamam spiced up with some ‘technofied’ beats. But today morning I heard a song that I associate with the Ganpati festivals of my childhood and took me back to the Mumbai of my childhood.
I had just got off at the bus stop near my workplace when I heard the opening strains of “Prathama tula vanditi krupala…”
This song is from the 1979 Marathi film Ashtavinayak and is sung by Vasantrao Deshpande and Anuradha Paudwal. I remember singing this with many others at the pandal near my grandparents’ house at Matunga and enjoying this beautiful melody in Raga Yaman. Even after so many years, I found that the appeal of this song had not diminished as I softly accompanied this song from across the road. I was also surprised to find that I remembered the lyrics as well !
Take two families, related families actually, and have them holiday together. They spend a week together in a neutral place, a holiday home, and interact and relate to each other, and attempt to be one big happy family. This is the plot, in brief, of The Red House by Mark Haddon (Jonathan Cape, 2012, pp. 264). But families are never simple are they, and the families here are no exception. And therein lies the extraordinariness of this book.
Richard and Angela are brother and sister, siblings who have buried their mother recently. Estranged for many years now, they don’t really feel like “brother and sister, just two people who spoke briefly on the phone every few weeks or so to manage the stages of their mother’s decline” (p. 6-7). A week after their mother’s funeral, Richard invites Angela and her family to holiday with him and his family. A surprised Angela accepts.
For Richard and Angela, this week gives them a chance to try to put their estrangement behind them and forge a new relationship. It is a week where 4 adults and 4 children try to “bond” with one another. So who are these 8 “family” members?
The gentle whirring and the polite clicking sounds coming from the… contraption was fascinating. What is it, I wondered, as I walked around it. What were the ropes for, ropes that ascended to the ceiling? And the slowly moving wheels? And why was it cordoned off with a “Please do not touch” sign?
That July afternoon of 2009, I was at Salisbury Cathedral wondering what this contraption was all. A simple information plaque on one side enlightened me and I did a double take when I read it. This… contraption was a clock? A clock without a face? And that too 700 years old?
I was standing before the oldest Mechanical Clock in Europe. There are even claims to this being the oldest working mechanical clock in the world. Dating back to 1386, this clock was re-discovered in the Cathedral in 1928 and restored back to working condition in 1956. Most of the parts of the clock are original as is its wrought iron frame.
A single-strike clock, i.e. it makes one strike for every hour of the day, the power to run it is supplied by two large stone weights. As the weights descend, ropes (which are attached to a bell) unwind from the wooden barrels. Before the weights reach the floor, they have to be wound back up again. For more technical details on the working of the clock, please click here.
Though the Salisbury Cathedral had many other attractions on offer—an impressive 400 feet tall spire and an original copy of the Magna Carta, among others—it is the simple (?) mechanical clock that remains with me after 3 years. A clock that works even today after so many centuries and is accurate to within 2 minutes.
Not bad for a 700-year old clock, eh? 🙂
PS: For more photographs of Salisbury, please click here.
Do you like Sundays? I do. In fact, I love Sundays as I can laze around, have a traditional South Indian lunch, chat with friends and family over the phone, read books or surf for books to beg, borrow or steal buy. It is generally a day for relaxing and recharging for the week to come.
Starting 30th September 2012, my Sundays are going to change, and I am very excited and happy and nervous about this. You see, I have agreed to be part of a new venture, and that too as a co-founder, no less ! Co-founder of The Sunday Book Club. Raghav (@raghavmodi), the founder of the very successful Movie Talk on Sunday (#MTOS), contacted Rahul (@meetneo) and me about 10 days back. And after a flurry of emails, DMs, and tweets, we found ourselves co-founders of The Sunday Book Club (#TSBC). 🙂
The Sunday Book Club on Twitter (#TSBC) is an initiative to get the Twitter Community together at a particular time and day each week to discuss various book-related topics. The aim of the whole exercise, besides having fun, is to find like-minded individuals who share the same passion for books as you do and in the process discover different books, authors, and genres that the bookworm in you might fancy.
In other words, it is the perfect opportunity for you to know about new books, interesting facts, and even participate in competitions and interact with special guests. The #TSBC events will take place from 15:00-16:00 Indian Standard Time every Sunday beginning 30th September. For more details on #TSBC, please visit my page on The Sunday Book Club.
“The what? What did you say was the name of the coffee shop?” I asked with some amount of disbelief.
“The Stolen Coffee Room,” Deepa repeated patiently, with barely suppressed excitement. “You heard it right the first time.”
“The. Stolen. Coffee. Room.” I repeated slowly. “What an intriguing name.”
“It’s an intriguing name for an intriguing place,” ” Deepa declared. “You know Sudha, I didn’t want to leave this place at all and if the kids hadn’t been there with me, I probably wouldn’t have. You will love this place.”
Now I was more than intrigued. “Tell me more about this place.”
“I’m not going to tell you anything. You have to visit it and see it and experience it yourself. In fact, let’s go there together,” said Deepa.
So that’s how I came to be standing outside The Stolen Coffee Room (TSCR) with Deepa one rainy evening in July. The bright blue entrance glowed in a welcoming manner as did the neon red “Open” sign. And with a mix of anticipation and delight, I stepped inside.