All for a muffin

Outside, the roads have turned white. Like someone sat and scrubbed them with a chalk piece all night. No sign of human beings, just cars covered with layers of thin ice.

A friend of mine sends me a video of her cousin throwing a mug of water into air, and watching it turn into powdery ice. The cousin is in Chicago.

I scroll through my news feed, and see two dogs trying to shake a frozen tennis ball off the ground, in Ohio.

Niagara Falls looks like it was cursed by the White Witch.

And just then, it hits. Out of nowhere. A deep yearning for some soft warm muffin. A couple of hours pass, the sun shines bright — a weak consolation. The temperature increases from 6 to 8 degree Fahrenheit; the yearning remains constant.

So I put on my snow jacket, beanie, gloves and boots; decide to get my heart’s desire from the nearby supermarket.

As the door opens, the sudden dip in temperature feels like a tight slap on my cheeks. In response, my nose starts running. My fingers grow numb. My ear lobes turn beetroot red. And my vision blurs every time I exhale. I hold the image of a golden brown banana nut muffin tight in my mind and walk on.

From narrow slits that are now my eyes, I see a person walking towards me; before I can smile, he says, “Where are you going in this cold weather, young lady? God bless you.” I pause: Maybe I should go back home, I think.

But, muffin.

So I walk past brick walls covered with soft ice like molds on stale food, past stiff blades of grass that would crunch under your feet, past people rushing into their cars, holding hot cups of coffee in their gloved hands…

Inside the supermarket, I shake my hands like a puppy out of water. And once I feel the blood flow again, I walk with a sense of calm to the bakery aisle and drop a box of banana nut muffins into my basket.

I cradle the one pound of sweetness back home.

Once inside, I pull a chair to face the window. I see lamp posts swinging as if in a trance, the crisscross of tyre tracks on ice, and then, a little far away, a lone man walking towards the supermarket.

Maybe to get a little muffin, I wonder, and take a large bite out of mine.


Back in D Town



I am back home, in Delaware. Outside, the snow is forming a thin blanket. On any other day, I would have jumped out the window and waddled on to the ice cold grass. But today, I am drenched in thoughts. 

…of the time I lay on a wicker recliner with the cool breeze ruffling my feathers. 


…of that bright evening, when I stood so close to a lamp, that I could see the wick slowly drinking up the oil. 


…the sound of the ocean, the green of the coconut tree, and the smell of ginger tea and filter coffee that made mornings official. 

These days, the dreams I have are of steaming hot idlis, rolled-up sweet paans, and pots of payasam (sweet porridge). In the deep quiet here, I imagine walking along the street-side stalls of Chennai, soaking in the smell of camphor and incense sticks, the sound of temple bells, and the feel of salty air from the sea.

Is there a cure for a holiday hangover? Maybe a plate of paneer tikka would help.



Hello from Chennai



I was right. Travel was in the cards. In fact, I am writing to you all from a compact house in Chennai, India. Behind me rests a series of photos of various Indian Gods and Goddesses, and the air carries a whiff of sambar and rasam. People constantly honk on the roads, and every now and then there is somebody at the door. I am still getting used to the doorbell. There is sweat on my webbed feet, and for a minute I am scared that the black on my back will smudge into the white on my front. But I must say, I feel alive, amidst people. I am no longer alone in a room, staring out at a balding tree, in Delaware. 


P.s. On our way to this Southern beauty of India, we halted at Athens. More about it in my next.