Sweet Autumnal November, I Was Waiting For You.

I have a natural affinity for November. I was born on the 9th day of the month. With the passing of this day every year, I spot tangible changes in myself. Physically and mentally. It is a bouquet of mixed emotions. Wisps of grey hair, fine lines upon the forehead, a wistfulness that the years are going by in a jiffy, the recognition that I am changing as a person too. Subtle changes. Like how I used to love being social. Now I am content in the company of my husband, the geese and the squirrels (they who have taken the place of the English sheep and horses). The gulls have started arriving too. And it would be terribly amiss of me if I did not tell you about Yah Yah, the shaggy Great Bernese I meet almost every other day when she returns like a frisky girl with the wind in her black and white locks, her tongue lolling out a cheery how do you do. If you believe that canines could beam, Yah Yah does as she presses her big beautiful body against mine, and I coo to her as I proceed to gather clumps of her hairs on my running gear. Could I have any quibbles with life?

And there are the colours at their ripest best outside the windows, drying away in sunshine so liquid, as I write. Suddenly autumn has unleashed her uncommon splendour upon us. I noticed it last weekend when we drove into a town called Monteclair at the foot of the Watchung Mountains, which might be called mountains, but are really low-lying volcanic ridges covered with thick vegetation. In this town which the British settlers from Connecticut adopted for their own in the mid-1600s, and in which the Dutch arrived eventually, buying land off the Lenape Native Americans who hunted there, we had exquisite Thai food and shivered in the wind as we walked about its streets lined with old Tudor facades, now-desolate theatres framed in timber and episcopal churches with medieval touches in stone.

Closer home, the trees along the avenue on which we live, have turned colours. With all the wind that the gods seem to breathe our way, they are shedding leaves in twirls of golden yellows and russets. It is a most heartwarming sight. Kicking those piles of leaves in the air, even more so. Then, bringing bunches home to Adi’s amusement, to be pressed into the pages of books, and some to curl up at leisure on the dining table. Simple are the pleasures of life on this earth and I could ask for no better.

A sea of clouds bound for somewhere and touching upon us on the way
I bring to you some vignettes from the parks of Bayonne





Evenings by the Hudson



Scenes from Montclair, a New Jersey township…







The Spell of Halloween

I don’t know about you, but I have had a banging day. What, already? Why yes, you see it started with a serene morning of writing and then marinating Cornish hens in a buttermilk bath for a roast dinner. It was rather smooth going. I kept thinking about our night last year in the city and wishing that Halloween had placed itself strategically around the weekend, instead of dab in the middle of the week. It would have been neat if we could have caught Christine and the Queens performing in Brooklyn tonight. You know, the French singer Héloïse (I have shared videos of her below). She of the phenomenal abs, badass attitude and pop-funk rhythms. I have been annoying Adi with my constant humming of ‘Five dollars, baby blues, five dollars baby …’ all week now.

With such thoughts running through my mind, I stepped out of the apartment to dispose off the garbage and drop off recyclable odds and ends in the garbage room. Now every time I step out to this room, which is around the corner on our floor, I keep the door of the apartment slightly open so that I do not need to carry my fob with me. I have nightmares of losing that fob in the garbage chute. Usually, I manage to keep the door ajar. But today, I was balancing a whole lot — that included a heavy glass bottle — and I could not control the momentum of the door. It swung shut behind me with a thump. My heart sank.

At this point, you would shake your head in utter disdain if you thought that I was on my own in the apartment. Serves her right, you would say, to step out with her phone or the fob. But you see, I was not alone.

Adi was working from home. He was in the bedroom with the door shut, headphones in his ears, on conference calls with his assortment of colleagues. It was 1.10pm when I had stepped out. I got back to the door and knocked. It happened endlessly. This routine of knuckles turning red with constant knocking. Blood at a fine boil. Emotions seething. Yet no one appeared at the door. I could hear the neighbours shuffling behind their doors. They must have been wondering about this strange annoyance. ‘Couples sparring, possibly? Has the partner locked her out?’

I thought in my head, ‘Oh there shall be sparring you bet. As sure as gravity, once the door opens’.

Finally, tired of using my knuckles on a husband deaf as a post, I retrieved the glass bottle from the garbage bin and banged on the door as many times as possible. At 2.05pm, the door finally opened and there stood Adi with eyes bulging with astonishment, headphones still in his ears.

There was a moment when he tried to make light of it. Naturally, he got no lunch. The devil was in my head.

Later, I went for a run. In my need to shake off this fury. The temperatures had suddenly risen — to a mellow 20°C — and there was a pleasant nip in the air. The sun was dissolving in a flurry of colours and gradually there was a streak of crimson on the salmon pink horizon. It had the brilliance of lamé. With this backdrop, I noticed a couple leaning into each other on the wooden pavilion by the Hudson. I dismissed it as excessive PDA. But I saw them in the same posture on my second lap. That’s when I lifted my headphones and caught strains of music in the air. Why, they were dancing in each other’s arm to fluid notes of music. It was rather beautiful. Who said there could be no romance on Halloween?

Then an old man, in his late 70s, stopped me to ask, ‘So how many steps you got there?’ I replied, ‘Just 2 miles yet.’

‘Good, good, I have got me 22,000 steps,’ he said. That spurred me on alright. Of late, my new fitness accessory, a Samsung smartwatch, has been telling me that I have been running just below 5 miles, while previously my phone had been showing the same number of laps as measuring up to a wonderful 6 miles. Bah. I could not match up to the old man’s steps (imagine his glee) because the muscles are sore with lifting heavy weights this week, but I sure felt the mood set in as I caught glimpses of the trick-or-treating crowd.

A constant stream of tiny witches, pirates and superheroes I saw, bored fathers in black suits trailing behind these little enthusiasts who have taken over the streets of Bayonne on this Halloween evening. It was a fine sight that and somehow the day feels redeemed. So here’s to the magic and mystery of the day, to cauldrons bubbling, headless horsemen and witches on the prowl.

Happy Halloween, y’all.