Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

I can't remember what I was doing this time last year. It was Lahore and winter and every morning I would wake up in the cold and go to work on the nephrology service of a local hospital. I would take a rickshaw in the morning and a bus in the afternoon and while waiting for the bus I would stand by the road and eat raw guavas spiced with rock salt from the back of a donkey cart. One of the conductors on that bus was familiar with me and when we saw each other, he would casually ignore my fare with a smile and move on to the next passenger. We never spoke.

That was last year.

This year I find myself looking at the sunset through a pair of large picture windows. There is a barn and a silo and a vast stretch of land swathed in the colors of dusk. A thin metal reindeer stands patiently on the grass waiting to be lit. All morning a mist had obscured the view but now you can see far into the distance where some woods quietly melt into the dark. A fire sits crouched by my feet as I watch the trees take on spectral forms. In a few moments it will be time to turn on the lights and return to objects their familiar shapes. The blinds will be drawn, the twilight replaced by electric lamps, and the house will fill with the chic, urban fuss of revelry. Only the reindeer, waiting patiently on the lawn outside, will witness in the sky the small flowering of the moon.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Still Life with Cake

This is New York but it could be anywhere. A Hungarian café just around the corner from Columbia University. Dimly lit and close, it has the small dark warmth of a cave. A sharp scent of coffee slices the air as I walk in. I am here to meet a friend but he is running late so I order some blueberry cinnamon cake and go and sit at the back, among the dry murmurs of the lamps. The place is crowded with shoulders as students stoop over books, studying for their finals. It's the week before Christmas and exams loom overhead. A soft swirl of voices travels through the room. The accents are lost on me but I catch the familiar sounds of stress, those innocent noises of fervent despair, that grow in these hours as time runs out and words thicken on the page. I eat my cake and look at my watch. At a nearby table, a couple eat a sandwich with a knife and fork. This could be anywhere but it is New York.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Some Beautiful Things

  1. Meeting up with an old childhood friend after a long time and finding he has lost none of his sweetness in the intervening years.
  2. Fresh books in the mail.
  3. The warm, soft touch of clean clothes straight out of the drier.
  4. An evening drive through the woods.
  5. Children curled up by the fire doing homework.

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