Gratitude List , December 17, 2011.

This week too, three special people deserve to be acknowledged in this list for their presence in my life. They are all indispensable for me to live in the kind of comfort that I live in.

The first, due to the length of association, is Yakob, who has been our gardener, handyman and factotum, all rolled into one. He considers himself as part of our family as does his wife and two wonderful sons. Yakob has been with us from the time we moved into this house way back in December 1990. His wife shobha also came to work with us then. They used to live very close to us then in a rented house. In 1994 they built their own little house some distance away and Shobha stopped coming to work with us. In the meanwhile the boys Sandeep and Sagar used to spend a lot of time learning English and Maths from Urmeela.

In all these years, though I don’t personally do much about our traditions, despite being a Roman Catholic, Yakob will perform Ayudha Puja for our vehicles, gardening and other tools and implements every year without fail. Come Christmas and a feast in a six tiered tiffin career will be brought to us from their home.

The other one is Mangal our House Lady. After the departure of Shobha, we had Asha for five years till she got married and moved away to Mumbai. After that, Mangal came and has been with us the last 12 years, with a short break due to illness during which time, Asha stood in for her. Mangal keeps our home clean, does the shopping for vegetables etc, cooks our meals and when necessary sleeps over to take care of domestic chores that I normally take care of. During my recent post hospitalisation inability to manage, she did that with aplomb. When I go out of Pune, she will do that again to look after my father in my absence.

The third one is of course Asha who keeps putting in brief appearances in our home. After her failed marriage, she returned to Pune and keeps a close watch on everything that happens in our home. She is now an independent entrepreneur with her own vegetable shop and is quite prosperous. Despite that, she will gladly come to manage matters at our place at need.

After I become mobile again, I intend taking photographs of these three people and their families and write separate posts to show how despite heavy odds, they have prospered in their own ways by simply moving from rural India into Pune.

Saturday was another day of quiet and peace and I was able to finish reading one very interesting book and start another. Ranjan gave my father and me a big surprise by getting some fantastic biscuits, quiches and puffs from the city.

Sunday went off quietly and peacefully but I was interrupted during my siesta and was blessed with some extra time in the afternoon which I spent watching and listening to a scintillating exchange of views on the video between Mark Tully and Rajiv Malhotra. Had I not been interrupted, I would not have decided to spend an hour and forty minutes on that!

I also reconnected with a young friend who helped me set this blog up. I had met Amit at a Pune bloggers’ meet over three years ago. Amit sat next to me in that meeting where I was the odd man out with all the rest being under 30! I had gone to the meeting hoping to find some help with setting up my blog and Amit cheerfully and readily agreed to that and did. Amit and Ranjan now partner on some projects together. A chance meeting has developed into something of benefit to the three of us totally unexpected. Along with Amit, there was another young lad Jagan with who I was able to speak in Thamizh. For me, that is a treat as there are not enough Tamilians in my life just now and while I try to speak to my father in it, it is not often enough to result in the joy that I had talking to Jagan, brief as it was.

Having gone to bed early on Sunday night, I rose much earlier than normal and had the pleasure of seeing the moon on Tuesday morning. Not having seen it for over a few months due to my confinement at home, it was a grand sight and I really enjoyed sitting out in the veranda for a few minutes just watching the garden in the moonlight. Strangely enough, mosquitoes left me alone! Do they not maraud in moonlight?

Monday also saw a vindication of sorts for Ranjan and me. More than two years ago, my father had wanted a traditional nut cracker.

While this is normally used to shave or crack areca nuts, he wanted it to crack some Haritaki nuts that he was used to taking for various maladies.

I had got him one with some difficulty. He misplaced it and was blaming the help at home and even implied that one of them could have stolen it. He suggested that we were too lenient with our help. Ranjan and I were totally unimpressed and simply got him another pair.

On Monday, when he was cleaning up and organising his medicine cabinet, he found the cutter and came to apologise for having given us so much trouble to get the second pair. Naturally, both Ranjan and I were mightily pleased. Not a word however about the accusations!

The bulbuls that I had written about last Saturday are now parents and I could see three, may be four chicks in our hedge. In the afternoon when I was sitting in the veranda and having my tea, one adult pair came over to drink water from the bowl of water that we keep for birds in the garden. I suspect that the mother was willing to brave my presence and merrily drank the water and allowed me to photograph her.

On Tuesday, I decided to cook a complete dish starting from chopping onions and vegetables and made Dingree Mutter. It was a very satisfying experience being able to stand and do everything on my own. A recipe from the web is given here. Mitali came over for lunch and a chat and thoroughly enjoyed the lunch which included Pitla Bhakri made by Mangal. Bhakri was made this time with Bajri.

I was pleasantly surprised on Wednesday morning to see two plants of raat ki raani (translated as the queen of the night) blooming just outside the grill of our veranda.

On enquiring from Yakob I discovered that he had transplanted them from the Northern border hedge to near the grill. While they just appear as buds in the day time, they bloom in the night and emit a fascinating scent in the nights.

I was in for another welcome surprise. Hummingbirds that had disappeared from our garden have made a come back and one of them even came near the water bowl to have a long sip of water while I watched. It was too small for my camera to catch a reproducible picture here and I give one from stock.

Perhaps it was the hummingbirds, but despite the slow trading conditions, I was able to secure a large order today from a tough customer at a satisfactory price.

Friday was icing on the cake- a relatively quiet week crowned by another undisturbed one which enabled me to catch up with some serious reading and listening to discourses.