Pillows [en]

There is a lady in her fifties who lives in the building opposite mine. Almost every morning, I see her put the pillows at the window to air them.

First, a piece of cloth to protect them from any dirt which might be living on the window-sill. Pillow number one. Pat it. Turn it over. Pat the second side. Pillow number two. Pat, turn, pat. Place next to pillow number one. Pillows three and four, on top of the first two. She takes her time. Always the exact same gestures. And then the night-gown. Shake, shake, imprison between pillows three and four, overlapping slightly for the purpose.

She comes back some time later, brings in the pillows, pulls the curtains – arranging the folds with care – and closes the window.

She never smiles. She doesn’t look happy. She doesn’t even really look there. I wonder what her life is.

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Spring Luck [en]

For the second day in a row, the field at the end of my usual Cali-walk has given me a four-leaved clover.

Yesterday, I stooped down into a patch of clover. In less than a minute, I had found one. I had in mind that childhood summer afternoon when I had put into press a good score of these little green lucky charms. Today I looked into the clover again – and believe it or not, in no time a very pretty one had sprung up to meet me. Nice and regular, with heart-shaped leaves.

Now, don’t read too much into this. I’m really not superstitious. It’s just that it’s spring and sunny and that finding four-leaved clovers reminds me that I’m a lucky person. There aren’t that many of them around – at least compared to the lowly three-leaved ones.

In some way or other, things usually seem to turn out right for me. Never mind if it is only because of my confidence that they will, or because I make them so. Well, of course they don’t always. I’ve had my share of bad times too, and there are certainly more ahead. But it’s nice to feel focused on this aspect of my life – a pleasant change from a month or so back.

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Hard Luck [en]

Just days before moving in, at the moment of signing the legal papers, Aleika and Somak have been let down by the guy who was going to sell them a house.

He suddenly decided he would raise the price by about ’£20’000. Swine.

So now it’s house-hunting again for them. They have to be out of their present home by March 31st – and will have to stay in one of the university residences until they find something.

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Grandma and Bagha [en]

Each time I sit down to write one of these Life entries, I think of my Grandma. She lives in England – not that far off but still quite far.
My Grandma is over 70 now, and she logs onto the Internet regularly to visit my website. I know that what she looks for are these little (rare) Life entries.

So today I had two rather long phone calls with England. One with my Grandma – who will hopefully soon be fit to fly over and meet my animals – and one with Somak.

Speaking of animals, Somak told me he received an email from IUCAA with a rather intriguing signature:

When you find life is coming down on you, think of Bagha.

Well, Bagha was quite well known in IUCAA – particularly for breaking into people’s fridges and hanging around the canteen. And obviously, the word has spread that he emigrated from India and is now a lucky Swiss citizen. I’m sure he’ll be glad to learn that his fate helps members of the IUCAA staff lift their spirits during the hard times.

I should be going back to India beginning of August. I’m actually starting to miss India. I have cravings for dreadfully hot Marathi food (the kind of stuff I found simply dreadful when I first tasted it).
I will have a Hindi course in Rishikesh again, and I hope to be able to spend a couple of weeks in Pune before that. That means I’m going to have to work hard to get my October exams ready before I leave ; )

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Puke and Poop [en]

First dog puked all over the flat.
Then cat pooped on the bed (while I was in it, thank you).

Now cat is puking all over the flat.

I’ve told them time and time again not to eat all those rotten things they find outside, but they never listen.

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Household Advice [en]

I highly advise all my readers not to let dirty washing-up pile up in the sink for a long time – a “long time” being… erm… let’s say “more than a few days”.
And if it did happen, get something better than candlelight to wash it by. You can’t see anything in candlelight.

Yes, the bulb in my kitchen is broken, and I can’t get the “ball-light” off the ceiling – I mentioned that already, didn’t I?

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Dog [en]

Cali has always been keen on herding “things”. “Things” being: Bagha, the servants in India, and any male stranger who appears to be “a worker”.

She also likes digging. She bites mouthfuls of earth out with her teeth. When I left India with Bagha, Aleika told me that Cali simply spent her time in the garden digging holes.
Yesterday evening, I was on the phone with my grandmother in the university grounds, while walking her. Of course, it’s hard to talk and walk at the same time, so at one point I just stopped where I was, in the middle of a patch of green.

By the time I had hung up, Cali had dug a hole big enough to contain her head and shoulders. I put the earth back in, but I don’t think it will fool anyone…

Her “new” thing now is trees. I’d always heard jokes about dogs and trees, and I’d already noticed Cali liked peering up trees when a cat or squirrel was around. She did that in India, already.
But the “tree mania” has got much more intense lately. She has her list of trees on our walk, and she’ll run from one to another and guard them, nose up high. It’s specially funny at the university, where she will do that with simply enormous trees which make her look like a miniature doggie.

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Sérénade [en]

Le travail chez Orange est très chouette – mais il y en a beaucoup. Je devrais normalement avoir trois personnes pour m’aider (l’une d’elles est déjà  en place, et fait vraiment bien avancer le schmilblick).

Mes examens de français approchent à  grands pas, et avant eux, les deux séminaires qu’il me reste à  faire.

Quant au chat, il insiste. Après avoir chanté une sérénade aux chattes de la “dame au balcon” – à  dix heures du soir bien entendu, pour qu’il puisse la tirer du lit – il a encore récidivé cet après-midi après que j’ai péniblement obtenu du concierge la mutilation du buisson coupable (coupable de permettre à  Bagha de pénétrer en territoire interdit).
Tout ceci s’est donc accompagné d’un téléphone peu agréable qui contenait menaces de tribunal et suggestion d’abandonner mon chat à  la SPA. Ah oui, et ce serait aussi un bonne idée que je déménage. Heureusement que la dame de la gérance n’avait pas l’air de prendre toutes ces plaintes trop au tragique: “non, mais vous inquiétez pas pour ça…”

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Kitty Kitty [en]

If you want the news, you’re going to have it.

Bagha has been going balcony-climbing quite regularly – or so it seems.
Thursday ten p.m., he even did a bit of singing up there. Unfortunately it woke the lady up. She was quite irrate. I guess I would have been too.
Friday morning, phone call. Summary: if things don’t get better, she will file a lawsuit against me. She recommends that I get rid of my cat or move somewhere else.

Guess what state I was in.

The woman at the flat rental agency was nice, told me not to worry, and that I could go ahead and cut off the branch that helps Bagha get on the dear lady’s balcony.
This afternoon, I had a rather tense conversation with the caretaker, who was unwilling to let me mess around with his bushes as he hadn’t received any clearance from the authorities above.

With all the stress and tiredness of this first week of work, I ended up bursting into tears, and he ended up finally cutting the branches off.
I don’t approve of using tears to get results – but I must say they changed the situation dramatically.

So I let Bagha out after 48 hours of confinement.

And when I came home a couple of hours later, he was up on the damn balcony again. There was an alternate route.

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Kitty Story [en]

One lady living in the same building as me is complaining that Bagha climbs onto her balcony.
I had a very agressive phone call from her a couple of days back, and very unpleasant talk yesterday morning. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with it, she doesn’t want to do anything or suggest anything, she just wants me to keep my cat from coming on her balcony.

She has cats. She knows that I can’t just say “Bagha, bad boy, keep away from this lady’s balcony!”. She knows I came to live here so that my cat could wander around in the green.
Bagha is a curious chap and he’s quite smart at getting at places. I saw him climbing down the balcony yesterday, and I must say it’s quite a feat.
I think she just needs to be at war with somebody.
Bagha came back wet on the back, this morning. I suspect she emptied a jug of water on him.

Anyway. I’m mad at her, and I’ve written a very nice letter to the estate management (or whatever you call “them” in English) asking if the branch of the bush he climbs on can be shortened a bit.

As an aside, even if this is an aspect of swiss life that I loathe (interfering, complaining, aggressive neighbours), it is not one that can be avoided by going on exile to India.
Aleika had similar trouble in India with the same Bagha: “Your cat must not come in the canteen, Madam!”

What a pity some people can’t complain nicely.

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