lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My lady's chamber

Lace re-worked in suit by couple having love and money without sex appeal (12, 3, 2, 7)* A clue with no definition, by Araucaria.

When you wake up at three thirty in the morning, the world is a quiet place. There is a pleasant chill in the air and the dawn chorus hasn't started yet. I step into the balcony with my cup of tea and gaze at the silent street and yellow pools of light. There are a few stars in the strips of sky visible through the trees and the bars of the grill.

Five thirty here is midnight GMT, this I know. Then I can go and download the latest crossword and get my daily fix. I wonder why everything becomes an obsession for me. Italicised is idealistic, I smile to myself. I love anagrams.

I wonder what happens to a person's email account in the event of death? Will the inbox fill up overflow? And then what? Will there be notifications sent? Won't they add to the clutter in the inbox? Will I get many mails today? Will there be a note from the latest pal? Will I feel disappointed if there isn't?

I wonder why a room is ghar in Bengali and why it means home or house in Hindi. The Sanskrit version is griha which means a chamber for a specific purpose doesn't it? Goosey, goosey gander, whither shall I wander? Upstairs and downstairs and in my lady's chamber. Why do the maids call the bedroom boudir ghar, it belongs to him too, after all.

I live my life online and in my head. Inside me, there is a world that is brighter, more vibrant and gentler than the real one. Am I a different person than what I seem to others? Which is the real me, what people perceive or what I am in my thoughts or what I write?

Some intrepid and zealous morning jogger passes, pounding the pavement. He crosses without bothering to check for traffic. I tsk, tsk. True, there is no traffic, but still it's a bad habit not to stop and check for traffic.

I wonder if that elderly gentleman still goes on his morning walk. Does he wonder what happened to me, that woman who he used to exchange smiles with? Does that big Alsatian look for me as he wrenches his mistress' arm out of the socket as he plunges ahead, sniffing, sniffing and reading the news of the day in a world of smells?

Perhaps I should join a gym again. Go and meet more people, interact with the world a little more than I do. But then I'd get into those arguments with trainers again and that's aggravation I can do without. Best stick to the routine I already have.

Hmm, that clue doesn't seem any closer to solution even after a night's sleep. Araucaria is so crafty. I must look up rivers and read a bit on triolets; there might be a glimmer there. One across is proving tough. What am I missing?

I miss Madras and the early morning sounds of milk boilers whistling. I miss Suprabhatam but silence is nice too. There is an early bird, tuning up for the day. Too early for the magpie robin, though. They seem to be late-risers. I wonder if I can spot one today. Are mediums late-risers, is there a clue there? Perhaps.

The watch chimes the hour. I take a last look at the quiet world and turn to go in. I have to wake my son now.


*Acceleration due to gravity


Anonymous Ash said...

Are mediums late-risers?
Wonderful musing, Lali. This is a lovely post.

8:20 pm  
Anonymous dipali said...

Hubby and I share an e-mail account- I guess whenever either of us pop off the other can handle the mail! After which flippant yet practical note, let me say that I found your post so very evocative.
I felt as though I was there in the balcony- so many of the thoughts felt like mine! The sociology and nomenclature of sleeping arrangements are fascinating- growing up in Delhi in the sixties meant communal sleeping on terraces or in courtyards- male cousins were alloted bedrooms when they got married- when you ran out of bedrooms,or cosy verandahs that could be converted into boudoirs, one couple would move to a rented place! Doesn't boudoir sound like it has a lot in common with 'boudir ghar'?

8:31 pm  
Anonymous Tivi said...

Have not heard Suprabhatam or Milk whistles since I left Madras too. We hear Snow ploughs or salt trucks in winters - lawn mowers or leaf blowers summers. White noise. I never see that time of the day unless I am in a casino anyway.

12:25 am  
Blogger Lalita said...

Ash- I am working on compiling a clue about mediums and seances and late-rising, ha!

Dipali- Makes you wonder, doesn't it? But those solitary few minutes are what keep us sane, and make a difference; a time for self before the world barges in and life happens.

Tivi- Suprabhatam and milk whistles are one thing, do you remember the blaring loudspeakers and those meetings that we used to have to put up with? Somethings I don't miss.

Ambient noises are so much part of our lives that we don't notice them much. Until they stop, that is.

5:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I quote Shakespeare and you are unimpressed, I plead and you remain unmoved. You are a cruel lady, Lali. What a wonderful post on how free association works, though. Very well done. Bravo.
Secret admirer

9:53 pm  
Blogger Raj said...

I don’t know how you manage to crack such clues hatched by obviously diabolical minds. The best I can do in a crossword is a clue like, “B_t. (3), hangs upside down from trees. Also, used to hit the ball with.”

I remember a Dennis the Menace episode, where his dad would teach him the basics of a crossword puzzle.

Dad: See, Dennis. This has 5 squares. The clue is ‘an animal with black and white stripes on its body”

Dennis: Hippopotamus?

Dad: But, Dennis, hippopotamus is not a 5-letter word!

Dennis : If you write it small enough, you can fit it into the 5 squares.

I am no better than Dennis!

1:49 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Raj- Ooh, look who dropped in! *swoons*
Seriously, I suppose it takes a particular mindset to realise that marginally is an anagram of alarmingly and then construct a clue for it; equally it takes a similar mindset to ponder on these clues and solve them and smile.

Some people can't see the point of cryptic crosswords. But then I can't see the point of some people, so fair enough.

5:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

have not heard milk whistle for long time. never liked the sound! best time to hear suprabhatam if not from neighbour's house is from your own tape recorder in the kitchen at 4 in the morning. best time in the world when one can think of only'I, me, myself'that is what I do!- kavita

6:38 pm  
Blogger Raj said...

Lalita, far be it from me to question the purpose or point of crosswords. All I tried to say was that I can't seem to crack it, for nuts. But I see the point you are making that it takes a certain mindset to construct a clue and a certain intelligence to solve it.

10:24 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Kavi- You tell me. Sis, the best time in the world is these days is being alone with oneself, that is getting scarce, more is the pity.

Raj- Cracking and nuts reminds me of a clue, heh. Departmentally means taking leave of one's sensibilities in crossword-speak after all.

10:57 pm  
Anonymous dipali said...

I don't know what the causative variables are- some days my crossword compiler is on my wave-length and much joy is achieved. Other days, well, don't talk about them- either I'm a retard or the compiler a sadist! But the 'aha', light-bulb-on moments are well worth the mucho frustration!

3:30 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Dipali- It is like this: the editors choose 'easy' compilers for the early days of the week, and 'tougher' compilers for the latter part of the week. Weekend puzzles are usually prize puzzles, so the bar is set higher. Some compilers are featured only rarely, and those are the hardest to solve variety. This is both because you are not attuned to their quirks and because they are masters. I solve Paul, Shed, Chifonie, Taupi, Brummie and Araucaria easily, but Enigmatist and Logodaedalus give me trouble. As do the new lot, Lavatch, Locum, Doc and others. Basically, it is familiarity that makes the solving easy.

4:41 pm  
Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Luvverly. I like this one best of all your posts.


3:43 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

J.A.P.- That is gratifying, sir, she said. Thank you.

10:23 pm  

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