Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Messing about in Boats

‘This has been a wonderful day!’ said the Mole, as the Rat shoved off and took to the sculls again. ‘Do you know, I’ve never been in a boat before in all my life.’

‘What?’ cried the Rat, open-mouthed: ‘Never been in a—you never—well I—what have you been doing, then?’

‘Is it so nice as all that?’ asked the Mole shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed the cushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway lightly under him.

‘Nice? It’s the only thing,’ said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. ‘Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,’ he went on dreamily: ‘messing—about—in—boats; messing—’
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Last weekend we nearly settled for a day walk in the countryside. Country walks are better than sitting indoors, but we were rather regretting not having planned a camping trip or something more exciting.

Luckily, just in the nick of time Saha came up with an inspired idea. We took a train out of London, hired a canoe for a day and rowed nine miles down the River Nene in Northamptonshire.

It must be noted, however, that while Saha’s enthusiasm may be infectious, not all his weekend plans are equally appealing. From a recent conversation:
Saha: Man, we ought to learn surfing.
Me: Hm, I’m not all that interested in surfing. And I don’t think I’ll be good at it.
Saha: Just think about it! You on a beach, surfboard in hand, floral bermudas, bleached hair.
Me: *gags*
Saha (trying a different tack): Look, you know how to swim, right? What’s the next logical step? Surfing!
Me: Saha, that is not among the next one hundred logical steps.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Foxes Come at Night

Not the first time I am posting about foxes, but we try to avoid monotony, so while the previous post referenced a song, this one references a book.

Some nights the yelping of foxes outside my window is loud enough to wake me up. I tried to take a photo, but foxes are elusive creatures. Besides it was dark outside and I was half-dazed with sleep, so it’s not a very clear image.

Sunday, 19 August 2012


tokyobike opened their first store in London this year. Surely, of all the vehicles devised by the ingenuity of man, the single-speed bicycle has to be the most beautiful.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Moral Ambiguity

Lalanti was our house guest for a week, and quickly made herself popular by baking apple pies and cupcakes. She also got us a basil plant, and left it in my care. The plant is doing well, considering we have denuded it already on two occasions (for French toast and pesto).

Eschewing my usual policy, I have not given it a rhyming name: instead I have named it Rathbone. The Basil Rathbone.

This morning I was idly gazing at the plant, and wondering if it bears any similarities to its namesake. The two things I know about Basil Rathbone (the actor) are: (a) he played Sherlock Holmes and (b) he was a good fencer. My plant, in its short life, has failed to secure any Hollywood contracts, and basil plants are not known for their fencing skills. But Wikipedia says Basil Rathbone was known for playing morally ambiguous roles, and there, I believe, we have hit upon a similarity.

For when you come to think of it, what can be more morally ambiguous than a basil plant? There it sits on our kitchen-window sill, its leaves ruffled by a gentle breeze. Does it have ideals? Can it distinguish right from wrong, and does it believe they are distinct? Does it believe in the transmigration of souls, or the common ownership of the means of production? What gods does it pray to?

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Coffee in the Shadow of a Battleship

Our neighbourhood park, Island Gardens, overlooks the river Thames. The park has an outdoor café, where we often go on weekends for breakfast or afternoon tea. The coffee is unexceptional, but I like the view of the river.

For the last few days though, a large, unattractive object has intruded on the view: a battleship is moored on the river as a safety measure for the Olympics.

There are other safety measures in place, besides the battleship. Surface-to-air missiles have been installed on the rooftops of apartment blocks, and people have been arrested for not smiling, and for ‘cycling in a group north of the river Thames’.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

সাইকেল ভাড়া

This week London’s cycle sharing scheme celebrated its second birthday. For a while now I have been using these bikes to travel to work. Not everyone is a fan of the sponsors, but I like how the computerised docking terminals have a large number of language options, including Bengali.