Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Going Hungry at the Tailgate

My appetite for attending an American football game had been sated after watching a couple of games at Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium. But there was something else linked with American football, that I wanted to experience and which one literally had to have an appetite for. I am talking about the Tailgate party. A tailgate is a cook-out, family get-together, friend's re-union, cocktail party rolled into one. And I got a chance to experience it very recently.

I knew that people arranged barbecues and brought food to Tailgates. I also imagined that if I were to roam around aimlessly at the Tailgate arena with an amiable expression on my face, I would surely be invited by some Tailgaters to sample their fare. It was with this hope, an empty stomach and the Grad student's well-known affinity to free food that I decided to venture into this great American mela.

And believe me, there was good food. And there were great smells. And God was witness to the extremely amiable expression on the face of a certain aimless wanderer. However that wanderer was to find out, much to his disappointment, that the American people intended to carry on chomping their food and guzzling their beer without any help from outsiders. In all decency I tried my best not to curse the chompers and the guzzlers, but if some people in that lot suffered from indigestion on the following day, then I would not blame myself too much.

Reflecting on that day's incident with a saner mind and a relatively less-empty stomach, the American people's behavior may be easily explained. Imagine Indian people out on a picnic at Botanical Gardens, Kolkata. Every group usually arranges for their own food. Considering that on one such picnic, I was busy tucking into some Tandoori chicken and Egg-Fried Rice from my lunch box, and I saw a well-dressed Chinese person roaming around clicking pictures, I would not think of offering that person my food. Instead I would be more intent on checking which of my cousins was not eating the Pantua so that I could stake first claim on it.


I realize that the Tailgate is quite an American festival. It is one of the traditions that are quite endearing and I did know of before I came here. Being curious, I read up about Tailgates and found the following interesting trivia from here:
  1. The first Tailgate occurred when people came to watch the Battle of Bull Run. Yes, a real war (Not particularly endearing, this particular trivia).
  2. 30% of Tailgaters never attend the football game (I would do that).

A must see: this slide-show on Tailgates put up by Time magazine.


Cycle wheels are usually equipped with small pieces of translucent plastic which act as reflectors. At night, when car headlights fall on these, they reflect the light and thus drivers become aware of cyclists on the road. In the daytime, if the sun's rays fall at the correct angle on these, they look like bright pieces of stained glass. I named them as sun-catchers for the context of this piece.

I noticed the beauty of sun-catchers one Saturday afternoon. I was returning home after a hearty lunch. There was not much work to be done that weekend so I had all the time in my hands. I had just missed the bus and the next bus was due in half an hour. To while away the time, I leaned on something and started admiring the beauty of nature. The weather was that of a perfectly lazy summer afternoon. I could have stayed there forever.

It was then that I saw someone riding a bike and it was on that bike that I noticed the sun-catchers.

The sun's rays happened to be at the most appropriate angle. And as the wheels of the cycle turned, the two sun-catchers captured my attention. My gaze was drawn to them and other visible features in my field of view (the rims and spokes of the wheels, the cyclist, the background) faded away. And the bright pieces of plastic seemed to be moving like Siamese twins - conjoined by some invisible force. They rolled along ever so slowly - it was as if they too felt the lull of the lazy summer afternoon.

I felt elated to observe this harmonious motion. Unfortunately such elation is not found everyday - probably the conditions for being able to find beauty in the simplest of things are very stringent.

Image Credits: anataman

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Turn Turn Turn

It was raining leaves today.

The wind picked up leaves
From the bough of almost naked trees
And strew these leaves around
According to its' many whims.

I was in the car
And the wind never touched me.
What struck me instead
Was the sight of a faraway tree
And the leaves floating towards me.

As if the magic spell of a lovely fairy
Was casting its' spell on me.


Later in the day
I was outside
Dipping my feet in rivers running below.

The wind was still up
And by this time
Most of the leaves were down below.

The wind was in no mood
To let the leaves rest.
A relentless architect - the wind.

And the leaves
Performed cartwheels
Appearing like gears turning round and round -
Naughty frolicsome energized.

In their combined entirety,
They formed gushing streams, torrents
Gullies, rivers
And flowed down alleys
And roads and walkways
Under the feet of men
And into the hearts of those who noticed.


The title was inspired by the following song (definitely recommended):

Youtube search link.


If you liked this, you will like:
And The Leaves That are Green
The Butterflies