Saturday, June 11, 2011

'How I spent my summer vacations'. Single spaced and gushy-gushy.

I got back from Shimla a couple of days ago but I've been shying away from writing this post.

I have a mental stutter when it comes to gushing. It's easier to bitch than gush. Quote me, please. Gushing is a disease. Enthusiasm its sibling. And who wants to further perpetrate such mass folly. If a holiday's been good, which is has, there's little to bitch about. Blessing or curse, you decide. Also, and still on shying away, I had the post all mapped out - say four pics, bullet points, a carefully careless tone of text, you've been there, I've done that, same ol', same ol'.


My lovely holiday-
Which really was lovely-

I ate lots of fruit -- khurmanis (apricots), strawberries, cherries, and sweet wild orange-yellow berries (see pic) my grandmother said back in the day they called akkhas. The thing I didn't have was a non-fuzzy tennis-ball-sized green and pink cross between a peach and an apple. My loss.

I did however, break my I'm-not-drinking rule for the Himachal holiday and had, in order of consumption:
  • a beer in the garden the afternoon we arrived and after completion of first hill walk/ baby trek
  • red wine that night after round two of hill walk and right after declaring myself ruling scrabble champion in the family
  • red wine the next night. (I finished that bottle and also knocked it accidentally so the last bit spilt on Masi's (my aunt's) precious carpet. I was terrified my aunt would see the stain so I ran to the loo, threw a wet hand towel over it and dragged a table closer. Lots of sudden motion flurry for a heavy-eyed wine drunky. My tickled older cousin was hissing at me hysterically to take it easy and that if her mother/my aunt said anything, she'd take the fall for me. Nobody noticed the stain.)
  • bloody mary the next afternoon after the puja/prayers for my grandmommy (she had a few chugs too) and 
  • champagne, white wine the birthday night 
So fine, I'm going to delude my calorie meter and put the count at four drinks. Five, okay. Not a drop more.

And even if it was an extra swig here and there, those walks undid all damage. The walks were my highlight. I walked, rather, we -- my cousin and I -- like long locked up mountain goats let out into the wild. Fiends, us both, proud descendants of our now wistful grandpappy (especially when he sees us tie our shoelaces) who used to be such a walker - Kailash Mansarovar twice in his time, and an evening walk come rain or roaches. Now he's old but we tell him his genes live on.

His grandkids, us, are still greedy for the sweet pains you get when you've been out in the sun, with umbrella/ walking stick, sneakers, patience and a common love for nature -- did you see that bird? what a gorgeous red!; look at the puhrty purples!; Careful, here; No, no, fuck the shortcut, it's not dark yet.

Twice a day, an hour and a half two hours each time. Long, uphill panting walks on what we believed were vastly undiscovered forest paths. All this for and in reverence to our beauteous gluteus. Retarded conversation while endurance training + pine air = recipe for glowing skin and perfect ass.

That I've come back the colour of lightly brewed tea is then a bit incongruous and not so nice. Sunscreen fail. (Biotique carrot lotion, SPF 40 is now relegated to limb protection)

    My little neice, happy to be my mountain guide..

    and take me berry-pickin'

Now this next part - I can't say was the best thing about my holiday; that would be uncool even for a semi-closet botanist. But these edible ferns, that which iin singularity looks like the worm who poked his head out of Cinderella's apple! This clash of cultures! This harmony in the universe! This ease in gushing once-warmed-up!

Short version: Shimla has these ferns. As do lots of damp hilly places, sure. These fern heads are called Lingdi. Novelty factor for me - I didn't know people cook lingdi, make them like beans, serve them at dinner, be normal about it! That's what I get for being an under-exposed Delhi-ite - the tendency to celebrate a vegetable you don't get in the plains:

But the similarity between what's called lingdi in the hills up north in India -- imagine my amateur linguist excitement and my amateur anthropological thrill  to find a wiki entry of Lingdi ('Diplazium esculentum') overlap with the sweet-named koru, a famous New Zealand icon found in Maori greenstone jewellery, on their stamps, on their cakes -- everywhere! It's as common to them as the ambi/ paisley is to us Indians. 

If I get a tattoo, it'll be a toss up between an ambi and a koru. Or maybe I could keep twin Great Danes with those names to throw people off.

I also found some fascinating jargon on the morphology of the edible fern ampelopteris kunzethe, excerpts of which if you read out aloud under five seconds after a few humble shots of tequila, would make a great party game.

Sole rule is to be a train. You have to be like those rapid fire radio announcers who read out caveats like they're on fire- 'insurance-is-the-subject-matter-of-solicitation-please-read-the-offered-document-carefully-before-investing!'

Now swap insurance talk (and pace!) with ampelopetris kunzethe, bottoms up, and off you go:
"The rhizome is dichotomously branched, short creeping and nearly naked except at the apex where it bears small basally attached, gland-tipped paleae bearing deciduous acicular as well as glandular marginal hairs."

Drink up. Time yourself. Tell me how it goes.


The.Mystic said...

You gush well, for your next post let us see how you bitch!

So you had a lovely drunken hilly holiday, how does it feel to be back in the city?

Anonymous said...

called "lingda" in garhwal, funnily enough just encountered it too.