Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Each Spring, the Persian New Year is celebrated at the exact moment the sun crosses the equator, making day and night of equal duration. Zoroastrian families the world over gather around the traditional Nouruz table, upon which are placed the Haft-Sin, seven items beginning with the Farsi letter "S". (This one is at my cousin's home in Dahanu). As you can see, the picture frame of the Zoroastrian prophet Zarathushtra is garlanded with much love and reverance. And only inches away, a bottle of Whyte & Mackay scotch stands tall and proud. It should have been a wine bottle, but my cousins don't drink wine. Notice that the bottle is half empty. The celebrations have already begun. Happy Nouruz!

Monday, March 01, 2010


This is The Big Boss Hair Salon where my cousins get a head massage. (This photo has been taken after renovation, and the young man with his hand in an unmentionable place is, thankfully, not a relative.)
During one of my yearly visits to Dahanu, as I sat in one of the chairs at Big Boss and sipped chai, I heard about how a Warli farm labourer had committed suicide by hanging himself from a chickoo tree. That, coupled with an image of my great grandfather digging holes in the ground to hide whiskey bottles in the 1940s, were the two starting points for the novel.

But back to the salon -- I'd recommend the head massage. A young man will pour a mugful of oil down your head, his fingers will turn into claws, and they will work on your scalp with the speed of a whirring fan, ensuring that you sink into your chair with a feeling of lazy magnificence.

More on the novel later. Let me enjoy my massage.