When I remember my favorite things…

When I was browsing through one of my old diaries, I came across the following entry which I had written in 1998. I felt very emotional after reading it. I had assumed that by now I have complete control over my emotions; after all, it has been more than 12 years since my accident. But today, I realized that I will never fully recover from those wounds. They may appear to have healed on the surface, but inside it is still raw and a small trigger can make them start bleeding. Today I share this note, which I had written almost 6 years ago.

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with string
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites, when the bee stings,
When I’m feeling sad
Then I remember my favorite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad!”

These are the immortal lines from the musical classic ‘Sound of Music.’ There, Maria—the heroine sings the above lines. Naturally when one remembers one’s favorite things, as Maria says, one should feel good. We say happy memories, good things in life and so on.

I also had a few favorite things—nothing sophisticated or complex. Almost as simple as Maria’s list—a good book, a nice place to read, an hour of swimming in the morning, a smoke, a beer, an evening spent with friends, a day on the beach and so on. I used to indulge in those simple habits of mine almost daily but never got tired of them.

When I was in Pondicherry, Sundays were always my favorite. Every Sunday, around 10.00 in the morning, I will get hold of a few good books, stuff them into my duffel bag, get two packs of Gold Flake Kings cigarettes and will head for my favorite restaurant—Seagulls. “Seagulls” is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Pondicherry. The restaurant had a nice balcony. From the outside, the balcony looks like a bridge that was never completed. Seagulls sits on the beach and the balcony extends into the sea so that you usually get the feeling that you are sitting above the sea, which you are. On one corner of the balcony, right near the end of it, there is a small enclave. It is too small that only a table and two chairs would fit in there. So even though the usual arrangement of the balcony is tables for four, this area had a single table with just two chairs. This was a real nice position—my favorite. You can watch the other customers without being seen. You can watch the sea, the beach, the tourists, the beachcombers, and the animal life and so on from that vantage point on the balcony.

The opening time of Seagulls was 11.00 in the morning. On Sundays, I will be their first customer. I had nothing else to do on a Sunday. I also wanted to make sure that I get my favorite table. By that time the sun will be up, but there won’t be any direct sunlight because of the design of the building and the surrounding trees. The atmosphere would be perfect—not too hot, not too humid, not too cold. The warm and smooth sea breeze gently caressing your body, the bright sun shining away in the distance, the tourists on the beach, the ships far away in the sea—it used to be a very nice feeling to be there.

I used to spent hours there sipping beer, eating hot and spicy pakodas and kebabs, smoking my favorite cigarettes and reading books. Oh boy, how much I love to do that again.

When I moved to Madras to join Tata Consultancy Services, one of my favorite pastimes was visiting the bookshops. In those days, Madras had only three good bookstores—Landmark, Fountainhead and Xanadu. Landmark was my favorite. It had lots of books, ample space and loads of stationery—pencils, sketch pens, notepads, pens, post-it notes, colored clips and so on. I love books and like pens, pencils and other such items and Landmark was a treasure trove of these things. I used to spend at least 1 – 2 hours reading books, collecting good pens, pencils, notepads, etc., and listening to music. The joy a bibliophile feels when he stumbles on to a nice book, or finds a book that he was searching for cannot be fully explained in words. One has to experience it. Even though, I used to spend more than 50% of my salary on books and stationery items, I never regretted it. Actually, I loved every minute…

Today is 2nd of December, 1998. It is the fifth anniversary of my accident that caused spinal cord injury and paralyzed me. Today a lot of memories flooded my mind. How I went down, came up, survived and am still surviving. It made me remember my favorite things and I felt sad… I won’t be doing very many of those things again. I know that I must try to forget the past and concentrate on the good things that are still there…but a twinge of sadness lingers… So paraphrasing Maria:

Dewdrops on glasses and clatter of crystals
Chilled beer in bottles and hot onion pakodas
Cigarettes, books and soft rhythmic music
Gentile glow of a good bear or joy of being in a bookstore
These were a few of my favorite things. 

When the mind wanders, when nostalgia kicks in,
When I’m feeling bad
Then I remember my favorite things,
And then I feel so sad…

1 Comment

  1. silverine said,

    July 14, 2005 at 9:06 pm

    Hello Alexis,

    I have been reading your posts with great interest. They make great reading.