Sunday, 3 January 2021

Isaiah on keyboard


The reading for today is my favourite, i.e. from Isaiah 60: 1-6. This time I decided to play the song on the keyboard. The original key is E. But I found chord work for A on the net. After transposing it I cracked the chorus on my keyboard at home this evening.

It went something like this:

E                   D                                E
Arise shine out, for your light has come.

E                    D                     E              D - C
The glory of Yahweh is rising on you.

C                      B
Though night still covers the earth

C                      D                               E
And darkness, the peoples - above you     

    D                   E
Yahweh now rises above you.

    D                   E            D  E   D
His glory appears, arise.

I learnt many new chords when I was figuring out the hymn. Rex band was always at the back of my mind. I had heard them perform this at a retreat at Don Bosco, Alaknanda, New Delhi during my Delhi years. I am overjoyed I can play a little of it today.

The song is an exhortation to literally arise, to wake up and be confident for the light of the Lord is upon you. Playing it on keyboard gives you a high and the music heals your soul like in a worship service.

'Arise' has a new connotation this year as I need to focus on fitness. Arise, get on the yoga mat, get walking, exercise. Surely the combination of keeping both the body, mind and spirit toned will pave the way to to a fulfilling new year.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Broccoli burji


This morning I made what could best be described as a broccoli burji. I have always liked the flavour of cauliflower.  Baked cauliflower in the pyrex dish in which mum used to serve up dinner remain as fond memories - cauliflower au gratin it was called. Even just boiled cauliflower stumps with a dash of pepper give you a light easy feeling at dinner.

This time I tried broccoli in omlette. It did come out ok last time but was marred by excess salt. But I had also thrown in peppered salami and a generous helping of cheese. Today I did nothing of that sort.

I sauteed the broccoli with onions, green chilly, salt,  few chopped basil leaves and saffron in olive oil. Then I pitched in 4 eggs after whipping them with a dash of milk. As it turned out the omelette stuck to the pan and had to be renamed as a burji. 

It tasted nice. The flavour was mild and light. The green flowerets beamed at me. This is a no-nonsense broccoli burji with a blend of continental* and Indian.  
*Continental cuisine is a blend of olive oil, wine, herbs and minimal spices

Friday, 1 January 2021

Christmas 2020


Dwayne opens his stocking on Christmas day 2020.

I am listening to Beethoven's Missa Solemnis for which I wrote my Friday curtain-raiser today for AIR FM Goa. As we find we are alive in 2021 one must often be beset like Beethoven about 'reconstructing one's life and finishing one's life's work,' as one biographer put it. A new year is about new decisions and can be a step in that direction. One just needs to remain focussed.    

There were no entries, I see, on this blog after 13th December. The last fortnight of 2020 was hectic. Christmas is not Christmas if you don't make the effort to observe it as such. So the decorations went up on 23rd night and 24th December. But even on 24th night no gifts could be seen under the Christmas tree. 

Dwayne (9) was most upset fearing that Santa had forgotten him (courtesy COVID). We tried to gently explain that Christmas was, after all, on 25th.  Mass at Don Bosco at 6 p.m. on 24th set the mood. It was the first Mass in a very long time that we attended. It lifted our spirits amid the general depression. When we opened the paper on Christmas morn we saw that we had made it to the front page!

The Goan newspaper, 25th Dec. 2020, pg. 1.

Miraculously the Christmas tree was filled with gifts for all of us on Christmas day my mid-morning.  Dwayne's stocking was also filled to the brim with chocolates, stationery, shuttlecocks, sketch books, a noodles packet and even a packet of biryani masala! He finally got, not one, but TWO monster trucks. It was so much fun opening the gifts with the family. I was happy that I followed Queenie's advice: 'Enjoy what you have,' when I said I wanted to go to Vasco (from Porvorim) to hear another Christmas Mass on 25th morning.

Christmas time is the time when we buy things for the house. A notable purchase was a bench for the keyboard for sustained playing. On 25th night we realized we did not have a bedsheet for our bed - ours was at the laundry service. So we went out and before the shutters downed we came away with a white bedsheet bedecked with mauve roses. 

School boys' reunion at Babazin, Nerul, Goa.

A reunion of school boys and their families on Sunday 27th December at Babazin, Nerul fostered a feeling of togetherness. We even played mini-football. It was 'Reds versus the rest.' Dwayne captained the Red House and got to take home the leftover prawn curry.

In the run up I helped to cut the pork bits for what is Christmas without sorpotel. It tastes particularly in the cold months. And the Christmas pudding - gifted to us by my brother - was delicious. As directed, I sprinkled Mansion House brandy and watched the flames lick the cake before I tasted it. 

Breakfast of sorpotel, fried egg, and roti during Christmas week.

The anticipated New Year Mass was at 8 p.m. on 31st night at Holy Family church, Porvorim. The homily dwelt on the feast of Mary the mother of God. That it was the end of the year, was only incidental. Because in the realm of the divine all is timeless. 

I look at the Havana guitar strap which we picked up at Vibes, Margao. Its Latin American print relaxes me as I take in the crisp winter breezes in the morning on my balcony. I am right now in Paraguay in How to Travel Without Seeing: Dispatches from the New Latin America by Andres Neuman. I picked it up in a sale at St. Inez where books were being sold by the kilo. 


Beethoven manuscript - Kyrie from Missa Solemnis 

1 Jan 2021, Fri

AIR FM Goa 98.4
Siesta Time 2.30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Western Classical Music



'Benedictus' from Mass in D major, Opus 123 (Missa Solemnis)
Composed: 1819-23
Premiered: 1824, St. Petersburg
Duration: 12 mins. (approx.)
Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, Amsterdam
Directed by Daniel Reuss
Duration: 1. 22 mins.
'Benedictus': 53rd minute

Beethoven (1770-1827) composed the Mass in D in his last years. It was written at a time when Beethoven 'was reconstructing his life and finishing his life's work.'* Though he was deaf, he regarded it as his greatest work - rivalling his ninth symphony. The Mass is sung in Latin. It is a solemn Mass or Missa Solemnis. 

It is made up of the following sections based on the liturgy of the Catholic Mass: I. Kyrie  II. Gloria  III. Credo  IV. Sanctus  V. Agnus Dei.  The Sanctus is further composed of i) Sanctus ii) Osanna iii) Preludium iv) Violin Solo v) Benedictus. The words sung are ‘Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini’ or ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’
*According to Maynard Solomon - one of Beethoven's biographers. Sources: cco.caltech(dot)edu; toledosymphony(dot)com. wikipedia; notes by Brian Mendonca.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

Roti wraps


Breakfast station with roti wrap and tea

I last made roti wrap two months ago on a Sunday in October. This time I enjoyed myself more while making it because I knew what to expect. This time I did not saute the onions and I did not add cheese. I simply chopped capsicums, onions, chilly, tomato and coriander and added them to the 5 eggs, and a dash of milk, after beating them. I also added chilly powder, salt and pepper (no garam masala). 

This time I was more confident in making the wraps. I put the roti on the  egg mix and dabbed it down for the mix to cook and meld with the roti. After the egg base cooked, I put a plastic plate on the tava and flipped the egg roti onto it so that the egg base faced upward on the plate. Then I slid the egg roti onto the pan again so the roti was at the bottom now.  I repeated this procedure about 6 times - so we had 6 egg rotis. What helped this time, was that I put two small serving spoons of the egg mix on a small tava for each roti wrap. That way they turned out proportionate and appetizing.                                            

The egg rotis were consumed in 10 minutes flat (though breakfast took and hour to make). Since the onions etc. were not sauted, the egg rotis were light and easy to digest. Dwayne was dubious about its taste since there was no cold meat, but he enjoyed it all the same. With a Christmas CD in the background there is nothing like serving the family breakfast on a Sunday. 
 Pics taken by Brian Mendonca during the preparation today 13th December 2020, Goa

Saturday, 12 December 2020

In the company of books

Today in the cool breeze of the November morning I took out my bookshelf and cleaned it. The wooden book rack was purchased in a leading store - with an outlet in Delhi. In some ways the book rack is also part of my story, returning as we did from Delhi to Goa almost a decade ago. I wanted the same book rack in our place in Goa.

So, once in a while it is fitting to dust off the dust that sits in between the pages of the books and let them breathe on my balcony in the sun. As I clean the wooden slats, I sit myself down to reacquaint myself with my books - dear friends from over the years. If only to kick the WhatsApp dependency that sets in on holidays.

Each book speaks to a different part of me, and sometimes evokes a different memory. There are the short stories of Marquez gifted to me in Delhi. There is also the book by Uday - my teacher - on Kerala. Reading a page of his erudite analysis makes him present all the more. 

I am drawn to the poems of Stephen Spender in a hardback I picked up from rejects at a British Council sale. Ditto for the Chinese poems of Vikram Seth.  I dip into the Latin American stories but save it for another day. The memoirs of a jazz musician I save for another day. 

Then I look at some of my books of verse, my poems in journals, and my research published in anthologies. It gives me a context about who I am. And what I need to do now in my life. I am waiting for my third book of poems on Delhi to don my shelves. And a collection of my weekend pieces in a weekender - until it folded up - would not be a bad idea. Ever since I ceased contributing my weekly musings I have felt an absence I still need to fill. Which is why I am writing this blog post.

There are only so many books you can fill on a book rack. There is an embargo here. Only one bookrack is permitted in the bedroom as it is believed to spread to much dust. There are some books and some lines that do not enchant me the same way they did earlier. At least one - the stories of Katherine Ann Porter - has pages with smudges of brown owing to the recycled paper used.

My son comes in. He wants to play the Christmas carol 'Mary's Boychild.' Last year we were practising our carols, leading a group of children. I decide to explain to him the chords of the guitar. C-F-G. F is too difficult but I try to teach it to him on 2 strings only. 

Sometime back he wanted to read The Book of Chocolate Saints by Jeet Thayil, but I said no. How could a book with a title like that not be for children, he reasoned. I had picked up the book in Kharghar where I wanted to read it at our place during our sojourn. It remains to be read fully. Looking at our place on phone through the kindness of aunty Ann this morning made me feel I was sitting in the balcony there. Everywhere people are working to help you. 

Somehow books give your life a certain continuity. Whether in one place or another you have to live to finish reading it. Re-encountering the books at various stages in my life gives me a sense of purpose, an awareness of a destiny that only I can fulfil. It lifts me above the humdrum reality of everyday cares and brings purpose to my being. I remember a book I would like to read, touch and feel and be washed in its vibrant colours. I turn to my shelf in the other room . . . but realize I had lent it out. I bring some more books containing my research papers and add them to the rack.

The smell of prawn curry made by Queenie wafts across the rooms. . .  Half of the day is well-spent.

After a good nap I rose for an invigorating tea. The sky was darkening being winter. We decided to go for some brisk walking which lifted our spirits. We spoke of Queenie's dad whose death anniversary it is. The day ended with a Christmas season keyboard performance before the family rosary. Queenie played 'Mary's Boychild,' Dwayne played, 'Jingle Bells' and I offered 'Drummer Boy.' 

Having found my rhythm of life, I burnt the midnight oil after dinner. I completed a pending work assignment before I flopped into bed not knowing how fast time had flown by.
Pic of illustration 'The Library' by Mariusz Stawarski from ebookfriendly(dot)com

Tuesday, 8 December 2020


11 Dec 2020, Fri


Siesta Time 2.30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Western Classical Music



Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915)

Piano Sonata, Fantasy No. 2 in G Sharp Minor, Opus 19


Andante (8.41 mins.)

Presto (3.38 mins.)

 Years of composition: 1892-98

Duration: 12 minutes

LISTEN: Primavera Shima (Paris, 2015)


Scriabin was a Russian composer. The sonata is composed of two movements. It is impressionistic. It was inspired by the sea viewed by Scriabin on a trip to Latvia in 1892. Yet it was only completed after his honeymoon in Crimea on the shores of the Black sea with the pianist Vera Isacova in 1897. Scriabin described it thus: ‘The first part evokes the calm of a night by the seashore in the South; in the development we hear the somber agitation of the depths. The section in E major represents the tender moonlight which comes after the first dark of the night. The second movement, presto, shows the stormy agitation of the vast expanse of the ocean.’

Pic courtesy: gav(dot)cloud; Notes by Brian Mendonca