Sunday, June 19, 2005

Scorching oracle

This weekend's heatwave was completely wasted on me as I spent all of it inside:

Yesterday, I was in Birmingham on work business all day and didn't manage any time outside save for walking from my house to the Tube at 6:30 in the morning and walking to and from the work venue. When I returned to London in the evening, I ate inside at Ravi Shankar Indian restaurant when really we should have had a picnic dinner outside in Regent's Park.

So today, I resolved to loll around under a big tree in long grass reading the Saturday and Sunday newspapers and listening to the superlative BBC Radio 4 podcasts -- From Our Own Correspondent and In Our Time -- on my digital Walkman.

But then, from 9 o'clock in the morning, I began Paul Auster's latest novel Oracle Night, sitting in my apartment with a soft breeze and dappled sunlight streaming through the trees and in through my open window, and quickly found myself lost in Auster's world well into the evening.

The only breaks I had were for a delicious lunch of rice with lobster dressed with ginger, garlic and hot Ghanaian pepper made for me by a friend who had bought the sweet and meaty lobster -- live and £10 each -- from Billingsgate Fish Market at 5:30 yesterday morning; and another for a simple dinner of succulent red grapes and peppery Milano salami. But even these I ate with a fork in one hand and the book in the other.

Having started and failed to finish too many books to mention over this year, I can always count on an Auster plot -- more thrilling than any thriller I've ever read -- to carry me completely and obsessively through from beginning to end.

Comments alert: My dad has added his childhood memories of the monsoon season in India to my entry, below, on the start of the monsoons.

"I still remember the first day of the rains used to start with heavy noises from the sky as if God had declared war on humankind. We used to be so excited we ran outside, shouting, screaming and dancing and singing in the rain. ... We used to play truant from school. On return home we used to face our loving, caring but dictator Mum standing with a bamboo cane in her hand to give punishment for missing school and making ourselves wet. Then returning to school, we faced the angry teachers. We promised them and Mum that we would be very good boys from tomorrow. But come the next day, we repeated the same exciting game."

Happy Father's Day, Dad, I love you!

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