15 October 2017

Some Sunday morning English word puzzles

Here are some more interesting English words to get you going on a Sunday. Please feel free to answer in the Comment section if you know or after you have found the answers…

1. I remember growing up during childhood, one of the best things about rains was that typical smell of the earth after the initial showers. I am sure you remember it too – and even experience it today – that earthy smell you get after the first showers – especially if the ground was very dry. There is actually a word to describe that smell. Do you know what it is?

2. I have a not-so-healthy habit of piling up books. When I hear good reviews of a book from friends, I usually go to iBooks, read up a few sample pages and if it still interests me, I buy it. Here is the catch though – I do not often get to reading those books. Sometimes, it takes me a long time to start reading them. Do you have the same habit? That of buying books and not reading them? There is a word to describe that behavior. Do you know it?

3. Any of you who have visited us in our Atlanta house will know that we live in a forest. We love the raw beauty of nature and the privacy of a forest. There is a word to describe people like us who love the forests. What is it?

4. While I dabble a lot in alcohol, I never could get myself to drink beer. Certainly, I understand the production process and categories of various gins, wines, vodkas, whiskies, but I am an absolute neophyte when it comes to beer making. I have heard my friends use a few words – like IPA, hops etc when talking about beer. I never knew what hops are – except that it has to do with beer. Curiosity eventually got the better of me and I looked it up. Well, hops – I found out are a kind of plant and is used during the beer making process. In fact the category of plant that hops belong to is called “bine”. I was sure that was a misprint of “vine” (I guess I was thinking wine – grapes etc etc). Turns out “bine” is the right word. Do you know what a “bine” is? More importantly, what is the difference between a “bine” and a “vine”?

5. If you have gotten to this point, you obviously love words and are at least moderately curious about them. So, we will finish up with a word to describe you. What do you call somebody who is a lover of words?

Here’s to learning a few more new words…

14 October 2017

From the bartender’s corner: Gin #22 – “Only” Gin

It is sort of an unique name “Only”. This gin is distilled in Spain – near Barcelona to be precise. The base is neutral grain spirit and then during the distillation process the following are infused: juniper berries, jasmine, lemon balm, hibiscus, violet, rose petals, mallow, lavender, pansies, veronica and orange blossom.

From the botanicals, you can guess – and you would be right – that this is a very flowery gin. The nose and the finish is distinctly flowery. The palette was a little flat.

The bottle is a nice red and orange one.

Tried with gin and tonic first.

14 October 2017

Oh! What fun…

It was to run
On Rosewell Parade Day
Hey! 🙂

Speaking of “Hey”, I had a “Hey” moment once I reached the racing start line. I had forgotten my Garmin. I had absolutely no idea what pace I was running in. Which was very disconcerting since I could not time myself and make sure I had enough energy to finish. I had no other option but to just let go and run at will. After the second mile, I was starting to run low on energy (I was sure by then that I had clipped faster than I should have). There was a lady running near me and I just decided to keep pace with her. But at the second hill, she slowed down. Saw another guy around my age up front – and paced up to catch up to him. And then hung on to it till the end of the race. We paced each other and encouraged each other – especially around the hills.

At the end, he came up to me and we chatted for a long time. Turns out Mike Jacobs started running in 2005. Which is when I did too! His eldest daughter is in Manhattan! As is mine!! Like I said, we talked for quite some time, became good friends, got a picture taken and then promised to run a 10 mile race in November in Atlanta together. Actually, he is running anyways. I told him I will join him. We were wondering how we could spot each other there on that day. “Come in your orange shirt”, he said!!

I will admit, it is a little loud 🙂

I will have to wait for the official results. I did not want to wait – instead, went to see the parade and came back home. But as I crossed the finish line, I noticed the clock tipping over 26 mins. So, it is probably 26 mins and a few seconds.

13 October 2017

A classic from Ghulam Ali

“Itni muddat baad miley ho
Kin sochon mein ghum rehtey ho?
Tez hawa ne mujhse poocha
“Ret pe kya likhte rehtey ho?”

Kaun si baat hai tum mein aisi?
Itni achche kyon lagte ho?
Humse na poochho hijr ke kisse
Apni kaho, ab tum kaise ho?”

Roughly translated…

“We meet today after such a long time
What thoughts are you so lost in?
The strong wind keeps asking me (sarcastically)
What am I trying to write in the sand?

What is so special about you?
Why do you look so beautiful (to me)?
Don’t ask me about our separation, please
You tell me – How are you doing these days?”

11 October 2017

An amazing experience in the hospice today

I think I am going to do this hospice volunteering thing even after I get a job later. It is amazing how people who are close to dying can value any time you can give them and how what they say can break every stereotype you might have of a dying person.

Take Mr. Strauss as an example. (All names made up to protect privacy). I came back from vacation and the first email that hit me this morning stated that Mr. Strauss has declined and will be transitioning soon. “Declining” and “transitioning” are euphemisms used in hospice language to let you know that you are reaching your goal line.

Well, after my afternoon run, I hightailed to the hospice he was in and timidly knocked on the door. And then pushed it in. I could clearly see that Mr. Strauss was surrounded by a few relatives and had oxygen pipes running up his nose. Not sure whether to bother him and his near and dear ones in his last few hours, I tentatively asked if I could come in.

I had to explain to his relatives who I was. But Mr. Strauss, a cancer patient – who could barely talk thru the end of his disformed mouth – told his relatives “I know him. Let him in.”

You know, he did not look as bad as I thought. Clearly he was in “transition”. But he was in good spirits. As his family left, he asked me if I was leaving too.

“Not really”, I told him
“Good”, he said.

That is when I knew that the schedule of the rest of my evening was shot. (Srinivas, I hope you will understand and give me a get-out-of-jail card for this).

I hung around Mr. Strauss. And I talked to him for nearly two hours. There were a lot of things he said. I am going to highlight a few of them here because I think there are learning points here.

One thing he mentioned is how incredible glad he was how his five kids have turned out to be.
“Raj, tears come to my eyes, to think what they have done for me”.
“Well, certainly you have passed your genes to them”, said I, boosting his ego.
“No. I was the tough, disciplinarian dad. I wish I was not so tough on them. I think they get it from their mom”.
I find out over the next hour that he lost his wife early to Alzheimers. Never remarried.

“Let me tell you something, Raj”
“Yes, Mr. Strauss”
“Never be tough on your kids. They need support, not discipline”.

Not totally sure how to respond, especially since one of my kids is beyond the age where I have any influence, I put out a meek “Great thoughts, Mr. Strauss”.

A few moments of awkward silence later, I tried to move on – “Other than your kids, Mr. Strauss, what are you very proud of yourself?”
Seeing him think deeply, I prepared myself for some insightful wisdom. What I got was…

“I never went to jail”.
Guffawing my heart out, I told him “Let’s keep it that way”.

I was way, way – I mean way way – over my time.

Eventually, it was his dinner time.

As I shook his hand and took leave, I said “I will see you soon”
He did not let go of my hand.

“Raj”
“Yes, sir”
“Thank you for coming.”
“My pleasure, sir”
“Will you come tomorrow?”
“That was my plan, sir”
“Good”, said he as he released my hand.

I had lied through my nose.
That was never my plan.
Well, now it is.
I need him to stay alive till then.

There is a pride in kids only a father can sense from another father.

I will be there.