Oh give me a home, where a cellphone won't roam ... On my last visit here, 16 months ago, it didn't roam; meaning there was no signal. But now there is. So if I stand on the little ledge in front of my friend's home and look out at the lake, I'm peering through waves carrying cellphone conversations from this corner of rural Maharashtra to whichever corner of the world cares to listen. Not a bad thought. Not very poetic, but not a bad one.
Apart from the cellphone signal, this is a peach of a getaway. The house is on a hillside above a serene lake in the hills east of Bombay. Across the lake is a dramatic peak that dominates the scene. Flitting about either on the lake or closer to us are kingfishers, bee-eaters, egrets, cormorants, ducks, bulbuls. When we laze in the waters of the lake -- chilly as the sun sets behind the hills -- little flocks of birds fly for home, where I bet they don't care if the cellphone roams.
We stroll back, dripping lake water all the way, dine leisurely. By now it's dark, and we're under a sky inundated with stars. There's Orion, nebula in his belt, even his bow visible. There's faithful Sirius at his heel. Straight above are the Pleiades, or Krithika, and I confirm to myself once more that few heavenly sights are as rewarding through binoculars as this little globular cluster. There's Cassiopeia (Sharmishtha), pointing the way to the north star. Mars. Castor and Pollux.
Then I set up my aging but still serviceable little Schmidt-Cassegrain. There is a sight more rewarding than the Pleiades, ladies and gentlemen: Saturn, rings and all, brilliant in an inky sky. A sight for city-bred eyes if there ever was one. When was the last time I saw Saturn's rings? I'm thinking, I'm thinking ... 17 years, if I'm not mistaken.
And under the inundated sky, I'm just slightly mad at myself.