A response to a challenge by a Lens Artist needed some thought. A response needed me to show you my world. I decided to select a picture from each year, as close to mid-July as I can get. Usually the monsoon is at its heaviest in mid-July, which lets me show a season I love. I stayed home some years. In others I traveled. I see that this is a fair picture of what I spend my time on. The series spans the period from 2006, which is represented by the featured photo, to the hard lockdown of 2020.
As always, click on any photo to get to the gallery.
The unexpected rain had cooled the air down as we walked downhill along the ancient middle road of Constantinople, now called Alemdar Cadessi. It was that time of the afternoon when you need to sit down with a small Çay (pronounced chai). We passed a place with large windows looking into a cozy space where people were sitting with chai. I looked at The Family, and she nodded. Efezade was our choice this afternoon.
It was nice to sit down after a day walking around the area of the old imperial palace of Constantinople. We could let our umbrellas drip into a little stand, and take off our damp jackets. The place was comfortably warm, the server was friendly. We got our large cups of tea, and inspected the special lokum (Turkish delight) that they make here. Claudia Roden writes with feeling about sharbat vendors of Cairo “The flasks glowed with brilliantly seductive colours: soft, pale, sugary pink for rosewater, pale green for violet juice, warm, rich, dark tamarind and the purple-black of mulberry juice.” Here the colours and flavours of flowers had been captured in these special sweets on display: rose, orange, saffron, chocolate, violet. Two tiny cubes of lokum studded with pistachio: a rose and a chocolate, and I was hooked. Later we would buy large amounts to bring back to India, but that afternoon we pushed on an open door to go beyond the packets of pale cubes on sale at airports and tourist shops. The world of lokum is deep, and I think I have just started exploring.
After the monsoon ends the weather turns unbearably hot again; that’s what an Indian summer is. In the sweltering heat of October it is a minor disaster if you forget to water plants. The rose bush has been putting out flowers through the monsoon, because the rains keep it from drying up. Today I saw that two days of not watering it has begun to affect it.
Many plants are beginning to bud. I look at the methi (fenugreek) shrub. Every stalk is budding new leaves. The hairy surfaces of the leaves catch every piece of lint which floats by. You have to carefully wash the leaves before you use them in the kitchen.
But really this is the time of the year for insects. The hibiscus bush is beginning to push out flower buds. As soon as one opens, ants swarm over it. Soon they will bring their aphid cows up the stalks. The vegetation below the spectacular flower will be thick with aphids, as ants run up and down their farm milking them.
Moths have pupated too. I saw this lovely October visitor on the wall today, sitting out in full sight. The lore about bright and visible butterflies and moths is that they are poisonous. Many birds would see this yellow on the wings of the moth more brightly than we do, so it is definitely signaling that it is inedible.
Well back on the wall I found a few green lacewings. They are nocturnal and have probably come here to eat the aphids from the ant farms. Lacewings are not poisonous: birds and bats will happily eat them. That’s the reason this one was sitting far back on the wall, under an overhang. In another month all these showy insects will be gone. That’s when migratory birds begin to arrive.