Palanquin Bearers

people-poster-FZ73_l

I like the works of arts and literature that acknowledge the often unsung and unnoticed people who but just derive happiness in performing their works(which are often considered as insignificant tasks in general) with devotion and sincerity.These uncelebrated people never crave for notability and rather prefer to remain invisible to the masses.It is only when an artist, a poet or a writer expresses,through his/her works of art, that the world gets a chance to stop and feel for once what profound perspectives these people can have in the little roles they get to play.

Palanquin bearers is one such poem,which celebrates a rather unsung group of people – ‘The Palanquin Bearers.’ While the queen or the bride in the palanquin will always be the center of attraction for anyone at the scene,the poetess Sarojini Naidu rather saw the palanquin bearers, who graciously carried the noble lady,embracing pride and contentment in this process of being a modest servitor.This poem is one of my favorites.The poetry is rich with imageries and the rhythm is quite pacifying –

Palanquin Bearers

-by Sarojini Naidu

Lightly, O lightly we bear her along,

She sways like a flower in the wind of our song;

She skims like a bird on the foam of a stream,

She floats like a laugh from the lips of a dream.

Gaily, O gaily we glide and we sing,

We bear her along like a pearl on a string.

Softly, O softly we bear her along,

She hangs like a star in the dew of our song;

She springs like a beam on the brow of the tide,

She falls like a tear from the eyes of a bride.

Lightly, O lightly we glide and we sing,

We bear her along like a pearl on a string

 

 

 

(Image source http://www.dollsofindia.com/images/products/village-posters/people-poster-FZ73_l.jpg)

 

 

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Is that So?

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The Zen Master Hakuin lived in a town in Japan.He was held in high regard and many people came to him for spiritual teaching.Then it happened that the teenager daughter of his next door neighbour became pregnant.When being questioned by her angry and scolding parents as to the identity of the father,she finally told them that he was Hakuin,the Zen Master.In great anger the parents rushed over to Hakuin and told him with much shouting and accusing that their daughter had confessed that he was the father.All he replied was,”Is that so?”

News of the scandal spread throughout the town and beyond.The Master lost his reputation.This did not trouble him.Nobody came to see him anymore.He remained unmoved.When the child was born,the parents brought the baby to Hakuin.”You are the father,so you look after him.”The master took loving care of the child.A year later,the mother remorsefully confessed to her parents that the real father of the child was the young man who worked at the butcher shop.In great distress they went to see Hakuin to apologize and ask for forgiveness.”We are really sorry.We have come to take the baby back.Our daughter confessed that you are not the father.” “Is that so?”is all he would say as he handed the baby over to them.

The Master responds to falsehood and truth,bad news and good news,in exactly the same way.”Is that so?”He allows the form of the moment,good or bad,to be as it is and does not become a participant in human drama.To him there is only this moment,and this moment is as it is.Events are not personalized.He is nobody’s victim.He is so completely at one with what happens that what happens has no power over him anymore.Only if you resist what happens are you at the mercy of what happens,and the world will determine your happiness and unhappiness.

-from A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

 

The Page Revisited

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He saw businessmen trading,princes going to the hunt,mourners weeping over their dead,prostitutes offering themselves,doctors attending the sick,priests deciding the day for sowing,lovers making love,mothers soothing their children; and all were not worth a passing glance,everything lied-stank of lies;they were all illusions of sense,happiness and beauty.All were doomed to decay.The world tasted bitter.Life was pain.

-from Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

 

Painting and Poetry

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A painter is free from the clutches of words.Painters perceive things in their true essence-in their actual ‘beingness’.Transcending the domain of words.
Poets but breathe life into words.Though words are confined to the limits of their meanings; poets have the power to ascend them to a higher level of abstraction,where they cease to have boundaries.

A write up inspired from the quote:

“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech.”

 

Image source – http://www.oldestes.com/Richardson_Rome_-_West_Wind_Blows.jpg

The Opening Lines

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“Long long time ago, in the land of Transylvania,where silence reigned the hours past sunset..” .. and thus the  story’s curtains open up! Every storyteller has that gift of drawing attention from the very first line or the very first paragraph of his or her narration. This thought got me curious to search how some of the best storytellers had started their stories.What was that first tint of imagery they presented to their readers that commenced that adventurous journey of experiencing their story till the end.I searched through the few books I have in my collection and  compiled this list of the opening lines of a few of them.Hope some of them will bring some good reading memories back!

 

Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergy-man, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ’Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

-Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol 

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do; once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”

Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

There were four of us— George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency.   We were sitting in my room, smoking, and talking about how bad we were— bad from a medical point of view I mean, of course.

-Jerome K.Jerome.Three Men in a Boat

Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria. Wait a minute. ‘Once upon a time’ is how all the best children’s stories begin and ‘prostitute’ is a word for adults. How can I start a book with this apparent contradiction? But since, at every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss, let’s keep that beginning.

Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria.

Paolo Coelho.Eleven Minutes

IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Charles Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities

Mike Bowman whistled cheerfully as he drove the Land Rover through the Cabo Blanco Biological Reserve, on the west coast of Costa Rica. It was a beautiful morning in July, and the road before him was spectacular: hugging the edge of a cliff, overlooking the jungle and the blue Pacific.

-Michael Crichton. Jurassic Park 

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

-Jane Austen. Pride & Prejudice 

THE BOY’S NAME WAS SANTIAGO. DUSK WAS FALLING AS the boy arrived with his herd at an abandoned church. The roof had fallen in long ago, and an enormous sycamore had grown on the spot where the sacristy had once stood.

-Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist

Amerigo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her.

The judge, a formidably heavy-featured man, rolled up the sleeves of his black robe as if to physically chastise the two young men standing before the bench. His face was cold with majestic contempt. But there was something false in all this that Amerigo Bonasera sensed but did not yet understand.

Mario Puzo, The Godfather

Robert Langdon awoke slowly. A telephone was ringing in the darkness—a tinny, unfamiliar ring. He fumbled for the bedside lamp and turned it on. Squinting at his surroundings he saw a plush Renaissance bedroom with Louis XVI furniture, hand-frescoed walls, and a colossal mahogany four-poster bed. Where the hell am I?

Dan Brown. The Da Vinci Code

In the shade of the house, in the sunshine of the river bank by the boats, in the shade of the sallow wood and the fig tree, Siddhartha, the handsome Brahmin’s son, grew up with his friend Govinda. The sun browned his slender shoulders on the river bank,while bathing at the holy ablutions, at the holy sacrifices.Shadows passed across his eyes in the mango grove during play,while his mother sang, during his father’s teachings, when with the learned men.

-Hermann Hesse. Siddhartha 

HOWARD ROARK laughed. He stood naked at the edge of a cliff. The lake lay far below him. A frozen explosion of granite burst in flight to the sky over motionless water. The water seemed immovable, the stone–flowing. The stone had the stillness of one brief moment in battle when thrust meets thrust and the currents are held in a pause more dynamic than motion. The stone glowed, wet with sunrays.

-Ayn Rand. The Fountainhead

WHETHER I SHALL TURN OUT TO BE THE HERO OF MY own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o‘clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.

Charles Dickens. David Copperfield 

High atop the steps of the Pyramid of Giza a young woman laughed and called down to him. “Robert, hurry up! I knew I should have married a younger man!” Her smile was magic. He struggled to keep up, but his legs felt like stone. “Wait,” he begged. “Please…” As he climbed, his vision began to blur. There was a thundering in his ears. I must reach her! But when he looked up again, the woman had disappeared. In her place stood an old man with rotting teeth. The man stared down, curling his lips into a lonely grimace. Then he let out a scream of anguish that resounded across the desert.

Dan Brown. Angels & Demons 

It was love at first sight.  The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.Yossarian was in the hospital with a pain in his liver that fell just short of being jaundice. The doctors were puzzled by the fact that it wasn’t quite jaundice. If it became jaundice they could treat it. If it didn’t become jaundice and went away they could discharge him. But this just being short of jaundice all the time confused them.

Joseph Heller. Catch-22

Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon the hearth-rug and picked up the stick which our visitor had left behind him the night before. It was a fine, thick piece of wood, bulbous-headed, of the sort which is known as a “Penang lawyer.” Just under the head was a broad silver band nearly an inch across. “To James Mortimer, M.R.C.S., from his friends of the C.C.H.,” was engraved upon it, with the date “1884.” It was just such a stick as the old-fashioned family practitioner used to carry–dignified, solid, and reassuring. “Well, Watson, what do you make of it?” Holmes was sitting with his back to me, and I had given him no sign of my occupation. “How did you know what I was doing? I believe you have eyes in the back of your head.” “I have, at least, a well-polished, silver-plated coffee-pot in front of me,” said he.

-Doyle, Arthur Conan Sir. The Hound of Baskervilles

My suffering left me sad and gloomy.Academic study and the steady, mindful practice of religion slowly wrought me back to life. I have kept up with what some people would consider my strange religious practices. After one year of high school, I attended the University of Toronto and took a double-major Bachelor’s degree. My majors were religious studies and zoology. My fourth-year thesis for religious studies concerned certain aspects of the cosmogony theory of Isaac Luria, the great sixteenth-century Kabbalist from Safed. My zoology thesis was a functional analysis of the thyroid gland of the three-toed sloth. I chose the sloth because its demeanour-calm, quiet and introspective–did something to soothe my
shattered self.

Yann Martel.Life of Pie

It is a curious thing that at my age–fifty-five last birthday–I should find myself taking up a pen to try to write a history. I wonder what sort of a history it will be when I have finished it, if ever I come to the end of the trip!

H Rider Haggard.King Solomon’s Mines

When farmer Oak smiled,the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears,his eyes were reduced to chinks,and diverging wrinkles appeared round them,extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun

Thomas Hardy.Far From the Madding Crowd

 

 

(image not owned by me.Taken from-

http://www.oilpaintingfactory.com/pic/Oil%20Painting%20Masterpieces%20on%20Canvas/Grimshaw%20John%20Atkinson_England_1836-1893/4-November-Moonlight-city-scenes-landscape-John-Atkinson-Grimshaw.jpg)

To the Edge of the Universe-I

“Journey to the Edge of the Universe” is one of my favorite documentaries.Not just because of the stark visual details with which it has explored the Universe but also because of the sheer brilliance of its script narrated by Alec Baldwin.Covering the historical accounts of all the major discoveries done in space exploration till the time this documentary was made, it weaves the facts with a fascinating journey like experience.I present here some of the lines which have been crafted par excellence in this documentary and spark a vivid imagination about the mysteries in space.

1

“Our journey through time and space begins with a single step-at the edge of space-only sixty miles up-just an hour’s drive from home.Down there life continues.Traffic is awful,stocks go on trading,and Star Trek is still showing.

When we return home- if we return home… will it be the same?…Will we be the same?”

2

“Neil Armstrong’s foot prints…looks like they were made yesterday.There is no air to change them.They can survive for millions of years..may be longer than us”

3

“Out of the darkness, a friendly face..the Goddess of love- Venus.

The Morning Star…. the Evening Star- She can welcome a new day in the east..say goodnight in the west.A sister to our planet she is about the same size and gravity as Earth.We should be safe here..But the Venus Express Space probe is setting off alarms.It’s telling us that these dazzling clouds,they are made of deadly sulfuric acid-the atmosphere is choking with carbon dioxide.

Never expected this! Venus is one angry goddess! The air is noxious,pressure unbearable,and it’s hot-approaching nine hundred degrees.Stick around and we will be corroded,suffocated,crushed and baked.Nothing can survive here.So lovely from Earth,up close..this goddess is hideous! She’s the sister from hell, pockmarked by thousands of volcanoes..all that carbon dioxide that is trapping the sun’s heat,Venus is burning up..It’s global warming gone wild”

4

“There is something about the sun,something hypnotic..like the Medusa… too terrible to look at..too powerful to resist.Blowing us onward,on,like a moth to a flame.

Everything we do is controlled by the Sun- depends on it.It is the Greek God Helios driving His chariot across the sky.The Egyptian God Ra,reborn everyday.The summer solstice sun rising at Stonehenge.For millions of years this was as close as a God, to staring into the face of God.This God creates life- destroys life-and demands we keep our distance.”

5

“[Mercury]It’s a huge ball of iron covered with a thin veneer of rock,the core of what was once a more larger planet…So, where’s the rest of it?May be a stray planet slammed into Mercury;blasting away its outer layers in a deadly game of Cosmic Pinball.

Whole worlds on the loose careening wildly across the cosmos- destroying anything in their path-and we are in the middle of it-vulnerable,exposed,small.Everything is telling us to turn back..but who can defy this..”

 

 

 

 

All those who wander aren’t lost

At last I opened my eyes.It was dark.I decided against making any
further efforts to sleep.It was futile.Sleep had eluded me without notice this night.I admitted it.

I searched for the light switch in darkness and toppled the water bottle.It fell with a thud on the floor and made a rolling sound.I found the switch.When light flooded the room, I saw the bottle.It had sulkily gone to a corner.I didn’t make any endeavor to pick it.

I must do something.I looked around for some inspiration- ‘What could
be done to kill time at 3 AM in the morning?’ I turned my head towards
left,then right,then up,then down,then again left and again right.My
neck ached.

I took up a pen.”May be I should write something.”I recalled Bram
Stoker who wrote parts of ‘Dracula’ while sitting on the beach.I wasn’t on
a beach but the ardent ceiling fan whizzed down beach like gale.I tore
out a page and flattened it face up.It was blank.Blank paper is such
an inspiration!It attracts attention.It has something mysterious about
it.Very inviting sort of.One gets pulled towards it! It makes a silent declaration- ‘Don’t worry,I am harmless’

I pinned down the harmless paper with a cellphone to save it from the
assault of ceiling fan.(ceiling fan must learn to behave.) Now I was
ready. I creased my eyebrows and made a thoughtful expression,like a
serious writer.And I started thinking too.

I saw in my mind a unicorn reading a book.Then I saw a Dracula
walking on beach-then polar bears sleeping peacefully in snow-people rowing boats in a city.Then I tried to recall what the inhabitants of Antarctica were called.

I looked down at the paper, it looked back at me – expectantly.I
shrugged and looked around- for more inspiration. The bottle had
quietly fell asleep at the corner.’Huh’ I sighed and put back the cap on the pen.

I laid back down on bed and stretched myself.Some joints cracked.

Something like a pebble fell on the stack of newspapers.I sat up
intrigued.I looked towards the stack of newspapers lying at some
distance. A black pebble like winged insect which makes  buzzzzzzzz
sound had crash landed.It was agitated.It moved around a bold
newspaper headline in panic.There was a picture of a man with long beard.He was wearing spectacles.The headline read-“All those who wander aren’t lost”

I laid back and stretched again.The stoic fan swirled unconcernedly.The buzzz insect was silent.After some time,it started buzzing again.It rose up and flew out through the window.

‘Good idea!’,I mused,’Let me write a new post for my blog.’

writing