Saturday, April 30

'The Morning Watch'

Dear Dear Soul of Mine,
What really breaks and buds you most?
Is it the glory of beaches and serfs?
Is it the mighty mountains and the snow?
Is it the little summer-rain deranged flowers 
in my garden?
Is it the rumblings of my Maker all around me...
all within me.... 
Tell me please...,
What really breaks and buds you most?
The night has brought down all these leaves and they haven’t been raked... 
In the morning I see them brown and beautiful 

O joys! Infinite sweetness! with what flowers
And shoots of glory, my soul breaks and buds!
          All the long hours
          Of night and rest,
          Through the still shrouds
          Of sleep, and clouds,
     This dew fell on my breast;
          O how it bloods,
And spirits all my earth! hark! in what rings,
And hymning circulations the quick world
          Awakes, and sings!
          The rising winds,
          And falling springs,
          Birds, beasts, all things
     Adore Him in their kinds.
          Thus all is hurl'd
In sacred hymns and order ; the great chime
And symphony of Nature. Prayer is
          The world in tune,
          A spirit-voice,
          And vocal joys,
     Whose echo is heaven's bliss.
          O let me climb

Solitary mountains, a frozen brook and a sleepy morning... 
When I lie down! The pious soul by night

Is like a clouded star, whose beams, though said
          To shed their light
          Under some cloud,
          Yet are above,
          And shine and move
     Beyond that misty shroud.
          So in my bed,
That curtain'd grave, though sleep, like ashes, hide
My lamp and life, both shall in Thee abide.

... and a morning friendship by the serf and the waves

Henry Vaughan's 'The Morning Watch'
Photos: From my files. 

Sunday, April 17

... to walk for those who cannot walk

Today was Palm Sunday. It reminds me that I am just one week away from another Easter.  
I was amazed at seeing this small group of Christian pilgrims taking this urban trail to St.Thomas Mount (located far away at Malayatoor). It is a 400 km trail through five districts of Kerala.  Walking gently through the roads, they will take six days to reach their destination.

I am glad to see one of them with a cycle too. All the important provisions have been loaded on to this cycle. That was great! A cycle lover like me quickly found a friend in him! (On the mountains, trekkers use mules and Sherpas to haul their provisions. On the road, I think, cycle is a better idea!) 

Sometimes friends ask me,“Is there life after death?” I think today’s religions all threaten people with these sort of questions.  It is important to ask, Is there LIFE before death?”  If so, “What is the quality of that life?

I believe that if one cannot walk his way to life, then, that life is indeed so very challenged. The gift of walk is a great gift indeed. For each of us, only when we are unable to walk will we learn the real value of it.
It is sad that less and less people walk these days.  However, what amazed me today is the fact that there are people who value walking even in urban environments, ... like the pilgrim brothers I met.

An old attitude to walking: I am grateful to myself and to God for the gift of walking. But there are millions who cannot walk. This reminds me of an old Buddhist attitude to walking: to walk for those who cannot walk. If we can truly walk, talk and live for those who cannot do it, how great the world will be! The physically challenged, the mentally weak, the falsely accused prison inmates kept away from the light of freedom, the sexually abused men, women and children, the animal world which cannot communicate fully to us, … the list goes on and on. They need a little "walk" from us.
Can we walk for them?
Can we talk for them?
 Can we laugh or cry for them ? 

True, all of us have our own forts, our own strong grounds which we seldom share with the world. Today, can we sit in those silent forts and just think of all the underprivileged. Can we tell God about them? Can we walk for those who cannot walk? 

And then the saint in me goes on to ask,"Can I walk for the past, ... and the future ?"

Post Scripts : I write this blog for my Dad. In his youth and manhood , he walked remarkable distance and lands. Today he cannot. At 88 years of age he finds it difficult to walk. Today I walk for him.  

Thursday, April 14

the arribada...

Extensive sand banks and the romantic backwaters set the stage for another story. This is the story of the Turtle Beach of Malabar. Lovingly called ‘Kolavipalam’, this is the beach where the giant turtles of the oceans swim ashore every year to lay their eggs. 

A Ridley Turtle in his grand settings...
 Not far away from my hometown, Kolavipalam beach is historic as the heart of Malabar Coast. Nestling in the warm breeze of the sea wind, Kolavipalam Beach is near the isle on the mouth of Kotta River. My little WARGON-R took me to this place after some carful zigzag driving through a narrow road with threatening coconut trees all around. Threatening?..... 

... my little WAGON-R,
a long time companion on difficult roads.

Ya, in Kerala, there is a belief that the Coconuts will never cheat anyone. Yet it is menacing to drive through unkempt coconut groves as dry coconuts can land on the car from sky! Good to my beliefs, I had a smooth drive to Kolavipalam.

The place is unique in many ways. Years ago, at Kolavipalam, a pioneering effort was lounged by the local community to conserve a unique identity of their beach: as the only nesting grounds of Olive Ridley Turtles in the western coast of Indian Ocean. 

Turtle conservation post frequented by nature lovers...
Since million years, the Olive Ridley Turtles home in here. Now this has become an identity the locals richly cherish. With governmental help, they have set up a simple and small Olive Ridley Turtle conservation post.
Every year, in flood-lit-moon, from September to March, thousands of giant turtles will creep on to the beaches of this isle.  ‘Arribada’ is the name of this ritual (a Spanish word meaning ‘the grand arrival’).

A close-up of  a ‘baby’ 7 year old Ridley.  
He will be released soon to his mighty world of blue oceans...
For sure, we will never know why the Ridleys choose Kolavipalam. However, for sure, swimming thousands of kilometres from the warm waters of the Eastern Pacific and the Indian Ocean, these turtles will never miss their Kolavipalam beach. Precisely they will swim on to this beach...hurriedly they will lay their eggs and swim back to oceans to live a 100 years!  Fidelity to this beach is a strange feature of Olive Ridley. And we'll never comprehend why.

... three month old Ridleys in the hatchery pond

I have seen many photographs of Oliver Ridley’s natal story. I am a little shy to ‘click’ them myself. After all, will it be like peeping into the labour-ward of a modern hospital? As these turtles reach their natal beaches of Kolavipalam, I like to give them all the privacy and respect that they deserve on their ground.        

I have often tried to find where we stand in the creation story. Oliver Ridley turtles are one of the oldest tenants of the earth. They lived along our long lost Dinosaurs. They live with us even now. Everyone say we reached earth last. On occupying it, some of us have enhanced its glory while the others have diminished it. Yet, through all this, there are places, which were handed over to us from generation to generation as a heritage of God’s creation. Kolavipalam beach is one of them.  As I sat on the clean ivory-coloured sands of Kolavipalam, lots to thoughts ran across me. 

As sun sets upon the enchanting Kolavipalam...
One thing for sure is that, like the grand Oliver Ridley Turtles, I too have discovered a beach that I will hold dear to my heart and where I will lay some of my dreams by the moon light!

I love to scribble more about the story of the Turtle Beach.... 

Tuesday, April 12

Will you too vote with me?

Today is an Election Day. Millions of us will go to poll to elect a government. After noisy days of polluting the air with discord sound waves, some will be elected to ‘serve’ the public. Cacophony in a vibrant democracy is not over with an election... it goes on and on. I am very sorry for this over politicised society that misses so much peace and harmony.

Yet, sometimes, silence does come with a rule of law. On the day of election, no one is allowed to speak to the public. Hence, today I hear the birds singing from the large old tamarind tree in my house. I see a family of green parrots on my gooseberry tree. On this warm summer day, as the sun heats up the air, they have all come to refresh us all.

The schools have closed.
The boys have come to scribble in the sands and get away with it!

Today is an Election Day. I vote for silence. Can any candidate offer me that? I miss silence so much in this city life. So I go in search of it far away.
The beach looks empty. And I see so much of silence here. The catamarans are idling in the sun and the fishing boats rest after days of hard work. They look tired, yet they are colourfuI.     

I see anglers with their fishing lines. After every catch, the fishing lines calls for a repair. Anglers are mending them for another duel at the sea. Along the beach-coconut-groves, some flocks are playing cards. Sun is soon going to set. And they forget to listen to waves and the warm breeze that kisses them cool.  Are they missing silence at the heart of silence? 
...missing silence at the heart of silence!

I am excited to read an old poem of Ruskin Bond who tries to rediscover silence EVERYWHERE in his life:
“Thank you, Lord, for silence,
The silence of great mountains
and deserts and forests.
For the silence of the street
late at night
when the last travellers
are safely home
and the traffic is still.
For the silence in my room
in which I can hear small sounds outside:
a moth fluttering against the window pane
the drip of the drew running off the roof,
and a field mouse rustling through dry leaves”

Today I vote for silence. Will you too vote with me?

Poem: From Ruskin Bond's Book of Verse
Photos: From my lens. Locations: From Calicut beach

Thursday, April 7

... a time

" There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven :
           a time to be born and a time to die,
           a time to plant and a time to uproot,
            a time to kill and a time to heal,
            a time to tear down and a time to build,

            a time to weep and a time to laugh,
            a time to mourn and a time to dance,

           a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
           a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

           a time to search and a time to give up,
           a time to keep and a time to throw away,

           a time to tear and a time to mend,
           a time to be silent and a time to speak,

           a time to love and a time to hate,
           a time for war and a time for peace.

What does the worker gain from his toil?  I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.  That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.  I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him. "

The timeliness of the universe is a marvel. There is no place in the Bible that speaks of this more than in these verses. I keep reading these verses. The real beauty is that, these verse do read me! There is a French saying: the more things change, the more they stay the same. This is the paradox of ‘change’. I will never fully understand it in my lifetime.

Quotation : Ecclesiastes 3:1 to 14 (the Bible)
Photos: The Himalayan Nights (from the treks)

Sunday, April 3


In the simmering heat of the summer afternoon, I happened to reach the beach. I never go there during that time of the day. Still, I thought I would be there to take a look.

Summer may be tough for the reptiles too. They come out to cool. I saw a golden skink (Mabuya Carinata) sitting on a wall. He has carried the exact colour and the texture of the cemented surface.  I am amazed seeing how these creatures camouflage. For him, the green leaves at the foreground or the bright light of the background really doesn't matter. He is more interested in the colour of the pavement he sits. And he has matched it beautifully with his camouflaging ability. 

The sky was unusual. There were the clouds of summer rain. And the shadow of those cloud fell on the hot sands. I was a bit nostalgic about the ambiance.  Sometimes, nature mixes up the hot and the cold. Summer rains are like the hot lava of a volcano that beak forth in the deep sea...suddenly, the unpleasant warmness is cooled by a light rain. The shadow of the cloud can be very confusing for the birds and the animals too. 

The empty beach was suddenly trespassed by a fast walking fisherman. I saw him rushing.  

Imagination can take lots and lots of freedom. For a moment, I wished that the hot sands were a vast green meadow... and that the summer has ended! If we couldn’t imagine anything in life, how poor our life would be! I was told that my forefather imagined a beautiful life and ate the forbidden apple from the Garden of Eden .... and I have reached here at the beach, at the simmering heat of this summer afternoon... still imagining!! 

Photos from my lens
Location : the beach at Calicut