Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Butterfly Diary

Capturing moments has become one of my favorite interests of late. It began after Android phones with high pixel in-built cameras made foray into the market. And that was when I learnt that one do not need a high definition SLR camera to shoot beautiful pictures. The most important factor that goes into creating an impressive photograph for me has been patience and timing. Some might say it is luck that plays a part and that someone’s lucky when he is able to take a really good picture but I would say it’s not luck. Being lucky is winning a lottery. For a rookie like me, who has been shooting pictures with a mobile phone camera, being able to take some delicious shots has always been possible due to patience, timing, light and opportunity. More often than not the outcome, or, should I say the end image product, has always inspired me to keep going. 

So, yet again, I have chosen today of all days, to revive my dormant blog and ring out a statement of sorts that all is not really dead with my blog. It still breathes in oxygen and as long as it does that, it shall live and live long it shall. 

From a host of pictures that I have been able to take from my journey in life, I have decided to post them here under fitting categories.

First on the list is a lone colorful butterfly that I was able to discreetly follow and capture. Attracted by the conspicuous petals and leaves of different hues, it glided into the garden. No sooner had it landed there than I leapt from my hiding place, zoomed in on it, and imprinted on my device the colorful spectacle that unfolded itself on a blade of a maize and large leaves of a pumpkin. 

I still remember how shy and lively it was as I went after it craning my arm to catch a better shot. It wasn’t as easy as it appears but I am thankful that it rested momentarily, allowing me to take these colorful pictures which stand testimony to how truly beautiful it was.

That was last year during the year of the Serpent. We have come a long way since. The year of the Horse has come galloping and we are already mid-way through. Today, as I gather my faculties to write this, I cannot help but think about this beautiful creature, this work of art which captured not only the lens of my camera but also my heart. This piece is a tribute to your stunning beauty. I am unsure if you are still alive and floating daintily from one petal to the other. I say this because life is quite uncertain and more so in the wild where survival of the fittest is the rule of the game.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Musings at a funeral

About a week ago, I was at the customary 21 day funeral ritual of a colleague’s wife who passed away rather prematurely. She fought a brave battle against cancer but towards the end, she could hold onto life no more. Hope wasn’t enough to cling on to dear life. The cancer was too strong, and it won. Although death is inevitable, it is shattering when it comes too often and too soon. I often feel that death is just there lurking at the next bend; the thought of it simply sends a chill down the spine. Death is, although an unwelcomed guest, a great teacher. It puts life right into perspective and suddenly you are a magnifying glass, a scanner, a mirror. You seem to register even the tiniest of matter and hear the faintest of sounds. Suddenly you are there, in a state of above-consciousness. You are there and yet you aren’t there. You are over and above yourself, looking down on your own pity self bombarding yourself with a volley of inquisitions. I say inquisition because the strength and depth of inquiries annoy you, strips you of all ignorance and for a moment, you are on the path to the coveted state of Nirvana. But then you are back on earth with your worldly proceedings. You wish you were not you, you wish you were some awakened beings. But in the end, reality is the truth. You are just there reading and I here writing.

Now, back to where I started. I was there amidst the solemn faces and melancholic sounds of the ritual instruments, seated under a betel tree ruminating about reality – lost in silent contemplation; the essence of life; the impermanence of life; the uncertainty of life; and the pain of the end of life.

The somber atmosphere on the day had my mind churning up a million thoughts and a million questions. It roused the petty poet in me, and I was there churning out this poem albeit on the pages of my mind. Today, in retrospect, I take it down on black and white to etch it onto the pages of my blog – my almost half-dead blog – for it to remain there for eternity. The power of words, the simplicity of language, the vast depth of the meaning, I only wish if all readers could feel the feel that I have felt that day.

So it begins…

In the southern foothills of the malarial plains
Under a doma tree I mused on human gains
The air was a heavy hot and humid mix
Still and blank I stared needing a fix.

Through the thicket of the greens, birds sung
In the vastness of the sky, ghostly clouds hung
The burden of the somber day, in the lowly clouds I did see
Beyond the yonder clouds, I pray sure heaven-bound is she.

In a collection of weighty hearts and welled up eyes
Your mind is a wounded and broken bird, yet it flies
Scaling peaks and diving troughs in an aimless flight
For we know that she battled with hopes at high height.

Heavenly sounds of drums, shell, oboe and cymbal
Well-wishers in prayers and fingers on the beads ever nimble
The heavenly sounds playing a fitting track to the profound prayers
Serene and marooned row prayed her through the bardo layers.

Every lip in the sanctum worked the prayer mill in unity
Calling for the guidance and grace of the holy trinity
Each time my reverie was broken when the clapper hit the bell
Petrified was I of my deeds that would have me dragged down to hell.

As the heavenly sounds lulled and faces thinned into the rain
I was but all bared to the death-induced pain
The most universal of all truths that all beings will have to pass
But all we care when living is the feel of a fair lass.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ramtokto pokto is burning!

I've been wondering what to post next on my blog. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. I said to myself, time and again, "Write something; your next post has been long overdue; do justice to your blog which you so passionately nurtured to life." But yet stood as it is, like the clichéd dorje tabue ku, same number of posts with the same number of followers; no tangible change came forth. And so passed the second month after my last post! 

I do not know if words engraved on the face of my blog could speak but last night they did. I woke up when everyone was long dead – dead yet breathing in their slumber. After 90 minutes of European Championship live action which saw some top European Soccer Guns misfiring and displaying the worst performance in many years, it was almost dawn when I hit my bag. And not long after sleep shut all my senses out, albeit superficially for a passing moment, I had words from my blog talking to me! It sounded like from across valleys and ridges, yet the message was loud and clear –  they were pleading for generosity in unison. They wanted me to pen down pieces and keep the supply flowing.

So, I have chosen today, of all days, to post a poem which I have written sometime in March. I was staying in Babesa then and was witness to the wild fire which raged and razed the distant Ramtokto hillside. The heavens did not open during the fire, but wept incessantly, after the flames had been doused. 

It was a sunny warm breezy day
With my mood a high gleeful gay
The sun was high over my head
and I lay like a man dead

But now the sun's gone
Did you take it John?
I looked into the azure sky
and wished I'd rather die

The sky was but filled with smoke
Surely now, the gods will holy choke
The shining steely globe
Was marooned like a man in robe

The hill on the other side was burning
Big black smoke it was churning
The red inferno set a stag on fire
Left a crippled doe in a need so dire

Limbs raced and dashed up the hill
It was akin to a military drill
Fought they hard, the battle
Able to save, they did, a few cattle

When the sun was down and dark
And when there was but not even a lark
I thought it was all dead and doused
But in the dark were some embers aroused

So it raged and burned all night
With not a drop of rain in sight
Inestimable creatures were maimed and charred
When dawn broke, the hillside was all but scarred

High above the heavenly cloud
Few wept and many cried aloud
Grieved were they, by the scars
Just a few miles from where ply cars

Inconsolable were their pain
Would have brimmed by their tears, a drain
Disturbed and distressed, were the gods
That they finally burst open, to the earthly lords...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Tinkle that still Twinkles

Reading has always fascinated me; it brought this huge world toffee apple right in front of me to be unwrapped layer by layer holding tightly onto its slender stick. And that I would do in any way it pleased me – sitting near the bhukhari on my woolly yak hide, saddled on a high bench in the front porch, comfortably upholstered in the ‘V’ of my favorite peach or willow tree and sometimes secluded among heaps of hay in the barn. In the winter, reading in the balcony with my back angled rightly to the sun was also one of my favorite spots. And in the summer, I would run in search of the best shade to flip my pages and enter a completely different world – a world of fantasy as much as reality.

As a young kid, I grew up watching my elder brothers involve themselves in binge reading in between the farm duties that a bucolic life in the village demands. Their out of the ordinary interest and passion for books created a conducive environment for me and before long I became a big fan of Tinkle Comics, Wisdom, Children’s Digest and Target magazine. I can still remember very clearly the days when my brothers would make me run errands for them, and in return I would ask for books to read. That much was my love for reading from a very tender beginning. And looking back, I am glad I began that way because it was the right way. 

From a very humble Tinkle beginning, I switched my taste to books with thicker spines and longer plots. Novels fitted in seamlessly and during my academic break, I would become a silent and lone figure among the trees, bushes, meadows and prayer flags, completely absorbed, heart and soul into the spectacle woven by others; unfurling these romance, thrillers, humour and suspense at my own whim and fancy became my daily ritual.

And back to twinkling Tinkle, I must indeed be very thankful to Anand Pai AKA Uncle Pai, the founding father of Tinkle comics for indirectly providing me with a direct wholesome combination of education and entertainment. The characters from his ‘immortal picture stories’ became my best literary friends and my imagination and fantasy world revolved around them. 

Today, some sixteen years after my maiden tryst with Tinkle, I would like to pay my tributes to the characters which were my best friends for a good part of my childhood years. 

First Suppandi – the village simpleton who misreads his master’s commands leading to a chain of laughing-matter for the readers. He was one of my favorites and he had me wondering if he had had a brain in his head. Suppandi led me to name my high school principal Suppandi, not because he was Suppandi-like in brains but because he brought fond memories of Suppandi…some Suppandic connection between the two! No offence intended on either though. 

Tantri the Mantri, the scheming minister, who never succeeds in his quest to depose Raja Hooja; in fact all his plans eventually boomerang. Towards the latter part of my reading days, I pitied him because he was that one guy who would just not give up. The proverbial ‘try and try, until you succeed’ never materializes here. Poor Tantri. 

Kalia the Crow is another favorite. I closely followed this intelligent crow’s adventures which includes saving his friends Keechu and Meechu from Doob-doob the croc and Chamataka the Jackal. As a young kid, I would think of every crow as the savior Kalia despite the nuisances and menaces it caused at times.

Ajay, the detective was also a great read. The youngest and smartest detective in town is always there just in time to solve a mystery with the help of his mentor, inspector Sharma. Ajay and Sharma would later thrust themselves in the picture when I would read the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

How could I ever forget to mention Shikari Shambu. Shambu, a timid, blasé and sluggish hunter is often literally dragged by the villagers and his wife who believes that he is fearless and could take up daunting tasks. And providentially, he manages to survive and accomplish the task. I remember enacting Shambu – The Shikari scenes with my friends while out in the forest collecting firewood. Well, truly that Shikari has come a long way to tell tales. 

I also deeply liked reading the adventures of Nasruddin Hodja, a witty man who outsmarts people. His character is actually based on the Turkish Mullah Nasreddin and it brought telltale signs of similarities with our own Ap Wang Drugay.

The adventures of Kapish, Ramu and Shamu, Inna, Minah, Mynah, Mo – all equally thrilling characters – also kept me reading and reading. 

In retrospect, I owe each one of them a great deal for standing by me; for being my best friends through rain and shine and most precious of all, for leaving inside me an indelible thirst to read more.

So, dear friends, read and read because reading is much more than a pastime; it’s a friend of a lifetime, for you may leave a book behind but a book trails you like a shadow!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Beautiful Game

I had a rather belated tryst with games and sports, football in particular.  I developed myopia early on in life (too much reading in poor light solely attributable to the erratic power supply from Chumey Mini Hydel which then generated only 0.5 kilowatt of power) and that more or less kept me away from all the fun. I had this weird thick lens old man’s glass to care for and that literally barred me from the entire school playground spectacle. 

I knew something was not going right with my pair of eyes but every time the health people visited my school for their annual Eye Camp, I would cheat in the reading; by the time my turn came I would be ready with the letters in the right sequence on the Snellen Eye Chart – learnt by heart!  At the end of the day, I would be relieved for not having to wear the ‘dreaded’ glass for another one year. I would do this year in year out until when I could not remember the letters anymore nor could I read them at all. Everyone was surprised and few were upset when the first glass I wore had a lens reading of -3.75. Well that’s too high a lens power for a beginner and many inquisitively asked me how it happened. Well…it was my own creation and I lamented in the aftermath. It’s a strange feeling in retrospect – one of a kind which arises when you fail for yourself because you were short-sighted both in sight and thought.

Back to the beautiful game, football took the world by storm; it is now the most loved, played and watched sporting event on the planet. I became a passionate football follower after the 2002 World Cup. Every evening after dinner while the family would be engaged in their usual post-dinner chitchat, I would lay down my favourite yak hide around the fireplace and cut all those Ronaldo, Beckham, Zidane, Seaman, Ronaldhino, Rivaldo, Khan, Owen, Batistuta (you name them, I got them all) pictures from newspapers and meticulously glue them in my scrap book. I still have the memorabilia in one piece. Today, my 7-year- old nephew flaunts it with pride to his friends. During one of my most recent visits, he showed me his own addition with the likes of Rooney, Nani, Gerrard, Arshavin, Park, Ronaldo, Forlan, Persie, Messi, and his favourite Chelsea star Lampard among others. Every time he sees a new player, he finds a place in the book. 

I had my first taste of English Premiership football back in high school, which arguably is the best League in the world. Few live matches on TV and the next dramatic thing was that I had adopted Manchester United as the team that I would support. Today I follow the Red Devils with passion. Although a keen follower of football and the whole shebang, I took to the pitch only on countable occasions while in high school. And when I played, sometimes it was my eyes that got hurt, sometimes the ‘old man’s glass.’ So I imposed a moratorium on my football by keeping my pair of ‘windows to the world’ intact – just to be on the safer side.

Although football used to form a large chunk of class room gossip and interval debates in college, I rarely kicked it seriously. Once, we organized a game of football under the South Indian sun, I nearly had my shin in cracks, even though our local counterparts played barefoot. My Indian friends kicked and curled the ball with barefoot as good as we did with boots – even better; no wonder why they opted to play minus the boots when they qualified for their first ever World Cup in 1950. Regrettably, FIFA turned down their request.

Football is all that I look forward to during my weekends. A Manchester United game makes my weekend spicier although it disappoints me when they drop points or exit a Cup competition. Most often than not, it is ‘a heart in mouth’ moment at the edge of my seat.

For all the joy and passion it weaves into a billion hearts the world over, here’s wishing a great year of football both on the screen and on the pitch. Sincere condolences to all those hurt in Egypt – well that was war, not football, to quote one of the Al-Ahly players.