Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Round round eyes of Oriental White-eye

It was while i was walking along the hill garden on the outskirt of Mysuru (Mysore) that i heard insistent sharp calls as this busy little bird went about with its business of catching insects in the foliages, i was able to get quite close just when the bird spotted me “Oho a homo sapien” and flew away still chirping and landed on the nearest tree and went about with what it was doing as if nothing has happened. Geez that surely makes me feel important!! Oriental White-eye is a small bright yellow colored bird with some greyish white, purely arboreal these birds are easily identified by the white ring around the eyes. I also found these two birds hiding in a bush! 

Jibanananda Das: You can all go where you wish; I by Bengal’s expanse/Will stay

I shall return to this Bengal, to the Dhansiri’s bank
Perhaps not as a man, but myna or fishing kite;
Or dawn crow, floating on the mist’s bosom to alight
In the shade of jackfruit tree, in this autumn harvest land.
Or maybe a duck-a young girl’s-bells on my red feet,
Drifting on the kalmi scented water all day
For love of Bengal’s rivers, fields, crops, I’ll come this way
To this sad green shore of Bengal, drenched by the Jalangi’s waves

Perhaps you’ll see a glass fly ride the evening breeze,
On her a barn owl call from the silk cotton tree;
A little child toss rice grains on the courtyard grass,
Or a boy on the Rupsa’s turgid stream steer a dinghy
With torn white soil –white egrets swimming through red clouds
To their home in the dark. You will find me among their crowd.

What a song that one, i can almost hear it in Bengali, it lingers and lingers... it was only the other day that i was going through my trunk that came across Jibanananda’s collection, i am not able to place where i bought the book from, but must say going through Jibanananda is like going on a spiritual journey to beautiful countryside, you can feel the clayey sand on the feet. Whenever i am in Kolkata (Calcutta) and happen to see tram cars i am reminded of Jibanananda-he died after being hit by a tram on the night of 22nd October 1954. It was tragic end to a great poet considered next only to Tagore. Jibanananda (1899-1954) was a quiet withdrawn man, intensely introspective he was an opposite to his contemporary Nazrul Islam. He maintained a distance from gatherings and political movements, avoiding any ideological debates that filled up Bengal. His nuanced Bengali becomes quite difficult to translate, as the translator mentions “the principles of translation had to be defined afresh to suit the nature of Jibanananda poetry”. The serene natural beauty of his village (Barisal, now in Bangladesh) had deep influence on his life and literature; nature remained a significant force in his poetic subconscious throughout his life.

We who have seen the wild duck, escaping the hunter’s shot
Take wing into the horizon’s mild blue moonlit glow,
We who have rested our hands in love on the paddy sheaf
And come home like evening crows, expectantly; have found
Children’s breath scent, grass, sun, kingfishers, stars, sky-
Traces of these, again and again, the whole year round;

We have seen the green leaf yellowing in the autumn dark;
Light and bulbuls play in the windows of hijal branches;
The mouse on winter nights coat its silk fur with bits of grain;
Morning and evening, to the eyes of lonely fish, the ripples
Fall fair in smoky rice smell; at the pond’s edge the duck at dusk
Smells sleep and is borne away by a soft female hand.

Clouds like minarets call golden kites to their windows;
Under the cane creepers, the sparrows’ eggs are hard;
The river coats the bank with the soft water’s smell;
In the dense night the roof thatch shadow falls on the moonlit yard
Smell of crickets in the air-green air of summer fields,
In deep desire thick juice descends to the blue annona’s core.

Writes Prof. Sisir Kumar Das “Jibanananda rejected the mode of public poetry and political poetry, but the trauma and anxiety of political situation contributed to the growth of his poetic personality. He wrote with strong sense of individuality but did not fail to locate the individual in the larger space of history. His engagements with existential problems are not confined to any narrow subjectivity but involve a cosmic view of life”


From field to field- all afternoon over Asia’s sky
Vultures graze. Men see markets, camps, slums; the silent plain
Are for vultures- where the field’s firm silence stands by the sky
Like another sky- there vultures now descend in rows
From the hard clouds, like smoky weary sky-propping elephants fallen
From distant lights- fallen to earth on Asia’s fields and plains,
For just a few moments, these outcast birds; then they mount again,
Great dark wings on the palm trees-on mountain peaks
Now, gazing at earth’s beauty- how from the Arabian sea
Ships flock to the dark port; or to tender Malabar now
They fly- around a tower’s sad cornice, many vultures
Seems as though passed beyond some death, earth’s bird forgotten;
As if some river of death or some sad lagoon of life’s partings
Break out weeping; they see those Huns merged in deep blue.


When once i have gone out of this body
Shall i not come back to this earth?
May i come back again
On some winter night
With the pitiful flesh of an iced orange
To the bedside of some dying man i know.

The moment

Moonlight in the sky-
On the forest trail the body scent of the leopard
My heart is like a deer
Which way am I going in the silence of this night?
The shadow of silvery leaves upon my body;
No more deer anywhere.
As far as I go, I see the moon, bent like a sickle,
Cutting the last golden deer grain;
Then sinking slowly
Into the darkness of the sleep in the eyes of hundreds of does.

A strange darkness

A strange darkness has come to the earth today
Those who are blind see most with their eyes;
Those whose hearts are stirred by no love, fondness, compassion-
The world cannot move without their advice

Those who still harbour a deep faith in man,
Those for whom it is still natural to avow
Some noble truth or percept, art or ceaseless striving-
Jackals and vultures feed on their hearts now.

Where have they gone

Where they have gone today,
All those birds and all those horses,
Those women in white houses?
Those birds aloft in the colours of the golden sunlight
In the scent of babla flowers, and those horses,
They have all departed from our earth
Say where, my heart – where have they gone today!
Darkness: silent, like the lifeless pear

From my scribble pad...


You may think
that i snuggle with the stricken
and their insecurities.
It is in the profligate, their vacant indulgences,
missing conscience coordinates,
in their leisurely remorse and certainties
that I thrive.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blue headed Rock Thrush

Another of the migratory bird that i happen to click just about the time it was leaving. Blue headed Rock Thrush is a winter migrant from Himalayas, not really a lifer (meaning first spotting ever. Picked up these words from some professional recently) for me but i did take some time to place this one. A bird with striking looks- blue head and a black band along the eyes -Blue headed Rock Thrush is difficult to spot but once located these birds don’t seem to be intimidated by human proximity, indeed i was just few meters away from this pretty looking bird. Some spotting makes your day, this one did. Not to forget some awesome pictures.

Gertrude Stein: "A writer should write with his eyes and a painter paint with his ears"

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) was Jewish American writer and Poet. She was also known for her enviable art collection (Stein Art Collection) in Paris that attracted many artists. Stein helped to launch the careers of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, among others, and she attempted to translate their experiments in art into writing. Much of her poems are difficult to understand as she rejected the traditional linear form to more fractured form. She lacked widespread popularity and for a long time was not well known across her immediate circle  until when she published her very popular memoir, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Stein is highly regarded as modernist writer/poet, testimony to the fact that even six decades after her death her books are reprinted and always in demand. The painting herein of Gertrude Stein is by Picasso. And this poem by Stein is on Picasso (it is a long, and must say complicated one, i am taking the first stanza...readers can visit the website)

If I Told Him
(A Completed Portrait of Picasso)

If I told him would he like it. Would he like it if I told him.
Would he like it would Napoleon would Napoleon would would he like it.
If Napoleon if I told him if I told him if Napoleon. Would he like it if I told him if I told him if Napoleon. Would he like it if Napoleon if
Napoleon if I told him. If I told him if Napoleon if Napoleon if I told him. If I told him would he like it would he like it if I told him.
Not now.
And now.
Exactly as as kings.
Feeling full for it.
Exactitude as kings.


Once in English they said America. Was it English to them.
Once they said Belgian.
We like a fog.
Do you for weather.
Are we brave.
Are we true.
Have we the national colour.
Can we stand ditches.
Can we mean well.
Do we talk together.
Have we red cross.
A great many people speak of feet.
And socks.


Why is the world at peace. This may astonish you a little but when you realise how easily Mrs. Charles Bianco sells the work of American painters to American millionaires you will recognize that authorities are constrained to be relieved. Let me tell you a story. A painter loved a woman. A musician did not sing. A South African loved books. An American was a woman and needed help. Are Americans the same as incubators. But this is the rest of the story. He became an authority.

A Long Dress

What is the current that makes machinery, that makes it crackle, what is the current that presents a long line and a necessary waist. What is this current. What is the wind, what is it.
Where is the serene length, it is there and a dark place is not a dark place, only a white and red are black, only a yellow and green are blue, a pink is scarlet, a bow is every color. A line distinguishes it. A line just distinguishes it.

A Mounted Umbrella

What was the use of not leaving it there where it would hang what was the use if there was no chance of ever seeing it come there and show that it was handsome and right in the way it showed it. The lesson is to learn that it does show it, that it shows it and that nothing, that there is nothing, that there is no more to do about it and just so much more is there plenty of reason for making an exchange.

Negligible Old Star

Negligible old star.
Pour even.
It was a sad per cent.
Does on sun day.
Watch or water.
So soon a moon or a old heavy press.

Stanzas in Meditation

She may count three little daisies very well
By multiplying to either six nine or fourteen
Or she can be well mentioned as twelve
Which they may like which they can like soon
Or more than ever which they wish as a button
Just as much as they arrange which they wish
Or they can attire where they need as which say
Can they call a hat or a hat a day
Made merry because it is so.

Red Faces

Red flags the reason for pretty flags.
And ribbons.
Ribbons of flags
And wearing material
Reason for wearing material.
Give pleasure.
Can you give me the regions.
The regions and the land.
The regions and wheels.
All wheels are perfect.

From my scribble pad....

At the Talkies
(Watching movie in Allahabad)

The hero and heroine had decided
to do an impromptu
(most likely as a token of acknowledgment on mutual desirability)
at the snap of the finger
appeared accompaniments
bright colours and loud music
immaculate rhythmic steps,
practised to perfection.

The large fan sliced the moist air
of the damp theatre.
A disoriented pigeon appeared briefly in the glare of
the projector and crashed into the whirling fan
a detonation of white feathers
scatter across the hall
and float steadily as if playing to the scene.
It was snowing.
The hero chased the heroine
both wearing black
they stare each other and the camera
through their big black goggles
and did a 60s twist, retro effect.

Some hurry across to the dying pigeon
and drip drops of water from plastic bottle
into the mutilated beak.
All in vain.
I am thinking the pigeon
has come alive and flew straight into
the bright day of the scene
in the movie.

There is a garden with lots of flowers
and birds chirping,
the hero and heroine lay on the bright green
carpet of faultless grass,
in faultless outfit,
almost copulating,
a white pigeon by their side.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rufous Treepie of Banjaar Tola

Banjaar Tola is a luxury stay ("sophistication in simplicity") adjacent to Kanha wildlife sanctuary run by Taj Safari that this blogger had the good fortune to stay as part of Naturalist training. It was an amazing experience but i had to abandon in between due to various reasons main being emphasis on hospitality the magnitude of which this blogger didn’t foresee, wouldn’t say anticipate, ingratiating mannerism is something i am never been comfortable. It makes my blood boil when somebody mentions terms like Mother Tongue Influence (popularly referred to as MTI in call centre circuit), understanding that it is a requirement of these jobs but the honchos at call centres-who seem to be the real culprit- need to understand that this is nothing short of derogatory, it’s hitting the roots. It is a degrading aspirational construct that this blogger has always stridently protested. My mother tongue can never be my bad influence that i need to shed. Who has the monopoly over good English? Clearly these are decided by commerce combined by other utilitarian concerns. Nevertheless i wonder with more Indians travelling abroad do i see Brits learning Indian accent (or as some regrettable would say MTI), or is it that it is we who always has to do the catching up business. Since these factors seem important in certain kinds of job profile why don’t term it as “Client Accent Acclimatisation” or something on that line. I demand it. 

Coming back to Banjaar Tola- i am not in a position to reveal too much detail due to code, but can say that anyone interested to become Naturalist should definitely go for it. Well arranged and located in sylvan surroundings of Sal forest it couldn’t be better. 

Tempting providence is not my idea of displaying team skills, wonder how they conceptualise these daring stunts that is nothing but foolhardy. This blogger is out for intellectual challenge, indeed i have been in the open for last 15 years or so. I don’t put myself in physical risk knowingly, caution is my byword and if there is enough logic and reason i don’t mind body going through the grind. I have travelled to worst of places in worst of conditions in past many years but keeping prudence as fulcrum. The brilliance of jumping from a tall tree or simply jumping around –it comes in various forms and it seems to give thrill to the performer i am told- that defines attempts on alpha male machismo or is it mind over matter by city folks, these imbecile acts least amuses this blogger. I have seen many of these characters dying or maiming themselves around me. And those who have survived haven’t shown any signs of deeper understanding let alone even introspect their habits!! It seems connected to some vague indulgence on confidence...well if your job profile needs then maybe. Like for instance Army, Security guards so on. Otherwise it cannot be denied that this is a senile act bordering sadism; it shows lack of awareness and respect for oneself, pity. Cheap thrills nothing much and it is catching on in big cities. Basic fitness of body is more important and when real crisis in life comes survival instinct should take care. For some it is a luxury to put body at risk, for some it is a way of life their survival depends on it, but not being aware of consequence is referred to as being irresponsible not daring. Dare to deconstruct the mind, the social structure/institutions ...that is where the challenge is. Body is nothing, challenging it is waste of time. These might make a good script for Hollywood action but nor real people (nor animal) go for unnecessary risking their life or damaging their body. For that matter even the Hollywood actors don’t!! They aint stupid dude!! Body is evolved to protect and explore mind, vice versa is primal, even great explorers had motive and purpose for which body was alibi. Darwin did say evolution is a process didn’t he...well you see people dangling down the ladder and you know how right was Darwin! 

For a person like me-who is precariously perched, even a minor mishap can be devastating, a serious setback, since my fallback options are limited i have to be vigilant. I prefer the challenge of Derrida to Bunty’s getting high on bungee or driving fast. Classifying naivety as trusting team potential was the funniest part of the exercise by “Bangalore team”. Further i am not into team, though these seem like basic corporate requirement (the fitting in herd) that is exaggerated as raison de entre for living!! This blogger is comfortable with himself. Full stop. 

Everything said and done it was a good experience, morning walks and sitting silently in the jungle were highlights. Identifying different species and jotting down for further references as also presentations on various animals was something worth cherishing, things i thoroughly enjoyed (Dholes have become my favourite. Tigers can take a break!!). My fascination for spiders has just got emboldened. I was an amateur and glimpsing some professionals at work was revealing experience. This blogger expresses his gratitude and appreciation for the people at Taj Safari for providing me the opportunity. My thanks also go to Ratna, Narayan, Ashish, Payal...it was too short and a scurry to get to know you guys.

There was one bird we got to see on a daily basis and woke with its calls was no doubt Rufous Tree pie. A very common bird around here, others include Orioles, Roller, Drongo and yes the little sparrows are back dear. Rufous Treepie is a rather longish looking bird with sooty head and neck, rufous overalls. An arboreal bird, strictly resident they are found in pairs, they have sweet call as also a harsh one that is used for alarm call. Though found near human habitats-partial to gardens- they are shy of human presence and could be located while they flee from one branch to another. Diet includes fruits, berries, insects, lizards. To the aware Treepies are known to point out the presence of tigers and leopards.

The Gonds of Central India: wai papa lala !!!

Gonds, are the largest tribal group not only in India but all over south Asia, they are spread across the hilly regions of Deccan region (geographically central part of India), spread across UP Gonda district and north Bihar to Andhra Pradesh, and from Maharashtra to Orissa. Gonds established their political power, founded states and exercised influence far and wide. There were as many as four separate Gond kingdoms in the Gondwana region mentioned in medieval accounts, extending across modern day Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. 

Gond is a name used by non tribals, meaning forest dweller that was used by Telegu speakers but Gond 's prefer to call themselves Koya or Koitur. Language used is Gondhi (Kui) that belongs to Dravidian family of languages, but most Gonds are bilingual or trilingual using Hindi, Telegu or Marathi. 

Gonds are divided into four groups (or sagas): Nalven, Siven, Sarven, and Erven) from these hundreds of clans have sprung up like Raj Gond (aristocrats, mostly concentrated in Adilabad district of AP), Naik gond, Bada Maria, Chotta Maria (this group doesn’t consume milk product as milking is a taboo for them), Jhare Gond, Mannewar, Mana (confined to Maharashtra), Bison Horn Maria (because of their headdress, i need add here that technically there are no Bison in India, it is a
Gaur), Naikpod (they consider themselves as descendant of Bhima of pandavas, mostly settled cultivators), Dheria (since women of this group place the end of saree on left shoulder, dheria means left), Sonjhari, Thoti, Dhulia (have lost their mother tongue, Gondi. They now use bundelkhandi), Kandra, Khatola, Sabaria (Telegu gonds), Thatia (cattle herders) and so on ... each of these have numerous clans. The picture herein is that of an elderly Gond lady collecting tendu (tobacco) leaves near kanha (bandriya tola to be specific) Madhya Pradesh. 

Gonds worship a high god named Baradeo (literally big god), who oversees activities of lesser gods, though respected the devotion of Gonds is reserved to their clan deities. Each Gond clan has its Persa Pen, who protects all clan members. The Persa Pen is essentially good but can be dangerous and violent. Many Gonds believe that when a Pardhan (bard) plays his fiddle, the deity's fierce powers can be controlled. Gonds also believe that spirits delve in hills, rivers and trees. Gonds understanding of medicinal values of local plants is legendary. Many aspects of Gond’s festival and rituals are heavily influenced by Hinduism (sanskritisation?) the obvious one being Dushera but they emphasis on singing and dancing.  Animals are sacrificed during rituals and meat consumed, liquor from dried mahua flowers is also quite popular. 

One of the most discussed and talked about practice among Gonds (confined to Muria Gond tribes) is “Ghotul system” (sociologists referred to it as Dormitory system), many take the instance of this practice as not only uniqueness of this tribe but also signs of advancement and egalitarian nature of society (though it need be pointed that gond community is highly stratified). In Ghotul system, the unmarried young boys and girls live together in separately made huts and allowed to intermingle. It is basically meant for teenagers and acts as a sort of recreation centre where they dance and dine together for marital selection and understanding of mates. If everything is fine and both of them are happy, they can get out of the Ghotul and marry. The Ghotul system is mainly practiced among the Muria Gonds and the origin of this system is related with their goddess ‘Lingopan’. It also need be added here that in Gonds marriages the groom has to pay bridal price to the father of the girl, though they are not matrilineal. Divorce and remarriage are common.

Gond houses are simple structure, the roof supported by bamboo, over which thatch or tiles is laid. House is neatly divided into room and courtyard. There is also a provision for guest room as also room meant for child delivery as also for women to stay during menstruation. I was reading that humble Comb plays an important role in wooing in Gond society, there are also certain rules regarding its use and combing!! During my visit to Gond settlement i found that there is lots of impetus on cleanliness, the houses and vicinity are kept clean and tidy.

Gonds have rich tradition of art and craft which includes body tattooing, floor painting, basket making etc. They are found of music and make musical instruments. They are also proficient in wall painting which they do in red and black on a white background. Gonds have rich oral tradition. Here are few lines wherein Gond hero Lingo is doing penance to please Sambhu Mahadeva to get Gond gods released from cave:

The great God Mahadeva
Felt his seat begin to tremble
Felt his golden stool all shaking
From the penance of our lingo
Felt and wondered who on earth
This devotee was that was fasting
Till his golden stool was shaking

The Pardhans (Bards) play an important and necessary part in Gond social system, they have preserved through their songs the memory of gond heroes and heroines, the story of gond race, its wanderings woes and triumphs. Since very few Gonds know these songs it is customary to call Pardhans on select occasions when the whole community gather to hear them sing accompanied by their Kikri (musical instrument) that last till the early hours of the morning. Pardhans provide history and mythology to Gond race, since Gonds have an understanding of Hindu mythology they act as medium between Hinduism and Gond. All Gond clans have their pardhans who is exposed to know Gond myths in general and history of family of their patrons in particular. Unfortunately since Pardhans were into beef eating they slid in the social structure to the lowest, after independence they are now classified as tribes (in the same clans as Gonds) that helped in their upliftment.

The foundation of new Gond settlement is accompanied by many elaborate rituals. On completion of all the houses Phulgam ritual is performed: a teak tree is felled, a square pointed post was carved in a chosen place (mostly under dondera tree) as the seat of the Aki Pen, the ritual conducted by devari (priest) in the presence of Village Headman (patla). A goat is sacrificed and devari says a prayer

Ige momot niwa puja tungantom;
nar wasi kintom;
mak tsokot panta palam aiana;
kai kal tsokot mandana.
Surd bara warsami niwa puja


Now we perform your rite;
We are founding the village;
Give us good crops;
Let us be good health.
See every twelve years we
Shall perform your rite.

After this a sheep is sacrificed for Village Mother (Natna auwal).

The Dandari dancing is one of the high points of Gond celebrations, about the end of diwali is the joyous time of dandari, there is lot of leisure time, food is plenty and its beginning of cooler season. For two or three weeks after dusherra bands of young people journey from village to village with drums and horns, they welcomed as honoured guests wherever they go. These Dandari dancers carry on the custom initiated by legendary heroes Dundria Raur and Sipiserma Raur, lend sanction by epics from Pradhans

Gudmasur paterate Raur mantor
Tinle kami sile
dhan daulat wirta,
pen sita, batai kami sile.
mak nend pen sita, kami sile,
nend marat yet masar penk
marat putuskat
tandropo taman siwir tadur,
ur pite chauda jank babur
soneta weli sanganter ,
nend pahinidta pir pandta
ura paidas ata
ekwis putralir paidas ater,
paranda jank kuralir paidas ater
Gudmaser Paterat ropo
Nahin nagure nande manter Raurk
urk katoral Pen Bupial katoral
Sirivalaval katora,
Raitar ur manta;
Urk Raurk Patari,
Hirasuka Patari mantor
Nend pen sita, batai kami sile


In Gudmasur lived Raur,
“Food is not wanting” (he said)
“Wealth we have plenty,
The god gave it, nothing is lacking,
To us the god gave it,
Now the dance gods
Feast we will hold”
Brothers five their grandfathers,
From their loins fourteen fathers,
Theirs were countless offspring.
Then throughout the village
The fruits of wombs were born
Twelve grandchildren born.
In Gudmasur Patera there lived
The tribe of Raur;
Their preist was Pen Bupial
Sirivalaval katora
He was the god;
The Raur folk’s Pardhan
Was Hirasuka.
“By the gods’ grace we are free
from want,
Now let us hold a dance feast
For nothing is lacking”.

It is a long song, the last stanza ....

Ata paja
nend narita yetmasar,
narita mandatir aiar?
weilokna aiweke daiar?
Padmalpuri kaka inta,
bon inta?
Nend Manko, nime akara sar tenda
nime Manko tenda,
mune waio diwos aske
weilokna danadari pesiana,
Nalung sagank,
nalung kumkum
weilo mansa
dandari takana
nalung kumkum ropo
takana taki.

Then (said Padmalpuri);
“Tomorrow as today there will be dances,
But shall for ever only men dance?
Thus said Padmalpuri, the grandmother,
To whom did she say it?
“You Manko, you take the drums out,
You start the dancing,
In all times to come
Woman too will dance the Dandari”
Among the four kin-groups,
Among the four tribes,
Women and men
Dance now the Dandari,
In all the four tribes
The dancing goes on.

Song to be sung (gumela song) during Dandari dancers arrival in a village

Deu setun, duara setun
sati nikun tsaura mai,
mutsa nikun malpa
sati golodam deu golodam,
sati nikun tsaura mai,
mutsa nikun malpa
saga devaru mukdira
wai papa lala,
Bhumi devaran mukdira,
wai papa lala,
Pedda deun mukdira,
wai papa lala,
Bhima deun mukdira
wai papa lala.

With the gods we journey round.
By your grace we don dance dress,
Stooping for you we dance,
Jingling, jingling by god’s grace,
By your grace we don dance dress,
Stooping for you we dance,
Gods of the clan we worship,
wai papa lala,
Earth goddess we worship,
wai papa lala,
Bhimana we worship,
wai papa lala.

This song is a version of myth associated with birth of goddess Jangu bai, as sung by Pardhans. A long one, so i am putting only the first few lines, quite interesting the imaginary...

A spirit was born, Prabhu Niranjan Guru was born,
After his birth, water came into being,
Then spread the water, a mighty ocean
It spread and spirits were born.
After the spirits came earth into being,
The Earth mother and Aktak the father,
Hamran, the grandsire, the daughter Earth,
On water’s surface rose Earth.
Nine parts were water, one part was earth.
In the middle was earth, round it was water;
Then fifty six crores of gods came into being

This a small prayer during ceremonial first sowing...

Sura Dhan lachmi
Sura Dharti mata
mak jawa sim,
yes barai sim,
tala tahtsi sura

look cattle goddess
look Earth mother
give us food
give wealth and good luck
lifting up your head look at us.

Sung on the day before reaping...

Surat mak barkat sim,
Sanalir mirat,
Sasi pen ati, mak barkat sim.

Look, give us good fortune,
All you Departed,
Dying you became gods
Give us good fortune.

A scribble from my pad...

Derrida kills me everyday

May 1996, around noon was his first attack
I was defenceless, the gash deep.
Back in routine the festering thought grew all the while.
One clammy monsoon night the world shifted few inches on one side
then the other side
never settling at the centre, the safer side
was all but gone.
Deconstruction had begun
Back in mother’s womb.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

To see an Indian Pitta is to see a rainbow come alive

When the rainbow decided to change to a bird it folded itself into a little multicoloured ball, out came the beak and a sweet song with it. O what a delightful dainty bird, it made my decade!! Last spotting was more than a decade back on the outskirts of Shimla. Found this one in the Sal forests of Madhya Pradesh, where it arrives in the month of May to breed, the forest resonates with its calls. Post monsoon it is ready to migrate south.

Constantine Cavafy: the poet of future generation 

Without consideration, without pity, without shame
they have built big and high walls around me.

And now I sit here despairing.
I think of nothing else: this fate gnaws at my mind;

for I had many things to do outside.
Ah, why didn’t I observe them when they were building the walls?

But I never heard the noise or the sound of the builders.
Imperceptible they shut me out of the world.

Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933) was a renowned Greek poet, most widely translated poet of modern Greece. His poetry is taught in universities in Greece, Cyprus and many other part of the world. His poems were based on experience and deep understanding of history (as also personal “sensual memory”, homosexuality makes it a unique voice). Though his poems were in Greek but as WH Auden put it “had unique tone of voice that survives translation”. Auden writes “Nor can one speak of Cavafy´s imagery, for simile and metaphor are devices he never uses; whether he is speaking of a scene, an event, or an emotion, every line of his is plain factual description without any ornamentation whatsoever”.

Dangerous things

Said Myrtias (a Syrian student
in Alexandria; in the reign of
Augustus Constans and Augustus Constantius;
in part a pagan, and in part a christian);
"Fortified by theory and study,
I shall not fear my passions like a coward.
I shall give my body to sensual delights,
to enjoyments dreamt-of,
to the most daring amorous desires,
to the lustful impulses of my blood, without
any fear, for whenever I want --
and I shall have the will, fortified
as I shall be by theory and study --
at moments of crisis I shall find again
my spirit, as before, ascetic."


The sea took a sailor to its depths.--
His mother, unsuspecting, goes and lights

a tall candle before the Virgin Mary
for his speedy return and for fine weather --

and always she turns her ear to the wind.
But while she prays and implores,

the icon listens, solemn and sad,
knowing that the son she expects will no longer return

Melancholy of Jason Kleander, Poet in Kommagini, AD 595

The aging of my body and my beauty
is a wound from a merciless knife.
I’m not resigned to it at all.
I turn to you, Art of Poetry,
because you have a kind of knowledge about drugs:
attempts to numb the pain, in Imagination and Language.

It is wound from a merciless knife.
Bring your drugs, Art of Poetry—
they numb the wound at least for a little while.

From the school of the renowned philosopher

For two years he studied with Ammonios Sakkas,
but he was bored by both philosophy and Sakkas.

Then he went into politics.
But he gave that up. That Prefect was an idiot,
and those around him, somber-faced officious nitwits:
their Greek—poor fools—absolutely barbaric.

After that he became
vaguely curious about the Church: to be baptized
and pass as a Christian. But he soon
changed his mind: it would certainly have caused a row
with his parents, ostentatious pagans,
and—horrible thought—
they would have cut off at once
their extremely generous allowance.

But he had to do something. He began to haunt
the corrupt houses of Alexandria,
every secret den of debauchery.

In this fortune favored him:
he’d been given an extremely handsome figure.
And he enjoyed the divine gift.

His looks would last
at least another ten years. And after that?
Maybe he’ll go back to Sakkas.
Or if the old man has died meanwhile,
he’ll go to another philosopher or sophist:
there’s always someone suitable around.


When you set out for Ithaca
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy -
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaca always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to give you wealth.
Ithaca gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca hasn't deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you'll have understood what these Ithaca’s mean.

A scribble from my notes...

In Midst of Gods

There are 33million Gods to seek
take your pick, your ishta devta
multicoloured posters hang over the wall, opposite wall
and the other wall.
All Gods no doubt.
If not these there are other religions to choose from
“They are powerful” a devotee was ready to be guarantor.
Some fervent in their assurance “Surely you will be blessed. Join us”
Some came with collateral “See we went to so and so God, see how prosperous we have become!”
One fellow was rather insistent “Our’s is the only God”
“Follow him to paradise”, an ominous earnestness in his promise.
“It’s a powerful God. Will fulfill all your wishes” vouched another.

A walk in the park was all that i need.