Monday, June 23, 2014

The Eurasian Teal, a Siberian migrant

The Eurasian Teal or Common Teals (Anas crecca) are the most abundant winter migrants, they are gregarious lot and create ruckus in the water bodies they inhabit. Swift fliers they flap quite rapidly, giving the impression of being in a hurry. Common teal feed on plants, young crops and small crustaceans, molluscs, worms, grubs, and snails. 

Tennyson: We feel that we are greater than we know

For now the Heavenly Power
Makes all things new,
And thaws the cold, and fills
The flower with dew;
The blackbirds have their wills,
The poets too

It is not that I am unaware of Tennyson, and I find his poems quite charming, just that I find long poems too much for attention and becomes difficult to comprehend, sometimes the language is too ‘Victorian’. 
It so happened that on an afternoon walk in the streets of Mysore while the setting sun rhymed poetry in the west, I stumbled upon a thin collection A Treasure of Poems (Book 1) with the second hand books vendor. He said it will cost 5R!! I gave him 10R. When was the last time anyone of you bought a book for 10R?! I flipped through the book as I sipped Sarasparila drink at a local shop (Indian Sarasparila is different from American that is the source for much popular drink, the root beer). Soon I was reading what I read in school many decades back “The little bird” 

What does little birdie say
In her nest at peep of day?
Let me fly, says little birdie,
Mother, let me fly away.
Birdie, rest a little longer,
Till the little wings are stronger,
So she rests a little longer,
Then she flies away.

Charming, however this blogger prefers that children be taught in their mother tongue as far as possible, English can be compulsory language (visit me at on this). So there it was time to revisit Tennyson. Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) was one those very few poets who attained peak of his popularity while still alive, but not before he went through bleakest of situations in life. Any other person in his place would have easily broken down, his tenacity towards vagaries of life is what really rivets me to him.

The Eagle
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

All Things Will Die

Clearly the blue river chimes in its flowing
Under my eye;
Warmly and broadly the south winds are blowing
Over the sky.
One after another the white clouds are fleeting;
Every heart this May morning in joyance is beating
Full merrily;
Yet all things must die.
The stream will cease to flow;
The wind will cease to blow;
The clouds will cease to fleet;
The heart will cease to beat;
For all things must die.
All things must die.
Spring will come never more.
Oh! vanity!
Death waits at the door.
See! our friends are all forsaking
The wine and the merrymaking.
We are called--we must go.
Laid low, very low,
In the dark we must lie.
The merry glees are still;
The voice of the bird
Shall no more be heard,
Nor the wind on the hill.
Oh! misery!
Hark! death is calling
While I speak to ye,
The jaw is falling,
The red cheek paling,
The strong limbs failing;
Ice with the warm blood mixing;
The eyeballs fixing.
Nine times goes the passing bell:
Ye merry souls, farewell.
The old earth
Had a birth,
As all men know,
Long ago.
And the old earth must die.
So let the warm winds range,
And the blue wave beat the shore;
For even and morn
Ye will never see
Through eternity.
All things were born.
Ye will come never more,
 For all things must die.

I thought of putting this poem that contrast the above… 

Nothing Will Die

When will the stream be aweary of flowing
Under my eye?
When will the wind be aweary of blowing
Over the sky?
When will the clouds be aweary of fleeting?
When will the heart be aweary of beating?
And nature die?
Never, oh! never, nothing will die?
The stream flows,
The wind blows,
The cloud fleets,
The heart beats,
Nothing will die.
Nothing will die;
All things will change
Through eternity.
'Tis the world's winter;
Autumn and summer
Are gone long ago;
Earth is dry to the centre,
But spring, a new comer,
A spring rich and strange,
 Shall make the winds blow
Round and round,
Through and through,
Here and there,
Till the air
And the ground
Shall be filled with life anew.
The world was never made;
It will change, but it will not fade.
So let the wind range;
For even and morn
Ever will be
Through eternity.
Nothing was born;
Nothing will die;
All things will change.

Flower in the crannied wall
Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower -but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

 Snake Shyam talks: I happen to listen to Snake Shyam (and Gowri Shankar, who works on King Cobra in Agumbe). Most mysorian know enigmatic and quintessential Snake Shyam, he is now a popular elected councilor, indeed he could have easily been an MP. We went with him for snake rescue mission and saw him in action. He has rescued and released about 30,000 snakes, the man is really passionate about snakes. Though quite flamboyant he comes out as an endearing man. I had joined the workshop to remove my reluctance on snakes. His advice to the group was “not to listen to parents!!” while Gowri Shankar mentioned that “things will look better after this generation of elders vanishes”. Clearly our so called family tradition has no value for nature, despite tall claims, it will need a new generation of sensitive individuals to break free from these regressive pits.

From my scribble pad..

The wasp 
The world and its wants,
tribulations and expectations can go by
 Everything else is here 
The sun, moon and stars
and this earth and its wonders
Like this wasp 
that has just alighted on the window sill 
observes in brief stillness 
and beats its wing for a hurried detour 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The White-eared Bird is a Bulbul

The White-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucotis) is quite common along the Aravalli hills, specifically in JNU there are quite a few. They are similar to Himalayan bulbuls but lack the crest and are smaller in size. Gulf countries don’t have too much of biodiversity but this is one bird that you could see across Saudi to Iran and western part of India. Spotted this one at JNU, during the bird survey on big bird day, sometime back.  
Vayalar Ramavarma (1928-1975): stirring voice from the land of advaitha
I have been listening to songs of Vayalar Ramavarma since I could remember. He was a Malayalam poet and lyricist, he gained immense popularity with the latter, his movie songs are enormously popular to this day. Though he was using the populist medium and constraints associated with it he never compromised on quality. The language used is quite simple, so that common people can understand and enjoy, but the meanings are much deeper. He was quintessentially an Indian mind with deep rooted compassion emanating from the best of Indian thoughts and philosophy. His songs have had an elemental impact on me, since it is in popular medium the songs tends to stay on forever in collective psyche. What an amazing man. 
I happened to be at Alappuzha (Kerala), just about 20Km from my home is a place called Vayalar (the place is also witnessed to hundreds of people being massacred for rising against the atrocities committed by Diwan CP Iyer in 1946. This was one of the foremost popular communist uprisings in the country. CP was a scoundrel akin to the Nazi, who is, quite understandably, being resurrected by his progenies/clan et al Kasthuri & Sons. The audacity of it, they also hoodwink into comrade ranks, only shows rot at the top of communist parties). Vayalar Ramavarma’s samadhi is next to his palatial house. I have here translated three of his popular songs from malayalam, my translations is quite wanting and poor imitations. The readers needs to keep in mind that the choice of words by the lyricist is such that it seamlessly weaves into songs, also the deep held meaning that he sought to communicate, it’s a miracle these songs. 
Manushyan mathangale srishtichoo

Manushyan mathangale srishtichoo
mathangal dhaivangale srishtichoo
manushyanum mathangalum dhaivangalum koodee
mannu panku vachu manassu panku vachu
(Manushyan mathangale)

hinduvaayee musslamaanaayee christianiyaayi
nammale kandaalariyaathaayee
india bhranthaalayamaayee
aayiramaayira maanava hrudhayangal
aayudha purakalaayee
dhaivam theruvil marikkunnu
chekuthaan chirikkunnu
(Manushyan mathangale)

sathyamevide soundaryamevide
swathanthryamevide nammude
rakth bandangalevide
nithya snehangalevide
aayiram yugangalil orikkal
varaarulloravathaarangal evide
manushyan theruvil marikkunnu
mathangal chirikkunnu
(Manushyan mathangale)

Man created religions

Man created religions
religions created gods
man, religions and gods together
divided the land and divided the minds
(repeat: Man created religions)

We became hindus, muslims, christians
we have become unrecognizable
India has become madhouse
Thousands and thousands of human hearts
have become storehouse of weapons
while god dies on the street
devil smiles
(repeat: Man created religions)

Where is the truth, where is the beauty
where has our freedom gone
where are blood relations
where are friends forever
where is the music that comes
once in thousand years
While man is dying in the street
religions are laughing
(repeat: Man created religions)

Pravaachakanmaare pravaachakanmaare

Pravaachakanmaare pravaachakanmaare
Parayoo prabhaathamakaleyaano
Prapancha shilppikale
Parayoo prakaashamakaleyaano (pravaachaka)
(Repeat: Pravaachakanmaare pravaachakanmaare)

Aadhiyushassin chuvanna mannil
Ninnaayuga sangamangal
Ivideyuyarthiya viswaasa gopurangal
Idinju veezhunnu kaatil idinju veezhunnu
Ee vazhithaarayil aalambamillaathe
Eswaran nilkkunnu dharmma neethikal
Thaadi valarthi thapassirikkunnu thapassirikkunnu (pravaachaka)
(Repeat: Pravaachakanmaare pravaachakanmaare)

Bhaavi charithram thiruthiyezhuthum
Bharatha yudha boovil
Idayan thelichoru chaithannya radham thakarnnu veezhunnu
Ee kurukshethratthilaayudhamillaathe arjunan nilkkunnu
Thathwa saasthrangal etho chithayil eriyunnu (pravaachaka)
(Repeat: Pravaachakanmaare pravaachakanmaare)

Hey prophets, hey prophets  

Hey prophets, hey prophets
Tell me is the morning nearby
Creators of universe
Tell me is the light nearby
(repeat: Hey prophets, hey prophets)
In the red sand of eternal dawn
The towers of faith
is collapsing into the forests
On the pathway without any magnificence
stands god with long grown beard
And is in deep meditation 
(repeat: Hey prophets, hey prophets)

Future is rewriting the history
In the battle field of India
the chariot of consciousness is collapsing
In this kurushetra Arjuna is standing without any weapons
Look the truth, philosophy is burning in the pyre 
(repeat: Hey prophets, hey prophets) 
Adhwaitham janicha naattil 

Adhwaitham janicha naattil 
Aadhi shankaran janicha naattil 
Aayiram jaathikal aayiram mathangal 
Aayiram dhaivangal 
Adhwaitham janicha naattil

Mathangal janikkum mathangal marikkum 
Manushyanonne vazhiyullu 
Nithya sneham thelikkunna veedhi 
Sathyonnyeshana veedhi 
Yugangal raktham chinthiya veedhi 
Adhwaitham janicha naattil 

Prapancham muzhuvan velicham nalkaan 
Pakalinonne vilakkullu
Laksham nakshathra dheepangal koluthi 
Swapnam kaanunnu raathri 
Velicham swapnam kaanunnu raathri 

Adhwaitham janicha naattil 
Aadhi shankaran janicha naattil 
Aayiram jaathikal aayiram mathangal 
Aayiram dhaivangal 
Adhwaitham janicha naattil

The land where advaitha was born 

The land where advaitha was born 
The land where Adi Shankara was born 
Thousands of castes, thousands of religions 
Thousands of gods
The land where advaitha was born 

Religions are born, religions die 
Humans are but on the roadside 
Ways of the eternal love befalls 
Ways of the seekers of truth 
Ways of the blood spilled ages 
The land where advaitha was born

To light the whole universe 
Daylight is being torched 
Millions of stars form strings of deepam 
Night is dreaming 

The night when the light dreams 
The land where advaitha was born 
The land where Adi Shankara was born 
Thousands of castes, thousands of religions
Thousands of gods 
The land where advaitha was born

 From my scribble pad…

I scrape my memories to get references 
For the realities I face 
the world is diminishing at a rate 
that I fail to keep track 
I desire to enter the embryo 
and the world begin anew

Stray insights 
There is a way with time
It mauls the passerby
And punishes for the crime not committed