Picture taken on the Fort Cochin seafront.
Picture taken on the Fort Cochin seafront.
“Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence…”
From: The Desiderata of Happiness
Max Ehrman 1872 – 1945
Pictures taken at seven o’clock in the morning. Pattalam, Cochin.
“The weekend starts here..”
Pictures taken in Fort Cochin
Yesterday was the Indian festival of Diwali,
when Hindus celebrate the eventual triumph of light over forces of darkness.
Picture of a young girl lighting Diwali lamps outside the Hindu temple in Fort Cochin.
There are days when I feel assailed by too many words:
unnecessary and uninvited clamour.
Intense heat but little light.
Now I’m doing it too…
Picture taken at the Porter’s Lodge, Bishop’s House, Fort Cochin.
Picture of North Indian pilgrims taken on the Fort Cochin beach at sunset.
Late have I loved you, beauty ever ancient yet ever new!
Late have I loved you!
You were within me but I was outside.
There I sought you, as I rushed about among the beautiful things you had made.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
The beautiful things of this world kept me far from you.
You called. You cried.
You burst through my deafness. You scattered my blindness.
I breathed your fragrance, and now I pine for you.
I tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you.
You touched me, and I burn with desire for you .
Confessions, St Augustine of Hippo
Picture taken outside the Seminary chapel, Fort Cochin.
Pictures taken during the restoration of the St Thérèse of Lisieux chapel, Fort Cochin
“..And catch the gleaming of a random light,
That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing.”
From “Ships that Pass in the Night”
by Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872 – 1906.
Picture of the Fort Cochin promontory at sunset.
Photograph taken in Fort Cochin, where autumn is not experienced.
How dark, O Lord, are Thy decrees,
All hid from mortal sight,
All our joys to sorrow turning,
And our triumphs into mourning,
As the night succeeds the day.
No certain bliss,
No solid peace,
We mortals know
On earth below,
Yet on this maxim still obey:
“Whatever is, is right.”
Protected by her father’s watchful left foot
Picture taken on Fort Cochin beach.
Picture taken on the beach at sunset, Fort Cochin.
Picture taken in Mattancherry, Cochin.
Without and within,
passing years leave their mark
and narrow our views.
Pictures of a chapel undergoing repairs taken in Kummumpuram, Cochin.
I find the tenor’s voice amazing – like something lifted from the Russian Orthodox liturgy.
Piaf’s power and poignancy is, as always, totally beyond description..
A subtitled visual clip of this performance can be found here.
Picture taken in Palace Road, Fort Cochin.
We had spent two amazing weeks travelling from Kerala, our home-state, to Delhi, Agra, Sikkim and North Bengal.
It was now time to return.
Sanjeez drove us from Darjeeling back down into the plains of Badogra.
From there we flew to Delhi, then Cochin.
Our journey had taken in some of the greatest and most iconic sights of India:
The Red Fort;
The Taj Mahal;
I had celebrated my 59th birthday during this trip
and it was one of the happiest and most fascinating holidays I’ve experienced in all those years.
The disaster struck just three days after we were safely back in Kerala.
The Himalayas were hit by an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale.
Its epicentre was Gangtok, where we had spent the first three days of our Himalayan adventure.
The devastation wreaked on the mountain communities and roads was immense.
Well over one hundred people died.
Our stay in Darjeeling was made particularly pleasant by the helpful hotel staff.
On our first morning, whilst taking breakfast, I had taken a picture looking out from the dining room.
When the waiter saw me fiddling with my camera, he smiled and pointed to a large notice by the stairs:
An arrow directed upwards and invited interested guests to enjoy the viewing gallery.
And so, when twilight fell, we thought to try out the facility.
Following the sign, we found ourselves in a narrow corridor which led into an extremely spacious room.
It was not quite what I’d expected.
Although the large windows provided excellent views, this rather grand room was fully furnished
with wardrobes, armchairs and a slightly dishevelled, king-size bed.
But the sun was setting fast. There was no time to ponder our hotel’s eccentric décor.
Opening up the windows to get better photographs, I took my shots.
It was only when we left the room, and retraced our steps back along the corridor, that I noticed a second sign
advertising “panoramic hill views”.
This sign pointed in the opposite direction to the one from which we’d come.
We had taken our pictures in another guest’s bedroom…
Pictures inadvertently taken from the windows of a deluxe suite, in Hotel Seven-Seventeen, Darjeeling.
Like all good tourists, our days in Darjeeling were spent negotiating its steep, narrow streets,
visiting Ghoom monastery,
a narrow-gauge railway,
the Japanese peace pagoda,
and buying gifts for friends and family.
We also sampled some exceedingly fine Darjeeling teas.
The information pack we had been given on arriving in Sikkim was quite explicit:
“Due to shortage in space for parking, please be informed that you will have to be ready on time & wait in the lobby. Due to uncalculated situations the vehicle reporting may get delayed. We will request you to bear with us, and as soon as vehicle arrives you will have to get in, within few seconds, before the policeman blow his whistle.”
Our itinerary for today:
“an early morning tour to Tiger Hills to view sunrise over Kangchenjunga Peak (subject to clear weather)”.
We were to be ready in the hotel lobby by four o’clock in the morning.
My mobile alarm was set.
The morning began with a barely tepid shower and, for once, no early morning tea.
Wrapped in multiple layers of clothing, hats and gloves, we tried to leave our room causing minimal disturbance to the other hotel guests. But, reaching the eerily darkened lobby, it was soon apparent that the hotel entrance was locked and bolted.
After a few minutes of blindly bumping into lobby desks and sofas, the sound of a car’s horn could be heard.
Sanjeez, our driver, was summoning us.
The phrase “before the policeman blow his whistle” sprung to mind.
Like latter-day Cinderellas watching the clock hands about to strike midnight, we waited in hopeless frustration.
Suddenly, a shadowed sofa began to groan gently.
Not the yeti, but one of the hotel’s countless diminutive bellboys emerged hesitantly from a heap of blankets and cushions.
He pointed to the side-door of the lobby: an emergency exit, designed to be pushed open without access to keys.
We muttered sheepish apologies for disturbing the boy’s sleep and emerged to greet a grinning Sanjeez.
Forty-five minutes later we tumbled out of the car at the summit of Tiger Hills.
As it happened, we were not “subject to clear weather”. Kangchenjunga kept herself shyly veiled in mountain cloud.
But the experience was still worth that bleary-eyed, early start.
Pictures of dawn taken from Tiger Hills, Darjeeling.