"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

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Sunday Morning Variations

Before..
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After..
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The reckoning…

It is Sunday morning.
Shaji and Dalila are taking their day of rest: there is no one to prepare our breakfast.
Robin, Anu and I try out the puri masala breakfast in a new Fort Cochin restaurant.
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A Wearied Progress

The innocence of childhood.
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 The realities of toil.
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The weathering of experience.

“Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.”
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Pictures taken on the same afternoon, whilst on the road in Ladakh.


This Too Shall Pass

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Towering over the city of Leh is its palace.
Built by Ladakhi kings more than three hundred years ago, left abandoned since foreign invasions in the nineteenth century and now in a state of forlorn decay, this massive building still dominates Leh’s sky-line.
It also remains open to the public:

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“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction.”

Abraham Lincoln, 30 September 1859
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Taken from the final section of Mahler’s Song of the Earth:

He dismounted and handed him the drink of parting.
He asked him where he would go and why it must be.

 He spoke.
His voice was choked:

‘My friend, on this earth fortune has not been kind to me! 
Where do I go?
I go to wander in the mountains.
I seek peace for my lonely heart… ‘

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The video clip from “Song of the Earth” lasts for almost nine minutes but, for those who have time, it is a beautiful performance.
The pictures were taken in Leh Palace, Ladakh 
 


A Slight Chill In The Air

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Norvo, our driver for the next ten days, arrived punctually.
The first stop was a massive Buddhist stupa, perched high on the hills overlooking Leh.

I consider myself reasonably well-travelled in India.
I have certainly experienced the extremely chilly nights of hill-stations in Munnar and Ooty and Sikkim.
But I was not prepared for this.

On the flight from Delhi to Leh, a Ladakhi passenger had asked me: “Why are you coming now? It is far too cold for you!”
I had shrugged off the question, thinking not only that decades of British winters must have had toughened me up, but that I was well prepared, and had packed sufficient warm shirts, sweaters and fleeces to keep both Robin and I comfortably warm.

I was mistaken.
This was a degree of coldness with which I could not possibly cope.

I was wearing a sleeved vest, long kurta shirt, warm jacket, woollen scarf and heavy shawl.
I had decent trousers, thick socks and sturdy shoes on.
But I felt that my body and mind were slipping into shut-down: I was hardly able to operate my camera.

The climate was perishingly frozen; the landscape utterly bleak.
The only warm colours were man-made:

 Norvo, a native Ladakhi,  was born, and totally accustomed, to the climate.
When we left the car he would squat beside it, quietly singing to himself.

I was now reluctant to leave the car at all.

If our expedition was not to be a disastrous mistake, this was a situation which demanded urgent remedies:
Leaving the stupa, I asked Norvo to take us to the clothes market,
immediately!

Within the hour I was kitted-up in very thick gloves, fur hat, and a goncha: the heavy woollen coat worn by Ladakhi men and women.
Despite feeling like a bit-actor from a dubious ethnic block-buster, I also felt wonderfully warm.


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Pictures taken from beside the massive Shanti Stupa, overlooking Leh.


Through A Glass, Somewhat Darkly

All is beautiful and welcoming,
but autumn in New Zealand is just a little cooler than spring in Cochin.
The climate renders me reluctant to stroll outside..
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 View from my window, South Island, New Zealand. 


Almost Ready

Final preparations before departure.
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Picture taken in Cochin.


À la recherche du temps perdu

Woman with grandchild
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“To every thing there is a season…” Part 2

Without and within,

passing years leave their mark

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and narrow our views. 

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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

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In Transit

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I sit in the airport lounge.
Fragmented English memories of both failure and happiness now behind me.

The warmth, excitement and comforts of life in India await my return.

An apt metaphor of my life:

A life in transit.

A muezzin sounds its plaintive summons to prayer:

An invitation extended to all who travel light, or with heavy burdens.

My heart is touched.
But lies elsewhere.

Picture of the June sky taken in London. Those of the airport are taken from the Emirates transit lounge in Dubai.


Dogged Resistance

From well-disciplined patience
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To potential mayhem.
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A passing dog-handler with her charges inadvertently risks canine chaos.
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Pictures taken in Buxton, a spa town in Derbyshire.

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Under Construction

Across the road from me, the construction of a three-story, apartment block continues.

Some days it is extremely busy.

Other days, less so.


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Discarded Dreams

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Life is a stream

On which we strew

Petal by petal the flower of our heart;

The end lost in dream,

They float past our view,

We only watch their glad, early start.

Freighted with hope,

Crimsoned with joy,

We scatter the leaves of our opening rose;

Their widening scope,

Their distant employ,

We never shall know. And the stream as it flows

Sweeps them away,

Each one is gone

Ever beyond into infinite ways.

We alone stay

While years hurry on,

The flower fared forth, though its fragrance still stays.

Petals by Amy Lowell

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“By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower.”

Rabindranath Tagore

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“For every beauty there is an eye somewhere to see it. For every truth there is an ear somewhere to hear it. For every love there is a heart somewhere to receive it.”

Ivan Panin

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An Alternative Construction

The plot of land which stands opposite mine was once a refuge for wild plants and animals.

It has been sold to developers.

A vast blue curtain now hangs in front of my gates.

From within, hammers, shovels and pickaxes practise daily overtures.

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Unused sets and props wait in the wings.

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Crossing The Dark Waters

Stop!

Enough procrastination.

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It is time for new experiences

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And new perspectives.

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My bag is packed;

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My entourage assembled.

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A taxi is waiting.

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Goodbye for now…


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Time For A Change?

There are days when I wonder if I have fallen quietly into a rut,

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Question if it’s time to rise above the mundane,

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Or maybe, try something a little different?

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But settle instead for changing my blog layout.

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Then relax, after such a major effort .

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