"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)

childhood

Class Of 35


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The rain had just stopped.
The ground was decidedly damp.

The boys were beautifully behaved.
They sat in quiet though confident expectation of becoming muddied.
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The Wonder Years

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Picture taken in Mattancherry



Temple Traders

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Finally we had arrived in Hampi,
The primary goal of our travels. 

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Hampi is a city long deserted.
All that remains are the ancient stone temples and palaces: some remarkably intact; others in various degrees of dilapidation.
But the vast site provides excellent opportunities for those wishing to make money,
From both tourists and pilgrims.

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Family businesses

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And children’s market stalls:

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Young men

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And old men:

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All ply their trades

In an exotic world where religious piety and financial profit seem reluctant to part.

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Mother And Infant

I didn’t see anything at first.

We had just emerged from the bamboo forest and it was Simon, our driver, who gestured for silence.

Initially only the adult could be made out clearly.
But as she gained confidence and moved closer, we could see the baby beside her.

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It was a time of shyness,

Reassurance

And hiding from the sight of strangers,
As with any young child.

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Then the magical moment was over. They both retreated back into the forest, as silently as they had arrived

I have seen almost countless numbers of working elephants.
But this was my first sighting of Indian elephants in the wild.

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The Journey Is The Destination: Part 11

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“The Child is father of the Man”

William Wordsworth

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Picture taken in Hampi, Karnataka, during ritual temple bathing.


A Passage Of Years

Two Years Later

by William Butler Yeats


Has no one said those daring

Kind eyes should be more learn’d?

Or warned you how despairing

The moths are when they are burned?


I could have warned you; but you are young,

So we speak a different tongue.

O you will take whatever’s offered

And dream that all the world’s a friend,

Suffer as your mother suffered,

Be as broken in the end.

But I am old and you are young,

And I speak a barbarous tongue.

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“… I only see the years. They come and go

In alternation with the weeds, the field,

The wood.”

“What kind of years?”

“Why, latter years

Different from early years.”

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

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Sunsets And Siblings

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Following the road to Calicut our driver, Babu, reached the hotel in good time. After showering, taking tea and a rest, we drove to the beach for the sunset.

Indian families frequently assemble on the shore at dusk: the sun is less fierce; the sea breeze refreshing.

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There, a mother and her two children were enjoying the spectacle.  As she stood bathed in golden light at the water’s edge, the sea lapping the hem of her sari, her young son and daughter paddled with unrestrained glee. Though the waves were gentle and the children in shallow water, the mother chanted an almost constant litany: “Be careful. Not too deep!”.

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The brother and sister’s innocent pleasure, alongside their mother’s anxious happiness, triggered memories of my childhood.

Our mother was not a swimmer and would stand nervously beside the breaking waves as my sister and I tried to jump them.

My sister, a couple of years older than me, was by far the braver of us both. Although shy with strangers, in the security of our family she was a fearless tom-boy.

Given an audience, I could not stop talking – but when it came to action I was much less adventurous. Little has changed.

Water redeemed me. It was the one area where I had greater physical prowess and confidence than my sister. I gloried in its overwhelming power and my seeming weightlessness.

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It is from such memories – the shared moments of joy and grief, our childhood bonds – that unwavering love and solidarity are forged.

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Fifty years later I can no longer jump the waves, alone or with my sister.  More than five thousand miles and different continents now separate us.

But the love, friendship and support have never tarnished.

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