"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)

endings

Beginnings… And Endings

SONY DSC

A new day dawns.
And my stay ends…

Picture taken from Southern Star Abbey, Kopua Monastery, New Zealand


Putting On A Show: It’s Over

After less than three weeks film-sets stand deserted.
It’s a wrap..
________________


________________


________________

Picture taken in Fort Cochin


The Party’s Over…

________________

________________

________________


Where Everything Is Music

“In my beginning is my end.
Now the light falls…”

________________


________________

“You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not.

You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not…”
________________

________________

Quotations taken from East Coker, Four Quartets. (T S Eliot. 1940)
Pictures taken after yesterday’s birthday-party on the roof-terrace


Evening Excursions

Walking home.
________________


________________

Picture taken in Fort Cochin


Journey’s End

Then, almost suddenly, our amazing tour of Ladakh was over.
It was time to say thank you and goodbye:
to Norvo, our supremely unflappable driver;
the kind staff at our “base-camp” hotel in Leh;
and to our excellent peripatetic cook.

It was also time to rest.

________________


________________

Picture taken in Delhi, on our way back to Cochin.


The Path Home

________________


________________

“Salva nos, Domine, vigilantes, custodi nos dormientes, ut vigil emus cum Christo et requiescamus in pace.

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.”

Save us, Lord, while we are awake, protect us while we sleep,
that we may keep watch with Christ and rest with him in peace.

At last, all-powerful Master,
You give leave to your servant to go in peace, according to your promise.
For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared for all nations,
The light to enlighten the Gentiles and give glory to Israel your people.

________________

Picture of the mist-touched avenue, leading away from Kopua monastery in North Island, New Zealand.


Lost Causes

________________

I pass this chapel several times a week
And have done so for almost three years.

But only recently has it struck me that invariably people sit silently beside its entrance,
Something not seen outside of other chapels. 

________________

Those who usually pass their hours here are women of a certain age.
Women wearing white saris:
The statement of widowhood.
________________

Occasionally elderly men will join them,
At a distance.
________________ 

The chapel is dedicated to St Jude, patron saint of lost causes.
Boldly written across its façade are the words:

“In confidence we invoke thee
Helper in difficult cases”

St Jude’s provides sanctuary perhaps,
To those who fear the utter loneliness of despair.
________________

 


Endings

________________

The party is over.

The dance floor must be packed away.

While the dancing drummers

Sip a last drink

And change out of their mundus.

________________

“All lovely things will have an ending, All lovely things will fade and die; And youth, that’s now so bravely spending, Will beg a penny by and by”

Conrad Aiken

________________


________________


Taking A Bow

A blog is the ideal forum for requests.

________________

Living so far from family and old friends, I realise that I am unlikely to warrant normal formalities.

But, should the opportunity arise, please bear this in mind.

As the curtain finally closes and I am shunted off to the unknowable, I would love this to be played:

________________

________________

It would make the perfect ending.

________________

________________

Cartoon from The New Yorker


Nunc Dimittis

________________

“An age is called “dark,” not because the light fails to shine but because people refuse to see it. ”  James Michener

________________

________________

________________

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

________________

“Your life is something opaque, not transparent, as long as you look at it in an ordinary human way. But if you hold it up against the Light.. it shines and turns transparent, radiant and bright. And then you ask yourself in amazement: Is this really my own life I see before me?” Albert Schweitzer

________________

________________

Photographs taken on Calicut beach at sunset. November 2010.


Remains Of The Day

The Calicut boat jetty at sunset.

________________


I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.

And on the pedestal these words appear:

`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

Ozymandias.  Percy Bysshe Shelley. Published 1818.

________________

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

________________

“I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity..”  Ecclesiastes 1, 14.

________________

________________


Away Daze

 


A Journey

There are times when movement is difficult,

________________

The way ahead blocked,

________________

And choice is limited.

________________

The light appears almost beyond reach..

________________


But one final climb calls…

________________

________________

Translation of the final of Richard Strauss’ “Four Last Songs”
“Im Abendrot” (“At sunset”)

(Text: Joseph von Eichendorff)

We have gone through sorrow and joy hand in hand;

Now we can rest from our wandering above the quiet land.

Around us, the valleys fall away; the air is growing darker.

Just two skylarks soar upwards dreamily into the fragrant air.

Come close to me, and let them flutter.

Soon it will be time for sleep.

Let us not lose our way in this solitude.

O vast, tranquil peace, so deep at sunset!

How weary we are of wandering—

Is this perhaps death?

________________

(Pictures taken in the Holy Land. October 2010.)



Lost Horizon

__________

I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I saw the film: probably around twelve.

I know it was a Sunday afternoon. After lunch, watching the television film matinée, my mother would do the weekly ironing, as my sister and I sat mesmerised by old black and white movies. (The mystery of how our term for afternoon performances is derived from the French word for morning has still not been explained to me.)

Lost Horizon” had a powerful impact. I was inspired to search out the book from our local public library. But the film is only based on the novel. There are major differences; notably in the endings.

And now comes my confession.

For the first and only time, I defaced a library book. I took a pencil and, in my best hand-writing, added a short coda. This vandalism was prompted by the shock of reading a book that did not end happily. I needed the hero to find what he had lost.

__________

__________

I was reminded of this by listening to BBC Radio 7 on the internet. They are currently transmitting a dramatised version of the book.

More than four decades have passed since that Sunday afternoon. I tell myself I am a little wiser. Failure and unresolved tensions –  in life and literature – are somewhat easier to cope with. “And lived happily ever after” no longer raises my hopes, just an eyebrow.

__________

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

__________

However, this is not quite the end of the story. Many years later I was destined to reach my own Shangri-La, a haven found by accident, stumbled upon during a reluctantly taken holiday.

There are no snow-clad, hidden valleys. The secret of eternal youth is not currently on offer. Arrivals and departures are arranged by scheduled flights and taxis, not through plane crash and hazardous frozen treks. My home is in the tropics of Travancore, not Tibet.

But I have finally realised much of the peace and happiness that was so tantalisingly first glimpsed all those years ago, watching “Lost Horizon”.

__________

__________


(When writing this post, I came across an interview with Frank Capra, where he gives an account of the film’s almost disastrous opening.)


Empire Lines

__________

“In the beginning there were two nations. One was a vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organised and culturally unified, which dominated a massive swathe of the earth.   The other was an underdeveloped, semi-feudal realm, riven by religious factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased and stinking masses. The first nation was India. The second was England.”

So begins “Indian Summer: The secret history of the end of an empire”.

This book by Alex Von Tunzelmann, which charts the independence and partition of India, continues as compellingly as it starts.

__________

__________

It’s gripping reading: I may be gone some time…

__________

__________

__________

__________


Into The Night

__________

India is booming.

Despite her many challenges, with an economic growth rate of more than eight per cent and a population of over one billion, there is a palpable sense of dynamism here.  Walking down the streets, what strikes me is the sheer force and vibrancy of life. Something I don’t feel in Europe.

There is a mood of optimism, that the balance of power is shifting.

“The old order changeth, yielding place to new.”

But for some here, this change heralds sadness; endings.

I have just finished reading a fascinating account of how societies can wither and die in Edna Fernandes excellent “The Last Jews of Kerala”.

Last weekend, in the New York Times, Mian Ridge wrote a moving article on the passing of Anglo-Indian culture.

The Syrian Christian community,  a powerful force in Kerala society for almost 2,000 years, are taking the demographic path to obscurity. The same fate awaits the Parsi population of Mumbai.

These declines and disappearances are nothing new. They must have occurred countless times as civilizations arose then retreated. But for those who see their affluence, influence and identity slowly fade, it is a difficult and painful transition.

Their choice; one that most eventually face: bitterness or quiet acceptance.

__________

__________


Restitution

__________

“That which he laboured for, he shall restore..”

__________


__________

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

__________


Coping With Cloud

__________

“Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

__________

__________

__________

__________

__________

__________

“Every dark cloud has a silver lining, but lightning kills hundreds of people each year who are trying to find it.”    Larry Kersten

__________


The Party’s Over

The season is over.

With the arrival of the rains, all but the most hardy of tourists have left.

Autos stand idle

Leaving their drivers time to sit and chat.

Commerce is quiet. The Kashmiri salesmen finally relax.

Lord Krishna prepares to be packed away,

while the souvenir shops close.

Focus drifts

And staff drift,

As hotels empty.

The clear-up begins.

__________

__________