"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)

friends

A Shared Solution

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Picture taken in Palace Road, Fort Cochin


Looking At You

Picture taken on the summit of  Doddabetta, 8,650 ft above sea-level, in The Blue Mountains of Tamil Nadu.
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An Adieu

The twilight tryst:
The separation.

“I must climb alone, dear friend:
Yours is a different path to fly.”

The nervous embrace of new, and separate, adventures:
The wry acceptance of an awkward au revoir.
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Picture taken on the seafront, Fort Cochin.


“I guess that’s why they call it the blues..”

Picture taken in Fort Cochin, while experimenting with my camera’s recently downloaded “partial colour” firmware.
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(Title borrowed from Elton John)


Punting With Poise

Our lazy afternoon drift along the backwaters showcased various schools of punting:

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Power, comedy and effortless grace.
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Pictures of Jaimon, Anu and Robin, punting on the Chellanam backwaters, Kerala.


Carnival Crowds

While the New Year’s Eve beach celebrations had been attended, almost only, by men,
our New Year’s Day’s Carnival in Fort Cochin was enjoyed by everyone.

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Among those watching this spectacle were Anu, and Shaji & Dalila with their youngest son, Fabian.
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A Transition

As an old and weary year makes way for something new, Fort Cochin celebrates on the beach.

Happy crowds assemble.
Police, in high-profile but good humour, watch over events.
Fireworks, friendship, cameras, laughter, singing, and even space-restricted dancing, all play their parts.

The previous year’s “Santa Claus” is set alight:
a custom I have seen nowhere else!

Then, as the final fireworks die, an excited but tired crowd quietly fades,
like ghosts of the recently departed year.

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This celebration of memories, hopes and dreams is over.

Happy New Year!
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Pictures taken on Fort Cochin Beach at midnight, New Year’s Eve.


A Cruise For Christmas

or
Four Men In A Boat

Christmas Day was spent with friends.
Robin invited Anu and I to join his family’s celebrations.

The fun started immediately:
Robin and his brother, Jolly, took us in one of their fishing canoes through the canals and lakes which back onto the family home.

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Beautiful scenery, gentle warm breezes, just a few bottles of cool beer, and a lot of laughter.
All served with the companionship of kind friends.
It’s the perfect recipe for a very happy Christmas.
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Pictures taken in Chellanam, on Christmas afternoon.


Looking For An Answer

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Pictures of Robin – my kind helper, travel companion and friend – taken in Rumtek Buddhist Monastery, Sikkim.


Care In The Community

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Pictures taken in Rumtek Tibetan Buddhist Monastery, Sikkim.


Teatime Treats

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When a friend returned from a trip to Ooty I was very pleased to see him.

When he presented me with four caddies of Nigiri, single-estate teas,
I was delighted!
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Something To Celebrate


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Shaji, with Dalila his wife, and Anu the houseboy, take good care of my home,
And of me.

Yesterday, Shaji’s birthday provided an opportunity for us all to celebrate,
And for me to express my gratitude. 

Shaji and Dalila have kept me in comfort, and my home in good order, since I bought the house, two and a half years ago.

They respond to my idiosyncrasies, bizarre European ways, and occasional health glitch, with patient kindness.

Happy Birthday Shaji!

And a heart-felt
Thank You.

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Final picture shows Shaji, with his wife Dalila, and youngest son Stefan, in their home.


The Journey Is The Destination: Part 12

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“But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”

Khalil Gibran

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Picture taken in Hampi


The Day-Trip

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Since January we have had a fairly constant stream of guests staying.

I suspect my regular cast enjoy the excitement.  Taking care of “Sir” must, at times, seem relatively humdrum.

They have always been cheerful

But they have worked hard.

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Yesterday, as a small token of thanks, I took them away for the day:

A “works-outing” to Nelliampathi.

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An SUV was hired to transport us.

We were a party of eight, plus driver:

Shaji, Dalila and their two sons; Anu; Robin and his nephew; and myself.

The destination had been Robin’s idea

And he carried a list of suitable eating places.

Setting out shortly after dawn, we broke our journey for breakfast, then continued until reaching the Pothundi Dam and its gardens.

The day was already quite warm.

We stopped for tender-coconut water before reaching the relative cool of Nelliampathi Hills’ tea plantations.

Here, we took a walk

Before lunch.

Then a stroll through the forest trail and across ancient lava flows brought us to the dam again, this time, thousands of feet beneath us.

Finally, the journey home.

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Our driver had been safe and friendly.

The car held its own along the often challenging roads.

The only mishap: a short-lived episode of travel sickness in the youngest member of our party.

By now conversation had quietened, our legs were tired and the children were sleeping.

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It was a splendid day, full of laughter and gentle excitement.

Looking back, it seems already a dream…

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Sunset Sailings

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Farewell To A Queen

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I watch and wait.

Watching as the sun slips down

Past the fishing nets

Into gently lapping golden waves.

Waiting for a queen of royal lineage.

 

The crowd quietens,

Then breaks into cheers.

She has appeared.


The Queen sails majestically out of harbour,

Into sunset.

And with her,

My friends…

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Photographs taken as my friends left Fort Cochin on the Queen Elizabeth yesterday and sailed off into the Arabian Sea.


The Timepiece

Amongst the many gifts I was kindly given this Christmas, one is particularly cherished:

An old pendulum wall clock.

It puts me in mind of the clocks I saw as a boy, in the offices of railway ticket clerks and bank tellers.

A good friend remembered my commenting on such a clock in an old-fashioned Fort Cochin restaurant, as we sat eating Sunday breakfast. He secretly searched Cochin for something similar – but none were to be found. Months later, he came across one for sale in Palakkad and quietly bought it as a surprise for me on Christmas Day .

The clock-face reveals it to be an old “Seth Thomas” timepiece, made in the USA.

Quite how this clock, manufactured in America during the 1930’s or 1940’s, arrived in rural Kerala will probably always be a mystery.

The Seth Thomas company was a well-known clock maker. Their most famous clock is probably this one:

In Grand Central Terminus, New York.

The dimensions of my newly acquired Seth Thomas are more modest.

I realise it is not a priceless antique. But it has simple elegance and character, plus an intriguing provenance.

Serendipitously, Seth and Thomas are names that span four generations in my family. One was my father’s name and is held by my house today.

Add the fact that a dear friend spent so much time and effort to find this clock for me, and it gains value beyond rupees.

 

Now, when I sit reading and musing, my treasured clock will gently chime the hours past.

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“..I may look back on every sorrow past,

And meet life’s peaceful evening with a smile:

As some lone bird, at day’s departing hour,

Sings in the sun beam, of the transient shower..”

William Leslie Bowles

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Fun And Games

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There are many ways to celebrate this festival.

One of the most touching is when friends, having heard that your plans for a family Christmas collapsed,

 

Invite you as “Guest of Honour” to share Christmas evening with their family.

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Then enchant you with the innocent entertainment of song, dance, party games and laughter,

All served with warm affection.

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Aspects Of Love

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“the best relationships–friendship and otherwise–tend to be those where you can say anything to the other person but you don’t say everything.”

Audrey Beth Stein

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Fast Food at Café Krishna

It is Sunday.

I have no cook and four mouths to feed for breakfast.

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We set out by motorbike

and by auto.

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Sri Krishna Café is always busy.

The waiter, despite his unnerving tremor, is friendly and helpful.

We choose

Masala Dosa

And Onion Oothappams.

Then greedily, we all follow our meals with Vada

And, of course, chai (tea).

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The food is delicious.

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The bill is totalled up:

Four  two-course breakfasts have amounted to 130 Rupees (less than £2 or $3)

Money well spent!

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In Tandem

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“In the confusion we stay with each other, happy to be together, speaking without uttering a single word.”

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