"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)

sunset

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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Away Daze

 


..And Sultry Sunsets

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Yesterday gave almost twenty-four hours of continuous rain.

But at dusk the onset of silence, partnered by fine shafts of rose-gold light piercing the rattan blinds, signalled a change of mood.

The clouds parted a little to offer, as if in recompense, a dramatic sunset over the Arabian Sea.

Twilight is brief in the tropics but often spectacular.

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“How strange this fear of death is! We are never frightened at a sunset.”  George MacDonald

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Pictures taken from my roof terrace.


A Journey

There are times when movement is difficult,

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The way ahead blocked,

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And choice is limited.

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The light appears almost beyond reach..

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But one final climb calls…

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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?

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



Sunset From The Stoop

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Bhaji On The Beach

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As the sun begins to set on the main feast-day of Onam, friends and families meet up on the Fort Cochin shores to talk, sit, stroll and fly kites.

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“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”  Anais Nin

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Coping With Cloud

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

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

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Evening Enchantment

The evening was beautiful: the dusk light almost magical.

The flowers in the front yard were bathed in gold.

A pack of dogs had climbed the water tower,

as if to view the setting sun.

Petals from the flame tree

fluttered down to decorate discarded coconut husks

and wall tops.

Familiar buildings were suddenly transformed by the glow of twilight.

People, who had sheltered from the intense heat of the afternoon, finally emerged from their homes, to stroll and chat as the pastel light began to fade.

An evening with neither crowded rooms nor trysts with strangers, but nonetheless enchanted.


Roof With A View

During the sultry afternoon heat, I retire to the roof,
ostensibly to read but, in reality, to drift into reverie.

Armed with a book, today’s “Hindu” newspaper and my laptop computer, I relax.

My morning may have been busy supervising the staff, taking the ferry across to the mainland for a shopping excursion, or visiting one of the many local art galleries.
But come noon, I aspire to avoid the foibles of the Englishman abroad.

Shielded by a colonnaded terracotta roof and bamboo blinds,

Sitting beneath the roof fans, I am protected from the fierce Indian heat,

And the eyes of neighbours.

It is quiet

And shaded

The silence disturbed only by an occasional sea breeze.

But dusk arrives early in the tropics.
By six o’clock it is too dark to read and time for the day staff to go home.

I rise from my planter’s chair as the sun begins to set over the Arabian Sea.

Twilight fades on another day.