"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)


In Reprise

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It now seems a distant memory but a few months back this lane appeared to be a bustling shopping centre.
A large film-set had been constructed in just over a week.

Kamath & Kamath, like almost all Indian movies, was showing in cinemas within six months of filming the final shot.
Sadly, it bombed both with the critics and at the box-office


Even the DVD has long since been remaindered.

Picture taken in Fort Cochin


The season’s monsoon has drawn its close.
But after three years of typical tropical weather, my roof’s old bamboo blinds have fallen apart.
Pigeons nest in the roof terrace beams, and crows roost at night leaving the floor covered in their droppings.

Sebastian, my carpenter, is busy constructing much sturdier replacements blinds:
lengths of hardwood bound by nylon webbing.

My hope is that they might outlive me.


Picture of Sebastian and his team taken on my roof terrace in Fort Cochin


In transit:
twelve hours in Singapore
made considerably easier by taking a room in one of the airport’s three Transit Hotels.



À la recherche du temps perdu

Woman with grandchild


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

Without and within,

passing years leave their mark


and narrow our views. 



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


The Time Of Their Lives

An ever-dwindling asset.


Pictures taken in Cochin.

A Question Of Timing


“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
And a time to die;

A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;

A time to kill,
And a time to heal;

A time to break down,
And a time to build up;

A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;

A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;

A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to gain,
And a time to lose;

A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;

A time to tear,
And a time to sew;

A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;

A time to love,
And a time to hate;

A time of war,
And a time of peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. 



This machine in Salisbury Cathedral may be the world’s oldest working mechanical clock, possibly dating from the fourteenth century.

It was designed without face or hands,
but tells the time by striking the hour.


Among The Temple Ruins


Hampi is such a vast archaeological complex that exploring it requires transport, a sense of purpose
And several bottles of water.

Otherwise even the hardiest tourist tends to wilt.


The site consists of a truly remarkable array of beautiful temples and palace ruins, built between the 14th and 17th centuries.

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Sic transit gloria mundi..


Watching The Rushes

The definitions of rushes include:

• moves or acts swiftly, as in a hurry

• the first, unedited print of a movie scene…



From its quiet beginnings, right up until it ends,



The Fort Cochin rush is:



Something less than frenzied.


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“What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?”  William Henry Davies



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.



“… 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)


Discarded Dreams


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



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

Rabindranath Tagore



“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



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.


“..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






Another Dawn, Another Day.

Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.

If all time is eternally present

All time is unredeemable.

What might have been is an abstraction

Remaining a perpetual possibility

Only in a world of speculation.

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

Footfalls echo in the memory

Down the passage which we did not take

Towards the door we never opened…


From the opening of Burnt Norton, Four Quartets.  T. S. Eliot




This week, in “The Hindu” newspaper, Pranay Gupte wrote of a reunion he attended.

It reminded me of a similar episode in my life. The feelings of estrangement that such events induce are probably inevitable.

Pranay Gupte finished his piece by saying:

“The past is not prologue.

When the past is gone, it is gone; no amount of imagery can truly reconstruct it.

There is no way I can translate my regret into something more meaningful. My past was lived in a different time, and although it will linger in my mind. I don’t think I will revisit it through another punishing journey. With every word I write, that past recedes, it moves away beyond my grasp. Perhaps just as well.”


Revisiting the past is like turning to capture your shadow.

The image is immediately distorted. What we see, although attached to us, lacks full dimensions. It almost seems to mock us.

We are told “the unexamined life is not worth living“, but what we look at is a strange affair: a chimera. It should not be fully trusted.

The past cannot be viewed with innocent or unbiased eyes.

Its full truth is forever barred to us.

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”   L. P. Hartley.