Picture taken in Kannur Railway Station, Kerala.
(A clip worth playing, if only to hear the eccentric pronunciation of Richard Attenborough’s surname!)
Picture taken in Fort Cochin
Ready for their moment in the spotlight…
Picture taken in Fort Cochin
Picture taken in the transit hall of Dohar airport, Qatar
Picture taken in Pattalam, Cochin.
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same..”
From “If – ”
(Rudyard Kipling 1895)
Father and son settle their breakfast bill at Sri Krishna Cafe.
Picture taken while waiting for breakfast this morning, in Fort Cochin.
Das, my regular driver, waits with Anu
contemplating our journey home.
“Rain stopped play” is a phrase familiar to cricket followers in England, where the climate is reliably unreliable.
A fisherman waits for dusk.
Picture taken in the Kerala Backwaters, Chellanam.
Picture taken in Fort Cochin
Breakfast stall in Pattalam, Fort Cochin.
Time and tide may wait for no man,
but the parish hearse is patient..
“The origin of the phrase “time and tide” is uncertain, although it’s clear that it is ancient, and predates modern English. The earliest known record is from St. Marher, 1225: “And te tide and te time þat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet.”
A version in modern English – “the tide abides for, tarrieth for no man, stays no man, tide nor time tarrieth no man” – evolved into the present day version.
The notion of ‘tide’ being beyond man’s control brings up images of the King Canute story. He purposely demonstrated to his courtiers the limits of a king’s power by failing to make the sea obey his command.
That literal interpretation of ‘tide’ in ‘time and tide’ is what is now usually understood, but wasn’t what was meant in the original version of the expression. ‘Tide’ didn’t refer to the contemporary meaning of the word, i.e. the rising and falling of the sea, but to a period of time. When this phrase was coined tide meant a season, or a time, or a while. The word is still with us in that sense in ‘good tidings’, which refers to a good event or occasion and Whitsuntide, noontide etc.”
Picture taken outside the Holy Cross Basilica, Fort Cochin.
Origins of the expression “time and tide” taken from “The Phrase Maker “.
Our first morning in Gangtok found us viewing the Do Drul Chorten, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery
The monks, looking out on their world, appeared to be just as curious as we were.
The community mainly consists of young men in their teens and twenties: some are mere “schoolboys”.
Many are Tibetan refugees.
They were polite but seemed largely indifferent to the presence of pilgrims and tourists.
Instead they appeared determinedly focused on the middle-distance, staring out onto whatever was happening around them.
My assumptions were challenged.
I had expected the monks to be sitting in silent meditation, chanting prayers or reading sacred texts.
But their time seemed largely unstructured.
Although silent, the very strong sense of communication between them was almost palpable.
It was like stepping into a boy’s boarding school during a moment of high drama.
Initially I wondered if the young monks felt like exhibits in an exotic zoo. Perhaps their “look out” was a defence against the constant scrutiny of outsiders and their cameras.
But I saw exactly the same phenomenon in all the monasteries we visited.
Whether it’s a search for distraction, their game of interaction, or part of training in mindfulness, I cannot tell.
The monastery is not an enclosed order.
And although I could not understand what was happening, this community’s strange, unsettling atmosphere had some sort of magnetic attraction.
It defied expectation and explanation.
In my mind, the monks remain inscrutable,
waiting and watching from their window on the world.
Pictures taken at the Do Drul Chorten, Tibetan Buddhist Monastery and Institute of Education.
Our driver, Ravinder, had looked after us brilliantly in Delhi.
Today he was to take us to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.
It was a five-hour journey through busy traffic, variable roads and worsening weather.
During my first visit to India, the Taj Mahal was high on our must see list.
My family fulfilled this “tryst with destiny”.
I did not.
Though tantalisingly close to the Taj, I spent the allocated day completely unable to leave my hotel bathroom.
On this, my second visit, I watched what I was eating with greater care and, as we arrived in Agra, my bowels remained pleasingly quiescent.
But the same could not be said for the weather.
Unseasonal monsoon rains were falling so heavily that the long-awaited tour was still unattainable.
Again I spent my Taj-time in an hotel bedroom,
One step closer to the Taj Mahal, I reflected, than a bathroom.
The guide hired by Ravinder suggested we delay our scheduled early morning return to Delhi. We would all meet up again at 6:00 in the morning.
If it was dry, we might take our tour before breakfast, when the climate was cool and the site less crowded.
We awoke to some mist
But no rain.
The sheer size, perfect symmetry and breathtaking beauty of this monument to love and loss are staggering.
The Taj Mahal’s impact is almost overwhelming.
Its drama touches people in different ways.
But the experience remains unforgettable.
All photographs taken on this tour of the Taj Mahal.
Picture taken behind the Taj Mahal, on my north Indian travels.
Picture taken at the Fort Cochin Jetty.
He’s told to wait
Someone will let him know.
Locked gates are hardly opened.
Prospects are narrow,
Hopes are slim.
Picture of a young man in conservative Muslim dress, taken during Ramadan, the Islāmic festival of charity and fasting.
And a final reckoning.
A transient distraction.
Still he waits,
The future shuttered,
All doors are locked,
Each window bolted.
Again I pass.
And still he sits:
The street his home,
The film-set of a silent role:
His vigil barren,
And purpose spent.
Still he waits,
A piece of paper, signed and sealed,
The chance that someone hears.
The script is blank,
His part unspoken:
A life deformed,
His curse slow-fused,
His hope unfounded,
Official figures show that more than 30 million cases are pending in Indian courts – some since 1950.
Picture taken In Palace Road, Cochin.
Picture taken at the Mattancherry Ferry, Cochin
I sit in the airport lounge.
Fragmented English memories of both failure and happiness now behind me.
The warmth, excitement and comforts of life in India await my return.
An apt metaphor of my life:
A life in transit.
A muezzin sounds its plaintive summons to prayer:
An invitation extended to all who travel light, or with heavy burdens.
My heart is touched.
But lies elsewhere.
Picture of the June sky taken in London. Those of the airport are taken from the Emirates transit lounge in Dubai.
Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate,
For, lo! my own shall come to me.
I stay my haste, I make delays,
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways,
And what is mine shall know my face.
Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me;
No wind can drive my bark astray,
Nor change the tide of destiny.
What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it hath sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.
The waters know their own and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.
The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.
John Burroughs (1837-1921)
The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.