Categories
Life reflections

In their own world

Little Things
“Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.
Thus the little minutes,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.”
By Julia Carney

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We take a walk almost every evening. Fortunately, we live in a place where there is no pollution and there are many trees around us. Fresh air, breeze from the sea in the distance, the setting sun and the birds returning home after a busy day add beauty to our walk. Along with these things it is fascinating to look at people: each different from the other, and yet there is a sameness too.
Continuing our walk, we go past people who are there to take their evening exercise; but they also enjoy exchanging news with their friends. We hear snippets of conversation which leave me wondering about their lives. Two persons are in their own world expressing their grievances against someone, and about the world in general. Politics is a favourite topic for many. Each one has an opinion about the governance of the country. It is amusing to hear their opinions about politicians. In general these people think politicians are worthless persons.

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Once I saw a person walking at break-neck speed, head bent. He was looking neither to the left nor to the right. Does he ever notice the sky, the birds, the trees or the little wild flowers? Walking is a good exercise no doubt but noticing the world around would be good for the mind too. I wonder if he takes these for granted as they are always there. But each day is different, each sunset unique and beautiful in its own way. Looking at the person mentioned above, I thought of people who plug their ears and listen to music. They are in their own world. I am baffled by this. There is so much music in nature that is shut out. Every morning we can hear birds calling out to each other. These are joyous sounds, telling us about life around us. Why would anyone not want to hear them?

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One evening while driving back home, we were fortunately not absorbed in our own world. It was twilight. We were nearing home when my husband suddenly stopped the car. We saw a python slowly crossing the road. It was in its own world, unaware of how close it had been to being crushed under the wheels of our car.

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As people grow older, the world inside becomes more real than the one outside. Although our health is in our own hands, luck plays a major role in our remaining mentally and physically healthy till the end. On a dark note, I remember my father in the last months of his life. He lay in bed and hardly talked. He had withdrawn into his own mind. He could not communicate with us because speech had abandoned him. But my mother kept talking, hoping that she could reach him. Sometimes she did, and that made her very happy. It is our wont to take things for granted in life. We understand their value only when we lose them.

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Categories
Life reflections

A squirrel runs up and down the tree

This morning I was speaking with my doddamma (my father’s elder brother’s wife) . I have very good memories of being with her during my school holidays. She is 86 now and is indoors most of the time. She was sitting by the dining table, drinking tea. From there she can see the branches of a mango tree just outside their house; they also have a lot of Bonsai plants in their verandah. There is a lot of greenery around. She enjoys looking at the plants and the flowers. I admire her positive approach to life. She believes in taking life as it comes. Faced with difficult circumstances, says she, we should try to make changes to improve our life at such times. Otherwise, we should try to do our best and leave the rest to God. She told me she loves to watch a squirrel run up and down the branches because it is “live”: it is something happening in front of her eyes.

When I heard her words many thoughts came to mind. Last week we had gone to Sringeri, a temple town. Devotees from different parts of our country come to the temple of Goddess Sharadamba.

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On the 27th we were in the temple complex the whole evening. It is situated by the banks of the River Tunga. We enjoyed watching the devotees: many were busy with their prayers, and others were sitting on the ground watching everything. Yet others were busy taking photos including selfies. But mobile phones and cameras are not allowed inside the ancient temples.

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The devotees were standing on one bank of the river offering prayers to the Gods, puffed rice to the large fish and watching the sun set.

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At the same time many white birds were flying back to their homes in a tree downstream. They were sitting on the various branches of the tree, like a white cap. Then suddenly, all of then flew up in all directions. I wonder why they did that. What disturbed them? We will never know.

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Many ghastly things happen every day, all over the world. When we see them on the television or read about them in the newspapers, we feel sad and helpless. Unfortunately, it stops at that. But when such things happen close to home, we experience the hurt deep within us.

The tree in front of our house had shed its leaves when I returned home in the third week of January. But now fresh, green leaves have appeared, and the tree looks very beautiful. Life is coursing through its veins.

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There is so much happening all around us: live action. Butterflies fly in pairs; birds fly from flower to flower; people are busy at work in their own worlds. We have to just stop, take a break, and watch Life live.

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“Setting Sun

The serene river

Sacred to its devotees

Birds flying home to the distant trees,

The gentle orange glow added to the serenity.”

Categories
Life reflections Song of the Road

The Sense of Hearing

Some time ago I read this beautiful book, by Stephen Kuusisto. He is blind, and writes about “learning to savour the world by ear.” This brings to mind the moments that enrapture me every morning. My day starts early in the morning at five o’clock. It is still dark then and I like it that way. The quietness is soothing to the mind. As I do my yoga exercises, the dark turns to light. This transforming moment is called ‘Arunodaya’ in our country. The silence is filled with the chirping of the early birds. They call out to each other and I can hear them from different directions. I wonder what they are speaking about. It is a good way to begin the day.

Coming back to Eavesdropping, the author writes about his childhood, and how he learnt to hear everything around him. This book is about the art of listening. These days I see so many people walking about with their ears plugged, listening to music on their gadgets. I wonder if they ever pause to listen to the sounds of nature. I remember that some time ago a fellow-blogger wrote about hearing a bird-call. It is significant that everybody thought this was the ring tone of mobile phones!

I am now reading a fascinating book called ‘A Sense of the World’ by Jason Roberts. It is the biography of James Holman, an Englishman who was one of the greatest travellers of his times. He was blind. Roberts writes, “Holman began to use his ears not only to read people but to read the landscape. In this he was unusual, for while sound is crucial to the orientation of all blind, it rarely becomes the primary compensatory sense. Conventionally trained blind were (and still are) taught to rely most heavily on the sense of touch.” Holman was indeed an exceptional person, and his sense of hearing helped him to realize his dreams.

It is afternoon. As I am writing this I can hear some birds calling to each other in the distance. There is a lot of twittering going on (please don’t mistake this for social media chatter). Some are talking non-stop, while others are letting out only a single chirp. Near at hand the bulbuls have come eat the chapati pieces that we offer them. We put the food there in the morning for the birds and squirrels. Sometimes the birds do not come, and the pieces of chapati become crisp in the sun. Now I can hear the sharp crunching sound as the birds eat them.

Holman writes thus about the blind person’s sense of hearing: “Others hear, but not as do the blind. He concentrates his very soul while he listens, and can detect the slightest variations, the finest fractional point of tone … they tell minutely all the alteration of welcome, of regard, of coldness, pleasure, pain, joy, reproof, and all that fill the measure of his misery or his mirth.”

A Sense of the World | Jason Roberts [.net]
jasonroberts.net/a-sense-of-the-world

These pages are devoted to the extraordinary James Holman, and to the bestselling biography of this nearly-forgotten man: A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler, by Jason Roberts.

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Categories
Life reflections

Fragrance of flowers (Slice of Life)

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The Champaka (Magnolia Champaca) tree in our neighbour’s garden is blooming once again. In our language, Kannada, we call the flower, sampige. Here, yellow flowers are more common than the off-white ones. They are beautiful and very fragrant. Some people find the smell a little too much to bear. But I like them. When I open the kitchen windows in the morning their fragrance adds a special warmth to everyday tasks.

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We have been neighbours for more than ten years, and this young tree has been here for a much longer time. It reminds me of the two Champaka trees in the courtyard of a temple in a small village about two hours from our home. We came to know of this place many years ago and have loved going there. The temple is nestled in serene surroundings. The trees are giants, more than seven hundred years old. The chief priest of the temple told us that the two trees bear flowers all through the year.

Just imagine, seven hundred years old!!  If they could talk they would have so much to tell us. Those trees bring home to us that we are here for a very brief while. The many who saw these trees as saplings are no longer in this world. They are gone. And those many generations who saw the trees grow slowly are also no more. We are now seeing them living their lives in those serene surroundings. We too will soon be gone. We are but ‘the ships that pass in the night’ in the life of our planet.

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Nature gives us so much. It is really sad when people with wealth and power believe they own this planet. They think that it is theirs to destroy. Nature’s wealth and gifts are snuffed out without a second thought. What are we leaving behind for the future generations? Maybe people in every age have asked themselves this question.

Thank God those old trees are in a place far away from the main roads and in a temple courtyard. They will never be cut down in the name of development.

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“Nature’s special gifts,

Beautiful, fragrant flowers

Add beauty to Life.”

Trees give life and so much more

Is it right to destroy them?”

Fragrance of flowers (Slice of Life)

Categories
Life Song of the Road

The Daily Post Photo Challenge : Harmony

Harmony : “the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole.” I look forward to seeing harmony — a photo that is, or makes you feel harmonious — through your eyes.

Not very far from our place there are temples in small villages, very often by the side of a river. It is a pleasure to just there. The serene and quiet atmosphere makes everything so harmonious, not only with oneself but also with others and with nature and with life in general.

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