Saturday, December 31, 2016

YET ANOTHER YEAR DAWNS and An Ode to the Year gone by

An Ode to the Year gone by

Shakespeare wrote in ‘Macbeth’. –

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

That I consider as an expression of existential angst, but I am seized with the reality of fleeting time. My angst is one of unfulfilled desires so as another year ends I am tempted to write –

An Ode to the Year gone by

Oh! Maybe if I had not blinked,
The year would not have passed me by,
All the tomorrows are now yesterdays
And the year a yesteryear,
The days no longer creep,
But pass me by at furious pace.
Oh! Maybe if I had not blinked,
I could still have held on to those moments lost,
Moments when I had willed,
Time should stand still.
Though I know time and tide wait for no man
But couldn’t they wait a little longer?
Oh! But I blinked,
I couldn’t do otherwise
For therein lies my destiny.

Yet another year has passed us by. As I now stand at the threshold of the dawn of another new year I look back to see what I have left behind. ‘Nothing much’ I say to myself, nothing which I can retrieve and carry with me except unfulfilled resolutions and a bucket that never seems to empty. I have only grown in time and carry with me the hope that the morrow will usher in further resolutions to keep me going and maybe a chance to take care of the list that still lies in the bucket. I remember when I was in school we were asked to write an essay on ‘My New Year Resolutions’. I did a commendable job in expressing myself in words for that’s what the teacher told me. But he was intrigued by the two lines with which I had ended the essay –

To every resolution made
A goodbye did I bade

He asked why I had written that and I answered truthfully that they sounded fine for they rhymed. He gave me a quizzical look and proceeded to advise me that it only reflected a defeatist attitude and there should be no room for procrastination in future. He cut out the two lines and said that now it read better. I learnt my lesson. I learnt that resolutions keep us going. Whether they are ultimately resolved are not, they take us forward. And life is all about going forward as much as we can. All our dreams do not come true that does not mean we cannot dream.

The ode that I have penned above is not procrastination or defeatist. It is only to convey the anguish I feel in not being able to hold on to moments that would soon fade away into memory. The rule of life however ensures that everything fades away, but I take comfort from the fact that every year that fades away soon gives way to a new year with renewed resolutions and renewed hopes and will give rise to moments that we shall cherish once again (and hopes that moments which gave us pain do not recur though that is hoping for the inevitable).

I recall the visit of a dear friend who stayed with us on one of his trips to India. He took out a paper and showed me what he called his bucket list. If I remember right there were nearly sixty items which included – learning new languages including Japanese, Spanish, taking part in adventure sports like paragliding and learning to play the trumpet etc. and mind you he was in his late sixties at that time. When I met him a year or two later he told me that he was still in the process of ticking of items in that list and there were quite a few which he had ticked off. If you ask me whether he plays the trumpet well, I will say does that really matter. It makes me wonder, that while I have been sitting and only dreaming of things I want to do, here was a man who has tried to turn his dreams to reality. Ultimately not everyone can attain perfection; it is the process of undergoing the experience that matters. At the end of the day life is all about experiencing.

It is important setting a goal for oneself, for that is what makes you move forward. It is on the way, on that journey, that we start seeing and experiencing things which we have never really understood before. You see things with a new perspective, a perspective that has been sharpened by the experiences on the way.

At the beginning of the year I had one major resolution and that was to complete my second book and have it published and that happened. Today as I sit here writing all this, I do not evaluate its success, though it does make me happy when a few of my friends tell me that they liked it. To me writing the book was the experience and it carried me forward during the year. Someone asked “So what now, when is your third book coming out?” I am not sure whether he had read my book, for he did not have anything to say about it, but I did reply “That will be my New Year resolution”.

We age every moment but we measure our age in years. May be that is for giving enough time to balance out the bad moments with the good ones and end up with a net balance of happiness and that is why we wish each other a happy new year for that is what we ultimately aspire for.

“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.”
― Robert Frost

Aside from my own reflections and thoughts on the year that has passed us by and my aspirations for the year that is on the threshold, I wish all my friends a New Year of fulfillment, happiness and peace. To each their resolutions that will take them towards discovering new frontiers and self-discovery, I wish all the best.


Sunday, December 25, 2016



On this mountain slope,
A cool wind’s caress,
Sweeps across my face,
With a lover’s tenderness.

The distant sun blushes red,
At this strange intimacy,
As it prepares to go to bed,
The end of a daylong spree.

Flutter of tired wings,
Stealthy sounds of retreat:
A shepherd’s call rings,
The bustle of homebound feet.

When the sounds of the day,
Have come to die,
And the nightly music
Is yet to begin,
A  muted stillness exists.

There appears now,
My long awaited lover,
At first peeping, then ascending
Towards her heavenly bower.
She beckons me to her bosom.

Gazing at her radiant face,
Tranquillity reigns,
As I come to rest,
In her soothing soft embrace.

Thursday, December 15, 2016



A year ago I wrote a post – ‘Submerged – The Day Chennai Sank’. The rains that battered the city were unprecedented as it was reported that it was the highest in the last 100 years. I was there then. For the first time I saw Chennai rise up as a single united force without relying on the unreliable support of the political class, to battle the forces of nature to ensure the survival of the city. And this they did for the city was back on its feet again. There are many who are still recovering from the losses they had suffered.

This time around I was not there when Nature decided to unleash its fury on the city through wind – the cyclone Vardah. When the city had already geared itself for a repeat of last year’s heavy rains, disaster struck from elsewhere. Last year the city was underwater, this time it was blown away. As I saw the visuals on the television of the devastation caused all around, my heart missed a beat and a feeling of profound sadness overtook me. Not only because of the misery that had befallen thousands of people for the second year in succession, but the fact that the cyclone had uprooted along with the trees the very soul of what was once known as Madras.

Fifty years ago I remember cycling down the avenues of Adyar, Theosophical Society, Kalakshetra – trees, trees everywhere. With the passage of time a number of them vanished with apartments taking over the places of houses/ bungalows. But still the green cover did exist, and the older trees did stand as testimonials to an era gone, guardians of a spirit that still flickered in the memories of old timers like me.

I have been told that most of the older trees (definitely older than fifty years) have been uprooted and fallen on the ground blocking the roads. They will be dismembered, the roads will be cleared and the gaping hole where once they stood will be filled with mud and concrete (well could we call it a decent burial?). As I saw the photographs of these giants laid low by the fury of nature I felt the sorrow of having lost a dear friend. There is sadness at the loss of human life and property, but for me this is the end of a generation.

I do not deny that I did spend a sleepless night wondering whether the tree under which my car was parked would fall down and smash it to smithereens. As expected I did receive a call from my neighbor that a big branch of the tree was perched precariously above and with the next gust of wind was bound to fall on my car. I told them where to find my car keys (the house key was with the neighbor) and promptly four of the younger generation had the car moved to a safer place. Though rebuilding homes and lives and the city is going to be a long and painful process, I am sure that like it happened during the floods last year, Chennaiites will rise once more to bring back normalcy to the city as soon as possible

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. –  Hermann Hesse