Friday, July 29, 2011

Beyond Rocks and Doodles

She is always on my mind 24/7. This teenager who sometimes becomes my mentor, philosopher and guide. Other times appears as an infant who refuses to come out of the closet where she is hiding because she hates milk.
Maybe what's bothering me most is her insecure tantrums which proclaim " Nobody likes me, nobody understands me, i am going to the garden to eat worms".

i looked around the chaotic room so typical of a shared hostel room and was offering to help clean up the mess when my eyes got stuck on something which was kept neatly near the books stacked untidily.
i picked it up, caressed the cold smoothness and marveled at nature but more than that i wondered how and where she could manage to find those. Her school is neither in the hills nor by a stream where one could collect them.
Also a warm affectionate smile spread upon me and washed me of the frustration as i noticed how she has neatly without a drop of smudge doodled on the surface of her collections.
In between all that warmth i was still a bit perplexed as to how when she could be so finicky about being neat in her doodling could bear to lodge in a room that looked like a burglar ransacked room.

The object took me a few years back when she was still in primary school. The hot summer siesta afternoons when all of us were busy snoozing she would be out in scorching heat wandering the periphery of the garden picking up this and that. Not even her mother clinging to whom she would be listening to a story a few minutes back could suspect nor realize her creeping out of the bed.
A twig, a dry leaf, feather...
We would only chance upon these after they were neatly put up on her study table. Not in it's original form but along with her creativity.

i can see-
The twigs resembling miniature driftwood converted into pencil holders.
The leaves stuck artistically with some words painted neatly on it, on her small bulletin board.
The feathers peeping like bookmarks at first but later painted and decorated in her small handmade paper vase.

So assuming her new find to be yet another art from waste i just patted her affectionately and complimented her on her cute paper weights.
But more than that i asked her how she found those in the hostel campus which was all covered up with concrete and green.
What she told me was not surprising at all.
i was seeing that frail, petite very beautiful girl aged 6 maybe 7 or 8 lurking in the hostel campus on her hunting spree.
She is now a beautiful teenager who excavates the moment she chances upon one peeping from the ground.

Rocks! and her kitty includes quite a few. She could have more if space permitted but i was amazed at her collection. There were sizes that made me call them a paperweight but some were smaller.
All wonderfully weathered to perfect ovals, ellipses and circles.
And she calls them GRATITUDE ROCKS.

Any moment when she feels good she decorates these rocks with words that spill out from her heart.
i then wished i had seen more than what just my eyes had seen.
i did not ask her but she picked up two of her collection and said, " Mausi you can have these."
(Mausi in Hindi means maternal aunt)

i still have some time before i have to go and bring her home for the weekend and i look at her gifts juxtaposed with the vision of that little girl and can't help the tears that begin to cloud my vision.
A silent prayer escapes my heart...
Image source:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Words: When even a few provoke and a thousand sound profane


i am never concise and that i feel i can neither condemn nor extol. Brevity is not everyone's soul of wit. Probably that's one reason why i have this anxiety when i go on a expressing- my- thoughts spree.
This anxiety triggered by not having brevity so far as words are concerned cause me no harm other than invading my thoughts and nagging me to create a suitable title for my narrative when/if i have to say something. i wonder how many bloggers undergo the same dilemma of arriving at a suitable title that just about sums up all they have to say appropriately and beautifully.

But so far as others are concerned my words generate a chaos of emotions if taken in it's totality. Some misconstrue my words, others fail to see my point, still there are those who run to their defensive, a very few like my husband feel thrilled to contradict me just for arguments sake not even realizing that it could be embarrassing in company, definitely a lot many find me exhaustive and last but not the least my words even manage to inflict pain. It is the last effect that my words have that troubles me the most for only i know that when i said what i had to say it was never my intention to incite or aggravate.

Comforting words is an art and not my forte i guess. For my attempt to be honest with my feelings and be original was close to disaster. Maybe i'd  rather sound cliched and stick to the time-tested one-liners. Or for a change prefer to remain silent and just listen.

Of course when one is angry or frustrated hurling out words that hurt is quite common and even considered normal so far as venting out is concerned. i won't deny that i have not been a silent and saintly sage on such occasions either but i am beginning to respect the power of words today when in an attempt to comfort my loved one in distress i have defaulted.
i also realize that each experience brings us a step closer to knowing more not only of your own self but also of others. So this is what i know today and i shall try to be brief but to the point here.
a) Avoid indulging in analysis even if provoked by the one who is in pain,  for you will be adding tonnes to the already existing agony.
b) Offer only the assistance asked for if you are capable enough to oblige but do not attempt at suggestions that sound like Unsolicited Advice.
c) Never ever make comparisons, it hurts real bad like a wound dealt without anesthesia.
d) It's best to be silent and hear patiently and if you do need to use words try and be brief in attempting at words of comfort. Stretching it too far stings instead of soothing.
It is a pity that even when we have had the same experience how and why instead of refining ourselves we succumb maybe due to our own insensitivity in doing precisely what should not be done.

Just a week back when i was battling a tough situation figuring out how to set things right, i got this from a friend which not only left me baffled but also hurt me to the extent of cursing the day when i decided to get in touch with my long lost friends. i am still reeling under the after-effects of her insensitivity which in a way felt like a pinprick to my already deflated desire to even meet her . She said something like, " Shivani you need to unwind. i know of this wonderful place ***** where we could meet...".
i couldn't hear more as i had another important call to attend to and felt relieved that didn't have to listen to the description of THE PLACE. The timely call saved me not only from exhausting anguished explanations but also prevented bitter words from escaping my very slippery tongue as i was finding it difficult to gulp that offer which sounded more like can't be digested sermon rather than as a genuine gesture to comfort and thus our conversation ended on a peaceful note.
For i have changed. Gone with the wind is that power to coat bitter pills with sweet beating round the bush somethings. An exercise that i indulged into when i was much younger just because i wanted to please everybody. Also because i feared alienation. Those days it felt safe to conform to the said words, agreeing meekly outside when someone was shrieking inside, " That's not how i feel ".

Her suggestion seems fine apparently if one has no inkling as to how she coped with her own traumas.
i don't need to conjure up her reaction if such an advice had flowed calmly from me when her debilitating illness just a few days back required a strict regime of alternate sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Her own method of coping came as a surprise to me from a friend who started lashing out requests that sounded more like commands to be strictly followed. Although she tried her level best to be polite.
She specifically asked me not to sent any fun forwards to her because it exhausts her to go through mails that clog her inbox. If at all i felt the need to send her words then it better be original. i wondered then if it was her illness that made her so uptight about my forwards or was it her own sense of not being considered unique enough at that juncture when she was battling it out and was clubbed together with other friends who also received the same along with her. i was wonder struck and also felt her commands to be strange because she offered me no convincing explanation.
i do not understand her move because i feel otherwise. Just because some beautiful, humorous, motivating, comforting mails are forwards does not necessarily mean they were not original. i believe before it was turned into a chain of forwards it sure was a creative original once. My intention was purely to share some beautiful, soothing, informative and even humorous messages that could have helped her forget the pain she was suffering even if it was for a few moments.
Also i feel that if you can afford the time forwards are a quick and easy way of saying hello and everybody does not possess that skill that requires an ORIGINAL.
Anyways i understood her angst, apologized and stopped sending her the forwards.

i was hurt because this suggestion should come from her of all the people.
She who by God's grace, medical advancements, blessings from elders and good wishes of all  is out of her illness now.  i sure do feel happy that she's out of danger and doing well health wise and otherwise but what gets me out of my wits end is that she should even suggest this when i'm into the thick of things finding it difficult juggling time and somehow managing my own responsibilities and commitments.
i wonder if she would have been sweet enough to oblige me in a way that apparently seemed like a service to an agonized soul when in the middle of battling something that had shaken her completely had also suffered another major loss when her mother who had come to stay with her and provide her with assistance and comfort also succumbed unexpectedly to an illness?
How could she not consider my plight when i am trying to play hopscotch with some sad turn of events in my life too?
Her words sounded like life was not tough on me rather i was making it rougher by not coping well enough.

Today she's seeing friends which i came to know through snaps posted on a social networking site and is enjoying her stress free life but she still insists on NO FORWARDS and there is a bigger NO to facebook and the sort. Not that i endorse facebook and all that goes on out there but it still irks me that this unwinding suggestion should be coming out of someone who has strict fixed set of rules today which in a way screams THIS IS HOW FAR YOU CAN GO NOT MORE THAN THAT.
She who claims that for her family comes first and friends the honored chosen ones belonging to her coterie are for later when she finds the time and the inclination.

Don't know if i am being good naturally or contrary to my belief of being assertive and strong today was i still being a chicken at expressing how it felt when she slapped those rules on me.
The funny thing is that although i am hurt i feel okay and would prefer to stay in touch and call her a friend still.
Maybe i realize that she has had her changes too and is not the same girl i used to oblige and also hang around with when we were at college doing graduation in the same discipline.There were no borders drawn then.
i guess as we grow old we do become very finicky about our requirements.
Also i know it is very common to forget the do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
i mean i just did that so do i have the right to condemn?
Definitely since it was my turn to receive hurt this wanting not to severe any further ties is also provoked by yet another routine of indulging in you can't change the world / stop expecting do your own... 
Amazing really! how easy it is to switch from being a prey to being a predator in order to console the self.

i feel somewhat irritated and pained when instead of understanding that for some time i can't allocate my time to friends, meet up and re-unions and the sort, am being discussed and sometimes advised the same. i got the drift through another common friend who has the same meeting friends things to say in her mail.
i am clueless about the sort of pleasure friends are getting who in the midst of their leisure vacationing, get together pictures are mocking me in their conversations doubting my intentions on the social networking site.
i confess that my care two hoots does not work when understanding is denied from those whom you are so sure would let you be.
For the rest i feel more wanted than ever also sometimes amused at their digs directed towards the one who has been a quiet prowler listening to conversations on social networking sites rather than being an active participant.
Sure it's endearing to note how suddenly one is in demand.

Considering that friends are important for very many reasons, comfort from troubled situations being one of them, how many would leave an ailing child of her own at the mercy of the ailment and agree to catch a get- together in this " meeting midway in the city...very nice joint in **** ******...not very far...".

i might have slipped out of line but just like other weird things happening these days like having a grand divorce party and parting as friends or viewing reality shows that make somebody's agony an entertainment subject this could be the latest in LISTEN TO YOUR OWN NEEDS thing perhaps.
i however am neither convinced nor comfortable with the emerging trend. And i care two hoots if i am crowned with various titles that mock me.
i know of one when just the other day another friend of mine thought that i was being JUDGEMENTAL in avoiding a friend who time and again has only proven herself to be a gold-digger and never ever as a friend.
My take on avoiding some is that i'd rather stay away from friends who are way above both my own sensibility and my budget. Knowingly plunging oneself into situations one can't handle is sheer stupidity.

Okay i strayed again and again but coming to the point where i was...
i experienced hurt from a friend just a week back and yet i failed to learn or else i would not be regretting my words today.
Why is it that we have this tendency to carry the wrong torch forward? A torch that singes and burns rather than making it an effective tool to illuminate the dark despair ?

My rant today was not directed only towards insensitivity and choosing the right words but more on WHEN to say what you have to say. i hope and wish that my bombarding thoughts have put it all across if not in a consistent manner but everything i had to say. Words, insensitivity, our own failings et al.
Also remembering my own as i have elucidated earlier about my own failings so far as words and experiences are concerned.

i cannot quit without expressing my gratitude to all...friends and family who understood my " leave me laddie! leave me to my own soup" and have obliged me with the time and space to figure out my own way out of this
impasse and thus find my own equilibrium.

Since i have talked about words and am figuring out the title for my blog i can't help remember this beautiful song called Words. It was my favorite when i was in higher secondary doing my Plus Two and it still is only that i don't hum this song now neither do i feel that strong urge to sing it aloud in the bathroom. i prefer to go about the song silently inside me.

This song may talk about the inability to express love through words of a particular person but it can have other connotations too, my own predicament included which saw me clumsy and guilty on four counts.
First in choosing the wrong time, then asserting my compassion, also failing to comfort and last but not the least, creating a ruckus of emotions when i yelled out my own lack of understanding of the fact that some things are easier said than done.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Growing Old


The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old.
I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my
reaction, she was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that
it was an interesting question, and I would ponder it, and let her know.
Old Age, I've decided, is a gift.
I am now, probably for the first time in my life,
the person I have always wanted to be.

Oh, not my body ... the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the
sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person
that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don't
agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends,
my wonderful life, my loving family for
less gray hair or a flatter belly.

As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself,
and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend.
I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making
my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need,
but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a
treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave
this world too soon; before they understood the
great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the
computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon?
I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70's,
and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will.
I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body,
and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to,
despite the pitying glances from the jet set.
They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful.
But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten.
And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken.
How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one,
or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet
gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us
strength and understanding and compassion.
A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and
will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have
my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs
be forever etched into deep grooves on my face.

So many have never laughed, and so many have
died before their hair could turn silver.
As you get older, it is easier to be positive.
You care less about what other people think. 

I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned
the right to be wrong. So, to answer your question,
I like being old — it has set me free

I like the person I have become.
I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here,
I will not waste time lamenting what could have been,
or worrying about what will be.

And I shall eat dessert every single day
(if I feel like it).

(Contributed by Gabrielle who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Something wonderful is happening to me and i can't help but blog about it. It is this feeling where i find myself lingering just a bit longer in order to absorb.
For someone who is often classified as impulsive this is something major. i am as a matter of fact feeling something like," So finally i have arrived !"

Sometimes i owe it to my own nature of starting personal projects to make life interesting even when things seem to be going haywire. Something to look forward to, even when there are very serious matters hanging over your head robbing you of your time and energy. The self imposed projects have helped me find my equilibrium for not only do they provide refuge from agony and distress but also get me energized with more optimism. My projects that range from the most mundane to something very creative and original are like welcome tea breaks in my day to day life. That sure could be one reason i can't remember the last time i got bored.
Other times i feel that i should give due credits for this transformation in me to the people and the happenings around the world . Why else would i bother to take time out and know what ATONEMENT really means when the local tabloid screamed something like, *******'s  day of atonement.

i remember seeing the movie 'Atonement' a couple of years back and thought i understood it all. But what i actually understood was just the story although it didn't even occur to me then that i really didn't understand the meaning of the title of the movie well enough. i was happy with the drama which i had just viewed and liked it in it's entirety as a good story, acted and played well by the characters.
This is just one example i have cited about how i am on a knowing spree at my own pace and without any pressures.

But most of all i feel it is this wonderful age of being in the middle forties when you begin to see clearly what it is that really gives you joy. This age when you cease to follow blindly and start looking into what satisfies you. Actions have a definite purpose now directed towards your own enrichment. And i guess one is more adept at doing this now than ever because now you are in no hurry, rather you are calm but eager to assimilate.
This freedom of living on my own terms at my own time schedule, doing what i want to do is actually very rewarding when with each simple step i am gaining a lot more.

Needless to say then that i am living each day now with that secret thrill of what new i shall be stumbling upon next and how exciting it would be to search and know more. It's akin to that feeling you get when gazing at the starry night you sight a shooting star and you are just thrilled to have sighted it.
It could be new words like i have mentioned or anything else. Point is, there is no anxiousness just the sheer joy of the realization that i do have an inclination now.
Just the other day it was a word but today i'm delving into the realms of art. Tomorrow it could be something else. And the best thing is that i don't feel any regret that i had missed out on these earlier rather i feel glad that today i have the inclination and the time.

i can't remember which of my friends had forwarded me the beautiful words and the touching picture that accompanied it but i foraged my 1091 emails to get to this particular forward. It took me a lot of patience but for me it was easy this time. i retrieved the mail and tried calling my friend who sent me wisdom but was unable to get her on the telephone. Silently i thanked her for it is only now that i want to linger on this forward and my friend.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Day in My Life When Ordinary Felt Extraordinary

This morning we smiled at each husband and me. This was not a habit related, joke induced, happy tidings propelled smile rather the most affectionate love laced smile. The smile remains now as i blog and wonder if he amidst his many files is smiling too in his office. However before i get carried away, lingering on the smile i must mention what brought that smile on us despite the turmoils creeping unexpectedly and getting us all damp and restless.

It could have been the warm smile which spreads all over the self when one decides to wear the shirt gifted so affectionately by the offspring. It could be a smile triggered by the poignant memories which flash into the mind's eye of the child who just a few days back was a toddler always nudging at your trousers asking to be lifted up and held in your arms. It could be that smile triggered off by the choice, the selection , the knowledge of what constitutes a formal wear which brings on some sense of pride and say, " Has to be good...after all he is my son!". It could be these and many more.
But as a matter of fact there was something else about the shirt which my husband decided to wear today after all this nagging from my side. Maybe he was just saving it for some occasion or he was just a bit sentimental, whatever, but there sure came along with this shirt something which in a way wiped away the gloom of the previous evening and brought cheer back for us to hit a new day with renewed hope and a better beginning.
Well the shirt had along with clips and pins, a piece of cardboard that is tucked behind to give the shirt a crease less shape. And it was this piece of cardboard that got us eyeing each other like hopeless in love teenagers cavorting under the shade of a beautiful fragrant tree in a park. Whispering sweet nothings...and all the works. Okay that could be dismissed as old fashioned for the romance mantra of the day is dating and the venue in parks is only for cheap, poor folks. Hep/Modern/Smart couples are seen cavorting in a very liberal way in discotheques, pubs, farmhouses, beach houses...

So there was something on this firm, white cardboard that saw sparks of romance flickering all around the two 45 somethings in the peak morning period when the breakfast has to be eaten and one of them has to hurry out of the house with his briefcase muttering a hurried bye. All this BETWEEN the self consoling attempts of, " Okay we'll cross the river, when we reach it, no point getting all worked up now".

Let's first have a look at that miracle piece. i blog and wonder as to why of all these days i had to linger there and ask my husband not to throw the unwantables because i wanted to read the instructions if there were any. Generally these things are plucked off in a hurry by the man and the woman throws them in trash later muttering and cursing the perpetrator of mess on the recently done up bed.
Maybe i lingered because i knew what was coming next. Nothing more than being asked by him to iron out the creases that accompanies a new folded shirt.
Or i stood there a while to see him don the shirt and see how he looked in our son's choice. Whatever...
i sat on the bed and peered into the illustration of the shirt on a small card which explained the anatomy of the shirt and how it was unique in it's craftsmanship. As he got busy dressing up i stole glances and saw how affectionately he lifted the shirt. For a moment it felt like he was trying to lift a toddler. i felt touched but proceeded reading aloud the words printed on that other large piece of what now i choose to call The Card  Sent From Heaven.

Me:(Reading aloud as if reciting) CLOTHES MAKETH THE MAN 
A Gentleman's Shirt Never Looks Creased
A Gentleman Stands Up When He Is Introduced To Someone
A Gentleman Never Brags
A Gentleman Wears Polished Shoes
A Gentleman Never Adds Anything To His Food Before Tasting It 
He Respects The Chef
A Gentleman Uses A Coaster 
A Gentleman Knows How And Under What Circumstances To Send Flowers

The first reading did not elicit any reaction i guess because my man was preoccupied as usual while dressing up. So i called out to him and sought his attention.
The second read was slower with appropriate pauses between each point mentioned on the spotless white but stylishly cut cardboard. i don't know if that triggered a most gratified response from him or his own sense of feel that he looked good in his brand new shirt matched with a dark trousers...the belt...the shoes et  al.
He looked at me with his boyish smile which can't be explained and said," But of course! I am a gentleman !"
Our eyes met and we both laughed at this harmless lie uttered. Because we both knew that barring three of the above read traits he had none... ever. Nor will he ever try.
 For he loves the way he is and i also do accept him the way he is for no matter how many times i would remind him not to be one SG he will not change. SG expanded is Self Glorification. It does appear as bragging sometimes when he stretches it too far and a bit too long. He believes SG to be a very important attribute for self esteem. According to him, "One has to love, appreciate and accept oneself first. An essential pre-requisite if you want others to view you in the same light... ".

And each time we have soups/ pizzas or any such thing which as a routine is accompanied with seasonings he starts flavoring his stuff even without tasting. Many a times he regrets his action but God alone knows why he is ever so relentless. Whatever happened to learning from mistakes...don't ask me ask him.

So far as giving flowers is concerned he has never understood the whole "Say It With Flowers" stuff. Not that he has never given me flowers but it was one forced gesture which i prodded him on doing. A fake gentlemanly gesture indeed! 
Maybe he finds it as foreign and pretentious as he finds a host of other such traditions. Say it with Diamonds is another but there too forced by ads and my own secret longing he has done that too. i thus should try and keep my mouth zipped so far as complaining about his gentlemanly behavior is concerned.
Despite all this all the people who know him consider him to be a gentleman to the core. Whereas to many i might strike as a fast lady who must be giving the poor gentleman a real hard time. My own Dad included. It is very often that i hear from friends who hardly even know him, " Shivani ! your husband is such a gentleman...". Not that i don't feel good about it but i often wonder... what special trait does he have to appear so and what's wrong with my own demeanor which makes people assess me otherwise.

So that was it. As i admired him in his new garb for it was really the very first time i found him impeccably dressed i said, '' You sure are gentle but definitely NOT a gentleman".
As i said earlier the sparks flew from both sides and our day was brightened. The gloom of the previous day's happenings vanished and this time it was my turn to tell him as he bid me a proper bye after breakfast, '' Honey You Look Handsome today!
Strange! how something so plain that would  never even get a second look and normally gets dumped in the dustbin can do wonders. Stranger still was the fact that just when some lifting of spirits was needed it had to come unexpectedly from something we could have never even imagined. Was it just chance or some pre-ordained scheme by SOMEONE whose ways to help you out is also out of the box and incredible?
After composing a hasty mail to my friend excusing myself from the meet i had planned with her i sit here with a smile ready to tackle the tough situation with much vigor and renewed hope that soon everything will be all well again with my most near and dear ones who are going through hard and trying times. Amen!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

This is NOT a review

At the outset it really feels exciting and exhilarating to be back again. The last few months have been riddled with responsibilities and commitments and also with the onerous task of settling down in a new environment. For sometime now i was beginning to feel like i was drowning in a deluge of some kind from which i would never be able to resurface again but i guess i was just being too pessimistic.
So here i am once again talking about what has pleasantly surprised me, banished my teething blues, and brought back the earstwhile lost enthusiasm. Not that i had imagined anything less but i had no idea when i was holding the new book in my hand that it is going to tingle that nerve which not only will get me rejuvenated but also would ignite that deluge of curiosity into which i would willingly and happily drown. And this time i would care less if i was to resurface.
Thank You Mr Amitav Ghosh.
i have enjoyed your art of story telling and more than that i marvel at the way it educates me. It is not surprising that it got me mulling over the idea that if facts were narrated the way you have done ie through stories, learning would cease to be an onerous task and maybe a new kind of competition would emerge on the horizon wherein each is racing to read more and know more than his/her next best competitor rather than having a rat race for hundred percent score in the various subjects.

One of your books introduced me to Nautilus and so to that famous photographer Edward Weston and i realized how and when ignorance ceases to be blissful and takes a whole new garb and one feels regretful of not knowing enough.

For as a child i remember some colleague of my Dad had gifted him with a pearly shiny Nautilus to be placed as an object'd art and as the adage goes,''Bander kya jaane adrak ka swaad" ( English equivalent should be " Casting pearls before swine") , the Nautilus was ravaged to bits and excepting my Dad, not one person in the house seemed to care. This time we were not yelled at because we tricked him into believing that curiosity got the better of us. Only if Dad had taken some time out of his schedule to educate us about the funny looking thing and why it is valued so much like he used to when he educated us about many other valued aspects and of course objects and only if he had kept it safe and out of reach of his hyperactive kids probably we would still be possessing one of nature's rare and enigmatic beauty.

      Edward Weston’s iconic study of a single Nautilus Shell — Image source – Windows Live

Thanks to you Mr Ghosh i gazed at the beauty as if reliving the romance all the while at the Coral Museum in Andamans. Also came to appreciate and learn something about the sensitive and strenuous art involving creative photography.
And now as i progress further into your latest, 'River Of Smoke' i am on a trail of another kind. It makes me extremely happy to address that shrub/creeper that i chance to see often and otherwise, by their respective names. A 'Fire in the Bush' here and a Incarvillea there!!. And to someone who would be around me i would love to pass on that information that i got from you.Which in this case would be to rattle off with pride that it is named after a Jesuit, Father d' Incarville.

                                                                   Fire in the Bush


An enormous sense of gratitude overwhelms me for all those unknown faces who by dint of their passion, sacrifice and hard labour spread cheer and beauty around the world.
Also it is not too difficult to relate and respect someone for whom nature has been like a kind of religion and the practice of that religion a spiritual discipline as you have signaled through one of your characters.
Thank You for introducing your readers to these great botanists, plant hunters and curators.
Surely now Pamplemousse is one pilgrimage destination for me too. Among other reasons it would be my way of paying tribute to all these erstwhile unknown to me naturalists/ botanists who have lent their names to an entire genus and also to those explorers who battled odds to preserve the species and leave it flourishing for posterity.
As i proceed further into your book i am enjoying what i would call my own nature walk in which i have sufficient time to linger, enjoy every hue, every smell and also feel sufficiently enriched to get acquainted with not only as you have aptly said, "... some of the most illustrious names in Botany- the great Pierre Poivre..." but also of  Pierre Nicolas Le Chéron d'Incarville, a Jesuit who found a clever way to collect plants by conceiving an idea of a botanical exchange in the severely restrictive China. 
New to me the names of Sir Joseph Banks, Alexander von Humboldt, David Douglas, Maria Merian opens up newer pilgrimage destinations and permits me to still admire nature with a well deserved name.
And they say, what's in a name. 
i would  feel so much comfortable when i chance upon an evergreen shrub, with clusters of beautiful white flowers that resemble orange blossoms both in scent and shape as Mexican Orange rather than just calling it a white flowered shrub.
                                                                  Mexican Orange

So for all this please acknowledge my heartfelt respect for your work Mr Amitav Ghosh and let me confess that i am going a bit slow on this book of yours because every time i come across the name of a species or of the person responsible for it's introduction or even for it's discovery i pause and wander the internet to quell my curiosity. Or perhaps i don't want to finish the book too soon.
Needless to say then that it takes a lot of self discipline on my part because the story says egg on and then there is a striving of some sort which wants to comprehend all that your brilliant writing has to offer.
Like i said earlier that this one of the Ibis trilogy has touched some nerve and  has done wonders to lift my flagging spirit.
And just like the many many of  your other avid readers i shall wait patiently for the last of the Ibis trilogy for i know through your books which i have read that you not only want to tell us stories but rather give us a detailed insight into the art, science, history, geography and the economic events which makes then seem like now.
It may not come as anything new to you but although i want to see your stories as films yet i am quite skeptical   
about it doing justice to your art.
Not only am i biased but also somewhat confused because i often wish to see ' Sea Of Poppies', 'The Hungry Tide' and 'The Glass Palace' as films .
i agree that for a writer such as you it could be very boring but for all your are up for grabs!! 
i guess just before i sign off i would like to share yet another piece...a result of my search. In these words i feel the passion of the nameless faces the names of whom i know now and all those whom i don't. i look forward with renewed hope and optimism that they are out there toiling to preserve and propagate.

Flower Gardener
Robert Service

Gas got me in the first World War,
And all my mates at rest are laid.
I felt I might survive them for
I am a gardener by trade.
My life is in the open air,
And kindly is the work I do,
Since flowers are my joy and care,
And comfort too.

My flowers are a fairy sight,
Yes I'm an ugly, warped old man,
For I have lived in Fate's despite
A year beyond one's mortal span;
And owe my health no gentle toil
From dawn to dark, contented hours,
Of loving kinship with the soil,
A friend of flowers.

My dahlias are my pride today,
And many my creations be.
They're worth a fortune, people say,
But what does money mean to me?
Their glory is my rich reward,
And as their radiant heads they raise,
I dedicate them to the Lord,
With love and praise.

I grieve to think that sullen Powers
On bombs and guns their might depend;
If man had heart for growing flowers
Then would we all be friend and friend.
The glory of the world is his
Who seeks salvation in the sod,
And finds that golden sunshine is
The laugh of God.

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