Saturday, October 25, 2008

An evening on the terrace

"And still on a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees, 
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, 
When the road is a gypsy's ribbon looping the purple moor, 
The highwayman comes riding-- 
The highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door. "

I've been doing this all too frequently nowadays. Whenever I run short of ideas to put on my posts, I resort to quoting someone else and fawn over their control over their grip of the language. The above extract is from Alfred Noyes' "The Highwayman" and it is a poem that I'd read 10-12 years ago and still love it exactly as much.

After another especially tough day at the office back in Calcutta, I'd find myself hooking up my disused I-Pod. I love my I-Pod for the funky, sleek thing that it is but earphones in my ears for more than half an hour cause me such an headache that I am not able to utilize this wonderful gift to me to the best extent possible. I'd go up to the 3rd floor terrace, my retreat from the noise and the grime of the city of Calcutta. It is only three floors above the streets, but it is three worlds apart. 

Especially on the days when the moon was like "a ghostly galleon tossed upon the clouds" and a cool but slightly uncomfortable breeze rose from the Hooghly. As Dire Straits, U2 and Pink Floyd performed in crystal clear I-Pod quality into my ears and I stroll around the highest point of my house, I'd look around at all the deserted rooftops of the neighbouring houses. I keep my eyes peeled for any activity in the darkness holding sway on all the other rooftops of course secretly wishing that I'd see nothing that'd disturb my peace of mind. I'd smile whenever I'd walk past the tiny water tank that was on the terrace. Back when we were kids, my cousin sister would tell us (my sister and me) stories of the shark that lived in this tank and we'd be really scared and stay away from it! I'd look out from the parapet to see the narrow lanes in front of my house bathed in a eerie yellow of sodium lights. The rare motorcycle or taxi would lose its way into this maze of palely lit passages and the hum of their engine would shred the peace of the night. I'd keep moving around this meditation ground of mine as long as possible letting the breeze play masseur to my stressed out mind before logic and necessity would dictate that I had better get back to bed if I was to survive another day of torture at the office next day!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The philosophies of fall

My favourite strips in the Calvin and Hobbes are those which are set in fall. Calvin and his pal tramp around the woods in his neighbourhood and discuss topics of gravity with the nonchalance only Calvin is capable of. While the world around him prepares for winter, and the leaves desert the trees, the thoughtful side of the otherwise devilishly scheming kid comes out. The amusing violence of his imagination is replaced by an unnatural calmness in thought, so very unlike Calvin.

Fall is a season that is bound to make even the most insensitive person think of the transience of our life. It is the philosophy of life in action. Be born green and young, stumble through to the sharp bright colours of age and wisdom before finally cutting themself from the tree of life. This notion of eventual death for all is not the most pleasant thought, but that is the unspoken truth. We are only here as visitors, stragglers with the larger, more important personalities that shape our world. And since we are on this one, long holiday here on earth, everyone ought to make their mind and like it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Letting go

The wind is a constant presence, picking up in sudden gusts asking the trees to rustle along. The leaves on the trees have lost their last shade of green and turned into yellow, red or pink, the colours of parting. With every assertive push of the wind, they float out of the comfort of the branches twirling their way down to their brothers who lie strewn at the feet of their creators. They form a river of colours as the ruthless cold wind now makes them hurry along the road forming a red wave here and a yellow whirlpool there. The streets and lanes are blissfully deserted on a cloudy Sunday afternoon as I wander them but for the fallen leaves that run alongside me. They said fall in New England is beautiful but they never hinted that it would be so indescribably beautiful.

I wonder how can death be such a beautiful thing and the harbinger of a cold, bleak winter bring such peace to the mind. Fall is a wonderful season of melancholy marked by a thoughtful sense of joy. I figure that as much as we may fear change, we secretly crave for it too. When the leaves are set free by the trees, we are afraid that this might be the last that we see of them. But to feel the life-force of creation once again we have to let go of the past however memorable it may have been.