Location: Darjeeling, India

Available for the time being


Dust to Dust

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A funeral procession passed by on the streets below. A rather simplistic hearse, more of a hand-drawn cart than a hearse. The procession was the usual, singing of chants periodically drowned out by the loud monotone of the conch shell. Silk scarves adorned the hearse and the coffin cloaked in layers of scarves and some flowers. The coffin itself was a hurriedly hammered box covered in white and yellow cloth. Very simple. The usual home-made casket. Designer coffins aren't the norm here, something so common in the West. That's beside the point.
Sweet aroma of burning incense wafted through the air. A Tibetan cortege, definitely Tibetan. I've seen such processions a thousand times before but this one got me thinking.

"Why does the corpse lead the rest?"

Passersby stopped to look. Traffic halted for sometime to let the cortege through. Few fingers touched the forehead and the chest - a symbolic gesture of blessings. A part of the Cross which the Catholics do.

"Why does he get all the attention?" Even the most unlikely of people, the most unlikable get their share of attention on the way to the mound.

Why are we so obsessed with dead people? Dead singers. Dead poets. Dead rebels. Dead heroes. Dead him and her.

Much of the world's conflicts are related to dead people. Much of the world's beliefs revolve around the 'Other World'. One cannot take anything to the grave so they say.But I guess not!

I surmise that to Eternal Rest, one takes away some rest, leaving a little less rest for the living. To Eternal Sleep, one takes away some sleep, leaving a little less sleep for the living. To Eternal Peace, you take away some peace from the living, leaving behing a little less for the living.

When my turn comes, I hope I rock this joint!

What's Become of Uncle Sam?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

My first attempt at writing poems. Hope you like it.

A generous man once were you,
The hungry left your door, well fed
And in people's hearts you drew
A cheeful countenance, a merry head.

The homeless flocked your golden shores
To forget their ghoulish, hideous past,
To re-live by the sweat of their fores
As long as breath of life did last.

Orphans you sheltered beneath your fold;
Protector of those defenseless souls.
What's become of Uncle Sam of Old?
Why is he after futile goals?

You went after pests that plagued your lands,
To smoke the rodents from their dens.
Right have you to guard your sands,
And to soothe your sundry denizens.

Rid it of every pestilence;
Everything save but one, the Alpha Male.
These critters breed at every chance
And anywhere, anytime and any scale.

With every success your pride did grow
And in rage of arrogance you did call
War in Persia, your might to show.
Silliest of notions of them all.

Searching through the desert - an elusive beast;
Till you found him hiding underground.
The greatest trophy from the East
Through months of quest you had found.

Then you put him up for all to see,
Unkempt, scraggy little desert rat,
The whole wide world viewed with pity
Though they knew this evil autocrat.

On desert sands your sons do bleed
Though no one knows the Master Plan.
Everything reeks of oil and greed
And of basic instincts of a man.

Your Russian foe's dead and gone
And there's no one else to blame,
Save but you and you alone
And no one else the rebels can maim.

Every soul on earth does fear
And wonders, puzzled and perplexed
When this giant of a man will rear
His ugly head and say, "You're next!"

You are an eagle flying high;
Casting shadows on the dirt below,
Sole arbiter to let live or die.
Have you no remorse nor sorrow?

Beat about the bush, that I cannot do.
We're sick of seeing blood and gore
I'll tell it straight, straight to you,
"Uncle Sam, Nobody loves you any more!"

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I have just recovered from flu or should I say am recovering. The fever has subsided and so has the severe aches. The sniffling and the runny nose should carry on for a few days. Its the time of the year when almost the whole town (Darjeeling) has the flu. With the monsoon rains almost over and the dry season beginning to rear its ugly head, we have hoards of traveller's heading upto this mountain retreat to cool their butts off. I have a feeling that these tourists bring with them the flu virus along with the dust of the plains and their baggage in tow.
My apologies to any tourists reading this - but the phenomenon is true. We have two main 'tourist seasons' here, the first occurs from March through May and the second from October through December. The flu virus amazingly resurrects itself during these months. Coincidence? Certainly not! Amusing fact? Absolutely!
Darjeeling mainly sustains itself on the travel industry and tea, which sadly is on the decline. We depend on the tourists as a sail depends on the winds. Too less wind, we go nowhere. Too much wind, we are ruined. It is my opinion that we should now head in another direction. We have made our mark in the travel industry. As long as there is heat in the plains, tourists will keep coming in. So we need not worry about that much. We still, should have another staff to lean on. In case, anything goes wrong.
Darjeeling too falls in the earthquake prone zone. I shudder at the thought of the earthquake in N. India and Pakistan and the fact that the terrain is similar to ours. God forbid that such catastrophe should occur here!
Does a single man's opinion matter?

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