Thursday, December 31, 2009
Needless to say, Tuhin’s sensitivities, through his commercially successful writing, have managed to throw the light on some very volatile social and political issues, raising eyebrows and making readers sit up and think beyond what was served on a platter of black and white on print.
Here’s a quick rendezvous with the man who exemplifies success and demonstrates as articulately as he writes that if you believe in yourself, no one can stop you from reaching high up in the galaxy and creating a whole new starry universe around yourself.
Looking back at the milestones reached, Tuhin reflects that the journey so far has been anything if not superb. “After That Thing Called Love’s success, there was a huge temptation to write something similar or perhaps attempt a sequel. But instead I decided to make each book of mine as different as possible from the other. Cricket was an obsession for me at one point of time before crass commercialization turned it into a circus. 22 Yards was my tribute to the sport. Of Love and Politics, which is my best work till date, attempts something unprecedented. It delves into how ideological differences impact personal relationships,” he shares.
Through these experiments of writing differently, Tuhin has matured not only as a writer, but also learnt the key points of better story telling. “There are times when readers surprise you by drawing interpretations that you’d not have thought of at the time of writing. I consider every perceptive feedback a learning experience. They invariably help you in your characterizations and make you be a better story-teller.”
Talking about his third book Of Love and Politics, which is likely to rattle cages, the author seems unperturbed by the repercussions, if any, following its release in March 2010. “Yes, it might ruffle some feathers.. so be it. Controversy is an inescapable part of an eventful life,” he says. The book is not only about politics, he clarifies. “Politics forms just the backdrop. The story is about relationships. To give you a brief summary of the plot- Aditya, like the Congress party he belongs to, tends to be elitist and aristocratic. Brajesh Ranjan, like his party, the BJP, swears by an overtly nationalist agenda and Chaitali Sen, the CPI(M) she represents swears by the disenfranchised. In this engaging and fast-moving tale, the author deftly entangles his three protagonists in a personal alliance, as volatile as the one their shape-shifting parties are continually forming and breaking. Through their journey, the author manages to give this compelling story some rare insights into the personal life of Indian politicians. I just found the whole idea damn exciting- a love triangle between Congress, BJP and the Left. Once I conceived the plot, I couldn’t rest in peace till I’d completed the manuscript.”
Tuhin is currently working on three books simultaneously, each of which, once again is very different from the other. He has worked on a film screenplay lately with Piyush Jha(director of Sikandar). Besides, he writes guest columns for the papers. “I’m open to writing TV shows, if they excite me,” he adds. Where does he see himself in the near future? “ A life less ordinary has got to be unpredictable. My guess would be as good as yours. On a more serious note, I should have completed 10 books by then. I’d want to write on issues of national and social concern,” he summarizes.
Though Tuhin, who’s not just an author but also a very dear friend and I had a preconceived notion of sharing this talk over a steaming mug of coffee on a rain swept monsoon afternoon in Mumbai, we decided to modify our plans to incorporate a larger audience on this platform for the time being. Till I catch him on our coffee date after the release of his next book, and this time probably with his newly-wed bride Ramyani by his side, here’s wishing him all the very best for a great year ahead.
Rahul had just taken a sabbatical from his job.
He parked his gleaming Spanish red Porsche at the parking lot overlooking the foyer of his 5 bedrooms duplex villa, part of the most up market housing complex in town. It has been years since he had the chance to see the evening light filtering though the mulberry trees on his courtyard. Autumn was just setting in; the slight chill in the wind was decipherable, the leaves were beginning to get the amber tinge, birds hurrying up to prepare for the winter. The light breeze had deposited the dry leaves against the sidewalk only to be carried away in by a gust of air from Rahul’s car as it backed into the parking lot. The squirrels playing on the boardwalk suddenly became aware of something close to them, raised their heads for a transient moment of surprise and scuttled to the trees. Rahul came out of his car without his usual pack of files and the heavily bulged laptop bag, which had since been his signature. He stretched his arms in the air and looked at the setting sun overlooking the car park. The sky was brilliant in amber with soft fluffy clouds with tinges of orange against the splendid blue sky. The distant hills seemed to have dwarfed against the massive sun sinking in its lap, only to be caressed rejuvenated by the wonders of the darkness to fall all over the valley.
The last six months had taken its toll on Rahul. So much had happened in these six months more than anything that would have ever happened to him all along his life. Unmindful Rahul stooped to put his right leg over the stunted wall of the railing, so that his shoes could fit into the slot left by the falling brick and rested his hands on the globe shaped light fitting which dotted the periphery of the housing complex. He breathed deeply like his Yoga instructor had advised him long ago, but he never managed to get it doing. He had gone though the Robin Sharmas and Deepak Chopras many times and had wondered when he could really sit down and try out these panaceas of life’s problems. He was so engrossed in the changing colors of the sky that he did not realize when darkness had engulfed the valley, He was startled when the globe light lit up suddenly, heralding another part of the day and he hastily removed his hand off the light.
He walked back lazily to his house a light whistle on his lips, shaking his head from one side to the other perhaps to feel that it was much lighter.
The last one and half years that he moved into his new house he did not find opportunity and time to see the place around. So after a quick shower he lazily put on his red kurta and kolhapuri slippers to make a round of the complex. He noticed the bread crumbs on the kitchen counter left by him while making today’s breakfast. Then he remembered he had corn flakes and fruits today morning, so these were remnants of some other day. Almost instinctively he looked at the life size photo of Rachna and murmured to himself, “I messed it again, dear”. He picked a couple of paper tissues and carefully wiped the bread crumbs from the counter and took them on the tissue and put them into the dustbin. A few flakes fell off the tissue on the ground, which again he carefully picked them up and placed in the bin.
Rachna was his school rival in almost all the extra curricular activities in school – debates, dramatics, recitation and even basketball – she was always the best and Rahul close second to her. It was only in academics that Rahul was consistently better than Rachna. Perhaps this indomitable urge to equal or excel Rachna did polish and metamorphose Rahul to scion the qualities he has mastered today and has taken him to these insurmountable heights that he has reached so early in his life. There was a spontaneous respect and regard for each other, which others around them termed as “wavelength”.
“Behind every successful man there is a woman, Rahul, so, choose the woman with caution”
“I don’t have a choice, dear. I do right things right the first time”
Like all love stories, Rahul and Rachna got married and quite early in life. Their honeymoon was restricted to lazy walks along Park Street, having pani puri at the banks of the river, three insignificant films in a single day, getting on and off local trains, not knowing where to go and finally the compulsion of spending the night in the deserted station waiting room, when the rain would just not stop. Fifteen days of complete togetherness with nothing particular to distract or observe no purpose, no hurry, no destinations to go. These tiny crucibles of such serene happiness did not come with price tags attached to them. They were priceless moments of treasure etched on their hearts forever. Everything else paled into insignificance for them.
“Honeymoon is about spending time together and it can be anywhere, because you do not get to see anything else” Rachna had said “Perhaps when we grow a bit older and possibly bored with each other, we will plan going to beautiful places” she chuckled. “Actually we cannot afford going anywhere, so a good consolation” Rahul said.
“Positive thinking, my prince”
Rahul and Rachna were swiftly sucked into the whirlpool of the “rat race”, which elevated them in leaps and bounds. A couple of smart moves catapulted Rahul to heights he never thought and provoked him to dare even further. With Rachna strongly behind him, Rahul never felt the pain; only enjoyed her presence and rose higher and higher up. Rahul saw the first and perhaps the only sign of pain in Rachna’s eyes when Dr Iyer announced gingerly that she was not pregnant, and this was the twelfth time it had happened. She was diagnosed for “Endometriosis” a disease which blocks the fallopian tubes and in her case exacerbated by her low back pain. The desire of have a child took them to the major hospitals in India and even abroad. The first loan Rahul had taken was for them to go for treatment as far as New Orleans.
Finally Rachna realized “You cannot have everything in life” sounding like those mantras of the monks. “We have tried everything and should not have any regrets. It is the will of God, Rahul, please accept it”
Then that fateful New Years evening and Rachna had just bought the bunch of dark red gladiolas Rahul loved so much. The unusual rain at this time of the year was like a sheet of water flowing from the heavens. The drunken driver swerved from the wrong side of the road and rammed into Rachna’s car. The impact was so intense that she was flung out of her car and she skid along the road to be stopped by the uprooted tree lying along the road. Three days, twenty surgeons, Rahul’s countless telephone calls, money flowing as if from the storm water outfall, nothing absolutely nothing could save Rachna. Rahul could still hear the simmering Rachna’s last words, “I want you to rise up to the stars and there we meet”. Her lifeless palms had slowly begun to become cold when Dr Shetty put his hands on his shoulder.
Rahul opened the door and a gust of cool breeze greeted him. The darkness outside was shimmering with brilliance on the moonlit night, crickets squeaking in almost continuous unison. The solidity of the hill sides were punctuated by the speckles of the kerosene lights of the tiny shanties here and there. All of a sudden all the crickets stopped and there was absolute silence. Rahul stepped out of his house, his feet on the dry leaves making a crackling noise as he walked towards the lobby of the clubhouse.
The lobby was sparsely populated with most of the tables empty so early in the evening. Probably everybody was within their cozy interiors watching television, teaching multiplication tables or maybe cooking a special dish and some even experimenting with new recipes. The large chandelier hanging down the half empty dome, with the other half decorated with glass beads on deep blue background seemed a bit like the sky above it. Rahul took his seat at one of the tables beside the glass glazed side from where the portion of the hills looked like a painting generally done by kids all over their art copies. He ordered a whiskey for him, for the first time after six months since Rachna had left him. The bartender put ice and asked if he needed water and Rahul asked him to top it up. He did so, pushed the glass closer to him and gave one of their plastic smile and left.
As time passed more and more people left the place and the chattering and the sounds of laughter and clapping of hands subsided. Rahul could hear the sound of somebody playing the piano. He turned around and saw a girl at the other end of the lobby playing the dark brown piano. She was playing one of his favorite numbers. It was quite late and did not notice when the girl had gone way.
Over the next few days Rahul spent the evenings in this lobby. He began to love the songs the girl played on the piano. One evening he decided to walk up to the girl and tell her how beautifully she played. He was surprised to see that the girl was older than he thought she was. She was quite fair with dark hair tightly braided into two halves. Rahul walked silently and softly put his elbow on the piano and said, “You play lovely music, what is your name?”
“Ishika. Ishika Bhatia” she replied quickly wiping her moist cheeks.
“Sorry. Did I bother you?”
“No, not at all. I see you every evening sitting at the same place by the window and you seem to stay longer than I do.”
“Then what makes you cry, my child?” Rahul asked, wondering if he had intruded into her privacy.
For her age Ishika was pretty cautious in the way she welcomed strangers and Rahul appreciated her apprehension and articulation of her words and accordingly tried not be seem overtly sensitive. Ishika sensed the genuineness of Rahul’s affection and concern and Rahul and Ishika “gelled” quite fast. Every evening the conversation extended incrementally and Ishika began to confide in Rahul many of her woes which she had being going through at this tender age. She told him how he lost his father, who owed a lot of his money to his flashy lifestyle, gambling and drinking. After his death his mother became a victim to some despicable sub humans whom she was forced to “entertain’ most evenings and how foolhardiness overcame her mother. Ishika mentioned one day that her mother was being pressurized to even get her married off to some loser fifteen years older to her and how she was petrified of the consequences. Rahul realized that Ishika’s mother had set out on a sedulous pursuit of bringing up her daughter, but which was fundamentally flawed. Rahul sensed the periodic acrimony in her voice when she spoke about her mother, coupled with a daughters love for her mother. This dichotomy seemed to bother Ishika, as much as it made Rahul worry of the consequences. Rahul enquired about Ishika’s academic interests and learned that she was excellent with numbers and loved mathematics. She had also shown him the certificates of some of the competitions she had won at the National Level. She had just finished her Class 12 examinations and had cleared the TOEFL as well.
“Nobody in this world will manufacture a lock without a key”, Rahul used to tell her often, not very sure where to find the key.
Rahul decided not to talk to her mother at her house, not even get introduced to her. He requested Ishika to trust him and asked her to convince her mother to come to his office next morning.
To start with, both her mother and Ishika were overwhelmed by the glitz and spank office located on the thirty fourth floor of Fontana Towers. Rahul came out briefly and excused himself for a few minutes, asking them to wait. Ishika could hardly recognize this man in his new avatar, she had never seen before. The chic tall secretary invited her mother to a large wood paneled room with what seemed freshly polished leather couches. The heavy woodworked door closed behind her and Rahul went about to complete the pleasantries of coffee, water, etc. “No phone calls, no interventions” Rahul advised the secretary in his deep rich voice. It did not take long for her to realize that she was in front of a very sharp and powerful person, oozing business every bit. What transpired in the next half an hour is something nobody knew. Rahul had made all the phone calls from his mobile so nobody in the office had any inkling of what was being negotiated within the closed door.
A month later, one early Monday morning, Ishika’s mother left for an undisclosed destination. Ishika got a part scholarship in a university in the US. She was scheduled to leave the same day in the afternoon, first to Delhi to clear some of the formalities and then leave for US at the earliest. Rahul had organized every tiny detail, as characteristic of him, and had blocked air ticket for Ishika for seven consequent days to cover any slips.
Wonder how time melts into years!
Fifteen years, and like any other morning Rahul enters his Porta Cabin office room of the UNICEF Project Office in Congo. He boots his laptop and logs onto the “Times of India” website to have cursory look at the headlines, as he has been doing as a habit now. He jumps out of his seat to see the headline screaming “Ishika Bhatia becomes the third Indian astronaut to be selected for Space Shuttle voyage”
Speechless, Rahul looks at Rachna standing on the photo frame on his desk. He was staring at her for long till the tears blurred the photo. He removed his glasses and reached for a paper napkin. Just then his mobile rang strongly - a sms arrived “My Angel, I am going to the stars. Please ask Rachna to meet me there!!” Rahul could not believe this and was overwhelmed that Ishika had tracked him all along – perhaps the only promise she had not kept, but wonderfully well done. He toggled down the message to find the number of the sender, but alas it was shown as “unknown”. Rahul could not contain his feelings. He sat down on his laptop and searched for the earliest flight to Colorado.
In another part of the world, a woman in her mid forties in some monastery in Darjeeling buys a pack of sweets for her friends. She folds her hands bows her head in front of an empty photo frame. A face she could see so vividly in her eyes.
St Joseph, Michigan, USA
The Austrian adage, "Why drink fruit when we can drink rocks?” does not necessarily mean that ‘rocks’ are a part of their diet. It refers to the strong mineral aroma of the wines that Austria produces.
Grüner Veltliner is a late ripening variety that produces wines that are pale green in colour and display fruit notes of grapefruits, limes, pears, and sometimes hints of white pepper. The strong acid content in the wines enables the best bottles to age gracefully.
It is Austria’s own white variety accounting for 37 percent of the country's total vineyard area on the steep and sunny hillsides preening in the mellow sunshine as they had since the Middle Ages when terraces were built on every suitable slope.
The pathways of the stony vineyards are the specialty of Wachau in lower Austria that grows Gru-Vee. Perfect stone walls are built on the terraced vineyards, the rocks are sorted and laid with gaps as small as possible, allowing the roots of the vines to reach the soil through these gaps and drain easily. Narrow terraces of alluvial soil, rocky brown soil and a combination of brown soil and crystalline rocks are the best soil and rock combination for Grüner Veltliner.
Gru-Vee, with its distinctive, pungent aroma, an exotic array of fruit, herb and spice flavours with an attractive mineral undertone, makes its wines ideal partners for food, rather a marvelous alternative to the more mainstream white grape varieties.
With Gru-Vee there is hardly any food that doesn’t go. Asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms, turnips and scrambled eggs are standard. Its ample fruit and mild acidity and the sweetness factor are perfect for spicy hot foods, white fish either steamed or broiled, but without any fat content, or even as a plain pre-meal aperitif.
Simply put, Grüner Veltliner is that indigenous variety of Austria which can make any one look and feel cool this summer, and if that is desired ……then one should really be sipping Gru-Vee.
This article was first published in China Daily-Shanghai Star
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The sentence in the first chapter of the book was pretty interesting - “The outline of our lives, like the candle’s flame, is continuously coaxed in new directions by a variety of random events that, along with our responses to them, determine our fate.” Mlodinow conveys the message to the readers that these decisions taken due to our minds being driven by randomness can forcibly ignore the facts and truth of a given situation. It could prove to be fatalistic or may-be at times, not-so-fatalistic depending on the serious and not-so-serious circumstances.
Let’s look at how random a publishing house can be!
For instance, J. K. Rowling who wrote The Harry Potter series was rejected by 24 publishers before somebody published her book. John Grisham had the same taken place with his first book being published too! So now you start thinking, can randomness lead you to success too!
But Mladionw reminds us:
“So some things in life are random and some aren't”.
For example, let’s take an example of an old TV game show “Let's make a deal”. You are presented with three doors, behind one of which is a new car. You take your pick, but before your fate is revealed, the M.C. swings open one of the other doors, revealing a booby prize. So far, so good, but now comes the big decision. Do you stay with your original choice or switch to the other unopened door? It might not be a 50-50 proposition as you are now thinking. If you lay out the possibilities or create a sample space, you will see that your odds actually improve if you change doors. The key to this puzzle is that the door the M.C. opens is not chosen at random. (He’s not going to ruin the game by prematurely revealing the car.) So had the player chosen the door randomly, it means that he had trusted his instincts. He could go wrong or right. Nothing is certain. At that point, he would have been biased by random thoughts.
So instead of trusting your instincts, if you go by constructing a table or a sample space of all the ways a dice may fall, you are closer to being correct by all means. An important message that the author conveys is if you are able to back track your decision and reason it out, it means that you are pretty confident about your decision, if you are not able to relate to the causes that made you take a decision, it means that you have decided by chance. So now the chances that it could go wrong are higher than it being correct.
Another witty example mentioned is about if a woman has two children, and one of them is a girl, what is the chance that the other is a girl too? I did try this out with my friend whom I “barely” know and it worked out to be correct. It is merely by probability and statistics that is well explained in the book and means no conjectures!
The author explains how the mathematical laws of randomness can affect our lives. He narrates an incident that happened with him. Nearly 20 years ago, his doctor had told him, out of the blue, that it was 99.9 per cent certain that he was infected with H.I.V. Mlodinow had none of the risk factors (except for being human), but he had scored H.I.V.-positive on a test that had a false positive rate of one in 1,000. If his doctor had studied probability in medical school, he would have seen the situation in a different light. One in 10,000 people tested positive and was ultimately confirmed as carrying the virus. In addition, there were the statistical flukes — the 10 (one in 1,000) who were false positives. Compare those numbers, and the chance that Mlodinow was infected (he wasn’t) was one in 11. So look at the kind of impact an erroneous statistical thinking can have!?
Mladinow relates to people having a poor conception of randomness. While reading his book, I felt that we clearly misjudge the role of chances in our lives and make conclusions/decisions that are clearly misaligned with our interests. A real-life scenario which I could relate to the incidents in the book is a small story.
When my uncle was admitted to the hospital for lung cancer, I felt he was going to pass away in few days/months time. The reason behind why I felt this way was because I started relating his condition to few of other stories that I have heard of. They were all sick too with lung cancer and passed away in few days time. So I related the existing condition to that of the past and predicted how it would be in the near future. So I presumed that my uncle would pass away in a day or two. In fact, all those who were around were drawing a sad conclusion that he will live no longer. But much to our happiness and surprise, he did fight back and survived for almost 4-5 years.
I am sure, many of you might be gazing away from the blog and retrospecting what had happened with your relatives. Now don't you agree, what I went through was a psychological illusion? I was amazed the way our brain recognizes patterns and misjudges the role of randomness in our lives. I had misinterpreted valid data. I had created a hyphothetical situation based on preconceived notions and refused to think beyond that boundary. I was more focussed on finding and confirming patterns rather than scrutinizing the false conclusions.
Similarly a government, for example, faces a “should-have-known-it” blame game after every tragedy. Take the Mumbai terrorist attack 26/11 or the 9/11 attack at the United States. It is easier to predict what could happen in the future based on the past. Many stories can be concocted with stories of the past, the patterns can be recognized and dubious/real alarms can be created. But it would be pragmatic if the future is not led by mere predictions and patterns but by reviewing both explanations and prophecies with scepticism. Since it is not easy to predict the outcome of complex situations -they come with uncontrollable factors. Well, this thought is certainly not even pessimism or optimism.
The book comes with a strong message which is to analyze a situation, discuss the pros and cons, retrospect, avoid false assumptions/conclusions prior to taking a decision. It comes with a little psychology to portray how our brain is wired to fool us. It is well written enough for a lay man to appreciate the “take-away”. You do not need to know probability and statistics to understand the different experiments demonstrated in the book. You may not learn any new concepts (which may be most of us may not be looking at while reading a book enjoying some latte!). But you could definitely challenge your assumptions and realize how difficult it is to make reasonable conclusions! There are several quotes from famous theorists, I had not heard about most of them until I read this book, so I could not imagine that I was reading about a great person, but I think the experiments that the theorists discuss are worth the imagination.
The book is worth a good read!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Springville, Utah, USA
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
As he would often drink uncontrollably I had to relentlessly walk him into spiritual path to calm him. His unnatural demands of getting high on alcohol often got me worried and I wondered why he had to have so many breaths left. I had to exude my vaguely childlike womanly charm to emotionally manipulate Dadda’s mind and talk him out of his urge for consuming alcohol as his mind reliever. His garish friends circle, those endless summer nights smelling of alcohol - me in some corner under the bed or behind a cabinet watching Dadda’s furious outbursts and venting out his frustrations, the chill of winter down my spine, and splurging smell of maligned fear were becoming almost placid in life then. I tried so hard to change my emotions but realized it can only be changed to another emotion. Am I not the feeling itself? Oh! “How can I stop being a victim of feelings?
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Nothing new about the story at all, but it’s the treatment that’s wonderfully disarming. Balki’s fascination with terminally ill children continues in this ‘dying-kid-reunites-the-
Amitabh Bachchan’s Auro is indeed the star of the film. With a new face, a new voice and a twinkling sense of humor, Bachchan’s Auro is as sensitive as he is precocious and the film’s writers leave all the best lines for him. And they work almost every time. Its Auro’s world that’s so enchanting, so much so that the film could have been entirely about his life, his school friends and his aspirations and worked just as well. But then they all say we need a plot.
So we have the parents Abhishek Bachchan and Vidya Balan,then both students, who find themselves at crossroads in their relationship,when they realize that they have a kid on the way. However, papa wants to be a cool politician and suggests abortion. Mama predictably tells papa not to preach and exits stage left from his life, saying,‘I’m keeping my baby.’ Baby grows up to be Auro, and accidentally meets his father at a school function, thereby unwittingly paving the way for his long estranged parents to reunite. Weirdly enough, for a film advertised as a father son story, it’s actually the boy’s relationship with the ladies in his house, his mother and his grandmother that are more endearing to watch. Bachchan shares crackling chemistry with both Balan and Naag, as well as with the child actor who plays his best friend Vishnu.
But this isn't a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination.
Abhishek Bachchan’s political machinations are distracting after a point and screen time devoted to his battle with the media is wholly unnecessary. An uneven Paresh Rawal, as Auro’s grandfather doesn’t add anything to the proceedings apart from a couple of funny one-liners.
Maestro Ilaiyaraaja’s music, while soothing, could have been used to make more of an impact, the violin laden background score notwithstanding.
Cheerful, poignant, sensitive and intelligent, ‘Paa’ is great fun.
Springville, Utah, USA
I experienced or at least tried to experience a semblance of this during our recent visit to Monument Valley nestled in the rocky landscape that dots the Utah Arizona border. Miles and miles of barren mesas and colourful canyons stretch before you, as living edifices that bear witness to the ever changing faces of our living planet. Most of the land is a Navajo reservation and all you see are small settlements and a few trading posts where the starkness of this emptiness is accented with the bright hues of turquoise, lapiz lazuli, tiger’s eye, malachite, coral and such other riots of colour studded in handmade sterling silver jewelry. You could either buy these pieces of jewelry or see items like this beautifully pinned maybe to the bodice of a tiny little wrinkly Navajo woman who wears it with pride - the lines on her face as old as the rocks, witness to history of this region and of course, her people.
The rest of the colour in this area during the winter comes from the blue skies riddled with white clouds, the greenish hues of the San Juan River as it meanders into the most artistic goosenecks, the golden dust that is kicked up by wild horses running through the wide open planes, the purple hues of twilight as the western sky gives way to a zillion stars piercing through the inky black of the horizon. There is really nothing to "see" here other than a few rock formations with names like the "mittens", "rooster and hen butte", "battleship butte", "the seven sailors" and of course the famous "lady in a tub". However, there is more to fathom in this place than many others that I have had the opportunity to visit.
Driving along the famous Valley of the Gods Scenic byway as you make your way to Muley Point, the road meanders through rocky cliffs, to a point, where you feel you can touch the sky. The sunset from there amidst the dark thunder clouds is not something I will ever be able to describe in words, because there is only so much the eye can see and the mind comprehend. The place may not have the pristine beauty of Bryce or the verdigris of the Northwest. It may lack the aqua from the beaches in San Diego, or the quaintness of Alpine Europe, and yet it is the absence of all this is what makes this place so full of life, of hope, of the spirit that resonates in each of us.
The memory of this trip was captured with our respective Canon Rebels, but the feel of the place is something we didn't even attempt to talk about. How can you even try to define the infinite?
The picture on this blog comes closest to what I can possibly translate in coherent words. I found this little pile of stones (probably a little child's handiwork) and as I looked at one of the "mittens" behind it, the entire universe seemed to come together with a very simple meaning.
We all have a place in it, however small, however insignificant, we have a role. Nothing would have been taken away from the landscape had those stones been missing, and yet because of those little stones, the monolith behind took on a whole new meaning and as I stood taking in this wonder, the sound of silence overwhelmed me once again and I knew it was time to leave. The soul is not always ready for all the beauty the world has to offer or understand the power of silence until it has found its own stillness.
Thursday, December 3, 2009