Monday, February 13, 2012

Paper Boats -- from the collection -- The Crescent Moon

I was put up on a writing assignment to review a poetry recently, when I came across Paper Boats by Rabindranath Tagore. I loved the poem and its simplicity. My fascination for kids was an ad-on to work on this assignment. Below is the poem itself, followed by the review...

Day by day I float my paper boats one by one down the running stream.

In bid black letters I write my name on them and the name of the village where I live.

I hope that someone in some strange land will find them and know who I am.

I load my little boats with shiuli flower from our garden, and hope that these blooms of the dawn will be carried safely to land in the night.

I launch my paper boats and look up into the sky and see the little clouds setting thee white bulging sails.

I know not what playmate of mine in the sky sends them down the air to race with my boats!

When night comes I bury my face in my arms and dream that my paper boats float on and on under the midnight stars.

The fairies of sleep are sailing in them, and the lading in their baskets full of dreams.

- Rabindranath Tagore

From a child’s perspective

Rabindranath Tagore, a revered poet from India, also known as the polymath as his works in literature and poetry display, was the first to have popularised modern India in the literary world. A Bengali poet who even mastered English, he translated many of his works in to the latter. His writings have a universal appeal as they reflect the message of peace, love, joy, and humanity. He belonged to a large family of thirteen siblings. The Tagore’s were art-loving and social people, and their home was an abode to literary magazines, theatre, and recitals of both Bengali and western classical music. Rabindranath Tagore’s early childhood saw his siblings turn philosopher, poet, musician, composer, playwright, and novelist. Such background must have strongly influenced him, and he gifted us with his novel writings. Here, as I write an insight of one of his poems’ – Paper Boats – from a collection called The Crescent Moon, it only reveals his style of writing that transcends the barriers of space and time. This poem reflects the innocent psychology, imagination, and innocent dreams of a child through a simple example of a paper boat.

Paper boats have always fascinated the playful childhood for everyone. Every game or play holds a special story for every child that revolves around his / her psyche, which highlights the innocence attached with the age. The child in this poem floats his paper boats down the running stream. Out of curiosity, he writes his name and address on each boat, hoping that someone somewhere will find them and know him -- “I hope that someone in some strange land will find them and know who I am.” Although he knows none where the paper boats will go, he feels that whoever will find them is his unknown friend. This shows that for a child the world is his own and is friendly, unlike what many of us grown-ups would assume it to be. And, for the unknown friend he also fills in the boats with flowers from his garden, which he would have himself presented if he met the friend. “I load my little boats with shiuli flower from our garden, and hope that these blooms of the dawn will be carried safely to land in the night” -- quite a thoughtful and innocent insight of a child’s psyche there by Tagore!

“I launch my paper boats and look up into the sky and see the little clouds setting thee white bulging sails. I know not what playmate of mine in the sky sends them down the air to race with my boats” – here, the child imagines the clouds in the sky turning in to white sails just like that of his paper boats. As the clouds seem to be moving slowly ahead in the sky, the child imagines as if they are racing with his paper boats down in the stream. He supposes that there is someone in the clouds who is his playmate. The child personifies his imagination by befriending that ‘someone’ in the clouds and fancying him to be his partner in the play that he is indulged in to. The poet has impeccably captured the child’s imagination here, which holds true through different instances when we observe children at play with their mind’s eye!

Children find happiness in the smallest of things, hopes, and even dreams. Generally, children dream of the most influential part of their day when they are asleep. Most of them vouch to have dreamt of fairies and wonderland, and themselves being pampered or enjoying the sight of it. Likewise, the child in this poem, after a day’s play with his paper boats, goes off to sleep contently. As he buries his face in his arms, he dreams of the journey of his paper boats still floating down the stream under the midnight stars. “The fairies of sleep are sailing in them, and the lading in their baskets full of dreams” – as he surrenders himself to a good night, the child dreams of fairies who too are sailing in his paper boats. The poet beautifully ends it here by expressing that the fairies of sleep too are content with the basket full of dreams with which they lay in the boats, and leaves the child to dream on.

Rabindranath Tagore, whose appearance with his flowing hair, seemingly spiritual and mesmeric personality, and his other-worldly dressing gave him a prophet-like reputation. His elegant literature and magical poetry are testimony of his mercurial writings, which earned him the Prize in Literature in 1913 to become the first non-European Nobel laureate. Paper Boats is one such extract from his works that reiterates his style of writing and a sense of keen observation that comes out here through the psychology, power of imagination, and fancy dreams that a child would exhibit.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Taljai: Away From The City Buzz

Ever wondered what it is like to be away from the chaos, noise, and pollution of the city? Especially, at a place right in the city, yet aloof from its buzz. If you want to be with yourself, breathe in some fresh air daily, and listen to nature’s voices unlike the city noise; Taljai Hills is a place to be! A walk in the thick woods here will soak you in the beauty of nature, present you with calmness that you seek among the chaos around, and even help you spend some quality time with friends and family.

Nature has boundless beauty to offer in the form of flora and fauna. Alas! With the growing concrete jungle, we are forced to only imagine it through a writer’s description of it, or experience it at a faraway place that might be taxing in terms of money and time. The good news is, there are still few places in the city that have survived heavy concretisation around and have maintained their serenity. At Taljai Hills, you will be awestruck to see the green cover and will immerse yourself in a childlike happiness to walk in thick woods. Many volunteers and green activists have strived to plant and adopt hundreds of trees here. The slowly degenerating place eventually saw the light of the day and has shaped into a jungle! You will be amazed to see different types of colourful shrubs and flowers here. And, you will be lucky to spot peacocks and hare if you go steeper in the greens. The ultimate beauty of this place lies in watching the sun rise and set!

Another aspect of this place that will keep you coming back is the peace and calmness that it offers. Your mind needs to stay calm and sane amid the hectic schedules, work pressure, competition, demands, and expectations that keep clouding. At Taljai, you are sure to forget all that for the moments you spend here and just relax. This is the magic and aura of this place. Here, you are in the city, yet away from it. Needless to say, this place will keep attracting you whenever you need be one with yourself. It is a great way to rejuvenate and start afresh with a positive mind, thoughts, and ideas.

And why have this entire share of experience alone? Accompany your friends or family at this place and feel the difference even more. As you will experience this beauty and peace of mind, so will they. As a result, you all will share and spend some quality time with each other. Besides the great attraction that you all will develop for this place, you are sure to enhance your friendly and family relations and ties. A laugh with each other and light conversations amid nature is a priceless gift that this place has to offer.

With more than one reason to rejoice and discover yourself each time you visit this place, Taljai Hills scores a soft corner in every visitor’s heart. This nature’s abode rested in peace and open for all to experience is definitely one of the best places’ the city has managed to survive.

P.S. Though most would still want to complain of the growing construction and stall vendors around, this is the Taljai jungle part I am talking about that feels even more beautiful with every visit.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Starry Affair

Trust, belief and faith are like the pillars of hope in desperate times. We tend to entrust these values upon someone who we can call our confidante or a close aide or family. Once you develop trust for someone, start believing or having faith in someone or something; it is a strong indicator that your heart lets you rely with positive conviction on them. However, this reliance on someone for an opinion or advice, in my outlook, is justified when the point in question is logical enough. And why the need for me to advocate that? Well, to my disbelief, a recent incident made me laugh out my wits!!!

A newly married lady (about 2 years of marriage, yet I would call it 'newly married') was unable to find her mangalsutra anywhere in the house; which she might have either misplaced or lost it or in the rarest case it must have been stolen. Rarest case because there were only family members in the house at that time who could not be blamed. Frustrated over the lost mangalsutra, this lady calls her mother and narrates the case and also about having thoroughly checked the house for it.

The mother, a woman of ancient or should I say impractical beliefs, rushed to the nearest pandit for 'consultation'! According to her, he would read the stars of her daughter and tell her about the lost mangalsutra!!! And he did just that! He worked out some weird calculations of the stars and nakshatras and assured the mother that the mangalsutra is somewhere in the house itself. The mother did not stop here; she went to two more pandits to confirm and returned with similar answer. This strengthened her belief even more and kept reiterating to her daughter that the mangalsutra is in the house itself. She went on with it by even alleging some members at her in-law's house of playing the mischief! "Panditji has told me this. I have full faith in him," is what she had to say.

If only the mother-daughter duo be patient enough and consult family members if they happened to see her mangalsutra and try to find it in peace! But they believe in pandits more than anyone else! If only the mother had asked the pandits where exactly the mangalsutra is, they could have answered even that, I thought. Of course, by applying all their knowledge about stars and nakshatras.

I searched for a place where I could hide my disgust when I heard this. Yet at an after-thought, I was even imagining of things we could ask these pandits, if they were to be believed! "Panditji, I hear my neighbours fight every day. Will they settle with each other in peace?", "Panditji, I tend to forget to take things along while leaving home. When will I overcome this?", so on and so forth... On a lighter note, imagine that we won't have to keep thinking because, panditji hai na....

Quite a starry affair that!!!!