Tag Archives: india

(From my archives) – “Kipling May Regret”

This poem first appeared here on 9 April 2017:

In the restaurant its just the waiter and I,
While outside the window Vehicles speed by.
“There are a lot of beautiful women outside today”,
He remarks by way
Of conversation.
I drink
My wine and think
About this nation
On who’s empire the sun would never set.

Kipling may regret,
Yet
The sun continues to shine
And there is curry and wine,
While in the street
Multiracial feet
Hurry
Along,
Beating out a more or less harmonious song.

The Daydreamer Challenge – Day 3

I am participating in the Daydreamer Challenge which is being run by A Little Daydreamer, For day 3 participants are asked to say something nice about another blog, (https://theteendaydreamer.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/the-daydreamer-chllenge-day-3/). There are so many excellent blogs out there so picking one was a difficult task. Consequently I have chosen a number of blogs as follows:

 

  1. https://cupitonians.wordpress.com/ – Anju has a wonderful blog which deals with life, the universe and everything. Her posts include travels to other countries (she lives in India) and articles about Indian culture.
  2. https://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com/ – Tess has fascinating articles regarding her travels in China and some excellent flash fiction.

Danny Dever By Rudyard Kipling

On awaking this morning Kipling’s poem, Danny Dever kept for some unaccountable reason replaying itself in my head. Ever since coming across Danny Dever in the school library as a child in Liverpool I have always entertained a liking for it. However why the poem should pop into my waking mind this morning remains a mystery to me.

Danny Dever was first published in February 1890. The poem recounts the execution of a British soldier for murdering a sleeping comrade and is the first example of the poet’s work which relates matters from the common soldier’s perspective. According to the Kipling Society, (http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/rg_deever1.htm) Danny Dever almost certainly draws on the execution of a private Flaxman, in January 1887, in Lucknow, India for murdering a fellow soldier. The attention to detail of the poem indicates that the poet was familiar with the Lucknow incident. There is, however no evidence that Kipling himself witnessed a military execution.

 

Danny Deever

 

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“WHAT are the bugles blowin’ for? ” said Files-on-Parade.

“To turn you out, to turn you out,” the Colour-Sergeant said.

“What makes you look so white, so white? ” said Files-on-Parade.

“I’m dreadin’ what I’ve got to watch,” the Colour-Sergeant said.

For they’re hangin’ Danny Deever, you can hear the Dead March play

The regiment’s in ‘ollow square – they’re hangin’ him to-day;

They’ve taken of his buttons off an’ cut his stripes away,

An’ they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.

 

“What makes the rear-rank breathe so ‘ard? ” said Files-on-Parade.

“It’s bitter cold, it’s bitter cold,” the Colour-Sergeant said.

“What makes that front-rank man fall down? ” said Files-on-Parade.

“A touch o’ sun, a touch o’ sun,” the Colour-Sergeant said.

They are hangin’ Danny Deever, they are marchin’ of ‘im round,

They ‘ave ‘alted Danny Deever by ‘is coffin on the ground;

An’ e’ll swing in ‘arf a minute for a sneakin’ shootin’ hound

0 they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’!

 

” ‘Is cot was right-‘and cot to mine,” said Files-on-Parade.

” ‘E’s sleepin’ out an’ far to-night,” the Colour-Sergeant said.

“I’ve drunk ‘is beer a score o’ times,” said Files-on-Parade.

” ‘E’s drinkin’ bitter beer alone,” the Colour-Sergeant said.

They are hangin’ Danny Deever, you must mark ‘im to ‘is place,

For ‘e shot a comrade sleepin’ – you must look ‘im in the face;

Nine ‘undred of ‘is county an’ the Regiment’s disgrace,

While they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.

 

“What’s that so black agin the sun? ” said Files-on-Parade.

“It’s Danny fightin’ ‘ard for life,” the Colour-Sergeant said.

“What’s that that whimpers over’ead? ” said Files-on-Parade.

“It’s Danny’s soul that’s passin’ now,” the Colour-Sergeant said.

For they’re done with Danny Deever, you can ‘ear the quickstep play

The regiment’s in column, an’ they’re marchin’ us away;

Ho! the young recruits are shakin’, an’ they’ll want their beer to-day,

After hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.

 

(http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_deever.htm).

A visit to Africa

Many thanks to Cupitonians: http://cupitonians.wordpress.com/  for allowing me to bully her into writing another excellent guest post!

Thank you A.!

‘For Africa to me… is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place 

Maya Angelou

I went to Africa on a whim. I woke up one day and realised that I just needed to be somewhere raw and real, doing some hands on work. I was tired of writing, tired of the city and just plain jaded. A twenty something year old should never be that way. In that state of despair, I suddenly remembered an old friend from when I had lived in France and got in touch with her. She had promised that whenever I gathered the guts to go to Africa, I should write to her and she would make it happen. She put me in touch with a nun who worked on several projects in the interiors of Tanzania. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know what I would do, where I would go and how long I would be there for but I just knew I had to go.

My trip was planned in less than 2 weeks – the tickets were booked, the injections taken and my mum loaded me with herbal anti malaria balls. I am a control freak and had decided that since I was taking this leap of faith, I might as well go all out and do no research. Instead, I decided to embrace whatever came my way, just as it was. Before I knew it, I was packed and suddenly found myself in a small bedroom sized airport that had a dilapidated old sign that read “Dar es Salaam”.

I was grinning from ear to ear, which made the visa officials really suspicious till they realised I was just plain crazy. I was shuffling about in a room packed with tourists. 50 dollars later, I had my passport stamped and I was free to wander about the great wilderness. I went out of the airport-room to find myself surrounded by highrise buildings, beautifully tarred wide roads, Mercedes Benz’s just cruising about like they just didn’t care.

Brilliant!

I had just taken off from one city to another. In fact, this city had a 3G phone connection, something even good old Bangalore, IT Capital of India, didn’t have. I was very dissappointed. The nun met me at the airport. I didn’t really know if anyone would come pick me up but I was glad she was there. We took a very luxurious taxi while I stewed inside myself. And then I suddenly found myself in a busy bus station, people everywhere trying to haul bags off you and load them into local buses. I managed to escape most of the crowd, dodged little kids pointing at me, saying “Mzungu, Mzungu!” (which is the Kiswahili word for “white person”) and got into the smallest bus in the history of the world.

I don’t mean small literally, it was a big enough bus on the outside. But when you got in, the seats were so cramped together that even a short person like me had to sit with her legs up on the seat so I don’t hurt my knees. I was stirred out of my thoughts by the nun putting her hands on my shoulder and saying “Are you okay?”. Apparently I was smiling too widely for a first time visitor. Shouldn’t I freak out?

“No, this is my childhood dream come true! Why would I be anything but ecstatic?”, I wanted to say. Instead, I tempered my reactions and was lulled into sleep by the moving motion of the bus.

I went to Tanzania, assuming I’d be there a month. I stayed a whole year. And in that time, I lived with the Maasai Tribe, lived on the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Worked at pre-schools, clincs, and orphanages that spanned the country. And while my experiences make for exciting stories to be told over a drink or to be written in a Lord of the Rings Saga, it is something I will never have words enough to explain.

I was lucky because I didn’t do the touristy things. I moved from project to project, living with real people, experiencing life as a local and instead of waxing ad nauseum, here are a few photos that will paint a better picture.’

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No filter sunrise

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Monduli Mountains and the Savannah

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Maasai Woman

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Local women campaigning for their local leaders

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Local Market

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An old forgotten Cave

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A typical Maasai House

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Zanzibar

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The View From my room at Kili

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The Sugar Mills at Kilombero

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The Stoves

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The Lion King

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The First Humanoid Excavated

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The Egyptian Cobra

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The Black Mamba

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Sunrise at Tanga

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Pink Lake – Ngorongoro Crater

The Magic Of A Story – Guest Post By Cupitonians

Many thanks to Cupitonians (http://cupitonians.wordpress.com/) for the below post. Anju has a wonderful blog which I would encourage you to visit.

 

 

My love for literature began when I was a toddler and my dad would enact Tom Sawyer or Oliver Twist before bedtime. I would squeal and jump about with glee, trying to imitate him every night. This was often accompanied by my English Teacher mom correcting my dad’s horrendous pronunciation of names (“It’s Shar-Lut not Char-lut-eh!”) and shaking her head in disbelief. Mum would tell different tales, lores from the various places she had lived as a travelling family, folk tales she’d heard from her friends from around the world, stories she ripped off from Chinua Achebe books. We grew up as a family with a lust for things that captured our imaginations.

 

It came as quite a surprise to my teachers that I was so passionate about my English Literature classes. Everyone else hated it and for good reason.  I studied in an all-girls convent school that was formerly a British hospital turned to a school for British-only students. Later, they opened the doors to Indians as well (I have since found out that my grandmother was among the first Indian students to set foot in that school). This brought in a lot of changes but the one thing that didn’t change was the syllabus. A huge part of our curriculum included all the famous British authors, including our beloved friend, William “Bard of Avon” Shakespeare.

 

While my classmates moaned and whined about how they wished “these damn writers would die” (“Erm, but, they are dead. That is sort of their claim to fame”) or the examination board would burn down and we would be free from these wretched exams, I would make jokes about opium eaters and how England is my soul country and how if you pricked us, would we not bleed? One particular teacher really resented me for correcting what I thought was her half-baked knowledge on my artists. And they were all MY writers, spinning stories just for me. To prove that my theories on her ignorance was right, for my final project where we were meant to write a story on based on a proverb, I copied word for a word a story from Nicholas Nickleby. She gave me a 100 on 100. Hence proved!

 

By the age of 15 (when I passed out from Indian high school) I had devoured every “masterpiece” that was on the top “to read” lists. I was reading Tolstoy & Nietzsche, James Joyce & Virginia Woolf, The Bronte Sisters & Jane Austen, Mark Twain & Ernest Hemingway. I came across a list of books that the school had banned, and being the rebel that I claimed I was, I read the Harry Potter books. When I went to University, I was studying (purely for the pleasure of it) American Literature, Indian Writing in English, Commonwealth Literature and well, I could go on. There also comes a certain arrogance from reading books such as the ones I was hooked on to – only a select group of “intellectual” people could read and discuss them. After a while, conversation with them would seem contrived because I wasn’t reading for form and the grammar. I was reading it for the story, for all the things unsaid and shining through in between the lines, for the places that only a great book could transport you to.  I do have a wanderlust to quench after all.

 

I still try to tick off book lists, that’s just me. I’m 21 down on the top 50 banned books and steadily making my way through the 100 greatest books of all time. But picking books isn’t as deliberate anymore. Sometimes I go to my favourite used book store and pick up a book whose title has caught my attention. Sometimes I open the front of these books and then buy them for the unique message someone had written to someone. If I have one flaw, it would be that I don’t like going by popular opinions, I need to form them myself. This has led me to losing 5 days of my life reading the Twilight series (which I have to say is a masterpiece compared to 50 shades, which I also read) and gaining so much more from reading the Hunger Games Trilogy. Like everything in life, there is a chance of a hit and miss but one thing’s for certain, there will always be the thrill of learning something, anything and the chance that you will come upon magic.

 

 

 

Oh To Be In England But Which England?

Many thanks to Cupitonians (http://cupitonians.wordpress.com/) for drawing this amusing post to my attention, http://intrepidmisadventurer.com/the-department-of-tweed-and-trilbies/#.UrIAaOIXKrh. Now I’m off to my gentleman’s club, in Pal Mal where I will sit, in tweed jacket, drinking whisky while being served by my man, Jeeves, (after having read the above post you will understand what I mean)!