In The Sundarbans

Poem

[Source – Pixabay]

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Tides rise to meet the sky

In the Sundarbans

As the sky dives frequently

To borrow some condiments

From its marshy islands

For making rain;

Often overdoing, then hitting

The Sundarbans

With cyclones and storms

Flooding itself, the sky

Meets the tides

In the Sundarbans.

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The Bengal Tiger
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

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Flora and fauna there

Love drama

And everyone’s a fan of the Bengal Tiger,

A method actor,

Its every move, meaningful.

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And us folks, we take our boats

And get busy earning a living or sightseeing

(Hands tied, backs bent, loans taken, empty stomachs

Populated, polluted, dripping blood, we work so hard to make a living)

When we can simply live,

Live simply, now, here and there

In the Sundarbans.

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[Source – Pixabay]


Read more about the Sundarbans and also, “Explore Rohan Chakravarty’s Ecologically Conscious Map Of The Sunderbans.”

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Watch these insightful short documentaries to understand the Sundarbans better –

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The Knight’s Missing But The Horse’s Here

Feature
“Here comes the horse and the sun, doo-doo-doo-doo.”
[Source – Pixabay]

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Nature’s furious, the clouds are anger-dancing, the trees are trembling, surrendering, oh trees you say, oh here the mighty mountains are kneeling, falling flat, many many streams erupting singing jingling hymns, begging for mercy, but the nature god has turned its back on us.

Charu, eight, hears the elders saying such things, quite animatedly, and she thinks of a solution immediately, “they should simply walk to the side where the nature god is looking… and talk.”

But now, here she rushes past them all, there she climbs the mud wall, then the tree, and then gets scolded by her mother. Ya-hoy! She lands splashing a puddle and there she runs away.

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When the rain stopped, all the children in the village came out to play, seeing this, all the frogs high jumped away, leaving the centre stage for them.

Not lamenting over the loss of time – most still couldn’t tell time, it didn’t exist from them – the kids were happy with this break; they didn’t miss the school walls, exercises, question-answers, fill in the blanks, class-tests or the teachers.

Books were all packed nicely, kept safely in the trunk, kept under the bed, in that room which the children rarely entered.

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But lo, what is that sound, oh, who is’t cometh this way? Charu stares at the turn, the fog lands quickly to add to this mystery.

Through the cracked, broken, muddy trail that was once a kacha road, that now rejected vehicular traffic bluntly, who dares to come to their village?

And then sauntered the Knight or so did Charu thought, but the Knight was missing, rather a humble yet dashing horse emerged when the fog folded itself up like opening curtains; treading carefully, neighing, the horse moved, making sure the trail didn’t deceive him.

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Charu, amazed, rushed-then-slowed-down, towards the horse, the village kids followed her.

“Look, the horse is carrying something”, said someone and Charu shouted, “oh, it is coming our way, it is coming our way.”

The horse neighed and the kids thought it smiled; they clapped but then became quiet.

Stopping right in front of the group, the horse said, “Kids, are you doing well?”, and then immediately shouted in excitement, “Yes-yes, for I welcome you to the horse library.”

Charu and her friends went round and round the horse, “these books”, “are they for us”, “picture books”, “oh, yes-yes kids”, “this one is about animals”, “hey, look the seven wonders of the world”, “see, told you Octopus has eight arms”, “and legs?”

The children sat around the horse, who asked them to read leisurely as he stood grazing the fresh green grass. And the children sat reading different books, some together, some by themselves, quietly travelling forward, backward in time and space, cherishing the moment.

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Some pack-full of hours later, the horse left, promising them to return in some days, hoping they would finish reading the books by then, colouring the black-white drawings, sharing each with the other.

He had also said, “and when I come back next, I will bring a fresh lot of readables… because kids, vegetables and readables are very good for health.”

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Charu, since then, has lived many lives, visited the world in eighty days, went on an expedition to the south pole, and also fought for reading and colouring the underwater world with her village friends.

Aunties with toddlers and cows, goats and dogs, and some oldies have also now joined their semi-circle party, offering them to gather in this or that courtyard if it is raining or is too cold or too windy outside.

They all remain, to this day, good members of the horse library.

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When the horse returned (Charu not missing the knight) with the new books (the readables), each book appeared to be shinning, announcing the arrival of the saviour, the hero, the magician, the joker, the pied piper and many others from all over the world.

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It is a beautiful bright day, at some good distance a sheet of clouds is slowly covering the sky, the semi-circle party has gathered again to read and narrate, the horse, happy and calm, stands nearby grazing and some folks, passing by, are talking about the nature.


This post is inspired by a real life fantastic story (that is still unfolding), read about it here –

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Uttarakhand: How The Horse Library Started To Promote Reading In Remote Villages

‘Ghoda library’ trots up to remote Uttarakhand villages with books for kids, parents to join in


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Temple Food

Short Coverage
From the temple, with love.
[Source – Pixabay]

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The monastery hidden up in the mountains, the waltzing foggy air, breathes and greets in delight, offering love and care and sometimes offering it through food, what people happily call the temple food. And the one who excels in doing so is a Buddhist nun, Jeong Kwan.

Her simple, soupy, soulful dishes – vegetarian and vegan – lightens and calms both the body and mind. Grown in the monastery’s garden, the vegetables live boisterously.

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After planting the seeds, I just watch them grow. They grow in snow, rain, wind and sunlight. When it’s hot they grow in heat. When it’s cold they grow in cold. I make food with these vegetables with a blissful mind. And I eat the vegetables with joy.

– Jeong Kwan

Ascetic yet communicating with everyone, delightfully going with the flow and living, simply, Jeong Kwan remembers her mother.

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When I felt the love of my mother, I wanted to become like her. I learned the mother’s way from my mother. Preparing a lot of food to share. As a monk, I try to practice such a mind, a mother’s mind. A monk is everyone’s mother, not just to a family, but to the whole community…

My mother granted me the opportunity to enter this temple. Even today, I thank her for her mercifulness and compassion for allowing my pursuit of the freedom.

– Jeong Kwan

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Her late parents, their memories don’t cripple or sadden her, it’s the endless pond of oneness through which she touches upon these few old glimpses. For she is one with all, one with her actions, her surroundings.

Walking, choosing the Buddha’s way, far away from the rush, close to nature, one feels transported. Jeong Kwan transports at will and doesn’t mind the bustling busy crowd at all.

I want to communicate with everyone through food, so I lecture at the Department of Culinary Arts at Jeonju University … I don’t consider my activities to be teaching. It’s communication.

– Jeong Kwan

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Soy sauce fermentation.
[Source – Pixabay]

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Here is what she has to say about soy sauce, excitedly she shares –

Every food is recreated by soy sauce. Soy beans, salt and water, in harmony, through time. It is the basis of seasonings, the foundation. There are sauces aged five years, ten years, aged for 100 years. These kind of soy sauces are passed down for generations, they are heirlooms. If you look into yourself, you see past, present and future. You see that time revolves endlessly….

By looking into myself I see my grandmother, my mother, the elders in the temple and me. As a result, by making soy sauce, I am reliving the wisdom of my ancestors, I am reliving them. It’s not important who or when. What is important is that I am doing it in the present.

– Jeong Kwan

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The Buddha’s way, the temple food, all mixed with a little bit of soy sauce, whether in throbbing loud city or a challenging quiet corner in the forest, is the recipe to make a humble, fulfilling meal that lets the vital life force within and without work peacefully.

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With food we can share and communicate our emotions. It’s the mindset of sharing that is really what you’re eating. There is no difference between cooking and pursuing Buddha’s way. It’s been almost half a century since I entered this way. I did it in pursuit of enlightenment. I am not a chef, I am a monk.

– Jeong Kwan

The blogger was inspired by the documentary series ‘Chef’s Table’ that is available on Netflix.

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Here’s the trailer –

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Meet Jeong Kwan –

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Eric Ripert, a renowned chef, visits the temple –

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Walking and, Without Looking for it, Finding Narnia

Coverage

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But as they went on walking and walking – and walking – and as the sack she was carrying felt heavier and heavier, she began to wonder how she was going to keep up at all. And she stopped looking at the dazzling brightness of the frozen river with all its waterfalls of ice and at the white masses of the tree-tops and the great glaring moon and the countless stars and could only watch the little short legs of Mr Beaver going pad-pad-pad-pad through the snow in front of her as if they were never going to stop. Then the moon disappeared and the snow began to fall once more.

Chapter 10 – The Spell Begins to Break

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They were pretty tired by now of course; but not what I’d call bitterly tired – only slow and feeling very dreamy and quiet inside as one does when one is coming to the end of a long day in the open.

Chapter 12 – Peter’s First Battle

Dear Godfather,

Though not in Narnia – oh this wonderful secret burns brightly within, always showing the way through whimsical times – but in this not-so-glaringly-magical world, there is something that reminds me of Narnia and that is – you’ll find it strange – the act of walking.

Yes, walking and especially in the woods, but also just walking you know, in the garden or any rough road, walking silently, worrying less and losing myself in the surroundings, walking transports me, like every step walked on the land of Narnia did.

Hmm… It seems ordinary, especially when I think, compare, weigh, measure, imagine and get emotional. But when I don’t, when I simply forget to do any of that, I am able to simply walk and that is when the joy of walking makes me feel so sweet.

Do you know, only that day, I lost myself when walking aimlessly towards my house, landing safely, feeling light hearted and cold but in a gentle way.

My journeys on foot in Narnia were plenty, full of dangerous adventures too, but I believe it connected me to the pace of the magic unfolding, for magic was routine there, and so was walking, on the snowy land to the grassy ones through the woods and across the streams, one walked to keep the magic alive within.

Godfather, is it one of the reasons for the Witch’s downfall, for she walked less and used the sledge, until, of course, Aslan… oh, I miss Aslan.

But I don’t feel dismal about it, dear Godfather, I long for Narnia, but I don’t cry, could be because I walk, via lovely pathways, wardrobes, parks, and in the town too, and through the village roads, whenever I can…

Thanks for the most wonderful gift one could ever give a goddaughter!

Love,

Lucy


Author C.S. Lewis, Illustrated by Pauline Baynes

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C.S. Lewis dedicated the book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe from the Chronicles of Narnia series to his goddaughter, Lucy Barfield, who very much was the inspiration behind the character Lucy Pevensie in the series.

And indeed, Lucy Barfield, a spirited bright person, an artist, loved the book.

“What I could not do for myself the dedication did for me. My Godfather gave me a greater gift than I had imagined.”

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 28, she led a life under restrictions, nevertheless, she continued to shine and must have again walked and, without looking for it, found Narnia for that is what a robin sang about to me.

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Author C.S. Lewis, Illustrated by Pauline Baynes

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Vermeer’s Room

Short Commentary
The Geographer by Vermeer.
[Source – Wikipedia]

The Geographer and the Astronomer were in the same room as Vermeer for it is in the front room, on the second floor of a spacious house, Vermeer’s mother-in-law’s house, that he produced most of his work.

One good room and in this one good room, a window (usually on the left), a table, chair, cupboard, stool, curtains, draperies, tapestries and a picture-within-a-picture maintained a position, steady, jolly, known, homely, oozing warmth that allowed the artist to mix the pigments well.

And in these two paintings, the two silent globes – a celestial globe with its terrestrial pair for in the 17th century globes were sold in pairs as a direct, neat, calculable link between astronomy and geography was thoroughly entertained – appear in full support of the two sharp owners, a trust built on daily encounters in the same room.

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The Astronomer by Vermeer.
[Source – Wikipedia]

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The Japonsche rocken/ Japanese kimono worn by the two scholars here add to the room’s mood and colour; more like precious gifts for a selected few – back then these were not for sale, but presented in batches only to the merchants who were allowed to visit the Imperial Court in Edo (Tokyo) – the robes then feature seriousness, persistence and also recognition.

Many feel that the Geographer and the Astronomer are the same person with some guessing him to be modelled after the Dutch scientist, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, who probably knew Vermeer.

The ultramarine, cyan shade that colours the two robes, derived from natural lapis lazuli, very expensive, deep, quietly presents the two scientists caught wondering, imagining, getting inspired by a source.

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The only supposed portrait of Jan Vermeer van Delft.
[Source – Wikipedia]

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And the artist painstakingly fine-tunes the details, adds layers, swirls and golden dots, folds, peaks and dips, floral touches, tiny tiles and shadowy walls, and signs the painting, sometimes signs it twice.

And the room, sitting patiently absorbing in light and darkness, also signs.

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The Choir and Their Toads Sing ‘Double Trouble’

Chapter 5 – The Dementors, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

A Snippet Review

Double, double toil and trouble

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble

Double, double toil and trouble

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble

Something wicked this way comes!

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Listen to and enjoy the full track before reading further –

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The choir welcomes one all – freshers, seasoned magicians and viewers – to another year at Hogwarts, promising more magic and double trouble.

Quipping, the song teases dark twists, fire that may rise and burn, old cauldrons that bubble a recipe for unfolding mysteries which may or may not favour you.

And while memorising the incantation, that sways and enchants and bothers and relieves and tickles, you find and hold your wand with a firm grip, looking straight searchingly, more lost than before yet ready… ready for ‘something wicked this way comes…’

The toad croaks to our delight, amusement and excitement. The choir scatters, and we meet Dumbledore, behind the podium, he is sure to make an announcement. Excitement multiplies!

Double appointments, Professor R. J Lupin (Defence against the Dark Arts) and Rubeus Hagrid (Care of Magical Creatures) are greeted warmly, by some who know, and some who don’t, the entire truth.

Clap-clap-clap, tersely, goes Professor Snape (Potions), his sallow face looking sick.

Cheers-cheers but wait here comes the trouble.

Finally, on a more disquieting note, at the request of the Ministry of Magic, Hogwarts will, until further notice, play host to the Dementors of Azkaban…

… Dementors are vicious creatures, they will not distinguish between the one they hunt and the one who gets in their way… it’s not in the nature of a dementor to be forgiving…

Albus Dumbledore

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Dementors at Hogwarts.
[A still from the film; Source – harrypotterfanzone]

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Excitement multiplies? Yes, but fear seeps in now, what the choir hinted at appeared to be harmless, the dementors are not. Fear of not hiding away, but of facing it, of hearing those screams again troubled Harry.

Oh, wait, the cauldron is bubbling again, “adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing”, the incantation hasn’t changed all these years, let the fire rather show you the way.

And Harry listens carefully to the headmaster’s closing remarks…

But you know, happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

Albus Dumbledore

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The book and film. [Source – Wikipedia]


Composed and conducted by John Williams, the choir performs ‘Song of the Witches’ from Macbeth by Shakespeare.

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Must listen to the fantastic extended version –

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Mushroomed – An Ode to the Fungi

Mushroomed mushrooms are talking!
[Source – Pixabay]

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Little umbrellas, soft buddies beaming in damp, dark sites

In the jungle, have more to say, they’re saying now

Through the wood wide web, the underground kites

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Fungi flies, less on whim, on purpose more, humble and old

Hyphen hyphae, thready threads, join the words spoken

By a baby plant and those tall giant trees old

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Together, symbiotic, altruistic, in harmony and love with growth

Of one and all; living, dying, killing like the Armillaria

Its dear host trees, devouring forests, sailing forth

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Layering layered humus, rich, fertile, full with nutrients timely

Rejuvenating the drunken dull poisonous air

Feeding on persistent toxins, stubborn plastic finely

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Breaking, storing carbon in the soil, toiling freely, fungi

And friends mineralise earth, unburdening it quietly

“Decomposing since one billion years“, said fossils of fungi

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Its fruits – mushrooms – mushroom pleasantly,

Well aware of the change hitting the planet

And the mighty meets, sees the ground, underground naturally

There the mycelia run, binding all in one

Showing, nicely, what is to be done.

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Oyster mushroom mycelium growing in a petri dish on coffee grounds.
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

Fungi marched onto land more than a billion years ago. Many fungi partnered with plants, which largely lacked these digestive juices. Mycologists believe that this alliance allowed plants to inhabit land around 700 million years ago. Many millions of years later, one evolutionary branch of fungi led to the development of animals.

― Paul Stamets, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

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A group of elongated cells (hyphae) from the filamentous fungus Podospora anserina.
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

I see the mycelium as the Earth’s natural Internet, a consciousness with which we might be able to communicate. Through cross-species interfacing, we may one day exchange information with these sentient cellular networks. Because these externalized neurological nets sense any impression upon them, from footsteps to falling tree branches, they could relay enormous amounts of data regarding the movements of all organisms through the landscape.

― Paul Stamets, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

Watch these short clips and be amazed –

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Read more about our – neither plants nor animals – friends, the fungi –

A Billion-Year-Old Fungus May Hold Clues to Life’s Arrival on Land

The Untapped Potential of the Amazon’s Plastic-Eating Mushroom

Soil Carbon Sequestration and its Relationship with Climate Change

Benefits of Fungi for the Environment and Humans


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Mr. Thomas & Wiener Zeitung

Short Feature
Old, gold cobbled stone lanes, Vienna!
[Source – Pixabay]

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June 30, 2023

An old cobbled stone lane, old-old and narrow, lined with – old and famous – medieval structures, Mozart playing in the backdrop, timeless, captivating, deep and probably the reason that keeps the old charming and new, through this old cobbled stone lane passes old Mr Thomas, every day, pipe on, no smoke, with a copy of Wiener Zeitung folded, under his arm, thoroughly read, re-read.

The folded copy of Wiener Zeitung – one of the oldest newspapers in the world, 320 years old, whose first copy got published in 1703, a newspaper that Mozart must have read, that covered (in 1768) 12-year-old Mozart’s magical concert, that got shut down in 1939 on Hitler’s orders (started printing again in 1945) – isn’t heavy at all, even though historically a giant.

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“Mm-mm, I did read it.” – Mozart’s busts said in unison.
[Source – Pixabay]

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Direct, also echoing, echoes arriving/leaving, Wiener Zeitung spoke what it saw, observed, analysed freely.

Old, Mr. Thomas’s favourite, this newspaper has friends too, you know, same like it, old and gold – the Italian Gazzetta di Mantova (1664), the English London Gazette (1665) and Berrow’s Worecester Journal (1690), also Haarlems Dagblad (1883) from Netherlands and the very many, thousands and thousands, of readers and the humble employees.

Old Mr. Thomas is walking fast, caught in a thought of uncertainty and the past and future, that he almost tumbled in the present. But, hey, he is fine because he is doubtful and so will explore.


July 1, 2023

Weiner Zeitung won’t get published today. Yesterday was its last day, the print version’s that is, for an online version will be out soon.

Saying tata-bye-bye to many employees means tata-bye-bye to many readers too? Will old Mr. Thomas now, with his pipe on, no smoke, surf the internet for Weiner Zeitung?

The old cobbled stone lane, old-old and narrow, lit by medieval lamps and Mozart’s songs, will see Mr. Thomas sometime soon, him and many oldies that it had befriended and many youngsters too, with a smart-smarty phone, listening/reading as they walk, to news bulletin, probably one published online on Weiner Zeitung.

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“Where’s my copy of the Zeitung?”
“Not there, check the website bro.”

[Image by Margit Wallner from Pixabay]

Adieu Weiner Zeitung (the printed one)!

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Weather Forecast Says Listen to George Ezra

Coverage
[Created by Jagriti Rumi; Source – Wikipedia]

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Relationship with the world grows like grass and creepers; growing in every direction like the grass, growing criss-cross network like the creepers. The very many we don’t know, the very few we do, together shape our lives.

Meeting not the grass patch across the road, I stay happy/unhappy with my rocks, my stones, my pals, my weeds.

And in a shrinking world – our one big grass field, our one small landmass in the world of oceans upon oceans – the seasons may change, but the weather remains the same, it is the weather to form relationships, this weather is here to stay.

Hatred and discomfort in a relationship doesn’t require much effort, it easily springs to life, nurturing illusions in separation, measuring neatly, dividing by all, leaving the remains in decimals.

Compassion, love in a relationship is all that there is to it.

Then doing a chore becomes something more, like wild grass covering and fostering the soil exuberantly, turning into meadows, savannas, prairies, pastures, it grows, not knowing the difference it grows.


Moon loves the grass and listening to George Ezra.
[Source – Pixabay]

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The weather remains the same, it is the weather to form relationships, this weather is here to stay, that is why probably the weather forecast says, ‘Listen to George Ezra’.

His songs are about forming relationships – with friends, family, the beloved, the city, the village, Tiger Lily, the oldies goldies, heaven, hell, middle earth, nature, you and me and them all.

In baritone voice, his songs narrate a story of relations without conclusions so that you can freely listen and freely walk on the grass field.

His songs share secret messages that you get before you know you did.

Without an end, like a creeper stretching its hand, meeting a tree or a forest floor, the song meets you, takes you along.

Ezra’s songs speak not about ‘eventually’, for there is no ‘eventually’, but only the now, the present, this instant, not what is fleeting, nothing is, for you’re fleeting along.

Hold on, hold on dear world for we are moving together, divided we fall, we have fallen, fallen on the green grass that if we see, observe, will share a thing or two about relations.


This weather forecast won’t fail you, rather it’ll nudge you lovingly to make do, see through and say Take Two today.

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Monday Budapest

TuesdayAnyone For You (Tiger Lily)

Wednesday Listen to the Man

Thursday – Fell In Love At The End of The World

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FridayParadise

SaturdayCassy O & Green Green Grass

Sunday Shotgun

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Twisted, quirky and stubborn relationships, at times, may overpower, confuse, ridicule you, don’t give up then, but take this antidote; first get drenched in rain and thunder, be with the darkness inside, then simply ‘blame it on me’, only to switch to a soothing greenery, back to nature for a while.

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Why Day – Did You Hear The Rain?

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Eh Day – Blame it on me

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Any Day – Barcelona


Weather forecast ‘ifs’ –

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If you want a clear sky and the day to be bright and sunny or if it is too hot and you want a happy tiny cloud to follow you for shade then listen to George Ezra’s Morning Song.

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Nautanki/ Drama

Film Review
Hip-hip-hurray, just like that!
[Source – Filmfreeway]

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That high school year passed too quickly, swiftly, madly and you could not believe it – holding unsaid messages in one hand and uncertain life decisions in the other, you had stepped out of the school gate.

Footsteps, voices, promises, laughter, you could hear it all, but when you had turned, you saw no one there.

Suddenly on your own, with phone calls, messages not being good enough and the classroom meetings of everyday, of every month, for so many years, suddenly took over by hostel walls, you were hit strongly.

The everyday meetings become few, fewer, rare… and the bond?

Presently, it makes a good happy place within you.


If you remember that last high school year, the last month, friends leaving town, and maybe you too leaving for a hostel, all by yourself, then you will love Nautanki*.

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Remember…? Yeah, ha ha ha!
[Source – Filmfreeway]

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A 2022 feature film, Nautanki, is a coming-of-age drama that calmly, brightly, innocently tells its story. It never forces any thoughts nor is it in a hurry to reach a dramatic point in the protagonist’s saga.

A very rare film that allows the viewer to be on a journey without the burden, aggression of being on one. Not fulfilling a duty, but just observing and exploring honestly, as much as one can.

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Joshi will leave the town after his 10th standard exams and his best friend, Priti, wonders if he has learnt anything at all, to pass the exams and in life, in general.

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Experimenting with the flow, twisting the technique, the film progresses beautifully – where to, you ask, we don’t know for we too are moving with Joshi.

Fun times and fights with friends, that ‘not-speaking-anymore’ zone, the reunions that colours our high school years give us a tool for sure before thrusting us towards the end, the beginning.

A tool that navigates.

And with our very own – skilled, unskilled, aware, unaware – hands we write our life’s drama.

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Joshi, who knows simply to be – not in the moment, he is ‘moment-free’, he is super careless/carefree – eventually will be pulled into the world’s drama…

Yes, no? And what role will he play in the Nautanki?


Here’s the trailer –

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Watch Nautanki (1h 31m) anytime on YouTube, it is FREE, thanks to the director and his team.

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*Nautanki is a Hindi word that means drama in English. It is used to refer to a style of theatrical performance that is usually more showy, exaggerated and over-the-top than traditional types of theatre. Nautanki performances often include elements like music and dance.


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