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Moony Clay

Moon’s cloudy carpet.
[Image by Jagriti Rumi]

Now a clear dot… now hazy… mixing with the clouds through and through, then beaming alone gloriously. Splattering moony clay, then rubbing it, greasing with it the deep dark sky.

Mirroring all the romantics and dream-talkers, the moony clay moulds itself to fit into the beholder’s eyes and patient hearts. It listens, nods and registers its reply with the artist.

Moony clay – an assiduous storyteller, slowly moving away – happily builds the wavy waves and like a sand clock shows the slipping time its way.

Singing joyously, dancing leisurely, the moony clay creates and fills the heart with hope, lost in splendour.

See how it re-shapes, re-writes its journey, certain of uncertainty in knowing… in knowing it all. 


Images by Jagriti Rumi


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Fine-Tuning The Fears

Poem

Facing the fears.
[Image by Alexandra Haynak from Pixabay]

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No, not the fear of the ultimate ending

Binds or resides within;

It is the opposing voices cascading,

Confusing, crippling, caricaturing

Us and the peace within.

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No, not the fear of a sickness

Troubles or tortures the heart;

It is our hopelessness,

A steady bleakness,

And the habitual surrendering of our craft.

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No, not the fear of failure

Numbs or stuns the mind;

It is the snagging daily battle

Against the monsters of routine life;

Those are treacherous, lazy and anything but kind.

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No, not the fear of the invisible

Tricks or fools us;

It is our way to define,

Design and create

The heroes, the villains and the fuss.

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No, not the fear of the word fear

Lurks or creeps today;

It is our forgetfulness that steers…

… And suddenly, in haste one remembers

Fine-tuning life’s fears to Play.

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Beauty in Perfection and Vice-Versa: The Japanese Take

Book Review

Seeing through a lens that sees things as it is, in its truest form, looking at a broken feather as a feather, not denying its reality, not giving it a quality, experiencing the moment quietly the Mother wrote about Japan. She wrote about its perfection/ beauty-loving people, the value given to nurturing kids, the dedicated women, the Japanese restrained-balanced-subtle art and the transient life.

The people, she observed, not via reactions, but by silent selfless actions showed how much they cared for someone; happy to persevere they worked to fulfil the task at hand, devoted harmoniously and absolutely in the present moment, aware about nothing else.

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Taking long walks to a garden in spring or autumns and spending time there or climbing the steep stairs to reach the monastery at the top of the hilltop, the people (of every and any class), she noticed, believed in beauty and peace.

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“…very simple people, men of working class or even peasants go for rest or enjoyment to a place where they can see a beautiful landscape. This gives them a much greater joy than going to play cards or indulging in all sorts of distractions as they do in the countries of Europe. They are seen in groups at times, going on the roads or sometimes taking a train or a tram up to a certain point, then walking to a place from where one gets a beautiful view.”

“For instance, in autumn leaves become red; they have large numbers of maple-trees (the leaves of the maple turn into all the shades of the most vivid red in autumn, it is absolutely marvellous), so they arrange a place near temple, for instance, on the top of a hill, and the entire hill is covered with maples.”

“Well, an artist who goes there will experience an emotion of absolutely exceptional, marvellous beauty. But one sees very small children, families even, with a baby on the shoulder, going there in groups. In autumn they will go there. In springtime they will go elsewhere.”

The Mother (Questions and Answers, The Mother on Japan 12 April 1951) 

Image of the Buddha, painting by the Mother.
(The Mother, Paintings and Drawings, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1992) [Photo by – Jagriti Rumi]

While reading about the 1919 flu and how the Mother fought back the negative, dark energy, one thinks about the present pandemic and hopes to win like the Mother in the end.

The glorious cherry-blossom trees in bloom – pink, white, vivid joyous pink – and the narrow paths that take one to wonderful places, with old Japanese houses on both sides, presented the Mother with a paradise puzzle…

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“Then you go wandering around – always one wanders at random in that country – you go wandering and all of a sudden you turn the corner of a street and come to a kind of paradise: there are magnificent trees, a temple as beautiful as everything else, you see nothing of the city (Tokyo) any longer, no more traffic, no tramways; a corner, a corner of trees with magnificent colours, and it is beautiful, beautiful like everything else. You do not know how you have reached there, you seem to have come by luck. And then you turn, you seek your way, you wander off again and go elsewhere. And some days later you want to come back to this very place, but it is impossible, it is as though it had disappeared. And this is so frequent, this is so true that such stories are often told in Japan. Their literature is full of fairy-lore. They tell you a story in which the hero comes suddenly to an enchanted place: he sees fairies, he sees marvellous beings, he spends exquisite hours among flowers, music; all is splendid. The next day he is obliged to leave; it is the law of the place, he goes away. He tries to come back, but never does. He can no longer find the place: it was there, it has disappeared!… And everything in this city, in this country, from beginning to end, gives you the impression of impermanence, of the unexpected, the exceptional. You always come to things you did not expect; you want to find them again and they are lost – they have made something else which is equally charming. From the artistic point of view, the point of view of beauty, I don’t think there is a country as beautiful as that.”

 

The Mother (Questions and Answers, The Mother on Japan 12 April 1951) 

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Complement this short spiritual post with similar posts – The Journey and Sri Aurobindo.

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Durga Puja and the Celebratory Dance of the Creation

Victorious, omniscient eyes. [Image by SUMITKUMAR SAHARE from Pixabay]

Big, bright and beady eyes looking right through you, resting her gaze on meeting the soul, Durga, the beautiful supreme goddess, asks you to dare. The three-eyed deity, in a blast of red and yellow, and a thunderous jubilant tune, asks you to be brave.

Every mortal being bows and offers herself and dances madly, in a daze, circling in the incense fog, urging goddess Durga to bless and enlighten her devotees.

Golden glory! [Source – Wallpaper Flare]

Durga Puja, a Hindu festival, celebrates every shade and story of life, fostering passion, guiding the troubled, reminding the beaten soul to rise once again.

Many old Hindu scriptures have passed the story of the fierce warrior goddess Durga, with a royal lion as her vahana (vehicle) by her side, killing Mahishasura, a shape-shifting deceitful demon who had caused havoc on the earth.

Durga Puja, 1809 watercolour painting in Patna Style. [Source – Wikipedia]

Grand clay idols of Durga – her ten hands carrying various weapons, slaying the terrible Mahishasura with a trishul (trident) who lies on her feet – are built and placed under beautifully decorated marquees.

Different avatars of goddess Durga are worshipped for ten days – for she is the personification of power, wealth, emotions, intellect, nourishment, beauty, desires, faith, righteousness, forgiveness and peace – and on the last day, the idol is taken to a local river body for visarjan (immersion of the idol). She then returns to her husband, Lord Shiva, who resides in the Kailash Peak in the Himalayas.

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Mahishasura Mardini (slayer of Mahishasura). [Source – Wikipedia]
Durga Puja celebrations in full swing. [Source – Wikimedia Commons]
Incense fog. [Source – The Yellow Sparrow]

Slayer, nurturer, the feminine soul of the Universe, Durga is the life force, the will to survive, the spirit to fight back, the joy of being alive and the celebratory dance of the Creation.

Exceptionally popular in the eastern parts of India – mainly in West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Tripura, Bihar – these states lit up magnificently, colouring every nook and corner alive. In our corona-hit world, with provisions in place, India welcomed goddess Durga once again.

More of a socio-cultural festival than just a religious one, the artists always come up with unique themes and styles when creating the idol. This year it was the idol depicting goddess Durga as a migrant mother carrying a young one in her arms, with two little girls walking by her side that won everyone’s heart.

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The Migrant Durga. Image by Shashi Ghosh for The Indian Express.

The idol, created by Kolkata based artist Pallab Bhaumik, highlighted the plight of the migrant workers who were forced to walk thousands of kilometres to reach home from cities during the lockdown.

Devoid of vibrant colours, the ‘migrant’ Durga represents the hardships of a section of society who are usually forgotten after they make headlines, but such brilliant is this work that it appears to be more alive and grand than anything real.

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The gaze of truthful eyes! Image by Shashi Ghosh for The Indian Express.

Yet again it is the victorious, omniscient eyes of the goddess that say the most. She smiles for she is the witness of the on-going life drama.

The depiction of goddess Durga as a ‘migrant mother’ then could not be more apt because a labourer is also closest to the raw life drama which we all on the contrary love to refine before consuming.

And it must be a fierce conviction to win that fuelled the hearts of the migrant mothers and their faith in life that encouraged them to complete the tiring journeys. Because if not honest hope, what could be behind their unswerving patience and perseverance?

They will win in their journeys, everyone who creates something will win, for every action is an oblation, it is life and the wondrous Durga, its symbol.

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A sublime image. [Source – harzindagi.com]

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Listen to the astounding Aigiri Nandini, sung in honour of goddess Durga –


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Our Friend Totoro

The crayon doodles, chalk scrabbled floor and walls, silly games of following the clouds, the butterflies and the wind, toying with fairy tale thoughts, dancing in the rain, eating snowflakes, and living in the inverted fable world… all this and every other childhood memory comes alive in Miyazaki’s masterpiece anime, My Neighbour Totoro.

Totoro and friends.
© Studio Ghibli [Source – IMDB]

Those whispers, secrets, and myths that we all have heard, in which the happy spirits rise to guide the one who dares and bridges her to the magic around, which world-wide have different versions, which are absurd yet possible, forms the core of this motley work.

Two little girls, Satsuki and Mei, move to the countryside in Japan along with their father, Tatsuo Kusakabe. Mama Yasuko Kusakabe is not well and so she is admitted to the hospital which is closer to this countryside house.

But she will recover and come back home soon”, says Dady Tatsuo, “when, will she be back by tomorrow?” asks four years old Mei, “there she goes again with tomorrow”, says Satsuki and they all laugh.

Mei is courageous, she even catches a soot gremlin to show it to Satsuki but it ends up only in making her hands black.

Mei and a soot gremlin. [Source – IMDB]

As Satsuki goes to school, little Mei plays around the house alone; carrying her packed lunchbox, she explores the place with a clear and light mind, giggling, following two small bunny-like Totoros to the colossal camphor tree and ultimately meeting the big Totoro there.

Totoro Who?

The Totoros playing the ocarina. [Source – IMDB]

Totoro is a furry giant animal, with whiskers, big eyes, and a bigger smile. He lives in the huge camphor tree in the forest neighbouring Satsuki and Mei’s house.

While the little Totoros collect acorns, the giant one helps it to grow; together they play the ocarina like music instruments at night, sitting high on a branch, guarding the forest, and all the beings living in it.

Totoro in some ways is like a Kami – a spirit in Japanese religion of Shinto which can be anything, from forces of nature to spirits of an honoured dead person like a King. Possessing both positive and negative qualities, these spirits are to be worshipped and thanked for their blessings and support.

Kami cannot be seen by everyone, but the one whom it chooses to reveal itself to. Being aware of the powers of Kami means being aware of the powers of nature, respecting it, and also showing gratitude for what it grants.

After Mei’s first encounter with Totoro, their father takes both the girls to a nearby Shinto shrine to thank the Kami for looking after Mei and asking it to continue looking after all of them. The shrine is next to the giant camphor tree which Mei happily recognises, but doesn’t find the way to Totoro’s den as she did the last time.

Two Little sisters, Mei and Satsuki

As children look at the world with the hope to see a miracle every second and love as if it is all theirs, it is only Mei and Satsuki who get to meet Totoro. It all starts with Mei, she sees the soot gremlins twice and then the three Totoros. Little Mei’s world, it seems, is still more magical than Satsuki.

Mei follows the littlest Totoro.
© Walt Disney Pictures [Source – IMDB]
Best friends, Mei and Totoro.
© Walt Disney Pictures [Source – IMDB]

When Mei tells Satsuki about Totoro, she tells her father that she too wants to meet Totoro, but on one occasion when Mei accompanies her to the school and draws Totoro’s image on a sheet, Satsuki feels embarrassed amongst her giggling friends, typical of a growing-up kid.

On a rainy late evening, Satsuki and Mei go to the bus stop to receive their father who had not taken an umbrella, there Totoro joins them. Satsuki is elated to see him but stays still. She then gives him the spare umbrella and shows him how to use it.

With a sleepy Mei on her back, Satsuki is surprised to know that Totoro is standing next to them. [Source – IMDB]

Raindrops falling on the umbrella from the branches above give Totoro the shivers which he enjoys; he jumps up and down and a heavy splash of raindrops fall on them and Totoro beams magnificently. The magic only multiplies then as a Cat Bus arrives there, Totoro climbs on it and leaves.

That same night, Totoro comes with his two little friends to silently perform a ritual in the yard where Mei and Satsuki have planted the acorns; the girls wake up and join the Totoros.

Their prayers are heard and the plants sprout magically to form a giant tree, just like the camphor tree, right before their eyes. Totoro then takes all of them to the top of the tree to sit on the branch and play the ocarina.

Totoro’s magic in action. [Source – IMDB]

Next morning the girls find that the tree has vanished, but the seeds have indeed sprung; both of them then repeat the ritual ecstatically shouting “I thought it was a dream, but I was wrong.”

Mei repeats whatever Satsuki says, she gets excited when Satsuki is, dances along and follows her everywhere trying to match her speed, happy to be around her elder sister. But when she gets the news that their mother will not be returning soon as planned, she gets angry.

Both the sisters argue and Mei leaves for the hospital all by herself to give her mother an ear of corn that Granny had said would make her perfectly healthy.

A determined Mei. [Source – IMDB]

In the evening when Satsuki realises that Mei is not at home, she, Granny, Kanta, and his family all start looking for her. Sure that Mei must have left for the hospital Satsuki takes to the road, running all the way and calling out Mei’s name, but she does not find her there.

Satsuki then goes to meet Totoro, praying to the camphor tree to allow her to meet him; she tells Totoro that Mei is missing and she cannot find her on her own.

Meow!! The Cat Bus is here.
© Walt Disney Pictures [Source – IMDB]

Totoro smiles and immediately calls the Cat Bus, the destination indicator blinks Mei’s name, an awed Satsuki climbs on the bus and on its many legs the Cat Bus leaps from one farm to another, tiptoeing from one utility pole to another, finally stopping at the roadside where Mei was sitting and crying.

The Cat Bus then takes both of them to the hospital; there sitting on a treetop the little girls feel relieved to see their parents together and happy.

Both Mei and Satsuki come across as two real-life girls – their mannerism (in the first scene, sitting together in the small lorry, sharing candies), their reactions (when Mei sees the soot gremlins she freezes, holding her frock tightly), their silly arguments (when Satsuki teases Mei that she is afraid at night and that is why she cannot sleep alone), when happy (after meeting the Totoro for the first time Satsuki is overjoyed, she asks his father to hold both of them and they jump into his arms) when sad (both are disappointed to know that their mother will not be coming home soon), all these actions in totality make them appear like two actual kids.

Mama and Daddy Kusakabe

Tatsuo Kusakabe with his dear daughters. [Source – IMDB]

Both Tatsuo and Yasuko Kusakabe are loving, supporting, and open-minded accepting parents. They know that it is a tough time for the girls as they have been staying away from their mother and have shifted to a village for her sake, thus, they do not discourage them from any vibrant idea of theirs.

Whenever the girls talk about soot gremlins, Totoro and the Cat Bus, they both show excitement, honestly interested in their tales.

Tatsuo always listens to them and joins them in their fun activities. Yasuko misses both of them and worries for Satsuki as she knows she takes more responsibility than others do in her age.

Mei’s gift for her mother. [Source – IMDB]

When Yasuko tells her husband that she thought she saw Mei and Satsuki sitting on the tree, smiling, Tatsuo, familiar with the Totoro story by then, picks up the corn with the inscription ‘for mama’ on it lying on the window-sill and says that they must have been here.

Granny and Kanta

Granny gets happy on knowing that the girls saw the soot gremlins. [Source – IMDB]

Mei and Satsuki’s neighbours, other than the Totoros, are Kanta’s family. While Granny is caring and full of warmth, Kanta hesitates even to talk to Satsuki.

On two occasions – delivering them lunch on their first day and giving his umbrella when it is pouring heavily – he simply hands over Satsuki the lunch box and the umbrella, grunting and without uttering a word.

A shy Kanta. [Source – IMDB]

As time passes by, they become like family to the Kusakabes; when Mei leaves for the hospital on her own, Granny gathers the whole village to look for Mei and Kanta goes to the hospital on a bicycle to check the way for her.

Granny hugs Mei when she returns with Satsuki. The four of them walk back home together as the cheerful closing track plays in the background.

The Charm of the Era

The film is set in the late 1950s Japan when life was simpler and the pace was kinder. On arriving at their new home, Mei and Satsuki get excited about seeing every new thing – the timeworn house (‘it could be haunted’, says Satsuki), the collapsing patio, the soot gremlins, the water pump, the small bridge that takes them to their house, the stream and of course, the giant camphor tree.

The melodious stream near Mei and Satsuki’s house. [Source – IMDB]

Raindrops falling in the rice paddies, the sudden downpour, the drizzles dripping from tree leaves, the puddles, all these scenes are beautifully captured in the film.

Totoro is overwhelmed with joy when raindrops fall on his umbrella which he is holding for the first time, this brings back memories of childhood.

Such simple happy actions become a habit unknowingly; whether it is raindrops falling on the umbrella for some or say, crushing the dry autumn leaves for others, it always gives us a sudden boost of cheerful energy.

Imagery & Music

The wonderful work done by Hayao Miyazaki and Kazuo Oga, the art director, makes the anime world truly alive.

The countryside. [Source – IMDB]

The cushiony clouds, the rapturous scenery, the quiet stream, and every rock and leaf complement each other, aiding in and not shying from embracing the modernity.

When Mei, Satsuki, and their father visit the shrine for the first time, the ambience and even the cool moistness of the hidden place catches us and we are struck by the glory of the huge camphor tree.

And what gives the imagery this soothing life-like quality is the music in the film. The excellent soundtrack, composed by Joe Hisaishi, gives the film a mythical tone as if opening a door to a magical dream world while keeping it firmly grounded in its times.

Especially the score titled “The Huge Tree in the Tsukamori Forest”, which plays whenever we see the camphor tree in its glory, has become analogous to the spirit of the film. It is an uplifting majestic tune that marks the listener’s entry into a secret world.

The Credits Roll

The story goes on as the credits roll at the end. We see Mei and Satsuki spending time with their mother – taking baths together, reading storybooks – as they had been hoping to for a long time.

The girls continue living in the same region, making new friends, bonding with the old ones, making a snow Totoro in winters, and enjoying their childhood days.

Totoro’s home is one of the best places in the world. [Source – IMDB]

My Neighbour Totoro is considered to be, both by the critics and the masses, one of the best Anime fantasy films of all time. Totoro has become a cultural icon and the film has a worldwide cult following.

Apart from being the company logo and appearing in Studio Ghibli’s other productions, Totoro has also appeared in Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 3.

Such is the love for the film that an asteroid discovered in 1994 and a velvet worm species discovered in Vietnam in 2013 were named after Totoro.

A smiley giant, guardian of the forest, Totoro does not have a dialogue in the film; apart from speaking his name out loud to Mei, he only beams, roars, flies, plays the ocarina, eats and sleeps.

His simplicity makes him a more welcomed, accepted, and believable character by one and all. Mei and Satsuki’s neighbour, the guardian of the forest, Totoro is a true friend, yours as well as mine.

Our friend Totoro. [Source – IMDB]

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My Neighbour Totoro

Written and Directed by – Hayao Miyazaki; Production company – Studio Ghibli; Music by – Joe Hisaishi; Cinematography by – Hisao Shirai; Edited by – Takeshi Seyama

Here is a children’s film made for the world we should live in, rather than the one we occupy. A film with no villains. No fight scenes. No evil adults. No fighting between the two kids. No scary monsters. No darkness before the dawn. A world that is benign. A world where if you meet a strange towering creature in the forest, you curl up on its tummy and have a nap.

Roger Ebert, the film critic.
Read his review of My Neighbour Totoro here.

You can now watch the film on Netflix. Enjoy!


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Canonized For Love

John Donne was a prominent 17th century Metaphysical Poet.
Poster design by Jagriti Rumi.

Love is pure truth, a divine experience, a way to live more and surpass even death.

It is a sublime fantasy that is real and better than the material world. Love is life’s paradox.

This is the idea that John Donne is expressing in the poem The Canonization. It is a reply as well as a declaration that the poet makes to the world- a world that treats lovers harshly.

He scorns the worldly, he questions the inquisitive, he proves the myths true, he places his love high and announces it as canonized.

The sudden change in his tone doesn’t bother if one recognises the powerful and apt imagery he has used in the poem.

The very first line ‘For God’s sake, hold your tongue, and let me love’ hits hard, but certainly in a good manner. In fact, it catches the interest of the reader at once.

The poem is like a necklace, beaded with beautiful and grand images like –

‘What merchant’s ships have my sighs drowned?’

‘And we in us find the eagle and the dove

The phoenix riddle hath more wit/ By us; we two being one, are it’

‘As well a well-wrought urn becomes/ The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs/ And by these hymns, all shall approve / Us canonized for Love.’

Countries, towns, courts: beg from above/ A pattern of your love!

‘And if unfit for tombs and hearse/ Our legend be, it will be fit for verse’ (Stanza 4)
Image by Prawny from Pixabay

These are not empty expressions as every word in the poem is linked with the central theme – love.

If we randomly pick one word from each stanza, it will still be related to the poem.

For example, ‘improve’ (stanza 1) – one who is in love grows as an individual and improves by learning to be selfless; ‘remove’ (stanza 2) – when in love you cannot dwell on hatred, and so the negativity is removed to make space for hope; ‘Mysterious’ (stanza 3) – love is an easy mystery; ‘legend’ (stanza 4) – we all remember love stories as legends, sadly these are mostly incomplete ones; ‘mirrors’ (stanza 5) – love is as reflective as a mirror.

Love is closely related to asceticism in the poem, which is one of the conceits (an ingenious or fanciful comparison or metaphor) used by the poet.

He proves it with great subtlety that the lovers need nothing from the world; they complete each other and hence, know inner peace.

The poet says that the lovers rise to such a level that they become one and enter a divine world, thus leaving the material world behind. They dwell in each other’s simple presence.

In the last stanza, after canonizing himself and his lover, the poet says that his pious canonized love would be celebrated in the world by one and all.

He ends by completing the canonization of his love, placing it on a high pedestal, and separating it from the worldly pleasures.

‘And if no piece of chronicle we prove/ We’ll build in sonnets pretty rooms’ (Stanza 4).
Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Canonization, the title of the poem, seems to be a question and an answer at the same time. As one wonders about how love can be canonized and attain sainthood, the divine nature of the poet’s love presented in the poem gradually justifies the same.

The poet shows that his love is spiritual not merely physical, that his union with his lover has made them blissful and assures that it will radiate amongst the others.

His canonized love is not against the world rather it is for the world, acting as an inspiration. His love is not harming anyone but is a liberating force, just like a saint’s.

John Donne’s The Canonization is a smart poem with brilliant use of wit, the quintessential quality of a metaphysical poet.

He celebrates love in a simple, forthright tone that makes this 17th-century poem wondrously alive in today’s world as well.

‘Alas, alas, who’s injured by my love?’ (Stanza 2)

‘Call her one, me another fly/ We’re tapers too, and at our own cost die’ (Stanza 3)

There is a message hidden in this poem and the title ‘canonization’ is the key to unveil it. Donne wants to share that every one of us, whatever be our rank in the society that runs according to the man-made rules, has the ability to reach the divine state.

Sainthood according to him is not reserved for some but is achievable by all.

What we need is to rise above the material world, to resurrect ourselves through true love. Here the beloved represents anything- a person, God, nature, the entire world.

Love is the best, the all-embracing way to reach the sublime state as it is love that makes a person truly selfless and compassionate.

Even today if someone pursues this path, they will know that they are canonized, for they are in love.

Love is to be selfless and compassionate.
Image by Nika Akin from Pixabay

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The Sweet Sound Waves

Sound is a sensation and a stimulus; reflected, refracted, and humbly attenuated by its medium, the sound wave propagates. Only the frequencies between 20 Hz and 20KHz comes in the hearing range of us humans.

Voices, calls, laughs, and whispers fill this range of ours, from morning to evening. We consider, approve, discard, ignore, and absorb it as and when we understand the hidden meaning.

Colourful message carrying sweet sound waves.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The hidden meaning…? Yes, the message that every sound wave carries is the hidden meaning, it shapes this very understanding of ours.

And what an exuberating elusive message a melody is, a wonderful wordless story that nevertheless is discernible, more than that in fact, as it touches and soothes our heart and soul.

Bansuri, a bamboo flute, taps a tune, using wind as the source and wind as the medium, carrying the message as far as possible, resonating beyond the visible, accepting all, conquering all.

Two and a half ample octaves and the bansuri deciphers happily the message using the Sargam (solfege); a subtle and soulful tune reads it to us.

Lord Krishna, the Jamun coloured Hindu deity with a peacock-feathered crown, is always depicted with a bansuri in his hands. Various stories tell us how Krishna, the charmer, used to mesmerise the listeners, stopping the time as if to unveil the beauty of the cosmic play.

The jamun coloured Krishna Flutist. [Source – 4art.com]

The leading character in several ancient Hindu religious, mythological and philosophical texts, Krishna plays his bansuri to win Radha’s heart, to celebrate the victory over evil, to turn impossible into possible and routinely for shepherding cows (he played a melodious tune on the bansuri and the herd of cows themselves returned to him).

Lord Krishna playing flute and shepherding cows along with his elder brother Balrama and friends. [Source – indiafacts]

Natya Shastra as well as the other Vedic texts associated art and music with the Supreme, calling it the spiritual means to rise above, concentrate on and connect to one’s consciousness, witness it and attain Moksha (enlightenment, release).

Why would one make a creative artist’s job tougher by leaving the great responsibility of enlightening the receiver on her? Let art be for art’s sake.

Right! But apart from just being true, pure art, what if say a tune played on a bansuri leaves a listener illumined, will this not add to the beauty of the melody? It absolutely will.

If it deciphers the message for the listener, showing her more than what is on the surface, by additionally doing absolutely nothing, then surely the message is intrinsic to the composition.

Wonderfully it all also depends on perception. Synesthesia is a condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses, such as sight, thus, in such cases sound involuntarily evokes an experience of colour, shape, and movement.

Read what the first recorded case of synesthesia was about –

“The earliest recorded case of synesthesia is attributed to the Oxford University academic and philosopher John Locke, who, in 1690, made a report about a blind man who said he experienced the colour scarlet when he heard the sound of a trumpet.”

Wikipedia

And so everyone perceives it (the message, meaning, and life) differently, one feels, sees, and hears differently.

Vibrating air… that is what sound actually is; a sound wave cannot travel in the vacuum of space. Sound, an exclusive phenomenon on earth, then is indeed truly special.

And maybe that is why music is therapeutic in nature. It heals a troubled heart, it enlivens the mood, it calms a tired mind and often transcends the listener to a blissful state.

Instrumental musical compositions evoke for every individual a ‘thought’ within, yet to be uttered. The message it then delivers is always a favourable one, a high spirited one.

And a bamboo flute always keeps the message sweet, earthy and peaceful.  

Bansuri. [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

Listen to the spellbinding bansuri notes (that acted as a catalyst for this post) played by the maestro, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia –

May it help you to be kind to yourself in these difficult times.


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Chapter II: Chiming Stories

I started blogging back in the year 2011 following my brother’s lead, unaware of the world of bloggers, without any plan of action, happy simply to write one, happy to share my stories on Home Chimes.

This is what I wrote in my introduction earlier-

“I dreamed of Home Chimes a long time back with my eyes open. Since then, I am on a journey to understand that dream.”

“I dreamed of Home Chimes…”
Image by Comfreak from Pixabay

It was indeed like a dream because I do not remember why I came up with this particular name. I remember that I wanted it to do something with the word ‘chimes’, but that was it.

After I selected the name and started blogging, I found out that there used to be a magazine in the late 19th century in London that was also named Home Chimes. And that it went out of publication around the year 1894. You can read about this magazine here

I was very thrilled to know that Jerome K Jerome was amongst the many writers who got their work published in this magazine. Such a wonderful thing it is, I thought. But then this new information made me wonder if I should change the name of my blog to be truly authentic.

I did not change it. The happy coincidence forced me to keep exploring the hidden meaning behind Home Chimes and to keep writing about the stories I became a part of.

From anecdotes to spiritual thoughts, from poems to film reviews, from comic strips to scientific phenomenon, I wrote about all that made me “curiouser and curiouser”. It started as, has stayed and will always be a lovely place – Home Chimes.

One fine day a simmering thought spoke to me, the devotion with which I write these blog entries and the joy that it gives me, it said, is immense, and I realised then that the blog holds a very special place in my life. Gleefully, I stepped forward. Neither a hobby nor a medium, my blog should be simply what I do.

I am a writer, I love the art of storytelling. And like lightening it hit me that it is time now to turn to the second chapter – Chiming Stories.

Tales of this and that world.
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Dear all, with much gusto I have begun and I promise that the second chapter would be a wonderful one. Tales of this and that world, of today and tomorrow… just to give colour to your thoughts and add rhythm to your flying time, ‘Chiming Stories’ is here to tell you a story. Oh! And a good chunk of it will be about the lotus-eyed one, because I love him.

From my dear old Blogger I have now shifted to the fantastic WordPress, the sound reason behind it is – I wanted a high-quality website and the complete freedom to create it.

Both the responsibility and risk are mine now. Voila!

“O muse, bless me that I write well and become the best in chiming stories.”

Amen! Ya-hoy!

P.s. – I apologise for the glitches you must have noticed (and will notice in the coming weeks as well); it is because I am still in the process of developing this website and am doing it all by myself, kindly bear with me. Thanks!

Three Voices

Three voices in pink.
Image from Pixabay.

The three voices are saying the same thing.  

What is tolerance… the capacity to endure hardships and… and the willingness to accept beliefs, respect the opinions that are different from our own.  

Tolerance, they say, shows that you are educated for you listen, you debate and you rule out what is not plausible.

You stick to what gives you clarity and what appears to be true, true for one and all because we, the people, are walking forward together.

The boundaries are superficial.  

And so the intolerant idea that in its core aims to divide, to break, to segregate is a foolish one, it does not succeed in the long run.  

But oh, oh, we are complex beings, we are slow and we glow with pride or we moan with guilt and we disturb the peace, we freeze the disease in our minds and resist the resolution till the very end of the war.  

We the humanity and I the individual still do not know who is more powerful… powerful not only to survive but powerful enough to understand, to forge a balanced world, to see through eyes unclouded by hatred… powerful enough to show tolerance.  

The three voices are saying the same thing.  

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

Aristotle

The highest result of education is tolerance.

Helen Keller

Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.

John F. Kennedy

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The Truth is Pale Blue and its Apparent Size is Equal to a Dot

Pale Blue Dot by Voyager 1 Space Probe.
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet

Whose hands can strike with such abandon

That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living

Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness

That the haughty neck is happy to bow

And the proud back is glad to bend

Out of such chaos, of such contradiction

We learn that we are neither devils nor divines  

*

This excerpt is from a refined piece of poem by Maya Angelou which shared then and is sharing still the truth.

We all call a pale blue dot in this magnanimous universe our home, and then we forget. For what else can it be if not weak memory that we repeat the same blunders and invite catastrophes?

We are full of contradictions, we are the chaos, we are neither devils nor divinesand yet we are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world. Why?

Because we can think, we can create, we can sing and dance, we can understand the science behind everything, and we can write a poem to share with everyone A Brave and Startling Truth.

Because deep down all each one of us want is peace. Yes, but only if we remember… if we remember to think.

*

When we come to it

We, this people, on this wayward, floating body

Created on this earth, of this earth

Have the power to fashion for this earth

A climate where every man and every woman

Can live freely without sanctimonious piety

Without crippling fear

When we come to it

We must confess that we are the possible

We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world

That is when, and only when

We come to it.

*

Read Maya Angelou’s beautiful poem, A Brave and Startling Truth here.

Know more about our planet, the Pale Blue Dot.

Also, read this fabulous article by the fabulous Maria Popova that inspired me to write this post here.


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