Galactic Plumes

I had been mooning about the fields outside in the village where we stayed near Topslip National Forest. People told me to be careful about venturing out far – “There are Elephants nearby, and they love the fields. “, they said emphasizing the word, Elephants. My eyes lit up. The villagers exchanged looks that doubted my sanity and hurried on, “It isn’t Good seeing Elephants in the fields – you never know what they will do. If you hear fire crackers in the distance, come straight back here!” said one toothless fairy godmother, and her husband (I think) nodded in agreement vigorously.

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Off we went then, sauntering through the fields, listening to the loud orchestra of birds, crickets and frogs, accompanying the beautiful colors that nature was setting forth for us to see. It is magical indeed to see a half dozen peacocks take flight into the sunset. By the time, we fumbled for the phones they were gone, and I was glad I did not waste those precious moments of seeing them start off awkwardly and then gain elegance in flight by trying to get a picture. I have it in my mind’s eye, along with the indescribable moment of feeling your heart soar with the peacocks’ trajectory.

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Peacocks have long feathers, and while they know how to fan them out and preen in front of peahens looking splendid in the process; when they fly, it looks like it can feel like long hair feels to women.

Gather your tresses,
Of plume and multi-colored beauty
Tuck them in,
Letting it stream behind you elegantly while
Trying not to let it look messy
And all the rest of that.

It was then in the distance that we heard firecrackers go off in the distance. I don’t know about you, but this is the sort of thing that holds mystique. It is what inspired my Mother’s Day in the Jungle tale. Trumpy elephant going off to Farmer Hasalot’s farm – there is such an element of thrill and romantic mysticism to this kind of thing, though I think the elephants and farmers in question disagree.

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I spent dusk in a similar fashion enjoying the fading sunlight, the rising moon, the fields, the clouds, the village, the children, the adults and creatures of beautiful Earth. Every now and then, crackers went off in the distance – elephants in the distance we whispered. Though, why we were whispering we had no idea. Dusk seems to call for these things. A laid back village in South India tucked away in the recesses of the Western Ghats with all the fascination of the bucolic. An occasional rumble of a vehicle is all there was to remind us of civilization, corporates, power tussles, wars, micro/ macro economics, nuclear heavy-lifts, and motives of profit.

Post dinner, I traipsed indoors, happy with life, still rattling on about the beautiful image of the peacocks taking flight together in the evening light. We stayed chatting happily into the night (Part 2)

It was well past midnight when the electricity went out, and the husband said, “Outside now! Completely dark – yes!”

Off we went, self carrying the son piggy-back to see the stars in all its glory outside. With the electricity gone, it was pitch black outside.
Oh!
My foot!
Not there.
Ouch!

We bumped into one another spectacularly and I tripped on a chair outside in the verandah, carrying the little fellow on my back. Both of us went crashing down, self trying to save the poor fellow from being dropped from my back. One splendid moment later, I truly saw what ‘seeing stars’ meant.

The pair of us dragged ourselves off our feet and took our eyes skyward. The light pollution we have unleashed on our planet means that there are very few places in the world that humanity can stand and gaze at the sheer immensity of the universe in which we live. On an average dark-ish day, we can see about 3000 stars, on a day like this surrounded by mountains, forests and fields for miles around us, we could see tens of thousands of them lighting up entire bands of the sky with their luminance. The stars and galaxies are always there, and maybe because of this very permanence, it is seldom appreciated.

Standing there in the surrounding darkness with people I love, I felt light-headed. There we were, standing on an Earth that was spinning incredibly fast in its journey around the sun; the sun was swirling around the Milky Way galaxy; and the galaxy itself was spinning and whirling away into vaster expanses. Carrying us all: our ethereal thoughts, wishes and desires; and our solid physical selves on a solid planet.

The galaxy tucking its star-studded plumes behind it gracefully, and taking flight with all its organic and inorganic components streaming gracefully along its path. Huge balls of gas and flames hurtling through space, and some spots in this beautiful expanse sanguine enough to cool down for a spot of life to flourish. #The Pale Blue Dot.

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The beautiful image of the peacocks taking flight earlier that evening came to me, and in that moment, the galaxies above looked like peacocks taking flight into horizons unknown.

Do the dreams of galaxies have limits? Do they have purposes?

Thinking back on that beautiful spin through the gathering darkness, I am reminded of this quote by Ursula K Le Guin:
“Things don’t have purposes, as if the universe were a machine, where every part has a useful function. What’s the function of a galaxy? I don’t know if our life has a purpose and I don’t see that it matters. What does matter is that we’re a part. Like a thread in a cloth or a grass-blade in a field. It is and we are. What we do is like wind blowing on the grass.”

A Mother’s Day Gift

I walked into the classroom to read my story on Mothers Day to the children. I was a little nervous. Would the tough audience respond well to the story? It is always the surest test. If their attention dithers, you have lost, if they are enthralled, nothing else matters.

The teacher told me that they will be settling down soon. I watched amazed as she quietly got all the children, who were, less than a minute ago, tumbling and hanging upside down in the playgrounds outside to sit on the rug in the middle of the class, and settle down to Reading Time.

Now..Now..Ian, what did we say about sitting quietly facing me?
Ardvash, sit with your bottoms on the floor please.
All of you, sit with your bottoms on the floor and look ahead. We have a very special thing happening today. Can anybody tell me what it is?

A flurry of hands shot up into the air, and several people started talking at the same time. A minute later, they sat chastened by the fact that they had talked over each other without waiting their turns. There is no greater joy than seeing children respond sweetly to their teachers. A mellow voice bursting with pride at being picked said, “We are getting story-time”
“Yes!” Said their teacher. “And we are lucky have an author, a real author, come to read us her book.”

I took a deep breath, had the children do the same, and launched into the story. I read to them how the animals had planned to celebrate Mothers Day in the Jungle. When Potini Elephant was in tears because she could not find her dear child, Trumpy Elephant, there was a hush. The story built on, and every now and then I stole a glance at the faces of the children. The sweet sincerity with which they bestowed their attention made my heart sing.

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Mothers Day In The Jungle – By B S Bumble

When the book was over, the children clapped and their teacher gently asked them if they were forgetting something. “Thank you!” they all chorused.

It is Teacher Appreciation Week, and the importance of a loving, firm but gentle influence on the children day in and day out is not lost on me.

We do not need to be told to sit on our bottoms when we get to work, or go to a restaurant. But I wish somebody would tell us to sit on our bottoms and listen to the wind rustling through the trees or the geese quacking their way home every night, and we listened with the heart-warming sincerity of children.

When you get the opportunity to read your Mother’s Day story to a class of children sitting “with their bottoms on the floor”, and they listen with rapt attention, there is no better gift for Mother’s Day, is there?

#HappyMothersDay to all you wonderful mothers and mother-like figures.

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Happy All Hallows Eve

Did you know November 1st is Saints Day? With Halloween around the corner, I thought it might be fun to see how the word evolved. So, here goes:

November 1st is All Saints Day

Therefore, October 31st is All Saints Eve

October 31st is All Hallows Eve (‘Hallow’ also means to make holy or respect greatly and hence, synonymous with Saints)

October 31st is All Hallows Even (It is the evening after all)

When you try to say ‘Happy All Hallows Even’ about 30 times in 2 minutes, you get at ‘Happy Halloween’. (I suggest you try the exercise in private.)

All this is fine so far, but if you are unsure as to how All Saints Day got associated with ghosts, ghouls, spirits and ugly decor, please check out this news item that walks you through the progression of Halloween over the centuries.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/28/forgotten-history-of-halloween_n_6062236.html?ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067

In the meanwhile, two diabolically different worlds are coming together in the household this year for Halloween. A perfectly poised Hermione Granger (replete with the fake British accent) from the Harry Potter Universe will boss around 3 year old Lightning McQueen. Uncharacteristically, for Lightning McQueen, he will listen humbly and follow unquestioningly all the directions that Hermione sets forth for him. So what if the Harry Potter Universe is still using floating candles and speaking Latin, while Lightning McQueen is off touring the world and racing big-time? Who said there should be no collision between fictional worlds?

Speaking of fictional worlds, it is time for us to peek into that lovely forest with all the animals to see what they are doing to celebrate Halloween. Halloween In The Jungle is now available in the iBook store. Tango Tiger, Oby Elephant, Biso Bison, Percy Parrot, Zebo Zebra and many more join in this adventure to make Halloween a success in the Jungle. Please grab a copy, and listen to the story while sipping some pumpkin juice from Farmer Hasalot’s pumpkin patch.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/halloween-in-the-jungle/id928925386?ls=1&mt=11

Halloween In The Jungle
Halloween In The Jungle: 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/halloween-in-the-jungle/id928925386?ls=1&mt=11

The Jungle is a busy place with Halloween approaching, eerie orchestra sounds, pumpkin juice and lemonade stalls, spiders at work. You must feel just a little bit compelled to chip in, right?

The Jungle is a busy place preparing for the Halloween Party
The Jungle is a busy place preparing for the Halloween Party

Happy Halloween! May the force be with you!

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