(The Last Letter 2009-2015)
OED, Emojis, FreeTheEggplant, Censorship, Evidence, Lingua Franca, Kipling, Domaine de Tara and Evangeline All on the Silk Road 😂
Sun, Nov 22, 2015, 11:44 PM
Thanks. Oxford English Dictionary ‘s “word of the year “, but is it really a reflection of the spirit of 2015 ?
Sitting in the airport in Bangkok waiting for our flight to Kuala. More later. Thanks for your latest opus. I found it wonderful.
Sent from my iPhone
Hi There Roger,
I’m back! It was the quickest visit yet and I’m now back to complete part II of my letter which I must complete otherwise this too (along with the other many half finished mental drafts) will drift off into ether by the morn. To keep the flow, I am re-sending part I, but do scroll down to part II to continue.
Now Roger, prying you away from pictographs and logograms, I wish to hold your hand and take you on a journey where these pictograms and logographs have been words, language generating art, culture, poetry for many millennia. A journey along the Silk Road as my birthday gift.
As I had mentioned to you in my earlier emails, my youngest aunt, my mothers youngest sister’s birthday also falls on October 7th, and that makes me feel especially connected with you as she not only raised me as a baby, but also continued to have a special impact on my life through adulthood. She was our spectacularly charming beautiful young aunt who was closely involved with raising and caring for every child of the family, until of course she was taken by the tribes of the North (yes the people of Peshawar/Tora Bora). She left laden with her weight in gold, her eyes forever California Dreaming. We all remember her very fondly on this day, and I dedicate this following song to her, to you and all those born on October 7th, the ones forever looking beyond the horizon. Do see my aunt Renu Shourie California Dreaming below:
See Renu as a bride below leaving our home bedecked in the gold of the Tribes from the Borderlands – Peshawar and Tora Bora (There’s a lot of gold in dem dar caves!):
Do watch a song which I dedicate to my aunt Renu one who evokes its music and ethos, see below from Coke Studio- Bibi Sanam:
This beautiful song from Afghanistan sung in Daari( Farsi or Persian) is a melody about a beautiful woman(our beloved aunt), as sweet as the pomegranate of Sistan, whose home is at the gates of Tashkurgan. So as my aunts eyes wander to the horizon, this song leads her to her home, the gates of Tashkurgan. So remember as the bombs hit Afghanistan, they pass over her as she sits there listening to these nostalgic tunes in Daari with glazed eyes making rotis (bread) over an open fire for her two lovely daughters.
See below a video from Coke Studio about the performance of the song Bibi Sanam Janem. Here the musicians share that through this performance they are giving breath to their old folk song about love from the Herat province of Afghanistan:https://youtu.be/I9KVeJy6J2o
Tashkurgan almost has a mythic dimension, and was for long a central point in northern Afghanistan (Kholm) an important destination along the Silk Road, and a place remembered as Aornos, Alexanders last bastion. It is also a place in the East in Xinjiang, along the silk road. Before we head out along the Silk Road, let me head south with you to Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier provinces and forward in time, to the British Raj. I would like to share with you Rudyard Kiplings Ballad of East and West published in 1889 and often remembered by these misquoted lines:
Do see the following link The Ballad of The East and West: http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_eastwest.htm
0h, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
Of course the poem ends with with the assertion that all distinctions are irrelevant when two men of great courage stand face to face, as evidenced by the following lines from the above link:
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!
However, my take extends Kipling and goes on to say that East and West, Kamal and the Colonel’s son represented by me and you, do come together in a space beyond that of equal courage and strength, in a new land, far away, one that is neither the East or the West, but is a whole New World. Yes Roger, this is our story for in the New World, we meet, Europe and Asia. So since I have assumed the persona of Kamal the fleet footed Afghan horse thief (quite aptly so) who so flagrantly raids the border between Afghanistan and British India/ Peshawar, and I have assigned for you the role of the Colonel’s son. I wish for you to know that I take your most beautiful horse just for the chase. And I take you outside the borders of this poem, beyond the point of no return, through the Khyber pass to the gates of Tashkurgan and for a journey along the Silk Road.
See below a fab find at the book fair in Aix-en-Provence, you will find me in its pages: Air de Chasse, illustrations by Jacques Cartier
But before we proceed, once again we have to stall and return today and our life as we live it.
In answer to your question about Tara and her future plans, I have some great news to share, Tara is confirmed to go for the exchange program to France in February, and she is over the moon. It has been a long tough journey for Tara, as she been moved from destination to destination, continuously being uprooted, journeying far away from home. I know I often revert back to my favourite poem by Longfellow, Evangeline – A Tale of Acadie, but Roger this is a true story, its Tara’s story in Pictures, a poem and a few words.
See link Longfellows Evangeline: http://www.hwlongfellow.org/works_evangeline.shtml
Tara was conceived in Arcadia (even though this was a beautiful place in Singapore), and she took her first few steps in California where she blossomed and grew under the California sun in her charming home surrounded by fragrant flowers and many types of tree ripened fruit, her sibling, her parents and her friends. Then the storm came which brought with it fire, and she had to flee her charmed life and home. Like Evangeline she boarded a boat with all her household gods and set sail to an unknown future. Do see pictures posted of Tara/Evangeline with the following lines from Evangeline pasted below from the following link: http://www.bartleby.com/42/791.html
|MANY a weary year had passed since the burning of Grand-Pré,|
|When on the falling tide the freighted vessels departed,|
|Bearing a nation, with all its household gods, into exile,|
|Exile without an end, and without an example in story.|
Do see the attached image of Tara’s first home with her household gods (from an article in the Singapore Tatler June 2000), and the images of a Goa sculpture of Saint Francis and the many Gandharas (buddha friezes and heads). I have also attached Tara’s home in Geneva with its household gods and images. Our story of Evangeline, Grand pre and Tara continues on to Angers, France. However, as the journey has been hard and long, Tara’s household goods and gods are scattered around the globe, as she moves from one shore onto another searching for home. However, in my interpretation of Evangeline, Tara does return to Acadie, and into the arms of her beloved who will be waiting for her at her journeys end.
But the household gods, the Gandharas, from the attached images take us back to Kamal and the Colonels son, back to Tashkurgan and the Silk Road.
See below The Centaur-Sea Serpent Gandhara Lintels from The Asian Art Museum San Francisco, showcasing a distinctive fusion of Greek and Central and South Asian Styles:
These sculptures particularly took my fancy, as steeped in the legend of Andromeda who is captured by the sea monster Cetus whom the valiant Perseus slays, is a legend which I have made my own (from a previous blog where I embrace the role of the mother of Perseus), see links to the sea monster Cetus from the Greek legend:
See below an echo from the Old World reflected in the sparkling waters of The New World: The Sea Horse-Sea Serpent sculptures of the Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain in Chicago (Chicago being an apt destination as my story is connected to this charming city and the old Continental Bank of Chicago) which features four sets of Art Deco style sea horses representing the four states that border Lake Michigan: https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks-facilities/clarence-f-buckingham-memorial-fountain
And veering the tale back to Tara, see below Tara Household Gods– A Tale of Acadie, Tara as Evangeline:
The Gandhara Head– Tara’s Household Gods – Gandhara head with bronze Jain deity and stone Buddha head.
Tara’s Household Gods (see below from Geneva, Switzerland)- Balgopal (baby Krishna), Krishna playing the flute and Sacred slippers of The Guru.
St Francis Sculpture from Kerala, India – Tara’s Household Gods
Tara’s Household Gods: Varaha or Vishnu avatar in Geneva, Switzerland.
Arcadia – Tara’s Home (Photo by The Singapore Tattler Magazine)
Very briefly as I have a library to fill on this material…Gandhara is an area that covers parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan and is known for the Greco-buddhist, Bactro-Zorastrian influences that moulded its art and subsequently went on to influence the art and culture of Central Asia, China all the way across the Silk Road to Korea and Japan. After Alexander’s conquest of this region in 4th century BC, Greek art and culture combined with the prevalent culture and religion of the region, which was predominantly Buddhist with strong Zoroastrian influences. In fact, the Indo Greeks passionately embraced Buddhism, (as famously showcased through the Milinda-Panha, a philosophical dialogue between the Indo-Greek king Menander with the buddhist monk Nagasena) and the resulting merger of these two ideas resulted in the most magnificent art the region has known: Gandharan art and sculpture. In fact the numismatic art work is said to have far exceeded in fitness even its contemporary Greek origins (much more to say about Indo-Greek numismatics). See below an example of fine Indo-Greek coinage from The National Museum of Delhi, India:
The Gandharas were images of the buddha modeled after Apollo, in finely draped robes, and curly hair which highlight its greek origins. There are numerous images of the Buddha with Hercules and numerous other Greek deities standing guard over the buddha. These images patronized by the IndoGreek kings in the first and second century BC became further fine-tuned and widespread by the Indo-Scynthians, Kushans and thus travelled with silks, spices and Buddhism along the Silk Road to China and beyond and helped mould the image of the buddha in the lands it touched along the Silk Road. And we, in another time, along with our household gods, the Gandharas traveled alongside these caravans through Central Asia.
Do see some fab images of Gandharas from my travels across the globe pasted below:
The Terracotta Gandhara from the Asian Civilization Museum in Singapore https://www.dropbox.com/s/vdml29r1tsio1bz/Teracotta%20Gandhara-ACM%20Singapore.mov?dl=0
And Finally, Tara did go for that exchange program to France, a place she seemed to embrace like home. And as I came to bid her goodbye at her school I found her completely engrossed in conversation with her new friends, I wasn’t quite sure if it was a wave good bye from a distance or a wave off (like please don’t dare come here and try to practice your faltering French with my new found friends). It seemed as though this California grape ripened under the warm California sun was being squeezed into a French bottle and happily so. Soon we might have her back at our table with a French label affixed to her lapel!
However, despite her having turned coat overnight, I was more perturbed by her quizzing me over our last supper as to why she should ever consider returning to California. I found upon taking my umpteenth photo in an attempt to collect all the memories I could gather of my little girl, she stopped smiling, appeared visibly upset at my continuous clicking, and stuck two French fries into the corners of her mouth like a fuming wild boar. I was immediately put at ease, for I realized that even if you put this grape in a French bottle, affix a French label, she will return home, for she will always remain a bold California wine lol! See below Teenage Tara – A Robust California Vintage:
Tara in France- Mom Put Down That Phone-I Am Not Amused!
Tara in France-A Bold California Vintage!
It’s good old California root stock that make the French eyes sparkle : )
Here Kamal says goodbye to the Colonels son and promises more adventures in the future.
Face with Tears of Joy 😂
With lots of love,
Sat, May 30, 2015, 9:44 AM
I have read with dismay about the terrible heat wave that is plaguing India at present. Whereas the most hard-hit areas are in the southeastern part of the country, I’m sure you have been feeling its effects in Delhi. It must be terrible to suffer in such heat. I do hope you have a good, air-conditioned refuge from the heat.
Are you making progress on your masterpiece? With a heat wave on the prowl, it’s probably a good time to hole up somewhere and write.
While we are on the subject of the weather, it has been rather cool here this spring. We still haven’t set up our table outside for meals because it gets so chilly in the evening that it would be uncomfortable to eat outside, but I rather like it this way.
How are your children doing? Have you been able to spend some time with them?
Our little family drama is still evolving, but for the most part, in a positive direction, and everyone remains good friends with open channels of communication.
Do take care of yourself and stay cool.
Blog Disclaimer 😛
All persons, places, events are fictitious; all imputed relationships purely aspirational. There were no men harmed during the penning of the Feminist Manifesto