“The Thirsty Crow and the Crow and the Fox”, is a fully illustrated book for children between the ages of 3 and 5. It contains two popular folk tales from India.

“The Thirsty Crow” is about a clever crow that finds a resourceful way to drink water.

“The Crow and the Fox” is about a wise crow that outwits the fox, by not giving into flattery. There are two versions of this story. In the other version, giving into flattery, the crow opens her mouth to sing, when the “vadai” falls down, and the fox snatches it up and runs away. Since I prefer the prudent crow, I went with this version of the story. (A vadai, is a savory doughnut, which is a popular snack in southern India)

lone leafImage by Shelly Paul

Perfection – Everything has to be just so

If mother nature adhered to our current definition of aesthetic perfection – largely governed by the rules of symmetry – rivers would flow in perfect straight lines and turn corners at precise right angles, mountains would be pyramids, trees in the forest would be aligned in perfect straight lines like military battalions, where each tree would stand ramrod straight, every branch attached to the trunk at an exact angle of forty-five degrees, every leaf in perfect symmetry. The ones that do not adhere to this rigid perfection would be shed by the tree for its non-conformity.

Nothing out of place. No grey areas. No anomalies. Because anomalies are viewed as irksome, simply because they do not conform with the majority. Such perfection in mother nature would not only be boring in its monotony, but would jeopardize life on this planet because of its unforgiving rigidity.

Golconda forts, hyderabad.
Image by Shelly Paul

Trolley Tales – Madras and DC

Corruption – Corrosion of functionality

Have you ever stood by the luggage carousel at the airport, watching baggage flow down the conveyor belt in large intermittent bunches?

Well, if you stood at the international airport in Chennai, you’d see a few hundred people at crowded around a carousel with their eyes fixed longingly at the vertical flaps at the beginning of the conveyor belt waiting for the bags to appear. After an interminable wait, one or at the most two large suitcases would traipse down on the pleated rubber sheets.

After it gets picked up, the empty conveyor belt would do two more rounds before the entire sequence repeats itself at an excruciatingly slow pace. The passengers – several of whom would have flown half way around the world, would have finished their disembarkation process in less than thirty minutes but would have to wait for nearly two hours before they can pick up their bags and leave the airport.

On our trip to India last year, the frustrations of the slow filling baggage carousel at the Madras airport were compounded by trolley complications.

typewriter
Image by Shelly Paul

Recently, I came across a news-post about the purported correspondence by the mayor of Dorval city, Quebec about refusing to remove pork from the school canteen menu as requested by the local muslim community.

The so called “note” contains some harsh words for the muslim community from the mayor, chastising them for not adapting to their adopted country, which seemed fitting in the context. Turns out, that article was a hoax.

The muslim community living in Dorval city, never made such a request, and therefore there was no response from the mayor or anyone. This fake-news was an attempt to divide the community by pitting the muslims against the rest of the city population. This fake news has been circulating since 2015.

return to innocence
Image by Shelly Paul

It is a sad chapter in our nation’s history when our young children, the future of this great country, have to rally for one essential need – the need to stay alive, to not be shot or maimed by somebody armed with a weapon. They are pleading for the most elemental right of every life form on this planet – just to stay alive and well.

As I listened to the videos and read the outpouring of the young people from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it occurred to me that while we live in the United States of America, we send our children to school in war zones. They might as well walk out of picture perfect communities and well go to school in war-torn regions such as Syria or Afghanisthan.

IMG_1729
Image by Shelly Paul

Imagination – The ability of the human mind to visualize/conceive the intangible.

If we had imagination, we would understand that we live on the surface of a giant sphere and not on top of a flat board. The reason Earth appears flat to our vision is because, we are a tiny speck on this planet, which makes us disproportionately small to be able to see the entire size of the giant ball.

Instead of arguing with the scientists, we would be able to verify this fact for ourselves personally, if we were giants towering over the planet, with our head reaching past the atmosphere to be able to see the globe in its entirety. Since we are not, we should probably talk to the tiny ant on top of a basketball, about the shape of the object it stands on, and it would say that the basketball it crawls on, is as flat as a pancake. And of course, we would know that the ant is wrong, because we can see the ball, just the way the astronauts can see our planet from space.

morning-dew
Image by Shelly Paul

Beauty – aesthetically pleasing

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever”, goes the well-known phrase from the poem, Endymion, by John Keats. Dwelling on this phrase made me wonder about that one unique thing of such incredible beauty, that it would bring unfailing joy to its beholder.

Could it be a favorite work of art that could turn into a visual feast every time we set our eyes on it? Or a piece of music that strums our soul, each and every time we listen to it?

The Victory Drum

(Original poem by Bharaithyar)

Strike the victory drum – Strike it,
Strike the victory drum.

We vanquished the ghost of trepidation –
We split the serpent of falsehood, drank away its life;
To absorb the entire celestial world like elixir,
We embrace the life of profundity.

Liberation – Little Sparrow

(Original poem by Bharaithyar)

Stay liberated –
Like this little sparrow

In eight directions, it flies and roams,
Into the air, it ascends; swims rapidly through,
In measureless abundance lay,
The sky awash in light, is the nectar it savors