Travel Theme: Transport

Time for another photo challenge! Title is self explanatory and here are some modes of transport:

By road when a boat would have been preferable

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But at least I wasn’t in an auto-rickshaw, a three-wheeler which liberally peppers the roads of India.

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Once while on the way on a rainy night to catch a train, I was completely drenched as one SUV grandly swept past us. It gave me the opportunity to use the bathing room facilities at the railway station and be impressed! But don’t look down upon the auto-rickshaw just yet. It is a lifesaver and one that the Mexican Ambassador in India patronizes – have a look – click here.

On the roads of India one can see all sort of transport from massive buses to puny bicycles. Hey what’s that?!img-20160806-wa0001

Cartons taking a piggyback ride on a bicyclist! Let’s hope they are empty.

Talking of piggyback rides, what would you call this ride?

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Hope you liked! Click for more photos on Travel Theme: Transport

For readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 85 and of course the one and only Calvin

 

 

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Story Club #3: An Unequal Life

Story club seems to be jinxed! First I wanted it (rather ambitiously I admit) to be a weekly affair, then a fortnightly before settling for a monthly event. And then I went and missed last month’s book club. And I was all set to miss this month’s as well.

But then I didn’t want the ‘jinx’ have the last laugh. So here I am with this month’s short story – Country Lovers by Nadine Gordimer.

Nadine Gordimer, a South African writer and political activist, started writing at the age of nine, and her stories began appearing in magazines when she was 15. She was shocked by the condition of the black community and spoke out strongly against the apartheid system existing in her country. Apparently, after being released from prison in 1990, she was one the first persons that Nelson Mandela met. Many of her books were banned in her home country and she spent many years outside her country in self-imposed exile. In 1991, at 67 years of age, she became South Africa’s first Nobel Prize winner for Literature.

I had a brief encounter with the writings of Nadine Gordimer around this time, or perhaps a bit earlier. Seeing my interest in books, someone had gifted me Nadine Gordimer’s Six Feet of the Country. Being a compulsive reader, I had read the book of course (at least I think so) but somehow I didn’t quite take to it. Perhaps I wasn’t mature enough to appreciate it or I tried to give it the usual casual reading that I was used to giving the crime thrillers and suspense novels I was more into those days. But what is truly ironic is that today’s story – Country Lovers – is one of the 7 stories of that very book.

I feel like kicking myself. To have a priceless gem somewhere around the house and to have no clue – how callous (and ignoramus) can one be? How many more such priceless gems have I missed? And here I always thought I was bright, perhaps even clever – just like Rabbit.

“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Oh well…I think I prefer this one 😉

Men do not understand books until they have a certain amount of life, or at any rate no man understands a deep book, until he has seen and lived at least part of its contents –Ezra Pound

Moving on to the story – and if you haven’t read the story yet, perhaps you should do so now (link is given above) before scrolling down for there are spoilers ahead.

Country Lovers is an interracial (hence forbidden) love story of childhood friends turned sweethearts – Thebedi, the black girl and Paulus the white farmer’s son. There is almost a bland detached matter-of-fact narration of the events as they unfold. The children play together and become close friends. Defying norms, he continues to visit her while home from his boarding school and one cannot help but feel the affection and connection they both share. He brings her gifts as does she:

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They seek each other out.

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One almost feels that things will be different for this couple, that they would have a future – together.

But then as is wont to be, one thing led to another and she becomes pregnant. For a modern day reader this is where the story diverges and takes off on a different path. Logically speaking she should have then informed Paulus. But she doesn’t. And neither does she tell him of her impending marriage to Njabulo. She even gets married and delivers a baby girl within two months of her marriage. Even that is acceptable as is the fact that the child is unmistakably white. Njabulo provides for Thebedi’s child as much as is possible with his income.

Things could have carried on so but for word reaching Paulus’ ears about Thebedi’s child. He lands up to investigate for himself. And there is no denying – she is his child.

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Grimace of tears and anger – overwhelmed at seeing his daughter? Or perhaps cursing his fate that he is unable to publicly acknowledge his beloved and daughter? Hey wait a minute…and self-pity? Like really? The gentle, laid back placid pace of the story takes a sudden turn and one is quite unprepared for it. At least I was.

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Instead of killing himself, he killed his baby…

No! That couldn’t be possible. And why take such a drastic step? Nobody had pointed fingers at him – not Thebedi, not her husband, not the community people. Yet he killed his baby. Why?Just to save his reputation? Unbelievable.

Yet all too true. In many places, even today.

In a show of justice, Paulus is arrested but let off for lack of evidence and unreliability of Thebedi as a witness. Njabulo is commended for his fortitude and forbearance.

Through her writing Gordimer has vividly recorded life in a controversial country. I did read some of the analysis of the story that are available on the net. Most, if not all, make a note of female exploitation highlighted in the story.

To be honest, I found Njabulo’s situation to be equally tragic and pathetic. As was that of the rest of the community. Their acceptance of the situation as if it was par for the course is almost eerie and unbelievable. It only indicates how common such events were, that it did not even deserve a protest.

Njabulo comes out as a strong principled character that is rare and difficult to find. Rather than make the child, who is not at fault or even Thebedi suffer, Njabulo goes about making his family as comfortable was possible for him. An uncommon man indeed.

I cannot help but be a bit cynical about Thebedi – she is the dark enigmatic one. Her actions are quite unfathomable. She is happy to follow Paulus’ lead but she is content to marry Njabulo. She accuses Paulus of killing her daughter but retracts it a year later (perhaps she was pressurized into doing so) all the while wearing the earrings that Paulus had gifted her.I did find this significant – did the author wish to make a point about Thebedi’s duality or stress that she was too poor to buy another pair of earrings? I wonder, if before marrying Njabulo, did she tell him about Paulus, or her pregnancy – if the baby was born 2 months after marriage, he could have hardly not known about it?

I wish I could have known more about Njabulo, his feelings, reactions and thoughts as the events unfolded and played out for him.

For me, Country Lovers is not about Paulus and Thebedi. It is about Njabulo and his unwavering and steadfast support for Thebedi. If that is not love what is?

Thanks for reading– don’t forget to leave your comments and suggestions.

If anyone is interested or motivated enough to join the Story Club – most welcome! Just create a pingback to this post so that we can hop over for a read.

Rules are simple:

  1. Advance announcement of name of short story, one that is freely available on the net.
  1. Story maybe a folktale or in the local language. But an English translation should be freely available on the net. Or participant could post the translated version along with his or her review.
  1. Bloggers should post on their blog while non-bloggers may email me – mysilverstreaks@gmail.com
  1. The basic idea is to gain from each others rich heritage of literature and be able to understand a little bit more than before.
  1. And of course have fun!

You can find the previous Story Club posts here and here

A selection of Nadine Gordimer quotes

Truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is.

Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you’ve made sense of one small area.

The facts are always less than what really happened.

A truly living human being cannot remain neutral

My answer is: Recognize yourself in others

I would be guilty only if I were innocent of working to destroy racism in my country

Looking forward to a lively interaction, comments, critiques, suggestions, opinions…

Happy Onam

On the happy occasion of Onam, I wish you all joy and prosperity. Onam is Kerala’s biggest and ten days long harvest festival that is celebrated across communities, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. Kerala, which is also known as God’s own country, is perhaps unique in celebrating the return of the mythical demon king Mahabali.

As the legend goes, Mahabali was a powerful and revered king of the Asuras or demons. He was famous and popular because of his just and fair rule, all his subjects were happy and prosperous. Seeing this, Indra, the king of gods became insecure and requested Lord Vishnu’s help in overthrowing Mahabali. He was defeated (another story) and banished but because he was such a great king, he was allowed to return once a year. It is this return return to his land that is celebrated with such fanfare and enthusiasm. This festival is promoted by the Government of India internationally as the ‘Tourist Week’ for Kerala during Onam celebrations.

The traditional ritual of laying pookkalam (floral carpet) starts from the first day, when Mahabali begins his preparations to return to his land. The size of the pookkalam increased in size as the day of his approaches, with layers and rings being added each day to welcome their beloved king to their homes.

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All pookkalams (decorations) made and generously shared by Mymind (actually I didnt give her much choice 😉

And of course, like all festivals this one too is accompanied by a feast – onam sadya. The traditional feast consisting of a gazillion dishes is served on plantain leaves.

Just a sample for you, prepared and specially served on request by none other than Mymind

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Apart from feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, boat races, elephants, and flowers are a part of the vibrant and colorful festival. You can read more about it here

I am off to book my tickets to Kerala – what about you?

On the Edge

Nature’s fine balancing act

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Inspired, man sculpts his homage to the Creator

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Malayavanta Hill, Hampi, a village and temple town in Karnataka, India recognized as a UNESCO, World Heritage Site.

For the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Edge

Do drop in a little later for a glimpse of the Onam festivities and tomorrow for the much delayed Story Club. Since there are no takers as of now, I have chosen Country Lovers by Nadine Gordimer. If you like you can post your own review for the story and share. Or simply read up and drop in for a bit of discussion. Until tomorrow then!

For readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 84.And Calvin sure knows how to get a free meal.

Her Man

“Your man died and you are washing clothes?”

Vimla’s tinkling glass bangles stilled. She straightened. “I sent the girls to pay their last respects.”

“But what about you? He was after all your man…”

“He stopped being my man the day he threw me and my four daughters out.” Vimla’s eyes shot sparks. “You expect me to mourn for him, don a widow’s attire, break these bangles? Why should I when my real man is still by my side?”

Babel broke out.

“My trusted companion,” Vimla pointed, “the one who clothed us, fed us and educated my daughters.”

 

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Photo copyright Sandra Crook

Written for Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less (this one is 99 words). For other stories on this prompt click here. Thank you Sandra for the lovely photo 🙂

Thanks for reading!

FFfAW #81: The Truants

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The Truants

 Words 170

 

“Whaaa…”

“Shush!” Jiya hissed. “We’re going out.”

“Out?” Dhruv was surprised. “He…he agreed?”

“I didn’t ask.” Jiya confessed as she hustled him into the car. “We will be back before anyone awakens.”

“You’re not driving!” Dhruv balked. “You don’t have a license.”

“Watch me!” She gunned down the road. “Whoopee!”

Dhruv groaned.

Jiya screeched to a halt and gave an exultant laugh. “It’s been so long since we played hooky.” She grinned. “We should sneak out more often.” She did a little jig and stumbled.

“Watch out!” Dhruv snapped. “Don’t tempt fate any more than you have to.”

“Stop worrying,” she gave him a shake, “and let’s enjoy.”

“How can I when you insist on giving me heart attacks?”

“You are such a spoilsport.” She leaned on him. “Don’t you love this place?”

He grunted.

“Remember that shed?”

His lips twitched.

She giggled. “And when Mom found us…” her phone rang. She froze. “Oops!” She coughed. “Morning darling!”

“Where the hell are you Mom? And is Dad with you?”

***

Written for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (a story in 100 – 175 words) hosted by Priceless Joy and photo provided by Phylor – thank you! For amazing stories click here

So tell me what do you think? Did it work? Or was it off? Like I think it was? 😦

If you like photos especially of trees, do stop by  here or  here for a bit of fun. Or you could visit the blog index.

Have a grand week ahead.

Just 4 Fun #5

Here’s wishing everyone a super week ahead😀

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On a completely different note 😉 I couldn’t resist sharing this bit of news. Delhi Metro released it’s statistics for the year until August. Delhi Metro reportedly ferries 2.6 million passengers each day. But the interesting news is that during this period, it’s Lost and Found department returned Rs 4.3 million in cash, 283 mobile phones and 79 laptops  left behind by commuters while traveling in the Delhi Metro.

Hmmm

I wonder if Delhi Metro could be persuaded to reveal gender statistics (of those requiring assistance of the Lost and Found dept)? 😉

Oh well… 😀

Got anything to share that will spread some cheer and joy? Do leave your link in the comment box or create a pingback to this post.

Have a great week ahead and don’t forget to have some fun too.