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Enlightened by Winter’s Paradox

There is nothing
more extraordinary than,
when snow
can make sharp
the contours of the landscape
by covering it smoothly,
the crushing pressure
accumulated by crystalline snowflakes
that alone amount to
less than a water
drop,
the giant ego of a stony mountain made bigger
by ephemeral showers
of cold cotton,
seeing clearly
the line at which
visible life stops
to let heroes ascend
to immortality.

The reward of just light and sound

We welcomed the new year from a chalet, looking over a vast valley sparkling with the fluorescent lights of alpine villages. We had the Milky Way above and its poor but deeply enchanting reflection below us. At midnight the villagers lit their fireworks and we opened our window to let in the sub-zero winds that carried the crackle and pop of communal cheer. We saw before we heard. We felt before we saw. We then turned out our lights to watch and listen.
There is something so poetic about seeing light suddenly emerge from darkness. It kindles an emotion of pure joy in me. I wonder if that is a remnant of my very first experience of light, as I emerged into it almost three decades ago.

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Colour is the touch of the eye, music to the deaf, a word out of the darkness.

– Orhan Pahmuk, “My Name is Red

 

Entry for Weekly Photo Challenge: I consider this moment the greatest reward for not having subjected us to the tyranny of a typical "New Year Party".

My Favourite Things, Verse 3

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes,
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,
Silver white winters that melt into springs,
These are a few of my favourite things.

 

We make our way through the third verse of My Favourite Things from the movie The Sound of Music. This post is my entry to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge where she’s doing a series on Subjects from Songs. You can find my entries to the previous verses in the songs by clicking on the respective hyperlinked texts: verse 1; verse 2. As usual I’ll be interpreting the verses in my own way.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes

Not really white dresses with blue sashes but don’t these ceramic columns look just as beautiful?

Blue on white ceramic fences of Plaza de Espana, Seville.
Plaza de Espana, Seville.

 

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes

Fresh snow flakes on a blue car bonnet. They reminded me of clouds in the sky. They make me dream.

Snowflakes on a blue car bonnet
Snowflakes on a blue car bonnet

 

Silver white winters that melt into springs

Who is weeping I wonder: The earth, for it is disrobing its soft silken gown of innocence to flower or the snow, for it is met with a warmth that it will never appreciate?

Switzerland

 

 

And now we continue on our The Sound of Music Tour,

A view of the beautiful Wolfgangsee and the surrounding hills (unfortunately hidden by rain clouds) which are featured aerially in the opening credits of the movie.

Wolfgangsee, Austria
Wolfgangsee, Austria

 

The famous path down which we see Maria (Julie Andrews) dancing, running, skipping, twirling her guitar singing herself into bravery! I like to sing this song before any public speaking appointment or interview.

I have confidence in confidence ALONE
I have confidence in confidence ALONE

 

The front of the Von Trapp family home that Maria sees when she finally meets that massive iron gate. The villa is now a private residence and tourists are no longer permitted even on the path leading to it (the image above). There is constant security around here and our bus driver just slowed down just enough for us to grab some blurry shots of the house. I am certain the current residents are extremely annoyed with Hollywood.

Salzburg, Austria
The Von Trapp family home front

 

So long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu…

Until the next verse, which will bring us to our grand finale.

Expressions of love in Verona

Lover’s balcony
That inspires an expression
Immemorial

Verona, Guilietta
Juliet’s home, Verona, Italy
Love notes on the walls of Juliet’s home.

A lock and a key
To secure two promises
One: Love Two: Always

 

Locks of love, Verona
Locks of love, Verona

Brass and steel stolid
Cold metal substitutes for
Hot stainless desire

Locks of love -II

 

(..)

My Favourite Things, Verse 2

Continuing with My Favourite Things, as part of Cee's Fun Foto Challenge on things mentioned in songs.
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles,
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

As before I am posting photographs that I consider come close enough to what the verse lists,

1. Seeing Camargue horses run

Festival of Virgins, Stes Marie de la Mer, Camargue

My husband and I visited Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer, in the region of Camargue situated in the south of France, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in 2012. The town is famous as a pilgrimage destination for the Roma people. It is a lovely town with a unique history. You can read more about it here and here. We (unintentionally) happened to be there on the last sunday of July which is the day for the annual Festival of Virgins (Fête des Vierges). It was started in 1904 by Frederic Mistral, the great Occitan poet. It is a way to preserve the Occitan culture and lifestyle of the region and entails the running of the famous Camargue horses by the cavaliers (horsemen) from the region and young women parade around town dressed in traditional Provençal dresses. You may find them walking or looking majestic on the beautiful horses. You can catch a glimpse of these women in the picture above. The thunder of hundreds of horse hooves knocking on the asphalt of narrow streets in Saintes Marie that day filled the salty sea breeze with sweet and wondrous excitement.

2. Chocolate tart and Apfel Strudel at Café Diglas in Vienna

Cafe Sacher

Yes, I am remembering a Viennese café that is not Café Sacher. We went there as well but we fell in love with Café Diglas for its beautiful atmosphere. It had an ‘old Vienna’ feel. The interiors are marvellous and the café doesn’t attract as many tourists as Sacher. I am not a fan of the apple strudel as such but I have to say that the one at Café Diglas (the pie you see at the back on the photo) was delicious and went perfectly with the creamy Wiener Melange (oh how I love you!). The other tart (the one with the whipped cream on it) was most probably a chocolate cake. I don’t remember its name but I do remember it being divine! To be noted: Sacher torte is one of my favourite cakes of all times.

3. The church bells of Seville Cathedral

Seville Cathedral bells Seville cathedral bells

We walked up Giralda – the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral for the best views of the city of Seville. We weren’t disappointed! It took us 15 minutes and there were 34 ramps to scale. Phew! But you can always take a break in between at the little windows for some amazing views of the cathedral as you rise slowly above it. It’s well worth the effort. I fell in love with the bells at the top, that rang with the history of Medieval Europe.

4. I love swans

Swans Switzerland You can find swans in all lakes of Switzerland. They are territorial, hungry and always in love. I identify with them a 100%.

5. The Sound of Music is my favourite musical: The Tour continues…

gazebo, The Sound Of Music

Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg
Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg

The famous ‘I am Sixteen, going on Seventeengazebo was made just for the movie and the scene was shot in Hollywood. It was later presented to the city of Salzburg and is now kept in the gardens of the Hellbrunn Palace which is a very fun visit on its own merit.

Mirabell gardens, Salzburg

The Mirabell Gardens as part of the Schloss (Palace) Mirabell, in the city of Salzburg, feature in the ‘Do Re Mi‘ Song heavily. The wall of bushes you see encloses a path on which the kids and Maria have ‘a long long way to run‘.

Does the fountain look familiar in the picture below? It should. Watch the video of the song again and you’ll notice it in the last few moments of the song. In the last verse of the song the children and Maria run up and down the steps of a garden in line with the notes. Those steps lead to the Mirabell Gardens and we see the hill with the Salzburg castle towering over the city in the background. Mirabell gardens, Salzburg In the last verse of the song the children and Maria run up and down the steps of a garden in line with the notes. Those steps lead to the Mirabell Gardens and we see the hill with the Salzburg castle towering over the city in the background.

For the post on verse 1 please click here.

Kerala: Serene and Seductive

Peaceful journeying
On salty calm backwaters
Of God’s Own Country

Kerala backwaters

Soft rich visions of
Freshly green humidity
Turning into rice

Rice fields Kerala

Under the awning
Of coconuts and blue skies:
Equilibrium

Dawn

(..)

Remembering snow

One of the poems I was suggested to read as part of the the course I am currently taking brought back beautiful memories of the time I spent in the Alps not too long ago. I would like to share this remarkable poem with you and some more photos from when I was in the shadow of a snowy winter...

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of pine-trees crusted with snow;

An have been cold for a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice.
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

(1921)

– Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

Alps Swiss snow

Nax

Snow

Switzerland snow

Pine

(..)

Awaiting in Awe

storm over the sea

storm clouds

Cumulonimbus cloud cover

Crackle crash clap clang

Copious condensation

Cometh

Post made as entry to Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge: Weather

The Mind’s Eye

Darkness envelopes tubes of light

The source of artifice is shadowed

My eyes are focused on the now

While the mind is free to roam

Shadows

 

 

As time wanes the sharpness is split

Into a multitude of shards of memories

My eyes glisten with fatigue and disappointment

While the mind is free to roam

Shadows - 2

 

 

Amongst the times spent in the freshness of calm air

With shafts of power that break through the quiet

My eyes close in reverie, darting rapidly

While the mind is free to be still.

Alcazar gardens

 

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Personal Photojournal Entry in Snow: Thawing up to 2015

I spent the final days of 2014 in a quaint hideaway nestled in the Swiss Alps without internet and any human contact except for my darling husband who packed his gaming console (just in case of an avalanche). Okay, let’s boil that down to no human contact.

Fresh snow
Sshhh…

I experienced the first snow of this winter season. It’s late but not sorry, with about 30 cms falling overnight. The quiet that descends upon the land after a heavy snowfall is riveting. I especially and exclusively like the snow up in the mountains. It adds to the natural beauty of the landscape and doesn’t get in the way of ordinary life like it does in the city. I have found myself cursing it too many times, either because I am under-dressed to meet it or I am just not of this climate and sadly for me it’s usually both. But I will gladly admit that it is my preferred form of precipitation. Monsoons are awe-inspiring and I have loved them all my life but a snowfall is so serene and seemingly subtle. Something magical to me.

Markedly beautiful
Markedly beautiful

The silhouettes of the mountainsides stand starkly in the moonlight, that shadows most of the Milky Way but does not seem to stifle the burst from the human hearts littered across the landscape; tiny galaxies of warmth and wonder in their own right. I see from my vantage a vista of possibilities and choices.

Late night vision under the moonlight
Late night vision under the moonlight

The New arrived with bangs that echoed across valleys; burst forth from pressurised packaging to light up the present momentarily; as a metaphor on our times – evasive but coloured by hope and happiness.

Firework over the valley
Firework over the valley

I was better prepared for 2015 in 2014 I suppose. I am here on the first Monday of the year (which doesn’t mean anything if you’re living in an Islamic nation) just worried. There is no other word. 2015 has started and we are 5 days in. Or should I be say we have 360 to go? When I went through my blog report that the kind people at WordPress had created, for me and for you, on a generic layout with personalised information; making all of us siblings in one grand gesture of comity- I realize that 360 is actually not a great number at all. Is that enough time to do all I want to do this year? And that, ladies and gentlemen, brought me to the most crucial question of all: What DO I want to do this year?

The seven days of type-less pondering to reconnect with my Inner Voice. What do I have to show for it: a new face? A fresh start? 

At times the haze is of little consequence

I am humbled by my ineptitude to grasp all my attitudes in less than a fortnight. The cloud has settled low again.

And then it can block out the warmth

I am thankfully not drawing a blank or a frown on all fronts. I have signed up for Blogging 101 and my Poetry course starts next week. I have not yet been to as far as serious things go.

I do, however, foresee a series of posts wherein I try to tease out my real needs.

In this way maybe my words will finally begin to soothe me, with their seemingly subtle ways. Like Magic; not unlike the first snow. To bring to light the hidden colours.

Hope
Hope
2015 brings with it many possibilities. At this moment I don’t have a specific goal to reach. That is a first in my life. I can’t remember a time when I started a year not knowing what I must accomplish by its end. This is new and it's scary.