Friday, January 29, 2010

Beauty of the full moon

Picture taken at 7.30 pm on 30th Jan. 2010, 12x zoom.

We found ourselves at a showroom last evening, away from Mysore. I was so distracted by the beauty of the setting sun that the purpose of our visit was in jeopardy - or so my chagrined family felt! The glowing disc of the setting sun was so clearly visible over the horizon that I was attracted to view it until it sunk fully. The salesman was confused at my weird behaviour, not my family, for it knows me better!
After the purpose was attended, we came out of the showroom. Now, on the eastern sky, it was the moon's turn to attract my attention. Twilight was special that it made the full moon all the more beautiful. The beauty of it prompted me to take another look two hours later from home after dinner.

Nature woke me up earlier than usual. Returning to bed meant rolling left and right for an hour as it was not too early than the usual time and so took yet another look at the sky to see how it was. The moon now 'having traveled' to the western sky was at its brilliant best at half past four. Without a second thought, immediately prepared to have an earlier-than-normal walking session under such pleasing moonlight. Today, the moon was 10,000 kms closer to the Earth and looks slightly bigger and brighter too.

It was five in the morning when I reached the ground, thinking I was the first. But soon discovered I was actually the second. The air was all of pleasantness with a wee bit of nip in it. I overheard many minutes later two walking ladies endorsing the same observation between themselves.
I must tell that all other visitors to that ground for walking sessions arrive later than one person I know. He uses the one hour for his walks from half past three in the morning! We are fortunate to use that 'Athletic Ground', which is known for old timers as "The Oval" now belonging to the University of Mysore. The vast area a hundred years ago was known as "Gordon Park", after Sir James Gordon whose statue is seen in front of District Offices (pictured below). Moonlight, brighter than normal was making it look beautiful.
I chose a bench to sit facing the moon at the ground to enjoy the sight as well as early morning calmness of the environs. The Goddess Saraswathi must have wondered from her seat on top of the lovely pillared facade of the Crawford Hall opposite the ground about this strange routine of mine! (pictured below)

The five O'Clock tranquility with the shining, romantic moon was much to my liking. City life was yet to take wings for the day, even the birds at the nearby Kukkarahalli Lake were yet to make their first calls because it was still a long way for sunrise. I could hear distant sounds of a honking vehicle (!) and a barking dog. A very light breeze disturbed the dry leaves on the ground that produced a hustling sound as if a serpent ran over them while the first train to Nanjangud got ready at the Railway Station, testing its horns.

By now another walker had entered the track chanting mantras in a low murmur - doing two things at the same time to save time! Behind me, many feet away, I heard a stray dog's ears flap as it shook its head to shake off some insect - it had been sleeping under a tree. All this while I sat admiring the beauty of earth's only satellite in its full glory on a cloudless, fog-less morning that lit the city like a soft bed lamp in a room. All such sounds are absorbed by traffic noise and the air smells different from its emssions later in the day. This was the best time for inhaling fresh air and enjoy the tranquility. We miss these despite being in its midst due to our race against time during the day.

Ten minutes had gone past like just one. It was time to get moving. As I walked on the track, the moon also 'came with me'! I do not know how many times my eyes turned towards the glowing object in the sky before I had a few rounds on the track and it was time to leave for home. The moon was now descending behind the Crawford Hall and got yellower and a very thin cloud created nice pleasing veil and a little halo around it for a short while. By now many regular walkers had arrived on their own schedules, but I was already leaving after a most refreshing morning walk after which I felt lighter in the muscles that had become a bit stiff from built up lactic acid following the previous day's cricket session and no 'warm downs'.

Around 9 pm, I took my children to the Ramakrishna Ashram School where two reflecting telescopes are. Mr.Ramaswamy, now serving his 54th year as a teacher in the same school was focusing on some object with the 10-inch telescope, preparing to show to his students who flocked later after their dinner. He was kind enough to show us the moon's craters, Mars, Sirius, Canopus and the Orion Nebula. The glare of the full moon was not suitable to view stars properly. But there is a next time.

Here is a shot I took of the moon's craters through the eyepiece of the other 14-inch telescope.

The Moon has its strong influence on the human mind and body also, besides Earth. It has inspired many poets over the centuries.


Sahasra Chandra Darshana is celebrated by Hindu Brahmins as SADABHISHEKAM. It is generally celebrated on completion of 80 years of the husband. The unique significance is that there will be more than 1000 Purnima days by that time. Seeing 1000 Full Moons in one's life is considered as great and it is believed that he will definitely attain Moksha by the blessings of Lord Chandra. On the occasion of completion of 80 years or any time afterward, a ceremony called Sahasra Chandra Darshana Vratham could be performed by the living couple with rituals like Mritunjya Homa, Bheeshma Ratha Santhi, Rudra Ekadasa Homa and Udakasanthi. Taking blessing from the couple who perform “Sahasra Chandra Darshana Vratham” is considered very much worthy and they are blessed for long life. (from the Net)

The above landmark is far away for yours truly.

(Other pictures are from my archives)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Suitcase left and found

Subramanya’s brother had come to the Bangalore Railway Station to pick him back home after we returned from our trip to Jammu for a cricket tournament for our employers. Subramanya was happy to see him there at the Station as it was many days before we left our homes. That was around dawn, December 1983. I had planned to go with him so that I can visit his house before continuing my journey back to Mysore later in the day.
Bangalore then was not as crowded as we see today.  Passenger and autorickshaw queues were not yet felt necessary.  It was on the verge.  We threesome boarded the three-wheeler.  It was jam-packed with luggage and our legs while we sat under the weight.  It was still the 'holdall days'!

Subramanya's brother was curious to know how the tour went and how we had fared in the games. By the time we could answer him with a few details, the house at Basavanagudi had already arrived in just ten minutes.

Those were the days of telegrams.  Even if STDs were available, we had no phones at home to inform our families about our reaching a distant place or our welfare if the tour was more than a week. Nowadays, we inform our families back home even if we sneeze two times - through mobile phones!

Sometimes we used to write postcards on alternate days and searched postboxes to mail them!  It was quite a thrill. Often we used to arrive home quicker and read them ourselves!  As such, once we were out, we were literally disconnected from homes and they would not know the goings-on of our tours.  The details were only revealed on arrival to curious family members.

We alighted the autorickshaw and the brother helped with shifting the luggage inside.  Suddenly I discovered that my suitcase was not among the other pieces of luggage that came home with us.  He did not remember! But I clearly remembered having taken it out of the train bogey, carried to the autorickshaw stand.  After boarding the vehicle we did not verify if we had taken in all of them.

The missing suitcase puzzled us.  We tried to rewind our memory to each and every move we made, frame by frame, from the time we got out of our bogey and it was showing clearly the suitcase was in my hand.  It still showed up as we waited for the autorickshaw. After that it was blank.

The suitcase was a new one bought just before the tour at a ‘factory seconds’ discount sale.  I had another old kit bag and hold-all.  The newer generation wont know what it is.  It was bulky, heavy and had the capability to 'hold all' including the bed and pillow, hence its name! In those days sleeper class train seats were of wooden planks and a quilted bed was a necessity for long journeys.  Only later, cushioned seats came into vogue.

So, we arrived at the conclusion that the suitcase must have been left behind where we boarded the 3-wheeler.  Most of the passengers had left the spot before we found our vehicle and that got us to worry more about it.  It contained all the purchases I had made for many others also and had become quite heavy with walnuts, apricots, etc!  It was the first time I had gone on such a long tour.

Leaving me behind, Subramanya pillioned his brother on his motorcycle and headed back to the spot where we boarded the autorickshaw with a very faint hope of finding it, even though only 10-15 minutes had elapsed.

My wait for that little over half hour till the brothers returned was like half a day with umpteen things crossing my mind.  Losing things I had bought including the suitcase itself was a main worry, my cricketing attire included.  I had spent up most of the money and losing cash was not an issue on the mind.  The few rupees left in my pocket was enough for the journey back to Mysore excluding the railway ticket, which was already up to Mysore from Delhi.

Hands behind my behind, I walked here and there, like a caged animal in the zoo. Family members at Subramanya’s knew the density of the situation and just observed. After a seemingly long while, I heard the sound of the motorcycle stopping in front of the door and I very eagerly looked out in curiosity.

“My box of gold” was sitting in front of pillion Subramanya’s tummy! I went out and received the heavy suitcase with both hands as he got down from the seat. My joy knew no bounds. They were also very happy that it was not lost.

The satisfaction and sigh of relief I experienced at that particular moment defies description. It does not probably even measure up to such news as winning a bumper lottery!

What had happened was that after they loaded luggage into the vehicle, I being the last, had failed to carry my luggage in.  That critical period of time shows a ‘blank’ in memory!  Perhaps these things happen to everyone at one time or other and they always happen when it least 'expected'!! We call these as 'bad moments' and they go unexplained.  The 'auto' had started and moved and  probably I had no 'neck space' to turn and see out after sitting.

The policeman who was on duty near the Autorickshaw Stand had found it lying there.  Had it been today, it would have been a 'suspicious baggage' due to bomb-scares and no one would have touched it! Sniffer dogs would have been summoned!  This policeman had kept in his custody knowing that the owner would retrace the steps back.  He handed the suitcase to them only after being convinced that it was indeed ‘theirs’.   Whoever that policeman was, I doff my hat to him in gratefulness, even after 26 years since this happened.

Very rarely are things returned to owners after being lost or left behind.  I count myself lucky in this instance.  I have named this suitcase as ‘Left and found’!