The Republic Stands

Republic Day

After 26 years, man’s or rather a soldier’s best friend returned to the annual Republic Day parade in India. PHOTO: Getty

5 months and 11 days – that was the last time I felt a surge of patriotism, took a good look at what my country was and is. And what it will be. As the clock hands inched towards midnight and yet another Indian anniversary of independence, I wrote these lines. That day drew to a close. Sadly, the all-consuming, overwhelming love I felt for this land, too. Don’t get me wrong: I love my country. Every single day. All its idiosyncracies with all my heart and soul. But it takes the designated Independence Day or the more recent Republic Day (January 26) for this love to reign over my work-weary being. To remind of this freedom I am bestowed with. Yesterday, it did. And this love left paw prints all over my heart and I sorely missed a friend of mine in the uniform. Made me love my country more. Be thankful, too.

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Nutmeg – from Table to Design

You must have heard the phrase in a nutshell. Well, this post is not exactly that. It’s going to border on being a story in a nutmeg. Yet another tale to add to Kerala’s legacy of having a heart of spices. The nutmeg, though not as glorious as its cousins pepper or cinnamon, is integral for its medicinal, herbal properties and its place in the kitchen.

For me, it’s the embrace that links spending holidays with a grandmother whose heart had nutmeg all over it and a design sensibility at Xandari Harbour. The wispy haired grand lady is long gone, but the wind rustles up her memories among the nutmeg trees. So does a certain corridor at work.

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Little People, Big Things

“Unstuck”. The quotation marks in this post below are all too familiar. They stemmed from well-worded conversations that traveled across the 16,894 kilometers between Kochi, India, and Costa Rica. Between me and Crist Inman. About “getting back in”. Going back and forth on happiness and redefining it. On dreaming. Together.

And, I remembered this bouncing, hugging ball of happiness that owned me by the beach at Xandari Pearl in Kerala. Little person, but home of good things.

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Leaving the Map Behind

Bison, like these at Custer State Park, in South Dakota, were central to the Plains Indians. But when the U.S. National Parks Service tried to reintroduce them to Lakota lands, it tore the community apart.  PHOTO: SARAH LEEN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

Bison, like these at Custer State Park, in South Dakota, were central to the Plains Indians. But when the U.S. National Parks Service tried to reintroduce them to Lakota lands, it tore the community apart. PHOTO: SARAH LEEN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

Rewilding is the idea that, having extirpated many species, by returning large animals and birds like the California condor to the landscape, we can restore key ecosystem functions. The most famous example is probably the reintroduction of grey wolves to the northern Rockies and the Mexican grey wolf to the desert Southwest in the mid-late’90s. There’s a phenomenon called trophic cascade, which means that a large predator like a wolf has a regulatory effect on the entire food chain. In Yellowstone, the return of wolves has meant that the elk can’t be fat and lazy and start to browse in a different fashion, which in turn allows aspen and beavers to come back.
If 20th-century conservation was about drawing lines on a map and saying, this is a park or preserve, 21st-century conservation is about filling in those lines, bringing back animals that have been extirpated.

Rewilding, the need and benefits of having places that are off the map, modern day cave woman Lynx Vildern make for some pages of Satellites In The High Country: Searching For The Wild In The Age Of Man, by Jason Mark, cofounder of the largest urban farm in San Francisco.

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Let My Country Awake

A photo dated 15 August 1947 shows Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, delivering his Famous

A photo dated 15 August 1947 shows Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, delivering his Famous “Tryst With Destiny” speech at the Parliament House in New Delhi

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance… And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for anyone of them to imagine that it can live apart…

I write this at the eleventh hour, before the hands of the clock officially rest on India’s 68th Independence Day. Oh wait, isn’t it a national holiday? I must admit the latter has me more thrilled. Also admit to not having read the country’s first Independence Day speech (excerpt above) in its entirety until now. I shall wallow in shame for a bit, until I cross over to gratitude. Grateful for this chance to dwell on what freedom meant then, means now, and will come to be.

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A Traveler in My Own Land – Introduction

Dear coffee-stained diary,

1016402_10151817477384853_833963116_nIt’s been a while since you and I turned pages together, but then there were no new stories to tell. Now we say ‘hello’ at the start of a new line for am on the road again; taking paths that wind through tea gardens and forests, hug beaches and overlook a harbor in this homeland I call Kerala (India). The sights are plenty, so are the stories.

Yours to know are tales of ships docking here to trade in spices and those of communities striving to keep their identities alive. Yes, you’ve had your generous share of the history of the Chinese fishing nets but perspectives are things of beauty. Oh, I almost forgot the people. Continue reading