Night falls early here. 

Sorry, that statement came out all wrong. What I mean to say is that, India follows a single time, the Indian Standard Time, and like most people, I too never gave the matter a half second’s thought till the move from the West to the East of the country. 

Now it is a different matter altogether. My office follows a 9.30 to 5.30 (IST) schedule since it has to synchronise with the rest- the problem is that 5.30 pm is perhaps 6.30 pm local/ actual  time and even in summer, it is almost dark by the time I actually get to leave office. In the depths of winter, it is pitch dark by 5.45 pm or so.

The net result is that I never get to see sunsets – except on weekends! 

I leave in the morning to what is almost a blazing noonday sun, while the clock shows 9.30 am. 

What I get instead are stars! And if I’m especially lucky, fireflies. 

And the night music of crickets. And sometimes the ear splitting screech of cicadas high up in the trees. (The first time I heard the cicada, I genuinely thought someone was sawing wood! )

And a sky full of bats, wheeling, milling, jostling each other and, rarely nowadays, owls hunting their dinner.

And the poignantly sweet perfume of the Parijata flowers .

Tripura’s landscape is one of ups and downs- Tillas and Loongas- the result of some long past tectonic shifting, perhaps. A rather large playground exists right below the Kendriya Vidyalaya school- it is a Loonga; almost like a broken upturned bowl. 

I am not a religious person; but on some evenings, when the sky and air are especially clear, sitting on the cement steps in that hollow, with the star studded sky curving overhead and soft darkness enveloping me and my young son (he and I are companions on such journeys), Rabindra Sangeet playing from a long distance away, making me feel unaccountably sad, I feel humbled before the beauty and majesty of the universe. 


A still and sweet peace steals into my heart.  

We walk home- sometimes holding hands, mostly not- he is twelve now and it does not befit one of his position to be seen holding Mummy’s hand!


10 thoughts on “Stargazing….

  1. Omar Sherif says:

    a common malayalee life seems to happen in an environment of many (comfortable) averages… the landscapes, weather, temperature, time zone…and even politically never experiencing any major turmoils… yet, his/her adaptability is remarkable, probably, the secret behind successful migrations to any corner of the world…

    here, a small shift in time zone of the present living place has evoked beautiful thoughts in you and is penned down well. one can be spiritual, even if not religious… 🙂

    yes, and evenings induce some sort of sadness… i too used to feel so… remember O V vijayan’s kasakkinte ithihaasam “ellaam saayam sandhyakalum dukhamaanu…”

  2. Thank you Omar.

    Khasakkinte Ithihasam, read in the original, was a seminal influence on me, way back in my late teens. OV, with his wordplay, transports the reader into that magical village, populated by people with very human failings. The fact that we were students at Palakkad, made the experience more intense.
    I still have the worn copy, purchased in 1988 or so.

    Music, heard from afar invariably evokes a strange mixture of sadness and longing in me. In my childhood Kerala home, it would be from a nearby temple and from homes during the Sabarimala pilgrimage season…..


  3. Manoj KC says:

    Lucky you… for us in city the only view is the next building and with some effort the haze 😦
    I suppose the pristinity more than compensates for the lost evening hour to IST… Once again a pleasure to read your postings… Hope to see a description of what your mind saw in the milky way…

  4. Manoj, I can understand- after the terrace of the Women’s Hostel, Calicut University, this is the first time I can stargaze to the heart’s content! 🙂

    Cities offer a great many conveniences (remember reading somewhere that malls are India’s consumer temples) but not the simple and free joys.

    My lungs have sort of acclimatised to the pure air in the back of beyond that I live now; on visiting Kolkata last month and walking along its streets with never ending stream of traffic, really felt suffocated.

    In the Milky Way I feel majesty and timelessness. And a sense of losing time.

    The only constellation that I am able to identify is Orion the Hunter- and the Sapta-rishis; wish I could recognise more…..

    Thank you for visiting my corner of the world!

  5. I think we should at least have two time zones in India. The USA has four times zones, with an hour’s difference between each zone, I think. My parents who live in the northeastern part of India often call me up over the phone too early in the morning (but not too early for them) when I am least inclined to wake up, and when it is broad day light in Mumbai, they tell me it is dusky in their part of the country.

    By the way, I zoomed and enlarged that photo up there, it’s quite a beautiful field.

    • Couldn’t agree more regarding the time zones; but from a business point it may be inconvenient, which is why it does not happen. Plus the affected region (if I can call it that) is only NE- so the general apathy as usual.

      I remember broad daylight in Ahmedabad in summer at 8.00 pm. Here it is dark by 5.45 pm now! So can understand yours and your parent’s plight.

      Thank you, it is a school playground; quite big and bowl-like! the land again dips down from there then rises!

  6. I’d miss sunsets, in all their varieties.

    It’s 4 pm in England now. On the European continent it’s an hour later during summer.
    At least we all see the same sun and the same moon and the same stars 🙂
    Just listened to Rabindra Sangeet, sweet voice.
    I saw Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan once in a 9 hour concert in london’s Albert Hall. I also like Abida Parveen.

  7. Thank you, Ashen. Yes, we see the same stars, moon and sun- even though we may never meet and look upon each other with these earthly eyes. Humbling, isn’t it?

    Rabindra Sangeet is melancholy and haunting; even though I am Indian, it is “foreign” a bit to me; I hail from South India, where Carnatic music (and of course popular film songs) was the norm. Have you listened to Carnatic? It is one of the two streams of Indian classical music- the other being Hindustani.

  8. My knowledge about carnatic music it is minimal, but I love it. London’s Southbank hosts Indian musicians. I haven’t been to a concert for some time. The last, I think, was a wonderful Sarod concert played by Amjad Ali Khan with one of his sons .
    A Sufi teacher I had for 25 years introduced the carnatic scale in this way ..
    Sa – dominating, belonging secure
    Re – longing, reaching out
    Ga – arrival, trust
    Ma – uncertainty with longing
    Pa – voice response, been there all along, now I hear it
    Da – another movement reaching out
    Ni – anticipation, anxious, discovering beauty
    Sa – back again, but actually not, starting again

    • That is an interesting take, Ashen!

      I have posted links to two songs on Facebook. They are from an (old) award winning movie of my college days; makes me feel seventeen again.

      Hope you will enjoy! 🙂

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