24 Sep 2013

Evocations

Midnight
the rain falling
trickling desolately on pandanus leaves
rapping on zinc roofs
like Vanilla Ice.

Dreams
dealing with another,
a mist swirling in the dark
tapping on the mind
like steel fingers

Morning
brings with it a watery sun
a grey dawn and muddied roads
chasing the day
like petals opening.

Working
half the mind elsewhere
a foggy brain groping
for sunlight
like elusive shadows.

The day is almost gone...
and all around
tiny spears of green
shoots out
from the rich brown earth.

(K.Tahir Khan, 1996)


22 Sep 2013

The dream

He woke up, sweating. His heart was beating fast, like a train and he was panting. Looking around he realised he was having another of the dreams, that he was safe in his bedroom, with his wife beside him. Sighing, he lay down again and soon was fast asleep.

It was the third time he had the dream. This time he could feel every ounce of pain, every bite of the rope. His hands were tied with a thick rope that bit into his skin and his eyes were blindfolded. He could hear the sound of water rushing by and feel the soft squish of mud as they pushed him. He stumbled and stretched out his hands to prevent the fall. Someone pulled him roughly and hit his face, hard. 

Somewhere he could hear voices in a language he didn't understand. He wondered what was happening and where he was. If it was a dream, why was it so real? The pain was excruciating he thought he would die of it. 

Then the voice barked an order and he was pulled to a stop. They were now so close to the river he could almost touch the water. The next part was the one he dreaded most. In the previous dream he was shot and he fell into the water.

Now at the sound of the shot, he could feel the sharp pain as the bullet hit his chest. He found himself face down in the water, gulping for air. Water rushed into his mouth, his lungs. He thought, if this is a dream, let me wake up now God.

When his wife came in to pull the curtains, she screamed. He was lying on the bed, eyes wide open, blood congealed on his chest and the sheets stained red. 

To this day, nobody could answer why his clothes were wet, his feet caked in mud.

20 Sep 2013

Mauritius scenery in pictures

The sea  near our hotel
A British schooner of the time
The seven coloured earth - a geological phenomena
a local festival  celebrating the birth of Shiva
Setting sun at our hotel
Sea front at Grand Bay
That's me, infront of the Chateau De La Bourddanais
At the Sucre Adventure Museum

Mauritius- a fascinating land of varied cultures

Last week on 14 September, Repin and I went to Mauritius - he for a business meeting and me, just for the fun of it.While preparing for the trip I realised that most of my pre-conceptions of this island were wrong. First I found out that it was closer to Africa than to any Asian continent so technically it is an African country. Historically the island had been in use by Arab traders for a long time, normally to rest and stock up on food after a long journey around the Cape of Good Hope. However there were no original inhabitants of the island unless one calls the dodo bird as a native. Then sometime in the 16th century the Dutch came and they too used the island as a resting place and to refuel. Like the Arabs, they did not settle on the island, although they did give it a name - Mauritzius, in honor of their stadholder, Prince Maurice Van Nassau. Unlike the Arabs though, the Dutch were held responsible for the extinction of the dodo, a bird that looks rather like a duck but much bigger in size than our present ducks and unique to Mauritius. The dodo was a flightless bird and could easily be trapped. So they were hunted down in large numbers to feed the Dutch soldiers and sailors who stopped here. By the time the French came in the 17th century, the dodo was already dead and gone, never again to reappear .

The French stayed for almost a 100 years, bringing settlers from France to open up the island. To encourage settlers to stay, they were offered parcels of land of about 90 hectares per family to open up the main crop of the island - sugar cane. The French  brought in slaves from Africa to work their plantations and renamed the island Isle De France. 

The last Europeans to come to Mauritius were the British who also had interests in the Indian Ocean.
In the 19th century the British made a number of attempts to take over the island but failed until in December 1810 they came again with 76 vessels armed with more than 20,000 soldiers. They took the French by surprise and conquered the island in one epic battle at sea.

The English took over the island officially after the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1814. Once again Isle de France became known as Mauritius and the British quickly began a policy of agriculture that would change the landscape of the island forever. They were more interested in exploiting Mauritius's agricultural potential and began planting sugar cane on a large scale. They abolished slavery  and freed all the slaves, most of whom had become entrenched on the island and even spoke a kind of pidgin French they called Creole. To help them work their plantations, the British used indentured workers whom they brought in from India and China, two large countries in which they were already deeply involved. They included workers from various parts of India - Bihar, Madras, Oudh and some even from the North west provinces. Thus it is that the people of Mauritius today consists of Indians, Africans, many of French-Mauritian descent, Arab Muslims and Chinese.

The language spoken today is still called Creole, and taught in schools as their mother tongue, while English is the language of instruction and commerce. The capital, Port Louis is a bustling metropolis with an intriguing combination of cultures, languages and religions. By the time Mauritius had gained its independence from the British in 1968, Mauritian Creole was recognised as the main  language which united these various ethnicities
La Bourddanais Park
and English became the official language in government and in commerce. All the various festivals are celebrated, just as in Malaysia. It is a fascinating country with splendid views wherever one turns, whether it is the sea, the hinterland or the rugged mountains.
 
Part of the Black River Gorge National Reserve


5 Sep 2013

Cats

Oh How I wish I can go out!
It's been nearly a week here in KL and I miss my cats . This is my little rascal Tommy who can never stay still. He's about 9 months old now and is as hyper as a monkey. The first week he joined the household he broke my favorite blue vase ! Now I have learned to keep all breakable items in storage.
Tommy, peeping through the stairs
This is Bear bear , who is actually Sarah's cat and imported from Russia. He's acclimatized to the heat now but still prefers an air conditioned room. 
 Mulan playing hide and seek
Bear Bear


Mulan is my personal favorite. She's the queen of them all and haughty with it. She allows only me to cuddle her and refuses anybody else, even Repin. 
Mulan
Mulan, the warrior princess
Yukie and Tommy

And these are the brother and sister pair - Yukie and Tommy. Here they are actually grooming each other though it does look like Yukie is bullying Tommy.