St Peter’s Church in Melaka

Had a memorable time at the compounds of this old church in Melaka.  They didn’t have Sunday evening mass there so as plans of mice and men oft go astray, we started to wander around the compounds.  Wander and wonder we did as the space and architecture beckoned our curiosity and our interaction with the refreshing openspace.  There stood an old church with arched doorways built in 1710 and infront was a modern interpretation of Jesus summoning Peter’s faith to “come walk to me” as He calmed the storm from the boat.

I remember this lovely stanza from Tagore

“From the solemn gloom of the temple
children run out to sit in the dust,
God watches them play
and forgets the priest.”

Fireflies by Rabindranath Tagore

(no offence to priests)

St Peter s Church

Leea having fun “walking” on water. 





Books about Gandhi

I wrote to a former student of mine who is on the way to India and wanted books on Gandhi.  Off the cuff, I thought of these books that I have read.  Including one on Tagore.  The great bapuji and the sentinel were inextricably linked in India’s fight for independence.

1. His autobiography – this is free on the internet.

2. A very comprehensive story about Gandhi and his political and spiritual life.

3. The salt march was one of the most important event he organized that really got the colonialists shaking. England had a tax on salt and no one in India could make salt. So Gandhi organized a long walk to Dandi and took a handful of salt in his hand in his civil disobedience towards the British Empire

4. Once you start reading about Gandhi, you might also want to read Rabindranath Tagore. He was Asia’s first nobel laureate

Finally, I think you might want to buy these books when you are in India. Books in India are damn cheap… sometimes paper quality might be bad but you will find the bookshops have a better range that in Singapore.

Acer on Cedar

Maple fruit on cedar leaves

While on a canopy walk, I came across this curious fruit which happens to be from an Acer species… it was resting so delicately on the very sizeable and handsome Cedar tree.

I am quoting part of the poem by Tagore… how nice the last sentence of this quote.. makes one feel so restful.

O profound,
Silent tree, by restraining valour
With patience, you revealed creative
Power in its peaceful form. Thus we come
To your shade to learn the art of peace,
To hear the word of silence; weighed down
With anxiety, we come to rest
In your tranquil blue-green shade….

In Praise of Trees (Brikhsa Bandana) -Rabindranath Tagore. 1926
(Translated by Dr. William Radice, 1985)

[Tagore wrote this poem in connection with the annual Tree-planting fesitval that he instituted at Shantinekatan. Tagore included this poem in the book “Bano Bani”which was dedicated to Tagore’s scientist friend Plant-Physiologist/physicist Sir JC Bose. This poem was quoted by the United Nations in their publications to highlight the importance of green earth. I thought it would be nice if MM includes this poem in their celebrations of Earth day on April 22, 2006. Regards. –Asim K. Duttaroy]

The Great Sentinel Lecture

On Monday, I gave a lecture to the Bicultural India programme on Rabindranath Tagore. My audience were JC1 students and about 20 of them. In doing so I revisited some of the memorable Tagore books and poetry that I have read. Somehow this line sticks in my head –

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” -Rabindranath Tagore

I posted a picture of Matt and Josh running about after my brother-in-law’s beach wedding and cited that sentence. What a beautiful line and perhaps how everyone feels about children. Teachers count semesters, workers count TGIFs and lament at how fast time flies but children count moments and seem to have an endless amount of time… Which explains why sometimes I tell my kids I am really busy and have to go to the zoo another time…

All my previous blog entries inspired by the great sentinal.

I was looking back at the blogposts and I remember the more carefree days I had where I was reading a book a week and mostly on Gandhi and then Tagore. You need to be in a relaxed state to enjoy Tagore, for Gandhi you need to be in a more devout state. Its almost demanding to read Gandhi as you feel your conscience examined by the great Mahatma (wow a tautonym). For Tagore, you need to be in a mindful and relaxed state or it would be like food that has been rushed, tea that has been gulped.

I was telling the students that Tagore was like a treasure that I had unearthed, I got a quizzical look when I said that as well as many times during the talk cos I am sure the students didn’t get what I was saying at times about how important Tagore was.

Here’s part of a Poem called Palm Tree

Palm Tree: Single-legged giant,
topping the other trees,
peering at the firmament-
It longs to pierce the black cloud-ceiling
and fly away, away
if it only had wings

The tree seems to express its wish
in the tossing of its head:
Its fronds heave and swish –