with such a hot summer here at 60 degrees north past mid way into the Summer of ‘22
the lakes are glistening,
the river flowing with its usual flood, slack and ebb,
the roads dry and hoovered daily
whistling wind and gentle leaves,
I could neither feel nor smell any advance of thunder lightning nor rain … yet the air is clean and clear and exhilaratingly good for the lungs..! But it’s getting heavy hot..England too was suffocating and forests burn where I walked in Portugal and Spain ..
(… like four winter years earlier….. I was walking through a blustering storm that evening.. The wind was howling and crystallised ice stung my face like sharp missiles… My hair dishevelled across my forehead , my trench coat acted like a huge sail blowing against me as I was stopped in my tracks unable to move.. Just swaying from side to side until a bigger blast, beaufort 10 just carried me in the air and flung me against the glass doors of a quaint little store .. now closed with it’s signage for its next opening at 0900 the next morning . I fell hard on the ground and nearly smashed my nose and teeth but some redeeming force saved me..what I saw through that glass door was a childish writing on a small blackboard …’LOVE IS SOMETHING ETERNAL.. THE ASPECT MAY CHANGE, BUT NOT THE ESSENCE’ …..
And that for me was said enough..)
…but not this year nor last …the weather is no longer in control of itself..
( of course I still see some youngster on the green organic train and sections of humanity fighting for change; us humans are inhaling plastic and air with heavy particles and absorbing acid rain … it’s a rage within the youth .. it’s not their attitude … but Gratitude…)though I do would like to tell them as a sailor seaman captain we ensured the seas were clean if not we’d get six of the best .. and rightly so.
Whilst up in Simla, Mashobra and Kufri the weather Gods sent the rain down and the landscape transformed from dry dusty hard earth and brown pine needles.. to lush green .. just like in Kerala where comes vetiver in colognes to that freezer freshness..
…As in past winter years folk trembled with freezer fever wearing more indoors ( than outdoors ) like overloaded elephants in the plains of Chandigarh, Amritsar, Delhi and Jaipur….I’m told.
… but here in July 2022 wearing my linen shirt to look the dandy I was, I cranked up the Toyota and went to pay a visit….
..I arrived at the entrance and looked across the stone wall, that low stone wall and saw them all… those special ones who lay in rest … The Bells tolled and folk all huddled for Sunday Church..
Stepping out of my jalopy I felt those “ special ones” magnetic force envelop me and I floated in like a shy swan…. the winter birds still around as I was; too soon but soon they will wing off and shoot past to the bird swamps in Africa and India and further south; little do they know it’s gonna be a mild winter next .. so far..so they could actually stay.
.. I walked on soft moss and found the path that lead towards them… there was but a dry patch of grass, parts unkempt but then it was still summer and no real whiff of winter…
I stopped right above them…
and heard their whispers questioning all changes above and past since ..
what would the next day bring, pray ..?
I knelt on hard ground answering whispering “ much has changed since you were here..
we wrote letters to each other then with fountain pens and Prussian blue ink…
waiting for replies ,
anticipating good news
sitting on rocks and sand banks .. passing time ..
just waiting … we met at family reunions that we never wished to end, years and tears flowed freely.. we walked hand in hand amongst the trees picking mushrooms and blue and lingonberries..
played golf at 0100 and saw a pair of Moose staring at us in our world of tranquility..don’t you remember? There was no sound, no rattle trap, just sailing clouds and fresh crisp pine air..and the bouquet of arabica and delicious cinnamon buns”
“…enjoying those moment..yes we did” the voices said in unison ..
“…steamers arrived at sand heads.. you shook the German Captain’s hand wishing him calm seas, following winds and a school of dolphins frolicking across the bows..
clambering down the pilot ladder your canvas bag followed you
as you stepped on to the pilot boat, a last wave, a goodbye until…
as you spent two days on the Pilot Vessel “Samudra” playing bridge with your mates, they called you Omar Sharif and the Aga Khan for at dances at the Calcutta Club and Club 100 ( yes members maxed out) you held a fair damsel intoxicated by your charm and flair to glide across the floor…with habana cigars and cogñac and crisp white collars, hand wrapped bow ties; you loved your brogues .. did you not..?”
“ and humans …?”they ask..
..”too many tooooo many” I respond …. “no space only squeeze and packed like sardines is also a new emoji”..
I say “ these are new ugly signs to express in an idiotic way… vocal human affection and warmth no longer exists …there is a small little bit of hell called a mobile telephone that you carry with you and sleep with … no not with your lover but with people called Apple Samsung Sony.. these people have entered our lives our bodies our brain and our mindset….hypnotism ? Oh no… it’s called e-invasion .. they have conquered they have succeeded… Rotary telephones are now perched on stands in forest museums as folk exclaim .. what strange bulky ugly things those were… surprise teardrop … yes that’s the F-ing emoji… 😡 this one is deep soul angry or properly pissed to perfection .
… I was then but a school boy at Boarding on a spur at 7500 feet..
But I grew along the years, along my ears and a long… filling out too…
“ is that a tinkering of some strange bell “ they ask…
“.. yes “ I say..” life is strange and fast and hurriedly stressed ..so to keep distress at bay we de-stress with organic food, yoga and Buddhist chants and sit on mats..and gong ourselves out…”
“.. and the cars? Which cars ply the roads now ?” One* of them whisperingly asked ..
I sigh “ The Big wheels still zoom but fossil fuels are being cut and so El-driven cars abound, the trains are more silent, but on the Delhi-Kalka route the coach still clanks and rattles and surges and lurches forward and I spill tea on my jeans…whilst the X-3000 from Stockholm to Karlstad shoots clean as a whisper… steam and coal engines are now in museums… we go and look at them once a year but we look at our photo albums and remember you all as you smiled and held us and loved us truly… and I at least felt the warmth, your compassion and in your April
the strength of feeling happy and secure…”
“My roots are deep secure and solid
I drive a hybrid .. but if I could I would walk as I have walked about 6600 km in the last + 800 days ; that is a simple stride, a simple walk and all I see in the distance… yonder are the silhouettes of Catedral Santiago de Compostela..”
I hear sounds, melancholic sounds.. someone singing and the strains of a harp..I strain my neck and my ears to see who…
It’s the wind chimes amongst the pines..
And then … they’re gone.
No comments on today’s ways of the world.
26th July 2022
Global Warming – The New Yorker
Dear Ma’am / Sir,
Greetings from Karlstad Sweden
A scantily few probably get to read your wonderful paper rag; I am ashirwaded* to read it as an attachment.
With Europe going through an unimaginable heatwave with two jet streams having locked in the hot hot air or should I say 🐉 dragon’s fiery breath; it is time to dictate a few simple lines about this GW or Dharti-Garmi** not with technically obscene jargon only those fat assed decision making people sitting on their asses having breakfasted with sausage beans croissants dollops of butter and thick cut marmalade at the Breakfast Restaurant of The Waldorf, The Ritz or The Imperial Hotel, feign to understand and then put the hammer at another jostle meeting at another exotic locale flying first class.
Neither am I implying the Greenies coming out of the woodwork after Woodstock, Isle of Wight, Sundance, Stonehenge barefoot in their Khadi wearalls on the other end of the prism are doing an extreme job trying to sing to the trees, the grass and pray to the rain gods so rivers will again gush with passion and ice reappears on the glaciers and Mount Everest. There object is fierce and passionate.
.. all I am saying is the heatwaves have one one root cause.. the overpopulation that continues…
Factories would spill the soot only from Monday to Friday 0900 to 1700 if there were less of us hungry humans wanting to eat drink drive crawl and marry their mobiles which we all have done..
I mean how can we possibly listen to another human being as he lectures on the good the bad and the ugly as we silently secretly shamefully remove the bulge of the mobile from our pockets and start communicating with someone outside the room, many a million miles away ending with 😘❤️😀🙏🥵🌹👍? We have no real friends any more; the large global corporates are our superficial friends, they are our Mums & Dads who don’t look after your money but find ways and means to scalp you and drain you completely..
Sorry Chapess and Chaps making an example of getting on a rowing boat from Land’s End to New York or getting on a train to kill the plane is a sidewinder poor example. Walking is much better, healthier like on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela..
Being a Sea Captain and hauling my cargoes across the oceans with utmost care and still being penalised saving my ship and lives after a hammering hurricane because “Captain we wish to see the oil record to calculate if you cheated with the quantities of oil… and sorry we cannot contact the owners because they are sitting on their fat assess having breakfast“ I realised too soon…there are those who belch burp and fart and there are us .. scapegoats.
Someone has to take the fall for GW…
(the other day, some wierdo asked me as to why I was wearing white pants whilst everyone else was in shorts and shitty rubber slippers ….)
Did the Lone Ranger riding on Silver wear shorts in the hot deserts of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah..?
*ashirwaded : Blessed
*Garam Dharti : Global Warming
Kindest Regards and Best Wishes,
The Cottonian Pilgrim
Humbled.. The Evening I was brought down to my knees ( The Camino Portuguese) May 14th 2022
…the day was excruciatingly hot ..40C
I had so far walked 375 km and was struggling to get into the next town Lourosa ( Portugal)
My camino gear was very unconventional; no rain gear, no dark dreary clothes… over the last years my trademark, my standard was slim red cotton jeans, a coloured check shirt with a bandana, long flowing cotton scarf and on top of this an army green jacket with a host of pockets that had my water bottle, almonds, an apple and an orange, two energy bars , a few boiled sweets, my passport, my pilgrims passport, my mobile phone and my stash of doe concealed in small numbers within the various hidden pockets. I always donned my camino hat, oversize to protect against the raging sun, in the evening my Old Cottonian Cap, my shoes too were oversize trail runners with gore tex, not hiking boots. And my shock absorber walking sticks with the faded line “These sticks have walked over mountains valleys rivers hard asphalt and more…”
..and the sweltering heat…terribly unbearable but I just kept on .. pressing on with my backpack pushing down. I was losing excessive salt, every drag of a step increased my tired quotient, every sluggish step added more weight on my back and soon it felt like a solid brick of iron weighing 10 kilos..yet i pressed on ..it was dead slow ahead or as a senior German asked me what KSO meant … Keep Straight On ..
.. But i needed to get from Oliveira de Azmeis to Lourosa a blistering 24 km walk to the local Fire Brigade station; the operator on duty that early morning assured me I would get a bed for the night ..she spoke in Portuguese and I Spanish and the connection was clear audible, well understood.. and I smiled proud I could comprende Portuguese …her name was Marian.
Now I was struggling with the sun in its zenith and layers and waves of dragon heat.. this section of the camino was pure asphalt and super highways with long trailers hurtling down towards me; it was safer for me to meet these beasts head on, eyeballing the driver to swerve away rather than a beast of metal come hurtling towards me from behind .. at least facing these gigantic roaring machines I had a chance of maintaining a somewhat safe distance but the incredible jet stream these metallic monsters churned up frighteningly driving past was so deadly, they either sucked you into the whirling tunnel of a swooshing air tunnel or flung you away on to the hard shoulder; I was lucky and got away walking firm with my head down, my eyes shut and my hat protecting me from shooting stones ricocheting from their ten axle howling tyres that could shatter windscreens and pulverise your face at 120 km an hour … Peligroso ! Cuidado Peregrino… Dangerous! Be Careful Pilgrim..
…and I kept at it..
….around 1700 hrs I touched the outskirts of Lourosa a nondescript town that had nothing to write home about .. a plaza, a Lidl supermarket, a farmacia and the local fire brigade station. And my head was hammering, I was nearing an ugly cough and had a deadly suspicion I may be approaching the “ C – factor “or was it heat stroke ..?
The Bombeiros Voluntarios, The Fire Brigade Volunteers in Portugal are both firefighting-cum-paramedic girls and boys who also work the ambulance service. Lourosa FF jurisdiction covered an area of over 100 square kilometres.
The last few metres the last few steps to the destination are the toughest.. tired exhausted and hungry I staggered in to the 24 hr control room of the Fire Station… it felt good as I threw down my backpack, my jacket, my sticks and slumped on a chair…
Marian was still on duty though soon end of her watch in the next fifteen minutes. She remembered my name, the interchange and then.. .. she again spoke in Portuguese and I in Spanish and the more I thought I understood her the more I had misunderstood her …I had not understood a word.. nada .. nada..
she kept shaking her head in the negative ..! She kept saying ..no no no and I kept questioning que que que ( what ?). Soy el Peregrino recuerdo ? I am that pilgrim remember? Si Si yes she said but again no no no ..
I mean like what’s happening here ??
It took coaxing pleading and more before the final truth dawned upon me… with final comprehension ..
“ what I said to you” she said “was we have no beds.. you can take a shower wash your clothes and leave ..”☹️☹️Good Holy Grief bordering on 😖irritation bordering on near exploding anger😡…24 km I had trudged with an assurance of a bed and lo and behold i was totally wrong .. Portuguese Spanish audible, comprendo .. and all that crap .. I was one sour unhappy pilgrim and definitively not one happy Cottonian..
After ranting and pleading my sorry exhausted state Marian giving me a hard piercing look beckoned me to follow her to the first floor…I did like a timid tired lamb… climbing those painful steps we arrived at the upper landing and with a key unlocked a door opening on to a gym used by the team.. it was bare with a very hard wooden floor.. pointing to one corner and then she indicated if i was agreeable… “‘the floor is yours” and she left me as I stood in confused shock .. no sleeping bag, no underlay but only my backpack and the stuff I wore …
What a letdown….from flying business class with upgrades to first round the world, sleeping on hästen mattresses and Canada goose feather sumptuous pillows, pure white Egyptian cotton sheets I had arrived at the end of the line; a hard pit stop as I sank to my knees, a voice whispered “be thankful for small mercies”… I had no choice, no alternate plan no diversion.. there were no Albergues around; Porto was another 26km and in my pathetic state it would take me until midnight at the least to get there…
Just as I decided and knew I had no choice I saw the common room adjacent to the gym.. and smiled .. for there waiting for me, for this pathetic pilgrim was in one corner a really massive expansive super comfy looking three seater sofa ! I chuckled with delight.. dreaming with my eyes opened I could see me sprawled across on this bed of luxury dreaming of everything wonderful except that hard wood floor of the gym. I walked to the room, checked it had no lock and thrilled to bits planned to sneak in at lights out and crash out…. “ don’t even think of it “ a voice stung behind me..! Turning around I saw Marian and a dude who spoke English with a yank accent…. “We have hard rules in this place “ he continued … “ pilgrims can arrive to rest, shower and wash; sleeping on the sofa is strictly prohibited. We have a standby force 24/7; if anyone sees you flaking out on that sofa you will be kicked out of the premises immediately..”
That was it; ashamed of my scheming plan i fell on my knees..truly humbled..
Bonnie ( Vivek) Bhasin
The Cottonian Pilgrim
On the camino Portuguese to Santiago de Compostela..
I made it to Porto the following afternoon as I got out of the Fire Station with a hurting back, a stiff neck at 0400 “ truly humbled …”
05 July 2022.
My slept corner in the Gym
una experiencia humillante
Blue skies over Simla
It’s soon a full moon
Radiating the second flat
As I sit on the benches and look at Tara Devi
The last flickering lights of the train disappear
one last turn a fast bend and into the tunnel and now gone..
to the other side..
life then was simple simon
Less people on the planet
Simla was a small town and
My BCS far away from the madding crowd…
Boarding schools were situated on spurs I said looking down I see White Temple, Buffalo Pond, the Hutty; I turned my neck to the left and perched the top of a desolate mountain Pari Mahal..strains of sitar..
Life was simple, the air was simple, the breeze clear and whistling, sunsets too perfect magenta orange and fiery red.
Some voice across from the tennis courts reminds me.. it’s half a century ago .. changes come through decades; the cart road now dust dust and dust; a million cars parked, little rust buckets and half built ugly structures called homes hang precariously on edges;suicidal homes… humanity never stops fornicating; there will be wars; not for territorial expansion but water wars…
I am told a solitary flying squirrel lives on the roof of The Lodge..stuck in a time zone…
2021 is slowly turning the bend
so I need to reminisce on days gone by you know …
I managed and trudged and got my arse into the land of our divine .. my first AZ shot gave me the boost of confidence as they say …
I shot up to School
slept under electric blankets
and dreamt of monkeys riding on zebras sky high in the sky..
I preached and talked and mentored the young ones hearing that old song much popular by Cliff Richard..
I enjoyed Salmon in the hills and
Queso by Francois and his petite esposa
and looked at the washed stars on a perfect night amongst the deodars ..
S&R stayed on course..
Charts laid in ink
through trough and thin
cement wood stones and paint
never too late
It’s barely 162 years
yet energies with synergies
and finally reality..
Whilst I fed apples to wild hare
and heard the bells of cows
I picked up my walk and fed my soul at St. James
at El Monasterio Santiago de Campostela..
I guess I was the only fella
at Bar Escudo del Carmen
in Calle 13
looking at past storms and the Armada
I felt safe in the crowds at Granada with Hermano Antoniocito..
Yet stubbornness prevailed and walking through Benrath
later in Stockholm leaving Karlstad
I came back through the Gates
A perfect morning..
I shed my garb
and perched on that stone…
…that’s where I still am
As Christmas has arrived
Strange times Strange vibes
The chilled wind
I still sit on that stonez
Wishing you all
and hoping the world will be
a better place a week from
today .. Happy New Year…
Kindest Regards and Best Wishes,
Vivek / Bonnie Bhasin
Sitting elf-like on boundary stone in the cold dark winter of Simla.
In SWEDEN yet at the edge of BCS.
“ Dad” Mahinder Nanda Esq; Global CEO of the Male Shaver’s PLATINUM Guild & SUDOKU Wizard..
As a young boy at BCS there lived amongst us thinnies’n skinnies a couple of hairy rascal gorillas in both the Rivaz & Lefroy Dorms… one I distinctly remember was a chap, short stocky compact with a loaded bristles-forever-face. The dude was sixteen but looked like yes, a mature gorilla with hairy arms that sort of nearly touched his ankles. If his hair wasn’t dark and jet black I could have sworn he was a Gorillorangutan, yes you too may have guessed, his parents “could” have been Gorilla and Orangutan one of each and “could” have met in the tropical jungles when hot-humid-pissing-down-in the rain forests, both seeking shelter from buckets of rain holding huge wild ferns over their heads, sitting next to each other staring ahead into the dark green sweltering heat with dragon flies a plenty…but as instincts call they both turned towards one another and Sweet Hallelujah it was LAFS; simplifying it-it was Love At First Sight, quite a scandal amongst the Gorilla and Orangutan tribes, but who gave a toss of banana scandals… and so the priest , another rascal of a Chimpanzee calling himself “ The Most Reverend ChiChoBonaparte” wed the 💏 couple in love ( thankfully the Orang was a Lady of the Highest Order and the Gorr a Gentleman who was a graduate from the esteemed HSBC, the Harvard School of Baboons & Connivers ( not the bloody bank).
Recollect readers the hairy Cottonian’s parents only-possibly, “could“ have been the two Apes…no?
The chap was a Rivazian and I looked at his face in awe; he was in Fifth Form and I in Upper One, so we were around ten years apart along with the fact his face, a layer of thick blue-green of bristles; we guys were silky smooth something like Cadbury’s chocolate.
Having the courage to ask him one day about his bristles and how they came about etcetra … he appeared smooth as silk too.. baffled! but still I ventured to ask nervously and he…“ I shave twice a day “ .. “Lola” replied with a confident smirk ‘n swagger and just jazzed off like a real star of the bristle brigade into the Tara Devi sunset ..yes Lola and another new fandangled word for him “Jhariaa” or thick bushes with bramble that butterflies-afraid-to perch on was his second nick name.
Many of us wondered what that word “ shave” was all about…
Of course I tried to ask many in Lefroy, even the surdies who boasted Rapunzel hair under their turbans; none had the foggiest about bristles’ n beards and how “Lola the Jhariaa” was ahead of the hairy curve.
Lola passed out from BCS and except for a scant one or two strands emanating from some other dude’s follicles I never encountered another Gollirorangutan passed my ten years in School.
Another year and two passed.. I was going to join the band of gypsies as The Merchant Marine called.. By now a few strands had emerged in my regale chin too and I was told by the Company Superintendent “ report on board with your packed kit bag; a shave every day with a decent hair cut”. ….
The first ablution! Shave! And still I was lost. My Father was away to Sandheads so Mum said she would book a trunk call to Bombay and I “ should speak to Mahinderji who will be able to explain slowly carefully and simply how you should shave 🪒 “
I remember trunk calls during the early 1970’s were a Big Deal; with water and sewage in the trunk line it was required to shout loud and hard as there were 2000 kms between Calcutta and Bombay..as it was important that your neighbours heard you, so impressed by the howls and screams after all this was a Trunk Call not a telegram..
The trunk call was all I needed..
to understand the beard to be weeded
Mahenderji, a real shaving ace
Asked me to feel the contours of my face
Mine was smooth rough low high beard
Don’t fret it will feel initially weird
Now wash your face with hot water
A nice badger brush to build up lather
those days the cream he used was Old Spice
Impressed me do not roll the dice
stick to that cream good advise from the wise
Now a safety razor with seven’o’clock
that I applied, nicked and in shock
Follow the lines of your chiseled face
Long confident strokes you will make
Like the smooth Kalka Simla train
Beware never ever against the grain…
and so my story goes, it was Thanks to Dad Mahenderji I learnt the art of shaving. He was a little skeptic on showing me tricks on designing my moustache since he had a gallant sophisticated bigote and I wasn’t allowed to sport one.
Whenever my ship docked after transatlantic voyages at Bombay, I bounded across to Silver Oaks to meet the Global CEO of The Male Shaver’s PLATINUM guild who studied the fine contours of my face; we heaped praises and plati-accolades on each other’s fine performances most he-to-me in his humble way; I always took copious notes but I knew then I still hadn’t achieved the ski lines or the glowing freshness of DAD’s and had much to learn, to complete many badger-creme-razor voyages before I could shave on a dark night with only lightning striking the palms above in a pouring rainforest…. as a Gorilla and Orangutan madly in love holding hands sat watching me…
.. till date the shaving lectures I received have being ingrained in my memory…….perhaps it was the deafening rock concerts I went to, the roll, pitch and pounding of my ship catching me off balance that I shaved my tuft against the grain too often and Alas! My Beard is amongst the damnedest sharpest roughest the world has ever seen or anyone has felt ( wink ! wink!)
But I remain ever grateful to “ DAD” who continued to impress the Yanks with his mathematical wizardry; fifty years ago whilst visiting Japan Dad met Emperor Shōwa Hirohito who asked him “besides Honda Toyota Kawasaki and Seiko what else could the Imperial Rising Sun give to the world”?
Dad whilst enjoying a plate of salmon sushi and saki smiled and bowing to His Royal Highness … whispering questioning “Royal Highness .SODOKU.?”
Confused HRH Shōwa with a high brow responded …”Please expand Nanda San ….”
… and Dad replied.smiling again …
“ Your Royal Highness…Suji wa dokushin ni kagiru “
And that’s when it all started …
First THE ART OF SHAVING &
Later SUDOKU WIZARDRY
Wizard of Many
Dragon Slayer of Sudoku …..from Easy to Evil.
Global CEO of The Male Shaver’s Platinum Guild
Bonnie ( Vivek )Bhasin
Still Shaving .. imperfectly
Still referring to copious notes..
(Also in memory of Lola the Jhariaa Sharma .. wherever your growth has taken you..Bro 🙏)
08 Aug 2021