Saturday, February 18, 2017

You give, you take

For you, Patrick

However loud the sounds around, you can always tune into your own station. Try it. Like I am always tuned into barbet station. :) :) Wherever I am in Bangalore, above the loud traffic sounds, I can still identify a barbet. You can always hear what you want to hear. I hear birds. I hear barbets. The city is still a magical place for me.


The white-cheeked barbets live only in the green area in the map above, in the entire world. Imagine! They are frugivorous, and can be found all over Bangalore. Proof that we still have so many fruit-bearing trees.


Patrick used to talk to me non-stop, in French, during my monthly haircut. Stories about the South of France, his high-spirited mother and her many sayings, his grandfather who could predict the Mistral by the colour of the sky, his own wanderings alone, life lessons. And he used to teach me Tai Chi in the mornings in the park, the ancient martial art. Explaining so beautifully, in French, how everything about Tai Chi was about balance. You open, you close. You rise, you descend. You give, you take. And you repeat, again and again and again. You stand with your feet firm on the ground, and move slowly, gracefully, barely displacing the air.

The day before he died after a brief vertiginous fight with cancer, I gave him water. A small offering for all the warmth and generosity he never failed to show.

His daughter brought him the smells of his hometown, from the Southern coast of France.  Lavender oil, Marseilles soap made of olives, traditional sweets. He left with the smells of his childhood, half-conscious. Maybe that was closure in one way. You go out into the world, you return.

Au revoir, Patrick. I still practise Tai Chi every morning, without shoes, feeling the earth, like you taught me to. The barbets, the koels, the squirrels, and my Brahminy kite, they keep me company.


The Hongai trees are turning yellow and brown, rapidly losing their leaves. In preparation for that most stunning event of the year, the budding and blooming of their tender green oily-shiny leaves that let the light through, each vein standing out in its perfect glory. That time when I go berserk, run late for appointments because I am standing by the roadside, looking up, smiling, risking death by suddenly stopping my bike whenever I come upon a new tree. :)

I can barely breathe. This in-between time between seasons, the expectation in the air everywhere.

The old sweeper at the park says that he comes in at 5 am every day and sweeps once, but in a few hours it already looks like he’s not done any work. :)


I am doing my favourite thing again. Sitting alone in coffee shops, occasionally catching random bits of  stories going on around me. “That was SO not me!!!”, she says, her eyebrows and hands raised in total surprise. 

 "At best, only a limited value
In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been.

...The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless."

from 'Four Quartets', T.S.Eliot


  1. I am sorry to hear of Patrick's departure, and your loss. Thank you for the beautiful barbet songs and the lovely post.

  2. I never heard of a barbet; yes, thank you for that. Your blog reminds me of Sundays. I love them and I love this. Thank you for this, too.

  3. A beautiful tribute. He must have been happy to be your friend. I'm sorry for your loss.