Heritage, Countee Cullen

Found many poems, scribbled on scraps of yellowing paper, squirreled away in drawers. Saving it here before Meera rips it to shreds.


What is Africa to me:
Copper sun or scarlet sea,
Jungle star or jungle track,
Strong bronzed men, or regal black
Women from whose loins I sprang
When the birds of Eden sang?
One three centuries removed
From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,
What is Africa to me?

The power of words!
First verse of a longer poem by the same name. Heard this poem first recited by Maya Angelou.

Spring in Boston

spring crocus Boston

The days that used to lie
curled up,
numbed
by penetrating frost,
bit by bit
stretch out
their limbs
now that winter’s past.

~ Sri Dharanidhara

from Vidyadhara’s Subhaashita Ratnakosha
Translated from the Sanskrit by Daniel HH Ingalls, Harvard University Press

The original verses were composed between the 8th and 10th century. Vidyadhara probably compiled these before the year 1100, when he had access to the library housed in the ancient monastery of Jagaddala.
Continue reading “Spring in Boston”

Bookshelves

When I left India, I left behind my collections of Chandamama, Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys, Louis L'Armour, Alistair Maclean and many others. Also left behind boxes of Amar Chitra Katha, Commando, Tintin and scores of other comics. On these shores my collection sprouted anew. But every time we moved, it was easier to give away books and restart in a new city. This has been eight years in the making.

We just got this new book case with glass doors for my favorite books. The top-shelf will carry a few of M's doll collection.

2. Travel shelf. I still have a lot of places to visit!
3. My collection of Hindu Scriptures. The four Vedas (multiple editions) and others.
Arun Shanbhag's book shelves in Boston

4 & 5. A grab bag of Hindu philosophy and history (and fairy tales!).
Arun Shanbhag's book shelves in Boston

Bottom Shelf. Art and other over sized books.
Arun Shanbhag's book shelves in Boston


In an open shelf bookcase are paperbacks and general fiction; a few miscellaneous thrown in. I'm still moving books around and organization is still in progress. You may notice some duplicates. If I see a second copy of a favorite book on sale, I will buy it. Perhaps visiting friends will ask for them. The Buddha head is from a visit to Korea.
Arun Shanbhag's book shelves in Boston

Arun Shanbhag's book shelves in Boston

Arun Shanbhag's book shelves in Boston

There are several more bookcases in different rooms and in closets. A nice shelf of poetry; indian fiction, business-related, more philosophy and language. You can see those when you visit! Welcome to my world!

Listening to Maya Angelou’s A Song Flung Up To Heaven

Listening: What it means to me
If a case has to be made for audiobooks, it is definitely when authors narrate their own works. Authors ensure tonal changes are exactly as they intend, and the listener need not rely on interpretations of a narrator. And Maya Angelou makes a superb case for audiobooks.

Maya Angelou
I just finished listening to Maya Angelou’s “ A Song Flung Up To Heaven.” Listening to Maya narrate her autobiographical work, will convert even the diehard opponent of audiobooks.

I am not reviewing the book here, but stating why listening to Maya was for me an exquisitely memorable experience. Not only is she a talented writer, but also a world class orator. She has a beautifully rich voice, and can control it as nimbly as classical dancers their muscle twitches. Her language and accent are moulded by experiences, in rural Arkansas, San Francisco, numerous US cities and four years in Ghana. Being a renowned poet, her voice has a lyrical ring to it. Continue reading “Listening to Maya Angelou’s A Song Flung Up To Heaven”

I’d Pick More Daisies

Pics of Daisies from a road side stall in Montreal Canada, pic by Arun Shanbhag

I’d Pick More Daisies

If I had my life to live over,
I’d try to make more mistakes next time.
I would relax. I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been on this trip.
I know very few things I would take seriously.

I would take more chances. I would be crazier.
I would take more trips,
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I am one of those people who lives life sensibly and sanely;
have done so hour after hour and day after day.

Oh, I have had my moments;
and if I had it to do over again, I'd have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after another,
instead of living so many years ahead each day.

I have been one of those persons who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a swiss army knife, a raincoat and a parachute.
If I had to do it over,
I would go places and do things and travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over,
I would start barefooted earlier in the spring
and stay that way much later in the Fall.
I wouldn’t make such good grades except by accident.
I would have more dogs;

I would have more sweethearts.
I would go to more dances, and
I would ride on more merry-go-rounds.
I’d pick more daises.

Author: Nadine Stair


Note: This is not in the form the author originally intended; There are a few lines which do not appear in the original.


Enjoy my other life-related posts:

Pics of Daisies from a road side stall in Montreal Canada, pic by Arun Shanbhag

Maya Angelou

If you ever get an opportunity to hear Maya Angelou speak, jump to it! You will remember it for the rest of your life. I heard her speak about 5 years ago, and by the end of her lecture I was reduced to tears. She is the best. Or read her books. You will feel like someone lit a fire in your heart. I had read Maya's “Even the stars look lonesome” before. This evening as I was icing my ankle after a long run (yes the sun was out and I went for a run) I picked up this book and started skimming. Here Maya is talking about how the African-Americans have concealed themselves and their pain in their art. I don't think its exclusive to Africans. All people do it.

Here Maya quotes Langston Hughes:

Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter
And my throat
Is deep with song,
You do not think
I suffer after
I have held my pain
So long.

Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter
You do not hear
My inner cry
Because my feet
Are gay with dancing
You do not know
I die.


Read also my post: Maya Angelou: A Song Flung Up To Heaven

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