Dreams II

I want to thank Silent Reader for the following text contribution:

“Can there exist anything, between the sky and the soil, that just by looking at it I simply become pale? Can its fragrance be so pure, so sweet and soft, that its memories fulfill my spirit? Yet, despite how ephemeral its life may be, one thorn can tear a life apart and leave the wound unhealed. But with the softest of touch of one of its tender petals, all the stars in even the darkest night can enlighten the universe.”


I’ve had the idea to use a photo I took of a statue in a shopping mall in Chicago for a while, but the final collage as you see above came out very differently than what I had in mind when I started. The picture kept changing as I worked on it. And I kept thinking about a song by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, written by Shiv Kumar Batalvi. The song I fell in love with the very first time I heard it in a music store in Anarkali bazar, Lahore, Pakistan, years and years ago. The song that has meant many things to me depending on where I am, what I am doing and how I feel. I thought I’d share some of the verses from that song with you (translation)

Mother, o mother,
The grains of separation sting
In the eyes of my songs
In the middle of the night ,
They wake and weep for dead friends.
Mother, I cannot sleep.

I am still young,
And need guidance myself.
Who can advise him?
Mother, would you tell him,
To clench his lips when he weeps,
Or the world will hear him cry.

Tell him, mother, to swallow the bread
Of separation.
He is fated to mourn.
Tell him to lick the salty dew
On the roses of sorrow,
And stay strong.

Listen, o my pain,
Love is that butterfly
Which is pinned forever to a stake.
Love is that bee,
From whom desire,
Stays miles away.

Love is that palace
Where nothing lives
Except for the birds.
Love is that hearth
Where the colored bed of fulfillment,
Is never laid.

Mother, tell him not to
Call out the name of his dead friends
So loudly in the middle of the night.
When I am gone, I fear
That this malicious world,
Will say that my songs were evil.

By the River

One Evening (by the Neckar at Heidelberg) – by Muhammad Iqbal, the “Poet of the East”, from “The Call of the Road”

SILENT is the moonlight pale,
The boughs of all the trees are still,
The music-maker of the vale
Hushed, and the green robes of the hill ;
Fallen into swoon creation
Sleeps in the bosom of the night,
And from this hush such magic grows,
No more now Neckar’s current flows ;
Silent the starry caravan moves
Onward, no bell tinkling its flight,
Silent the hills and streams and groves,
All Nature lost in contemplation.
Oh heart, you too be silent : keep
                Your grief hugged close, and sleep.

Dreamscape and the moon illusion

The other day as I was driving home from work, I saw the full moon rising in the east. A huge, dirty orange disc on the horizon. The sight was captivating in such a way that I decided to capture it in a photograph when I got home. Half and hour or so later, I was standing on our terrace with my camera mounted on the tripod in front of me, ready to shoot. Looking at the moon, however, I realized that I may be too late. It had climbed higher and lost its orange glow. It also seemed smaller, even though it still hung low on the horizon. As long as I had my camera out, I thought I would still try to capture the beautiful moonlit winter landscape.

Viewing the resulting images on my screen, the moon looked not just small, but considerably smaller than what it had seemed outside. Intrigued by this seemingly odd result, I did some research on the net, and sure enough I discovered that the moon looks larger when it is near the horizon than when it is higher in the sky. This is just an optical illusion though, one not even properly explained yet, and photographing the moon anywhere will show the same size (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_illusion). Hence, capturing a large moon near the horizon as a backdrop to a wider landscape is not possible.

The shots I got of the landscape, with the “small” moon high up in the sky, were very nice. The silvery moon hanging just above the tretops in a silky smooth sky. Nevertheless, this real world image paled against the illusion stuck in my head from earlier in the evening. The dreamscape of a moon dominating the horizon. Still having an orange tint in its silvery glow. Its craters and valleys standing out against the darkening evening sky. With this illusion in my mind, I created the image you see above. It is created by combining a long exposure of the landscape, with a closeup of the moon, shot at the same spot that evening. The resulting image is close to the way I perceived the moment that cold winter evening.


Far away, those who are today,
I still remember.
Incomplete may be my dreams,
my dreams are still my support.

Even today they restrict my ways,
your memories pull me away.
Those who have forgotten me,
I still remember.

Centuries between us there are today,
however far the distances grow.

Wherever you stay,
you are still mine.
Incomplete may be my dreams,
my dreams are still my support.

Wonder when they will again meet,
your and my paths.
Never let hope shatter,
just remember this.

Night will fall,
light will return.

Original in Urdu by Junoon

Modern Man

Standing on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, gazing out into the bright New York night, one cannot help but marvel at man’s ability to subjugate the world around him. However, looking at what is happening around us today, it seems that we have lost attention to our inner self in the drive towards our scientific advances. I would like to share “Modern Man”, a poem by Muhammad Iqbal, the “Poet of the East” from “The Rod of Moses”:

Love fled, Mind stung him like a snake; he could not
Force it to vision’s will.
He tracked the orbits of the stars, yet could not
Travel his own thoughts’ world;
Entangled in the labyrinth of his science
Lost count of good and ill;
Took captive the sun’s rays, and yet no sunrise
On life’s thick night unfurled.

Happy new year!

A year has passed and another is before me. As always it’s time for reflection. A time for looking back at all that has happened. The good experiences, the mistakes I’ve made, the chances I’ve missed. And of course, my lucky breaks. It’s time to reflect on the past to prepare for the future.

But above all, it’s time to move on. Always to move on. As the The Poet of the East, Iqbal, writes:

To move, to move, for ever move!
No creature of this world knows rest,
Nowhere can fabled peace exist,
All things condemned by tyrant laws
To wander, stars, men, rocks, and trees-
On motion all this world’s life hangs:
Such is the ancient doom of things
Swift runs the shadowy steed of time
Lashed by desire’s whip into foam,
And there’s no loitering on that path,
For hidden in repose lurks death:
They that press on win clear-the late,
The laggard, trampled underfoot.

 Happy new year to all!

Happy holidays!

I didn’t take much time off during the holidays. I thought I’d rather catch up on some of the stuff that has been pushed to the back of the queue over the last couple of months at work. In the days before Christmas I kept thinking that I should have planned for more time off to wind down, and that a three-day weekend would not be enough.

The long weekend finally came and I got time to relax. As a habit I kept checking my cell to catch any work related emails and upcoming meetings. It was then that I realized how incredibly relaxing it is to see the two lines on the intro screen of my phone: “No unread messages. No upcoming events”.

Keep enjoying your time off. Happy holidays!