Cyclone Gaja: Its three months today to the date

It is three months to the date today, 16 November 2018, since Cyclone Gaja, a Category 1 severe cyclonic storm, struck the state of Tamil Nadu in India. I remembered just yesterday, that it is time to put my next post re Cyclone Gaja. It is so easy to forget the promises we make to ourselves! For me it was to continue writing about the aftermath of Cyclone Gaja.

I ask you the readers of my blog, to go back three months to relive that moment - those days of despair of those impacted. IF at all, you can visualise that. Through the lines that I had penned in my post on 19 December 2018 “Cyclone Gaja: The Howling Elephant Wind’. 

Do look out for more on this over the next one week.  

Thaya Kulenthran

 

Two Little Boys at their Drawing Books, at the Food Stalls!

How often these days, do we ever see little children at drawing books? And on their own parents’ initiative during a family outing? At a food stalls location of all things!! Hardly ever I would say!

I was in Bangsar, on 28th January. To get my eyebrows threaded, and some groceries. That done I walked towards the Bangsar food stalls - for a cup of tea and the delightful curry-puffs that are found at a particular stall. As I was nearing that food stall, my eyes fell upon a little child in a baby chair, deeply absorbed in a drawing book. Right opposite him was another older child - a boy as well, a 5 year old deeply absorbed in his drawing book too!

Both children were brothers, a 2 year old and a 5 year old.

I ended up being invited to join their parents, and the children, and their grandma at their table. Because of my expressed joy with both the children absorbed with their drawing books.

By the way there was no i phone or i-pad any where around on the table. Not beside the parents, nor beside the grandma.

Thaya Kulenthran (28th January 2019)

Tea with Thaya

“ How are we going to be able to sleep tonight after this evening? said Carmel”

Afternoon tea like breakfast, lunch and dinner sessions, are great platforms over which much can be said, shared and discussed. The host decides how important this is to be. From about the late 1990’s or thereabouts, I felt a need to reach out to my women friends (and a few neighbourhood children whom I had befriended) on earth awareness and the actions that as individuals, we could take. Since I have a cottage of a home with, if I may say so myself, a lovely garden, it made sense to invite friends over. They would want to come. Over a nice hot pot of tea, cake and curry puffs, and looking out into the garden, who wouldn’t be receptive to chatting serious stuff? If I the host, initiated it? That was the premise upon which I began my earth awareness out-reach.

This February one of my childhood classmates Eng Seng, from Darwin, was going to be visiting Malaysia, with his wife Carmel. There was much to catch up on. An afternoon tea would be in order. Two of my other childhood classmates, Lian Na and Murali too were invited. To make it a six-some around our dining table; hubby included, as he is a great story teller. What was supposed to be just an afternoon tea with dear friends, evolved to a tea with a theme. Murali sends me a whattsapp message saying it will be “Tea with Thaya”. And so it was. Hence the title of this post. Only that I couldn’t help thinking why the need for a theme?

But I believe we each had a soul enriching time. Stories were shared. Emotions were stirred. The afternoon tea get together on 1st February 2019, began at 4.30pm and went on till 9.00pm.

The Eagles Are Coming!

Indeed they are! “Kluee-wip-wip“ rang the flight call of the Crested Serpent Eagle, before dawn break. Briefly today, yesterday and the day before.

It would have been flying over my garden, as the call was loud and clear. And I kind of felt it too. I was puzzled though, when I heard it from indoors. Thinking to myself, “No, it can’t be. That happens at my mother’s home and garden - yes - whenever I.…” But then again, I’m wondering how come?

Could it be that the eagle that was sighted over our neighbourhood many years ago, was a Crested Serpent Eagle? The one that had nested in our neighbourhood backyard forest of Section 12, Petaling Jaya?

But what is causing the eagle to make its presence known again?

Thayanithi Kulenthran, 10 February 2019.

Note: The greatest and most spectacular Environmental event in Malaysia is the annual Raptor Watch. It will take place this year on 9-10 March 2019. Watch thousands of eagles at Cape Rachado/Tanjung Tuan on their spring migratory flight back to their breeding sites in North Asia, as they cross over from the island of Sumatra and Java in Indonesia. Cape Rachado/Tanjung Tuan is located in Melaka state in Peninsular Malaysia.

https://www.mns.my/2019/01/27/raptor-watch-2019/

https://www.mnsraptorwatch.wordpress.com/about-rw/

"Tis the season for frolicking, spawning, feeding, at the Sacred Lotus pond"

When the SUN God and the RAIN Goddess work in tandem together, tis the season for frolicking, spawning and feeding - at the Sacred Lotus Pond.

This happens virtually from every mid January at the lotus pond in the DayAnidhi Earth Sanctuary. As the month of Thai in the Hindu calendar dawns. and the harvest festival of Thaipongal in honour of the Sun God is celebrated. The Lotus pond in my garden begins to teem with Life! This occurs generally much more than in most other months of the year. As long as the Sun is shining bright and strong and the rains come regular and heavy enough, many creatures come a visiting.

Some loud like the toads as they begin their mating call. Knowing the abundance of clean freshwater being held in the lotus pond, will help procreate their progeny. While others like the Orange black spotted beetle, and grasshoppers and caterpillars, come silently and quite unobtrusively. Unlike the toads that croak away making such a din. Announcing to all a sundry, that they are eager and ready for their female partner. Once the toads are in the water, frolicking can happen to an amazing degree, as it did two days ago. Amongst the males vying to fertilise a female swollen with eggs. Of the silent guests, the Orange black spotted beetle merely lies in quiet. Presumably drawing upon the energy of the lotus plant. While the grasshoppers and caterpillars feed gradually away at the Lotus leaves.

All said and done, our Sacred Lotus pond, at the DayAnidhi Earth Garden Sanctuary, is a most interesting pond at this time of year.

Thayanithi Kulenthran

Thaipongal - The Harvest Festival

THAIPONGAL -the Harvest festival in Tamil Nadu, India began today. It is a festival that is celebrated in mid January with the onset of the Thai month, of the Hindu calendar. In gratitude to the SUN GOD for the last season’s harvest. Cows are honoured for their immense traditional contribution in working the fields. The festival runs for four days.

Back here in Malaysia, we of South Indian origin, faithfully celebrate the festival. Even though we are far removed from our ancestral village fields. Living and working in towns and cities in Malaysia. For as long as I can recall, I have in my own home, traditionally boiled milk in a clay pot till it boils over its brim. Saying auspicious prayers, while circling the pot with handfuls of rice and stirring in ghee and jaggery and roasted cashews and raisins, when the rice is cooked. To make a sweet rice dish, one of the rice dishes that are normally made during this festival. Then offered to the Sun God.

Today however, for the first time during Thaipongal, I am not in my own home. I am in my hometown, on care-giver duty of my mother who is 91years of age. The Indian maid here cooked the sweet rice and laid it out on on a banana leaf, at the altar, with milk, fruits, lentil doughnuts and boiled chickpeas. The altar was decorated with flowers from my mother’s garden. I went out onto the balcony to greet the Sun, as it rose on the horizon from across the hills and mountains. Placed my palms together in a gesture of Namaskaram (Namaste) as the Tamils say, and bowed my head in gratitude to both the Sun and the Earth.

Thayanithi Kulenthran

Of an Ant & a bit of Fingernail

I had just trimmed mum’s finger and toe nails, which while trimming them, had fallen onto the floor. As I bent down on my knees to gather up the trimmed nails, I spied a little black ant strutting about. It was holding onto a bit of nail, that jutted out like a white horn. The ant appeared like a tiny unicorn, going hither and thither on the parquet floor under my mother’s bed.

My initial impulse was to gather the ant and nail together with the other trimmed nails to throw them all. But I stopped just in time. Feeling the joy of the ant with its little trophy. That it probably was going to show off its just found treasure, to the rest of its mates. Hiding somewhere in the crevices in the walls of my mother’s bedroom. How could I deny this wee little Being its joy?

Thayanithi Kulenthran, 5 Jan 2019

2019 Begins - Cooking a Vegetarian Paella & a Walk before Noon

THE SUN was already on its way up this morning as I got out of bed at 8.15am - somewhat late though, even without a night of New Year’s eve festivities. A whatsapp message had just come in earlier. Guessing it was my daughter on her way back from a Mount Kosciousko National Park (in Australia) trip, I checked my i-phone. It was her. That of course lead to reading all the New Year messages that had come in. I normally do not check my i-phone first thing upon arising. BUT today was the New Year. It was nice to acknowledge those warm greetings on such a day. All this took time of course. A rescheduling of what I had wanted to do today was necessary. The walk that I had thought of the night before had to be later in the morning. Lunch had to be cooked first - so hubby wouldn’t be cross again because of hunger pangs due to a late cooked meal.

What simple lunch - a one dish one, could I make before I set off on my walk? A vegetarian paella. Of rice cooked with naturally brewed soya sauce, ginger and garlic paste, olive oil and dried chillies, with roasted vegetables and garden herbs freshly picked, mixed in. Accompanied by a fresh salad on the side. So that done, and having had a freshly blended juice of pineapple celery mint followed by a bowl of fresh fruit topped with oat squares, yoghurt and slivers of almond flakes and freshly brewed coffee, I set off. For University Malaya close by.

University Malaya has ample forested patches and mature trees. Some line a steep winding road with minimal vehicular traffic passing through the University grounds. I particularly like this stretch of road - its quieter. I get to hear the birds and the crickets and the road reaches a high point before it descends, winding down. It is a physically challenging stretch of walk within the University grounds - if you are unfit.

I parked my car at 11.15am under the shade of two Bottle Brush trees, in one of the UM car parks. Hat and sunglasses on, and a Penan (Indigenous tribe in Sarawak) rattan uyut back pack basket - slung over my back containing my water bottle, I strode off. It was a beautiful very sunny day of clear blue skies. Only an occasional wisp of a cloud. The tall cinnamon shrubs lining the road were sending out their red leaves in their upper canopy. Likewise there was an odd mature tree or two beginning to show its bright red flowers. All calling out to be noticed! I was beginning to feel my heart. It felt quiet, still and soothed. Even though there were some vehicles plying regularly along on the road. There was hardly anyone walking at that hour - so close to midday.. Only an occasional lone student.

As I reached the steep winding stretch of road, it became really still -no more vehicles plying the road. Only a lone student freshly showered and smelling clean of his shower soap, walked down past me. As I walked up, passing leaf litter on the side slopes and moss on the ground, I could hear the birds, the crickets. A lone sunbird called out loudly while sheltering from the midday heat, camouflaged amongst the leaves of a tree. I stopped briefly to gaze at the mature trees on the slopes. Expressing gratitude for their ecosystem services upon which man depends upon for our well being.

Walking on I wondered could I make it to the highest point of the road before noon when the sun would be directly right above me in the sky? I didn’t rush, just took my time but walking at a good pace. When I reached the highest point on the road at 12 noon, the sun was not directly above me. It was about 20 degree away from being directly above me.

Choosing to return the way I had come, I arrived back at my car at 12.35pm. The sun was now directly above me - half an hour after noon. As I turned to get into my car, I remembered the Bottle Brush trees that had shaded my car. Walking to each of them I placed my palms on their deeply wrinkled trunk, then onto my heart and forehead, thanking them.

Thayanithi Kulenthran, 1st Jan 2019.

Reflecting upon 2018 - at a personal level

2018 has been a somewhat eventful year of coming to terms with a number of issues at a personal level. Chief among them, being the acceptance that I will return to my gainfully employed work when it is time.

Seven years ago, I became a primary caregiver with my sister, to our very elderly parents (then 84 & 88yrs old) . My parents live an hour away from my own marital home. The situation required putting my work and life on hold for perhaps an indefinite period. I often wondered when would I be able to return to pursue the Earth related work that I loved and had worked to develop. But in looking after my elderly parents, I discovered it was a vital aspect of Earth related work. Only that I became very isolated from folks that I used to interact with - children, youth and my peers. I missed that very much. But I began to discover - the very elderly-a different community altogether. And looking after my parents led to the renewal of relationships with friends and relatives in my hometown.

There is a silver lining in every challenge and sacrifice. The wisdom I learnt in the caregiving of my elderly parents, I began to share with relatives and friends who were beginning to be anxious of their ageing or were also looking after an elderly parent. They were encouraged by what my sister and I (with our husbands’ moral support) were doing in looking after our elderly parents in their very own home, for many years. This sharing of what I had learnt was joyful.

Then as 2018 went along, I began to be able to make time to meet some of my friends, my daughter’s friends, whom I had known since they were little girls, my husband’s ex-university friends. And to even have a short holiday with my husband in Penang for his university class gathering. My husband and I had come to accept that going away on holiday was a thing of the past.

But as November 2018 came on, bringing with it Cyclone Gaja, I feel an urgency to return to my Earth related work. Hence the post on Cyclone Gaja and a just begun reach out about EARTH and Cyclone Gaja to a group of my childhood classmates.

So this morning New Year’s Eve, content with how 2018 had evolved for me, I set off with a light heart into town. To finally catch the end of sales. To buy some personal essentials. while I was off care giver duty.

It was a most pleasant day. As the light rail transit (LRT) train stopped at stations to pick up passengers, young children with their parent/parents came excitedly on board. Little girls chatting happily as they looked at each other and out through the glass windows of the train carriage. Mothers holding the hands of younger ones. A little boy beckoning to his father to come stand close to him as the boy had sat on a vacant spot beside me. The father beamed as he walked towards the boy. Everyone was happy. It was the final day of fun before the school year begins in a day’s time. And the grind of day to day living begins for 2019.

It will be about two hours before 2018 ends. As I reflect upon 2018, thanking it, may 2019 be a blessed year of working towards good health, love and compassion towards our fellow Beings - human and others, some joys, contentment and peace in our lives.

Thayanithi Kulenthran, 31st December 2018.

Cyclone Gaja: Howling Elephant Winds

A Nasa satellite image shows Cyclone Gaja reaching the east coast of India late Thursday ( EPA )    Source:- https://www.independent.co.uk

A Nasa satellite image shows Cyclone Gaja reaching the east coast of India late Thursday ( EPA )

Source:- https://www.independent.co.uk

gaja_imerg_rainfall_10-19_november_2018.jpg

Tropical Cyclone Gaja's Rainfall

Image credit: https//pmm.nasa.gov/extreme-weather/tropical-cyclone-gajas-rainfall-measured-imerg

Mr.Lechu’s home is in a Tamil Nadu coastal village. Cyclone Gaja ravaged through his village and other Tamil Nadu coastal villages on Friday 16 November 2018. Mr Lechu is here in Malaysia, away from his family when Cyclone Gaja struck. He could only make some brief telephone contact with his young family, three days after Cyclone Gaja struck. As I listened to Mr. Lechu speak in anguish and despair over a whole week, after he had heard from his wife what had taken place in his village, I felt compelled to pen the following lines.

Howling winds through the dead of night
Carrying waters of the Bay of Bengal
Thrusting savagely on shutters and doors
Of Tamil Nadu coastal village homes

Forcing sea-water through gaps as shutters begin to move
Only joint human strength
Pushing hard on doors from inside concrete homes
Hold the door.

Howling winds blowing away roofs
Howling winds thrashing down houses
Howling winds crashing concrete electric poles
Howling winds uprooting coconut palms

Howling winds of salt waters
Burst bags of stored rice and pulses
Soaking them beyond consumption
Livestock lies dead
Vegetable plots where are they?
Submerged in stagnant salt water.

Food is no more
Fresh water is no more
Communal freshwater pumps work no more

Howling winds claw into the ground
Creating holes hither and thither
Through the village
What Soul and Spirit in fury indeed has been here?
Wonder the dumb founded villagers!

Thayanithi Kulenthran; 27 November 2018.

EARTH - Do we know her?

IS Earth merely the Big Blue Marble (an apt synonym) described by the National Geographic some time back in its website? OR is she more than the mass of rock with a molten nickel iron core? Upon which sit interlinked jigsaws of interconnected oceans, brown and green land masses, traversed by serpent spines and sunken cradles of fresh water. And within which live a spectrum of sessile and mobile life forms, both lower and higher including humans, totally dependent upon Earth for their existence? All enveloped by a thin veil – the atmosphere, as we know Earth today?

IS Earth perhaps more than just the only known habitable planet in our galaxy or perhaps even in our cosmos? Since she supports LIFE, could she perhaps be another Living Being herself? Vibrating with a certain frequency of a very high order? And with a life force quite unknown to most of humanity except to those whose souls and spirits are in tune with Earth?

Indigenous peoples since time immemorial have been aware of and lived in total harmony with the soul and spirit of the Earth. Never taking more of her resources than was necessary. Always ensuring there was enough left behind for those who came after.  These ‘peoples of the Earth’ sense HER; know HER. Ancient agricultural communities too had a special reverence for the Earth. They felt gratitude to the Earth for the bounty she bestowed upon them through their harvests. This was evident through cultural festivities that accompanied the end of harvest.

There are too, some amongst the rest of us ordinary folks, born in more recent times, with a destiny to be especially conscious of the soul and spirit of Earth.  And who live in relative quiet, simplicity and stillness, seeking to be within Earth’s embrace and in alignment with her innate vibrations.

Earth has Intelligence and Spirituality unknown perhaps to most of humanity. She seeks to communicate with some of us; directly or through other life forms. But to those that she does indeed communicate with, it is no trifle matter. She communicates to warn of calamities yet to come. She communicates to reveal her sense of despair with humanity.     

She communicates to reveal when she is reassured. That some amongst us bring hope, light, love and compassion into the lives of those other Beings that she supports.

Perhaps there is more to Earth than we are aware of.

Thayanithi Kulenthran