Sunday, September 30, 2012


The gift of a book coupon found me searching for Kitab Khana.  A helpful assistant at the end of a phone line directed me to Davar’s College and a brisk walk later found me on unfamiliar familiar ground.  The area had been a haunt in earlier times, but the years in-between had wrought changes.

I expected to find the usual tired entrance lined with dusty shelves and well thumbed books – a memory from past visits to other stores.  Instead, I was greeted by a frontage straight out of a movie (or a dream?).  Bemused, I entered upon a most delightful scene: books on shelves, books on display, books arranged here, there and everywhere. Crisp, newly minted, fresh off the press books.  Hardbound, paperback, spiral bound books.  Colourful, sober, titillating, serious books.  Books of every kind. The silence was welcoming as were the comfy sofas, some already occupied by browsers with noses deep in – yes - books.  And, the fragrant aroma of printed paper intermingled with that of freshly brewing coffee from the coffee bar at the end of this huge Aladdin’s cave. Or, heaven.

Like a child in cookie paradise, I skipped from display to display lifting covers and sampling snippets.  I was certainly going to use that gift coupon: what I wanted was that one special book - one that would count as both a discovery and a memory.  I came across old friends among the titles and encountered many new ones and then, almost at the end of the ‘cavern’, I found it. The illustration on the cover and the intriguing title brought on that old familiar feeling – love at first sight! 

Among my treasured experiences are the verses of Ogden Nash and Hillaire Belloc and the quirky humour of James Thurber: the ultimate gateway to imagination, the involuntary chuckle and the Walter Mitty experience (if you haven’t had that, you’ve really missed something).  And now, I have added Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends. A turn of the pages takes you to a magical, whimsical place where the author says what he means and means what he says with childlike honesty and adult wisdom. Who could resist this invitation?

            “If you are a dreamer, come in
            If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar
            A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
            If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
            For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
            Come in!
            Come in!”
Have you ever sat on the seashore at sunset and imagined an enchanted place beyond the horizon? No? Then, be tempted.  Do it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


…my friends won’t you sing with me?  Yes! I’m in a cheerful mood.  Music does that to me and I’m finding a lot of it on the Net, together with an overflowing bucket of nostalgia.

So what am I listening to? Old forgotten childhood songs, all reprised on YouTube.  One remembrance leads to another and from ‘Where have you been Billy Boy?” to “Oh dear what can the matter be?’ to ‘The bear went over the mountain’ to ‘Down by the bay’ – and beyond – I’ve been humming along.  And the lyrics have been coming back (like a song!) too. Silly songs, lively tunes make for a cache of treasures.  As the memories flood in, I am amazed at the amount we learned and sang as little ones.  And if YouTube has it, the songs will be carried forward at least for another generation.  Clap if you like that.

Aiming to enlarge the repertoire, I did a recce on the Net (now, that’s one voyage of discovery that can keep one engaged for a lifetime) and came up with a whole host of new and even more delightful songs by people who are happy to share. I made a connection, too.  And thereby hangs a tale.  I searched by keywords using ‘children’s songs’, ‘songs for children on themes’ and so on.  One of the sites threw up a lovely little number – catchy lyrics, catchier tune – about one of the many ‘cycles’ in nature.  But there was no sheet music, so I took a chance and emailed the author.  Bonus upon bonus, he not only sent me the sheet music by return, but was most chuffed that his music had reached the opposite side of the globe.   Now, he wants a clip of the children singing his song.  I think that means I have a goal! So do the children. The name of the song? ‘Can you make the connection?’ It’s about a fruit bat, a tree and you!!

At present count, I have more than eighty songs playing over and over again in my mind; enough to keep me singing for a long, long, time.

In the words of that universal children’s favourite, I’m happy and I know it, so I’m shouting ‘Hello’, ‘Buon Giorno’, ‘Ola’, ‘Namaste’, ‘Guten Tag’ ‘Kalimera’, ‘Bon Jour’ ..…!!!!!