A wild horse in the sun

JumpingRide A Wild Horse

Ride a wild horse
with purple wings
Striped yellow and black
except his head
which must be red.

Ride a wild horse
against the sky –
hold tight to his wings

before you die
whatever else
you leave undone
once
ride a wild horse
into the sun.

Hannah Kahn (1911-1988)

I came across this poem many years ago, in a Reader’s Digest story about a child growing up with Down Syndrome. There is something so urgent about these lines. It remains one of my favourites to this day, even though I don’t really get the opening stanza. Why must the horse be purple and yellow and black, or any other colour?

But the rest of it – oh! It sings to me: at least once in your life, you must do something wild and unimaginable, something that you will be remembered for for the rest of your life. Whatever else, you leave undone, once ride a wild horse into the sun. At some minute level, I feel this is my purpose in life: to do that one impossibly crazy thing that will change something fundamental in the world. Am I setting myself up for failure with an aim so lofty? Will I ever do something that momentous? Who knows? All I can do is try.

Agustin and his father with the tractor they built.
Agustin and his father with the tractor they built.

Hannah’s daughter Vivian had Down’s syndrome and Hannah spent much of her spare time working with the differently abled. In the Reader’s Digest story, What Love Can Build, the boy’s mother takes courage in knowing that the poet too faced the tribulations she did. Her son Agustin loved trucks and cranes, and her husband decided to build a tractor along with him, even though how much his son could be a part of the project was uncertain. The poem, she felt, expressed perfectly why she decided to go with her husband’s proposal: “… everyone should have a chance to make one impossible dream come true.”

I leave you with a gorgeous scene at the end of Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, where Spirit, the wild mustang, leaps across the canyon and into the sun:

Source: What Love Can Build by Meg Laughlin, from the Miami Herald’s Tropic, June 21, 1998. Subsequently edited in Reader’s Digest, p. 80-84, May 1999. © 1998 Miami Herald. A link to the original article is available here.

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The Booksellers of Bangalore – 2

Back again with more haunts for those of you who get high on the scent of books:

1. Goobe’s Book Republic: A short walk down from K.C. Das Sweets on Church Street, you can spot an intriguing sign on the pavement:

Goobes final

Haha. Cracks me up everytime. Goobe’s is cool: a funky little store in the basement, with quotes on reading pasted at random places. The wall rack when you enter the basement and the graphic novel posters give it a happy vibe. They were bringing in piles of Narcopolis when I last went, as Jeet Thayil was coming over for a music session and would be signing books. Thayil or no Thayil, it’s a fun place to rummage for books. After all, there are “so many books, and so little time,” like it says on the ledge.

2. Atta Galatta, Koramangala: One of the few bookstores in Bangalore which promotes books in Indian languages. Set up by Lakshmi Sankar and Subodh Sankar, the bookstore stocks Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi books, as well as Indian writers in English. When its not being a quaint brick-red store with a tiny little cafe, with comfortable seats that invite the reader to settle down with a book, the store plays host to dozens of book readings, workshops on topics ranging from dance and theatre to candle-making and paper quilling, as well as various events for children. You can sign up for their newsletter thebookstore@attagalatta.com to get updates on weekly events.

3. Eloor Library, Infantry Road: Eloor is one of Bangalore’s oldest lending libraries. It’s so familiar to Bangaloreans that most subscribers seem to think a book from Eloor is intended to be kept waaayy past the due date. Customers pay 10 per cent on each book borrowed, over a flat membership of Rs. 800 a year. They have a pretty good collection of adventure novels and fiction. And not to forget, a huge stash of Mills &  Boons. Just saying. 😛

4. State Central Library, Cubbon Park: A gorgeous library in the middle of a lush green park; doesn’t it sound like a dream? The Central Library is reference only, meaning you can walk in and pick a book off the shelf without a membership. Goes without saying that you have to leave the books back when you go. A striking building that represents much of old Bangalore, the Central Library celebrated its golden anniversary recently. It is generally occupied by students preparing for examinations of one hue or the other. The collection of books on world history, politics, etc. is impeccable, though a little more seating area would have been appreciated. Also, nice people who enabled free WiFi on Brigade Road and other hangouts in the city, how about bringing wireless connectivity in here, where someone might actually use it?

While we’re on books, the ten-day Bangalore Book Fest is back after a year’s gap at the Elaan Convention Centre, JP Nagar. Definitely worth a visit.

(The first part of this series can be found here.)

The Booksellers of Brigade Road

Bangalore is no Dilli when it comes to old books. You don’t find hawkers selling yellowed paperbacks outside every gully and metro station. (Which is hardly a big deal, considering techno-wallon ka sheher has exactly six stations at the moment. :P) You’d be hard put to find something like the Daryaganj Sunday Book market here.

But what it does have, and in plenty, are bookstores with character, run by people who genuinely like books. Where you can walk in and ask for a book, and not have to wait for an attendant to type the name into a computer to tell you it’s out of stock.

Continue reading “The Booksellers of Brigade Road”

BLF-2013: A balmy afternoon and some book-time

Why do people visit lit fests? That was the question in my head as I stepped into the spacious lawns at Crowne Plaza, where the Bangalore Literature Festival 2013 was on in full swing.

I walked into Mysore Park (Stage 1) in time to hear the moderator accusing William Dalrymple of being elitist. (Wonder how that conversation ended!) A girl was gushing over the phone about a couplet recited by Gulzar. Damn, missed it. Blame it on the ghastly distance to Electronic City and my unearthly work schedule.

Continue reading “BLF-2013: A balmy afternoon and some book-time”