Friday, November 23, 2007

Old Turkey Buzzard

Eyes of all kinds fascinate me. I tend to judge a person by his/her eyes and I connect with animals most through their eyes. Birds' eyes specially are riveting, disproportionately large and heavy lidded when blinking. The opening shots in Mackenna's Gold featuring Old Turkey Buzzard's eyes, do you remember them? If not, here is a reminder.

I was a very little girl when my brother took me to see the movie and for weeks after that we sang about gold and gold, men will do anything for gold. As I grew older, the bird itself and what he stood for became more understandable. He inspired the opening frames of our first GSPCA film, posted here. Today, I am humming these lines and find the truth in them uncanny.

Old Buzzard knows that he can wait
For every mother's son has got a date
A date with fate, with fate.......

Note in my diary - 2008, got to visit the Grand Canyon.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Today, Americans all over the world celebrate their National Thanksgiving Day. Here is the text of their President's sealed proclamation for the day :

Thanksgiving Day, 2007
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

Americans are a grateful people, ever mindful of the many ways we have been blessed. On Thanksgiving Day, we lift our hearts in gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy, the people we love, and the gifts of our prosperous land.

Our country was founded by men and women who realized their dependence on God and were humbled by His providence and grace. The early explorers and settlers who arrived in this land gave thanks for God's protection and for the extraordinary natural abundance they found. Since the first National Day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed by President George Washington, Americans have come together to offer thanks for our many blessings. We recall the great privilege it is to live in a land where freedom is the right of every person and where all can pursue their dreams. We express our deep appreciation for the sacrifices of the honorable men and women in uniform who defend liberty. As they work to advance the cause of freedom, our Nation keeps these brave individuals and their families in our thoughts, and we pray for their safe return.

While Thanksgiving is a time to gather in a spirit of gratitude with family, friends, and neighbors, it is also an opportunity to serve others and to share our blessings with those in need. By answering the universal call to love a neighbor as we want to be loved ourselves, we make our Nation a more hopeful and caring place.

This Thanksgiving, may we reflect upon the past year with gratefulness and look toward the future with hope. Let us give thanks for all we have been given and ask God to continue to bless our families and our Nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 22, 2007, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship with family, friends, and loved ones to reinforce the ties that bind us and give thanks for the freedoms and many blessings we enjoy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-second.


The proclamation thanks God for freedoms, friends and prosperity. If India had a thanksgiving day, what would we be thankful for? Poverty, corruption, inequality? Don't mock me for thinking this.

Because as I look back on my own life, I find more often than not that I am grateful for adversity rather than fortune. Fortune comes and goes, and brings indulgence and corruption in its wake. Adversity however teaches one to be strong, composed and resourceful, and helps one discover true friends. One always comes out better after adversity. Not so after fortune.

America should learn to be thankful for the lessons learnt from 9/11 and Katrina, just as much as it rejoices in its prosperity - otherwise, at a totally other yet fully related level, its dollar will continue to depreciate...

Meanwhile, 92% of American households will eat turkey tonight. If you want to know what happens to the birds that get the presidential pardon or are otherwise rescued and adopted, read this front page story in the New York Times today - "In some households, every day is turkey day"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Big Apple bytes

Backwards from Scotland, the setting was New York's classy Park Avenue, where all the buildings are dressed in brown, and the people are dressed in black. A few pretend trees line the street, and the lamp posts look better than they do. At one end is the Grand Central Station, a masterpiece of architecture, borrowed from several countries, as all things American are. People walk their dogs at all hours of the day, so yes all said and done, I think I still like New York.

A cosy terrace outside our meeting rooms offered a grand day and night view of the Empire State Building, and we had dinner with the Board of Directors of Interpublic at the Lincoln Center, following a special jazz recital by an impromptu ensemble that was both enthralling and educational. I had the good fortune to sit next to Michael Roth, Chairman and CEO of IPG, a warm genuine and humble person, who has taken great pains to turn around a once 'beleaguered' company (as he unabashedly puts it) and now he can look back with a sense of quiet achievement though of course the journey is only beginning, and he recognises that.

I especially felt glad to discover that social and civil work is so much a part of their lives. A newly inducted director has given up a senior marketing career to run schools for the underprivileged. And it was truly heartening to learn that one of the senior most directors, Reg Beck, kept asking to meet me! A former Chairman of Time Inc, he and his wife are active supporters of the Help in Suffering animal charity at Udaipur (run by the Brahms), and his wife Barbara sits on the Board of the Humane Society of the US.

Obviously I cannot divulge the proceedings of the actual meetings, but suffice it to say that there was plenty of food, and food for thought, and I have put on several pounds - some around the middle and some inside my brain.

Hope you spot my tiny smiling colourful persona in the picture above:-)

Monday, November 12, 2007

From the Dorothy in me

"Somewhere over the rainbow,
Way up high
There's a land that I heard of,
Once, in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow,
Skies are blue.
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true."

Last week, I learnt three things.

1. Nature gets more and more beautiful each day. The grasslands of the Serengiti, the woodlands of Corbett, the cashew and mango orchards of Torda, the eucalyptus covered Queensland bush, the pine walled Alps and the chinar lined foothills of the Himalayas, I had found them all breathtaking. Till I met the Birks of Aberfeldy, Loch Tay, Glen Lyon and Ben Lawers. In autumn. White, yellow, orange, russet, red, green, purple, brown. Nothing can be more beautiful than nature.

2. Preparation of any kind happens quite fast. Mixing, mashing, churning, just a couple of hours. Fermenting it however, now that takes a little longer. And then, distilling out the essence of whatever it is you want to say or do - that takes quite a few days. How strange that we tend to spend more time preparing and much less distilling, when we should be doing the opposite. And then finally of course, the maturing - slow and gentle, requiring just the right environment, and time, plenty of time. Sometimes even 30 years, standing still in one place, mellowing down to an ageless spirit.

3. History is always written in stone. Always.

I hope you like my little rainbow - he appeared outside the windows of our wooden log cabin in Aberfeldy last Wednesday, bringing with him dreams that I now must dare to make true.