Categories
Index

Borderless July, 2021

Editorial

Reach for the Stars… Click here to read.

Interviews

In conversation with an American poet, Jared Carter, who has received multiple encomiums like the Walt Whitman Award, the Poets’ Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship and much more. He tells us of his life and how he writes a poem. Click here to read.

In conversation with eminent academic and translator, Radha Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Translations

Two songs by Tagore written originally in Brajabuli, a literary language developed essentially for poetry, has been translated by Radha Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Balochi poetry of Akbar Barakzai translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Korean Poetry written and translated to English by Ihlwha Choi. Click here to read.

Poetry in Bosnian from Bosnia & Herzegovina, written and translated by Maid Corbic. Click here to read.

Translation of ‘Dushomoy’ by Tagore, from Bengali to English by Mitali Chakravarty on behalf of Borderless Journal. Click here to read and listen to Tagore’s voice recite his poem in Bengali.

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Suzanne Kamata, Lorraine Caputo, Rhys Hughes, Kinjal Sethia, Emalisa Rose, Shahriyer Hossain Shetu, John Herlihy, Reena R, Mitra Samal, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Shubham Raj, George Freek, Marc Nair, Michael R Burch, Jay Nicholls, Jared Carter

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In The Scottish Homer: William McGonagall, Rhys Hughes assays into the times of this bard known as the best of worst poets! Click here to read.

Nature’s Musings

Penny Wilkes takes us Down the Path of Nostalgia with a mix of old and new photography and prose and poetry on how a decade after the end of the Second World War, she started her love affair with photography and nature. Click here to read

Musings/Slices from Life

Summer Studio

Jared Carter writes of a childhood in mid-twentieth century America. Click here to read.

Three Men at the Lalbagh Fort

Marjuque-ul-Haque explores Mughal Lalbagh fort left unfinished in Dhaka, a fort where armies were said to disappear during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Click here to read.

A Stroll through Kolkata’s Iconic Maidan

Nishi Pulugurtha journeys with her camera on the famed grounds near Fort William, a major historic site in Kolkata. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Managing Bookshelves, Devraj Singh Kalsi cogitates with wry humour while arranging his book shelves. Click here to read.

Adventures of the Backpacking Granny

Sybil Pretious concludes her adventures this round with a fabulous trip to Generous Indonesia, a country with kind people, islands and ancient volcanoes. Click here to read.

Essays

Peace: Is it Even Possible?

Candice Lousia Daquin explores war and peace through history. Is peace possible? Click here to read.

Corona & the Police

Subhankar Dutta reflects on the role the police has taken in a pandemic torn world. Click here to read.

A Prison of Our Own Making

Keith Lyons gives us a brief essay on how we can find freedom. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

In Richard Hughes: The Reporter Who Inspired Ian Fleming, Bhaskar Parichha showcases a journalist who wrote globally, spicing it up with humour. Click here to read.

Stories

Flash Fiction: Horizon

Tan Kaiyi evokes the spirit of the Singapore National Day amidst the darkness of spread by a deadly virulence. Click here to read.

Flash Fiction: Ice Storm

Niles Reddick tells a weatherman’s story with a twist of humour. Click here to read.

Mr Roy’s Obsession

Swagato Chakraborty spins a weird tale about an obsession. Click here to read.

Magnum Opus

Ahsan Rajib Ananda shows what rivalries in creative arts can do. Click here to read.

Adoption

A poignant real life story by Jeanie Kortum on adopting a child. Click here to read

The Literary Fictionist

In Scarecrow, Sunil Sharma explores urban paranoia. Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

The Parrot’s Tale, excerpted from Rabindranth Tagore. The Land of Cards: Stories, Poems and Plays for Children, translated by Radha Chakravarty, with a foreword from Mahasweta Devi. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

A Sense of Time by Anuradha Kumar reviewed by Rakhi Dalal. Click here to read.

Murder in Daisy Apartments by Shabnam Minwalla reviewed by Gracy Samjetsabam. Click here to read.

The Third Eye of Governance–Rise of Populism, Decline in Social Research by Dr N Bhaskara Rao reviewed by Bhaskar Parichha. Click here to read.

A Special Tribute

Dilip Kumar: Kohinoor-e-Hind

In a tribute to Bollywood legend Dileep Kumar,  Ratnottama Sengupta, one of India’s most iconic arts journalists, recollects the days the great actor sprinted about on the sets of Bombay’s studios …spiced up with fragments from the autobiography of Sengupta’s father, Nabendu Ghosh. Click here to read.

Categories
Editorial

Reach for the Stars

Courtesy: Creative Commons
“Nothing can be unconditional: consequently, nothing can be free.”


“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” 

-- George Bernard Shaw,  Maxims for Revolutionists, Man & Superman (1903) 

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), a great writer and playwright, used these epigrammatic lines to bring focus on what people thought was liberty or freedom from oppression, from regimes that were dictatorial. While discussing concepts of freedom, one does wonder if political freedom solves all humane issues, occasions we celebrate with great aplomb, like the birth of a nation.

This month started with the observance of July 4th, the date of the American Revolution in 1776 and the publication date of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in 1855. In between these two years, in 1789, ten days down the line, on July 14th, another significant occurrence has been handed down by history to be celebrated as the Bastille Day— the day prisoners were freed from Bastille, a major event that led to the overthrow of the insensitive monarchy in France, a symbolic resurgence of the common, exploited man that has often been seen as an inspiration for later uprisings to reinforce the concept of democracy or liberté, égalité, fraternité.

As we move forward in time, towards August, one wonders if liberty attained by these means was good for all fellow humans? France was part of the Allied Forces that with America taking the lead dropped not one but two atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945, to end the Second World War. Did the ends justify the means? Reflecting the cry and suffering of these victims, we have poetry from Suzanne Kamata, a well-known writer from Japan. Michael Burch on the other hand has shared poetry with us which shows how the nuclear programme continued unrepentant despite the devastation it caused. One must give kudos to the descendants of the victims of the nuclear blast that they have forgiven the perpetrators, admitted their own hand in the Second World War and moved ahead. In that spirit, we have an essay on peace by Candice Louisa Daquin, who joins the Borderless team as a writer-in-residence.

We have much happening in poetry this time with an interview of American poet Jared Carter, a recipient of number of awards and fellowships, including the Walt Whitman Award and the Guggenheim fellowship. He walks us through how he created the poem ‘Yeti’ (first published in the May edition of Borderless) and talks of the impact of artifacts from China and India on his own thought processes, the impact of Du Fu (712-770) and much more. We have a poem in Du Fu’s style this time by George Freek and an interesting poem with a Chinese title by Carter, a title that can have multiple connotations and yet each seems to fit the poem perfectly.

Rhys Hughes has brought humour into our pages with both his poetry and essay on William Mcgonagall, who bore the sobriquet of the worst writer in the world through his life and had things thrown at him when he read his poetry in Dundee. Yet, his work survived the beatings, and he lives on known as the ‘Scottish Homer’.

More poetry by Singaporean poet Marc Nair gives us a glimpse of the little island as viewed by someone who has grown up on it. Poetry is always multi-hued, and we have Lorraine Caputo transport us to a Garífuna village in Honduras. Penny Wilkes takes us ‘Down the Path of Nostalgia’ with a mix of old and new photography, prose and poetry on how almost a decade after the end of the Second World War, she started her love affair with photography and nature. It hovers between poetry and musings, and this time we have a rare musing by Jared Carter too. Devraj Singh Kalsi continues cogitating with wry humour while arranging bookshelves. We also have the backpacking granny visiting Indonesia. Post sharing this trip, our granny — Sybil Pretious — plans a little break from publishing to complete her memoirs.

A riveting flash fiction by Kaiyi Tan celebrates the spirit of conquest in these dark times, weaving into the pandemic lore the quest for personal freedom. Stories this time carry a real life one by Jean Kortum on adoption — her own struggle. But then, stories can be real or unreal – draw a bit from both to reflect bigger truths or create alternates that sink into the human mind as a perceived reality and leave an imprint deep inside the heart, like that of Niles Reddick. My conviction is that some lived experiences of writers seep into each story, whether it is from Bangladesh or India or by our literary fictionist, Sunil Sharma. His narrative continues infused by suspense.

We have a complete translated story of Tagore by Radha Chakravarty as our book excerpt this time. ‘The Parrot’s Tale’, ostensibly part of a children’s collection, reflects Tagore’s response to conventional schooling — a reason for him to start Shanti Niketan perhaps. She has also shared two of her translations of Rabindranath’s songs from Bhanusingher Padabali (1884, Bhanusingh’s verses). Chakravarty generously consented to an interview and has given us a glimpse of her journey as a translator and critic.  We also have translated a long poem by Tagore on our pages, a poem that inspires hope, though it was named Dushomoy (1897, Bad Times) finally. The original name had been Swarga Patthe (On the Path to Heaven) as can be seen from a page in his diary. We have been fortunate in finding a recording of his voice reciting the poem in Bengali and the print of a sample page of the manuscript bearing his signature.

We continue with Akbar Barakzai’s poetry translated by Fazal Baloch from Balochi – this time addressed to his daughter reminding for some reason of Nehru’s Letters from a Father to his Daughter — a book I read as a child.  In addition, we have translations from Korea and Bosnia & Herzegovina, from where the young poet, Maid Corbic, has taken up the concept of freedom of the self and of the nation, both together.

Keith Lyons from New Zealand in his very brief essay has quoted American novelist William Faulkner, “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” And perhaps we need to remember this if for no other reason, then, just to maintain our own sanity in these strange, almost unreal times as we attempt to unite as humankind to free ourselves from an unknown and unfathomable virus.

In a more sombre note, last week, untroubled by the virus, a victim of cancer, Bollywood legend Dileep Kumar, aged 98, breathed his last. Ratnottama Sengupta adds an unusual colour to the Borderless Journal with her tribute to this hugely acclaimed actor. In the process, she unfolds for us a brief history of the Indian cinema, and a glimpse of a world that transcends all man made constructs in quest of perfection.

We have an interesting set of reviews this July. Rakhi Dalal has reviewed Anuradha Kumar’s riveting short story collection, A Sense of Time. A murder mystery for young readers, Murder at Daisy Apartments by Shabnam Minwalla, has been reviewed by Gracy Samjetsabam. The Third Eye of Governance–Rise of Populism, Decline in Social Research by Dr N Bhaskara Rao, reviewed by Bhaskar Parichha, seems to be a non-fiction that looks forward to bridging gaps between academia and the real world, a truly felt need. Parichha has also given us an essay on a man who inspired Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, to make him a part of his lore, a journalist who moved around all of Asia with equal aplomb and a sense of humour – a truly global citizen called Richard Hughes.

I want to thank all our wonderful contributors for making this edition a reality. And readers, we leave you to explore the unknown… like that place we call outer space. A huge thank you again to not only all our wonderful contributors, our faithful readers but also to the fabulous Borderless team scattered across the world.  

Before I wind up, a little bird trills a song of hope in my ear. Business tycoons have started stepping into the mysterious void of space to eventually – let us hope — create affordable travel for common man, though it has started off as an expensive proposition. Will this be an industry that will generate more jobs on and off Earth and find new places for man to inhabit? After all, when George Bernard Shaw wrote his plays and essays, we had yet to cross the frontiers beyond Earth, had never even thought of flying across the world in budget airlines or mining moons!

Will we have a new world, a new outlook and a new set of hopes and aspirations as we stretch the frontiers of our home planet?

Wish you all a wonderful month of reading and thinking.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty

Categories
Adventures of a Backpacking Granny

Generous Indonesia

Sybil Pretious concludes her adventures this round with a fabulous trip to a country with islands and ancient volcanoes

Volcanic Lake Toba. Photo Courtesy: Sybil Pretious
A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. The way to do, is to BE.
~Lao Tzu

In 2011 (aged 69), I decided to challenge myself and travel alone to Indonesia. I also looked at alternative accommodation to backpacking so I joined Couch surfers. CouchSurfing is an organisation that connects people who wish to find accommodation in other countries while offering to host travellers in their own country. You offer just a couch where you live and can ‘surf’ to find a ‘couch’ with a resident of the country you want to visit. You do not pay for the ‘couch’ and you must supply your own meals and transport. The big advantage of this accommodation apart from no cost is that you get information from a person who is local and loves where they live plus it’s a base to travel from.

Indonesia is a country that spans the equator and consists of at least 17,000 islands. I would only touch on this extended land by visiting Java and Sumatra and yes, I was interested in the people, volcanoes, dance, puppets and woven fabric that I had heard so much about. My Couchsurfing host was Arianne who had written a couple of travel books about Indonesia – perfect.

I flew into Jakarta in the evening and wondered about how I would get to Arianne’s as I didn’t have her address. As so often happens when I leave events to unfold without trying too hard, they do so in a much better way than if I had been more diligent.  Without informing me my lovely hostess had sent a chauffeur driven car with refreshments. Her welcome and the help and caring throughout my stay were definitely not included in the description of CouchSurfing hosts.

Her home had wide open spaces with pillars and floors of red concrete so that air flow was optimal in this hot, steamy climate. My ‘couch’ turned out to be an ornate four-poster bed in a bedroom with my own ‘en suite’. The toilet was typically Asian with a bucket of water for flushing. The ‘bathroom’ held a large concrete cube open on top and filled with cold water. A very large scoop was provided. To ‘bath’ I stood naked on the concrete floor, soaped myself and scooped out the water, throwing it in the general direction of my body. It was a bit hit and miss but I did feel cool and refreshed for a short while. There was no hot water. It just wasn’t needed. Every morning, I was woken with the long loud call to prayer.

I mentioned to Arianne as we chatted that I wanted to make a trip to Sumatra and was busy looking for flights and that I wanted to stay on the island of Samosir in the centre of the volcanic lake Toba. The island and lake are the result of a super volcano eruption 75,000 years ago.

“Let me book the flights for you. I do this often and will get the best prices and I can also arrange for someone to meet you.”

I couldn’t refuse her kind offer so it seemed once more that I had a guardian angel at my side. She efficiently took over and booked flights, arranged for people to meet me and take me wherever I needed to go. I would explore Jakarta and possibly go to Bali when I returned.

On arrival in Medan, I was met by Argys, a young Indonesian man who had brought his friends along. They were so attentive and concerned that I wouldn’t like the accommodation they had arranged for that night in Parapat before we took the ferry from a small village called Tuk Tuk across to Samosir Island where we stayed at Samosir Cottages.

It was hard to believe that an angry volcano had created this stunningly tranquil Lake. I got up early for the sunrise, a perfect place to meditate and feel grateful. I was ready for the day ahead.

I wanted to see more of the island and was offered a motor bike tour by a local entrepreneur, Banyu. I didn’t give it a second thought, but Argys wasn’t too sure about this and gave Banyu a lecture before we set off. I promised him half the fee at the beginning of our ride and the other half when we returned and after a wonderful trip. He finally got more than he had asked for. It was a good feeling to be supporting local people rather than large touring companies. I have found that trust and acceptance is a must if you are to experience life through the local people’s eyes. Lack of knowledge of the local language is not necessarily a disadvantage.  

Travelling by motorbike gives an uninterrupted view of the lush vegetation and local scenery. My guide stopped at regular intervals delighting in showing off the wonderful textiles and weaving that local people were demonstrating. I couldn’t resist buying some of the colourful pieces after a demonstration by the weaver who looked delighted at the sale.

A museum displayed wonderful crafting on a ship, using minimum tools while creating intricate, colourful decoration. We laughed at black pigs foraging and then went to talk to a man who was looking after a ‘castle’. He was happy to demonstrate just how a prisoner would be beheaded. Many hand signals flew between us until he figured I had not understood and finally looking resigned, laid himself down on a specially shaped stone, leaning the massive sword towards his head and laughing when I got agitated.

Banyu was ever attentive but refused to share the fruit and water I had taken with me. He had not eaten during the tour. At the end I thanked him profusely. I slept well that night dreaming of battling to get through a gate. I woke feeling vaguely disturbed.

The following day was the one I enjoyed the most.

“We want to take you to the Sipiso Piso Waterfall.”

“That sounds wonderful. I could do with some cool water in this heat.”

Argys looked a little worried.

“It’s really high up. It is a waterfall that comes from very high in the side of the lake. We have to go over rivers and rocks and climb through a very muddy forest to get there.”

“I will be okay. I haven’t had the chance to climb any mountains here so this will be good.”

I later found out that the waterfall fell from a height of 120metres above the lake gushing from a cave in the Lake Toba caldera.

I packed the usual things in my small backpack – water, fruit, biscuits, a first aid pack and an extra blouse as I knew how hot and sweaty I got when climbing. I wore open sandals and the loose top and light slacks I had worn on Kilimanjaro. I was glad I didn’t have to cover my head as the two girls in our little party did. It looked very uncomfortable in that humid heat, but they assured me it wasn’t. The guy’s clothes looked cooler.

The way up was through a forest of giant trees with lush foliage, taking us over a river, rocks and through thick, slippery mud. Bright orchids flowers graced some trees, and a musty smell pervaded the air. Leaning against one of the trees when we stopped for a short while, I felt very small, so tiny. I closed my eyes and gave thanks for the beauty and gifts that trees give us. My back against the thick trunk felt supported and strong, so I harnessed the strength to continue. The going was steep, and I found myself slipping and slowing down. Argys had offered to take my camera so that I would have many pictures without having to stop so often. He literally leapt around snapping photos from every angle — yet another thoughtful gesture.

Finally, we could hear voices amid the sound of rushing water.  As we broke through the trees I was awestruck. A bright slither of water plunged in a narrow silver-white ribbon down the steep, rocky side of the caldera splashing into a shallow rocky pool below. The pool was filled with people, laughing and joyful as they cooled themselves in this beauty.

                                      

I was soon soaked and feeling thoroughly refreshed. Several local people came to ask Argys and the girls what I was doing there. I told them that I was living my life to the full and loving Indonesia and its peoples.

In the morning I downloaded all my photos onto my outside hard drive (no tiny memory sticks then) and promptly left it in the hotel computer. It was only at the airport that I remembered. I was devastated – my life was on that piece of equipment. True to form, Argys said he would go back for it and send it to Arianne’s. I was overcome with his selflessness.

I arrived back in Jakarta mid-morning and Arianne, knowing I would need it, after my exertions at the waterfall with the young people on Sumatra, had thoughtfully arranged a day of luxury and beauty. I could not have afforded that if I had been staying in paid accommodation. I languished with a scrub, massage and green tea soak, feeling thoroughly refreshed and pampered.

Arianne had arranged for a guide in Bali, and I was shepherded by Dewa. I explained my interest was not the beaches, but the culture and he obliged.

I was entranced with the story telling by dance and puppetry. I have used puppets so often in my teaching especially with young, shy children and children learning a new language. They might not want to respond to me, but they will willingly interact with the puppets. In that way, I gleaned many insights into feelings and thinking. I was determined to buy a Wayang Golek rod puppet. They were so beautifully made with spectacular clothing. At that time I had not known the story behind these puppets. They are always sold in pairs. I fell in love with a pair but felt I couldn’t afford two. The vendor did not want to sell one.

Dewar interpreted for me.

“They belong together. They cannot be parted.”

 But I stupidly insisted and eventually I bought a female one. A strange thing happened when I was at the airport. I accidently left the puppet and a painting on the seat as I rushed to catch the plane. Sitting on the plane I felt sad and knew that the puppet had not wanted to leave her partner and I had not listened to local lore and story telling. I hope she found him again and I hope that I will listen to those that know the ancient stories of their culture, more closely in future.           

My encounter with Barong and The Kris Dance was enthralling. The dancers in vibrant costumes seemed in a trance as the story unfolded and the dance became more hypnotic. I was drawn in as the Kris, a formidable sword was wielded. Precision and drama could not have been more pronounced.

Dewar couldn’t resist taking me to view some paintings and batik. I fell in love with a batik featuring fish swimming. It was extraordinarily intricate.

After a long day and feeling completely saturated with culture Dewar asked if I would like to meet his family the next day. I told him it would be my privilege and his face burst into a big grin.

His mother and three of his brother’s wives met me. How privileged I felt. They had been at their sewing machines making traditional ceremonial garments, an industry that his mother had started in 1976. There were four houses round a central place for worship and a small temple. Dewar’s parents lived with him and his wife as he is the eldest. There were 20 people living in this family complex. That family is so important was so evident here.

         

Having flown back to Jakarta Arianne arranged for me to stay with a writer friend of hers who also lives in a traditional home. Tita, like Arianne was a very busy lady. At forty two, she had written four books and ran an advertising agency and had a one year old daughter. The surroundings were tranquil, only the faint sound of insects floating on a zephyr breeze.

That afternoon I went out on my own to explore. The bus stops are lovely – there are at least two people manning each one to help with selling tickets and advice. On the bus the conductor helps passengers off at the correct stop ticking them off his list as they alight!

 Just wandering down the streets was special. I got to eat street food – Nasi Goreng which was quite delicious – rice, meat, and curry flavours. A group of young students asked if they could interview me, and I obliged. Tita knew of my interest in puppets and arranged for me to buy a pair of the Wayang Golek. This time I knew I had to buy the pair and very beautiful they were. They didn’t fit in my backpack, so I carried them under my arm all the way on the plane back to Suzhou.

Finally, back with Arianne and getting ready to leave she said she had arranged for me to wait in the Emerald Sky Lounge at the airport. I felt very self-conscious sitting on luxury chairs and able to select from a variety of delicious food and drink all for free.

My solo journey turned out to be a travel experience of trust and delight in Indonesia. I felt blessed to have encountered many Indonesian people and places at a local level. Most importantly I had been able to support ground level community in my travel experiences instead of relying on tourist companies.

Travel is not about the sights you see but the people you meet.

.

Sybil Pretious writes mainly memoir pieces reflecting her varied life in many countries. Lessons in life are woven into her writing encouraging risk-taking and an appreciation of different cultures.

.

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Categories
Index

Borderless, June 2021

Editorial

Restless Stirrings… Click here to read.

Interviews

In conversation with Fakrul Alam, an eminent translator, critic and academic from Bangladesh who has lived through the inception of Bangladesh from East Bengal, translated not just the three greats of Bengal (Tagore, Nazrul, Jibanananda) but also multiple political leaders. Click here to read.

In conversation with Arindam Roy, the Founder and Editor-in-cheif of Different Truths, an online portal for social journalism with forty years of experience in media and major Indian newspapers. Click here to read

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Jared Carter, Geetha Ravichandran, Heena Chauhan, Michael R. Burch, Ruchi Acharya, Jim Bellamy, Bibek Adhikari, Rhys Hughes, Ihlwha Choi, Sutputra Radheye, Jay Nicholls, Geethu V Nandakumar, John Grey, Ana Marija Meshkova

Limericks by Michael R. Burch

Nature’s Musings

Changing Seasons, a photo-poem by Penny Wilkes.

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In Never Knowingly Understood : The Sublime Daftness of Ivor Cutler, Rhys Hughes takes us to the world of a poet who wrote much about our times with a sense of humour. Click here to read.

Translations

Akbar Barakzai’s poem, The Law of Nature, translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Kazi Nazrul Islam’s poem, Shammobadi (The Equaliser) translated by Shahriyer Hossain Shetu. Click here to read.

Tagore’s Amar Shonar Horin Chai (I want the Golden Deer) translated by Mitali Chakravarty, edited and interpreted in pastel by Sohana Manzoor. Click here to read.

To mark the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray, Ratnottama Sengupta translates from Nabendu Ghosh’s autobiography experience of Pather Panchali ( Song of the Road) — between covers and on screen. Click here to read.

Musings

An Immigrant’s Story

Candice Louisa Daquin tells us what it means to be an American immigrant in today’s world. Click here to read.

Navigating Borders

Wendy Jones Nakanishi, an academic who started her life in a small town called Rolling Prairie in midwestern US, talks of her journey as a globe trotter — through Europe and Asia — and her response to Covid while living in UK. Click here to read.

I am a Jalebi

Arjan Batth tells us why he identifies with an Indian sweetmeat. Click here to read why.

The Significance of the Roll Number

Shahriyer Hossain Shetu writes of ironing out identity at the altar of modern mass education. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Creative on Campus, Devraj Singh Kalsi with a soupcon of humour, explores young romances and their impact. Click here to read.

Adventures of a Backpacking Granny

Sybil Pretious visits volcanoes and lakes in Frenetic Philippines. Click here to read.

Essays

Here, There, Nowhere, Everywhere

‘Did life change or did I change from the events of the last year,’ ponders New Zealander Keith Lyons who was in the southern state of Kerala when the first cases of Covid-19 were detected in India last January. Click here to read.

The Story of a Bald Eagle & a Turkey

A photo essay by Penny and Michael B Wilkes on the American bald eagle to commemorate their Independence Day. Click here to read.

The Day Michael Jackson Died

A tribute  by Julian Matthews to the great talented star who died amidst ignominy and controversy. Click here to read.

Remembering Shiv Kumar Batalvi

Amrita Sharma has written a memorablia on the Punjabi poet, Shiv Kumar Batalvi, who wrote in the 1960s. Click here to read.

Tagore and Guru Nanak’s Vision

Parneet Jaggi talks of the influence Guru Nanak on Tagore, his ideology and poetry. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

In Amrita Sher-Gil: An Avant-Garde Blender of the East & West, Bhaskar Parichha shows how Amrita Sher-Gil’s art absorbed the best of the East and the West. Click here to read.

Stories

Flash Fiction: Peregrine

Brindley Hallam Dennis tells us the story of a cat and a human. Click here to read.

The Crystal Ball

Saeed Ibrahim gives us a lighthearted story of a young man in quest of a good future. Click here to read

The Arangetram or The Debut

Sheefa V. Mathews weaves lockdown and parenting into a story of a debuting dancer. Click here to read.

Ghumi Stories: The Other Side of the Curtain

Nabanita Sengupta explores childhood and its experiences. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

Sunil Sharma explores facets of terrorism and its deadly impact on mankind in Truth Cannot Die. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Neelima Dalmia Adhar’s The Secret Diary Of Kasturba reviewed by Meenakshi Malhotra. Click here to read.

Shrilal Shukla’s Fragments of Happiness translated by Niyati Bafna and reviewed by Rakhi Dalal. Click here to read

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Transformational Leadership in Banking edited by Anil K. Khandelwal. Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

An excerpt from Enter Stage Right by Feisal Alkazi with a visual of young Alkazi dancing in one of the earliest discos of New Delhi. Click here to read.

Categories
Editorial

Restless Stirrings

As we stand on the threshold of a new normal that will eternally rewrite the history of social interactions, of movements across the globe, of new world orders that will have to be more inclusive and more transparent to world view, we will, perhaps, feel the need to redefine business laws so that even countries with lesser wealth are able to access vaccinations and peace. We are now looking  up to leaderships which seem to be in crises themselves. Sitting securely on a tiny island that is well governed, an island where affluence and well-being set it adrift from the turmoils of countries around it, I wonder thirty years from now, what will mankind be like…  Will we be forever marred by the current events of the world? Globalisation has ensured that none of us can be secure on any secret island. There can be no land of lotus eaters hidden from the rest of mankind and accessed by only a few anymore. Even if one region is affected by the virus in any corner of the world, can the rest of the world be pandemic free? Perhaps, a question that those who peddle in vaccines and human well-being can address.

These issues have not only been highlighted by the news media but have also found echoes in some of our content this time. Keith Lyons’s essay talks of his last stay in India, when a tourist carried the  the pandemic  unwittingly into Kerala in February 2020 and subsequent repercussions. More stories and poems that dwell on the spread of the virus this year cry out for compassion. One hopes young poet Ruchi Acharya’s verses are born true.

One day the roses of hope will grow
Meeting the horizon,
Roses that, even plucked, will not die
But will bloom and bloom
Every single day that passes by.

We have young writers on the virulence of the virus and mature pens like that of globe-trotting academic Wendy Jones Nakanishi, who maps the pandemic from UK. Perhaps, we will find a new direction eventually.

There have been calls for uniting above divides as a single unit called mankind earlier too, from greats like Tagore and Nazrul. This time we carry translations of both — Nazrul’s translated poem calls for uniting against artificial divides drawn by man-made constructs and Tagore’s translation talks of redefining through self-reflection. An essay on Tagore by academic Parineet Jaggi talks of the impact of the teachings of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, on Tagore.

We have essays on writers and icons from around the globe. A photo-essay on the bald eagle, heralding the American Independence Day on the 4th of July, gives a humorous anecdote on how the eagle was chosen above the turkey. We have more variety by Candice Louisa Daquin, an immigrant in US, who shows how important human movement across man-made borders is to the development of a country. Michael Burch has given us beautiful poetry reflecting the history of America and American dreams, one of them with the voice of the legendary Mohammed Ali. These verses add substance to the concerns raised by Daquin. Jared Carter brings to us the colours of life with his poetry.

We have humour in verses from Rhys Hughes and even from a young poet, Sutputra Radheye. Limericks from Michael Burch and Penny Wilkes photo-poetry on ‘Changing Seasons’ puts us in a more cheerful mood.  More poetry from multiple writers across the world, including Nepal, Macedonia and Korea, have found their way into our journal.

Hughes has also given us a comprehensive and interesting essay on a twentieth century poet called Ivor Cutler, who said much as he sang his poetry and was encouraged by Paul McCartney of the Beatles. The brilliant poetry of Akbar Barakzai continues translated on our pages by Fazal Baloch and one must give many thanks to the translator for his indefatigable energy and for bringing us wonderful fare from Balochistan. An excerpt translated by eminent journalist Ratnottama Sengupta from Nabendu Ghosh’s autobiography ends with Satyajit Ray’s starting his famed career with Apu’s triology (based on Pather Panchali, a novel by Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay). These three films have become iconic in cinema history.

We were fortunate to have Professor Fakrul Alam agree to an interview. An eminent translator, critic and academic who has lived through the inception of Bangladesh from East Bengal, Alam has translated not just the three greats of Bengal (Tagore, Nazrul, Jibanananda) but also multiple political leaders like Mujibur Rahman. In this exclusive, he has taken us through the annals of history, reflecting on less-known perspectives of the Partition. Also, in conversation with Borderless, is Arindam Roy, a journalist with forty years’ experience and the founder of Different Truths who started his writing career, much in the tradition of Cyrano de Bergerac on a humorous note.

This time our backpacking granny, Sybil Pretious, gives us a glimpse of her wisdom, wit and compassion while visiting Philippines and talks of an ancient death ritual, volcanoes and strange mud baths. Devraj Singh Kalsi explores young romance in his tongue-in-cheek fashion. We also have more semi-humorous musings from young writers across borders. While Sunil Sharma has explored facets of the impact of terrorism, the other stories are told in a lighter vein.

Our book excerpt from Feisal Alkazi’s Enter Stage Right has a picture of the young artiste in a discotheque dancing in abandon — check it out. It made me smile. Rakhi Dalal has reviewed Jnanpith Award winner Shrilal Shukla’s Fragments of Happiness translated by Niyati Bafna. The book review by Meenakshi Malhotra of Neelima Dalmia Adhar’s The Secret Diary of Kasturba brings out an interesting facet on Gandhi and women in the Independence movement. It makes one notice the contrasts in the perspectives of Gandhi and Tagore, who created women like he saw around him in fiction. Kasturba’s life also contrasts with the independence found in the life of the avant-garde artist, Amrita Sher-Gil, who lived around the same time. In an essay, Bhaskar Parichha has shown how Sher-Gil lived out her dreams, blending the best of the East and West, while Malhotra writes, that though “Gandhi called women to join the national movement … he was not seeking to emancipate, but more to call forth their capacity for self-abnegation and self-sacrifice.”

Parichha has also introduced us to the need for changes in the banking sector in India while reviewing Transformational Leadership in Banking edited by Anil K. Khandelwal. Perhaps these will be part of the changes that will ultimately lead to a revision of old systems and the start of new ones. Changes, though not always welcomed or convenient, hopefully will lead to progress that can mould our future into a happier one. Restless stirrings transformed mankind from cave dwellers to an intelligent race that can assimilate nature and technology to survive and dream of a future, living among stars.

As Borderless reaches out to unite mankind transcending artificial constructs, its attempts can bear fruit only with support from each and every one of you. I would like to thank all our editorial team for their wonderful support, contributors for being the backbone of our content, and all our readers for continuing to patronise us.

Do take a look at our current issue for the writers who remain unmentioned here but create phenomenal bridges towards a borderless world.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty

Categories
Adventures of a Backpacking Granny

Frenetic Philippines

Narrative & Photographs by Sybil Pretious

“The beauty of the world is the diversity of its peoples.”

During the Chinese New Year holiday in 2010 (I turned 68 that year), I resolved to visit the Philippines. It was a last-minute thought, so preparations were minimal. Barry, in Australia, like me, made an instant decision and would land in Manila the day after I did, both of us just toting our backpacks as luggage.

The Philippines is made up of 7,640 islands and is situated in South-East Asia. The local language is Tagalog. Its position in the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ makes it susceptible to earthquakes and typhoons and volcanic activity. I was interested in visiting the Taal Volcano which erupted in January 2020 and had had some of the country’s deadliest eruptions. Mount Pinatubo which last erupted in 1991 (the biggest eruption of the century).  The islands are known for their stunning beaches and azure waters, but I was focused on the mountains.

Nine days was hardly time to take in this astounding country, so we limited our wanderings to Luzon. Even that was ridiculous, and it was one of the lessons I learnt on that trip – less travel and more getting to know local people should be my mantra.

There was another fascinating fact – the presence of the fire mummies,  2000-year-old bodies preserved in pinewood coffins, in the Kabayan area. This proved to be an inward as well as an outward journey of significance in my life.

Travelling in the Philippines offers a colourful variety of vehicles and we had great fun contorting ourselves into side cars, covered motorcycles, three wheeled vehicles, buses and the very distinctive Jeepney.

I arrived the day before Barry, so I travelled into Manila to see the old Spanish walled city — The Intramuros. I caught a ‘tricycle’ which is a motorbike with covered sidecar. It was rather hair-raising, squealing round corners and going over bumps. Chatting to the driver when we stopped, I discovered that he had had to work for many years to obtain enough money for a license, but he was very proud of his vehicle. Subsequently friends of mine had sponsored one of these drivers which I thought was a wonderful thing to do. I then caught a vehicle that I have never seen in any other country – a colourful jeepney. A big jeep-like engine in front and then the covered back has seats on either side and held about 20 people. This is the main form of transport and there are regular ‘jeepney jams’.

 We took normal buses to get to Capas and Pinatubo Spa Town and up to the Volcano next day. At the Spa town I couldn’t resist a volcanic mud bath hoping that it might help my awful itchy skin. It wasn’t quite what I expected – I had to change into baggy shorts and top provided and then two young girls slimed the mud over me till I looked like someone from the coon carnival. I then sat around uncomfortably, in full view of everyone, till it dried and then showered it off. My skin was still awful but luckily my face was a whole lot better. Maybe I needed a few more treatments.

 A rather an extreme way to treat itchy skin

The trip in a jeep through rivers, volcanic ash, sand, mud took us to the Pinatabo volcano.  The eerie, moonlike mud scenery showed devastated river courses and vegetation. A ferried boat trip across the turquoise blue lake to the volcanic island with some small ‘craters’ still bubbling beside the lake. It felt unreal, not of this world.

Our guest house was a double story wooden structure that felt unstable, but the people were charming. Off again in the morning on a bus driven by a manic driver through a very scary mountain ‘highway’ veering dangerously close to the crumbling edges on a single lane with very sparse passing places where we had to back up for other vehicles.

                   

We stopped for food and a toilet break. I approached the toilet building and looked inside. It was enough to make me gag. There was a long ditch down the middle of the room. Somehow you got your feet on either side and did what you had to do. Not only that but it was used by men and women at the same time! No time for niceties on this journey.

Always along the way were smiling children happy in their circumstances. I was thinking the many privileged children I had taught, who hardly ever seemed happy with what they had. They would benefit from living in areas like these just for a few months.

Kabayan was the one place I really wanted to be during this adventure. The Timbac caves hold the ‘fire mummies’. We set out with three French people, to climb up to the caves, a climb we were told would take four hours. It took me six hours. At the start Barry and I did not have much water and asked the guide if we could get some. He indicated a village on the way, but there was no bottled water, only cold drinks, which we discovered were not hydrating.

I climbed wearily up grassy hills, pulling on my trusty stick, feeling that this was the last thing I wanted to do. I just unable summon any energy. We arrived at a ‘farmhouse’ where there was an open tank and running water from a spring and also a pile of carrots.

I tipped my head back and drank and drank, then filled my bottles and ate a couple of carrots. I can’t describe what that water did but it was as though every cell in my body had woken up after a long painful sleep. I was anew woman and resumed the walk. Barry said he would see us on the way down — I thought he was joking.

I set off, energy high and kept a steady pace enjoying the scenery as I got higher. I was walking on my own because the French couple had gone on ahead and the other one had cramp and was trailing behind. Eventually the guide caught up to me and said that he had been all the way back for Barry, who said again that he was not coming and then the guide went on ahead to check the French couple were on the right track before returning to me. He had done a lot of extra mileage for his clients. Another lesson in service from these lovely people.

I caught up with the others before making the final steep climb to the caves. I was so glad that I had made it.

The guide took me on my own to the caves.

There, in small rocky caves, scattered around, some agape, some closed were the tiniest coffins. Surely these were for children? But no they were adults who had been placed in that sitting position. I had read about this mummification process which is no longer used in the Philippines.

Wikipedia has it that the unique mummification process was said to actually begin before death, with an individual participating in the initial steps. As death approached, the individual would drink a beverage with a very high concentration of salt. Drinking saltwater is known to dehydrate the body, so this initial step was used to start the drying process prior to death. After the individual passed away, the rest of the mummification process would take place. It is estimated that this process took anywhere from several weeks, to several months to complete.

The body was thoroughly washed, and then placed above a heat source in a seated position.  The body was not exposed to actual fire or flames but remained suspended above the smouldering kindling. Rather than burning the body, the heat and smoke would slowly and completely dehydrate the entire body. The internal drying process was ritually furthered along by blowing tobacco smoke into the deceased’s mouth. This was thought to help remove the fluids from internal organs.

Many of the caves had been looted but the one I visited had a rusty iron grid in front of the opening with an ancient padlock attached. The guide produced a key and opened the gate for me.

I sat down to look inside.  A feeling of sadness pervaded my senses. I went in to take a closer look and to say a prayer of thanksgiving for allowing me this privilege.  When I came out, I turned and kneeling with hands together I said, “I’m so sorry. Forgive me.”

The guide simply said, “Thank you. You understand. Not many people do.”

 The Visitors’ Book

We made our way back to the Guide’s Hut to wait for the Jeepney that was to collect us. I wrote in the visitors’ book while I waited:

“A wonderful, tiring walk with amazing scenery, friendly people and a very energetic, caring guide. Maybe tell the climbers to take more water. AND THEN The Mummies – what a privilege to see them. Please guard them with more security.”

The jeepney never came and as the light was fading my guide said we should make our way down. He knew a shorter way.

The road and path were not easy because of loose stones and I fell twice slightly pulling a muscle on my left side and knocking my head and bum. Good thing both are soft. We took three hours going down and the last hour was particularly difficult because it was dark and we had to use a torch. I stumbled several times wanting to give up and just sit on the road till morning. My guide steadied me and encouraged me.

Finally, back at the lodgings, I stumbled in ready to collapse onto my top bunk. Barry, looking fresh as a daisy made some stupid remark about my appearance that had the others laughing at me. I said nothing and went to our room but wondered why I had this effect on men when I had achieved something that they hadn’t.

The following day we left on another tortuous mountain road journey to Abangeg to climb Mt Pulag. We met up with six young Belgian doctors who were doing their internship in a hospital in Banguio. They walked right from the base of the mountain whereas us oldies took a jeepney to the Rangers Station and stayed the night there before attempting the summit climb of three hours. I did not find it easy — too much climbing in too short a time. We had to leave our guide half-way because she had tummy trouble. Barry seemed confident that he knew the way. The top of the mountain is not marked but we presumed we had made it as there were no higher peaks around. It was just covered in plain old grass!

We were lucky to get a lift back with the doctors in a 4×4 driven by Father Eugene who had been in the Philippines for 42 yrs. Lucky did I say? He drove like a Formula 1 driver over precarious mountain roads and sometimes I just closed my eyes and prayed — seemed appropriate seeing he was a priest!

 After a very long day traveling in many vehicles, we got back to our hostel, The Green Mango Inn, and on the following day took a trip to Taal Volcanic Lake and the smallest active volcano in the world. Yes, no rest days in between! We travelled from the town by tricycle. A boat that looked like a gondola with bamboo stays on either side took us across the water to travel to the Taal Volcanic Lake.

We were to ride on mules for the final part of the journey. I am not a rider having come off rather badly a couple of times but their minder assured us they were docile. Looking like bandits we had to wear masks because the fine black volcanic dust was not good to breathe in.

To my shame I never thought about the mules right then. They did not have masks on and would have been breathing in that fine dust every time they valiantly took tourists to see the lake.  Another lesson in being less self-centered.

The lake was calm, but I was not calm.  There seemed to be a ‘presence’ and I was not comfortable especially as there was still the ride back on the poor mules. Maybe I was just over-tired. I slept fitfully that night and went over all that I had experienced while in the Philippines. It was a jumble of thoughts and I realized for the first time during my backpacking adventures, I had done too much sightseeing and found out too little about the important parts of travel — the people and their lives.

I arrived back in Suzhou feeling very tired and older than my years but perhaps a little wiser about what travel should really be about.

“More is less.”

.

Sybil Pretious writes mainly memoir pieces reflecting her varied life in many countries. Lessons in life are woven into her writing encouraging risk-taking and an appreciation of different cultures.

.

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Categories
Index

Borderless, May 2021

Editorial

And this too shall pass… Click here to read

Translations

Songs of Seasons: Translated by Fakrul Alam

Bangla Academy literary award winning translator, Dr Fakrul Alam, translates six seasonal songs of Tagore. Click here to read.

Temples and Mosques

Kazi Nazrul Islam’s fiery essay translated by Sohana Manzoor. Click here to read.

Purify My Life

Kazi Nazrul Islam’s poem, Purify my Life, translated by Shahriyer Hossain Shetu. Click here to read.

Waiting for Godot by Akbar Barakzai

Akbar Barakzai’s poem translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Solus

Aditya Shankar translates a poem by Sujith Kumar. Click here to read.

The Last Boat

Tagore’s Diner Sheshe Ghoomer Deshe translated by Mitali Chakravarty with an interpretation in pastels by Sohana Manzoor. Click here to read.

Poetry

Anasuya Bhar, Scott Thomas Outlar, Saranyan BV, Matthew James Friday, Nitya Mariam John, RJ Kaimal, Jay Nicholls, Tasneem Hossain, Rhys Hughes, Vatsala Radhakeesoon, Ihlwha Choi, Himadri Lahiri, Sunil Sharma, Mike Smith, Jared Carter

Nature’s Musings

Photo-Poetry by Penny & Michael Wilkes. Click here to read.

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

Lear and Far

As a tribute to the 209th anniversary of Edward Lear, Rhys Hughes writes of his famous poem, ‘Owl and the Pussycat’, and writes a funny ending for it rooted in the modern day. Click here to read.

Stories

If at all

Shobha Nandavar, a physician in Bangalore, depicts the trauma of Covid 19 in India with compassion. Click here to read.

First Lady

Rituparna Khan gives us a brief vignette from the life of one of the first women doctors in India, Dr Kadambari Ganguly. Click here to read.

Mr Dutta’s Dream

Atreyo Chowdhury takes us into the world of unquenchable wanderlust. Click here to read.

Neemboo Ka Achaar or Maa’s Lemon Pickle

A compelling flash fiction by Suyasha Singh hovering around food and a mother’s love. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

In A Lunch Hour Crisis, Sunil Sharma raises humanitarian concerns that though raised in a pandemic-free world, have become more relevant and concerning given our current predicament. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

Serve the People

Danielle Legault Kurihara, a Quebecker in Japan, writes of differences in rituals. Click here to read.

Why I write?
Basudhara Roy tells us how writing lingers longer than oral communications. Click here to read more.

The Quiet Governance of Instinct

Candice Louisa Daquin, a psychotherapist, talks of the importance of trusting our instincts. Click here to read more.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Nations without NobelDevraj Singh Kalsi takes a fresh look at national pride with a soupçon of sarcasm and humour. Click here to read.

Adventures of the Backpacking Granny

In Visit to Rural BaoyingSybil Pretious travels to spend a night with a local family in rural China in a ‘hundred-year-old home’.Click here to read.

Essays

Four Seasons and an Indian Summer

Keith Lyons talks of his experiences of seasons in different places, including Antarctica. Click here to read.

Rabindranath and the Etchings of His Mind

Anasuya Bhar explores the various lives given to a publication through the different edited versions, translations and films, using Tagore as a case study and the work done to provide these online. Click here to read.

My Experiments with Identity

Tejas Yadav explores identity from the context Heraclitus, Rumi down to his own. Click here to read.

Can Songs be the Musical Conscience of a Film?

Prithvijeet Sinha uses Gaman (Departure), a Hindi movie around the pain of migrant workers, as a case study to highlight his contention that lyrics and songs convey much in Indian films. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

In Manoj Das – The Master Storyteller, Bhaskar Parichha pays a tribute to one of the greatest storytellers from the state of Odisha, India, Manoj Das( 1934-2021). Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

Excerpted from A Bengali Lady in England (1885): Annotated Translation with Critical Introduction to Krishnabhabini Das’ Englandey Bangamahila by Nabanita Sengupta. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

A review of Feisal Alkazi‘s memoir, Enter Stage Right: The Alkazi Padamsee Family Memoir by Rakhi Dalal. Click here to read.

A review of Shakti Ghosal‘s The Chronicler of the Hooghly and Other Stories by Gracy Samjetsabam. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Raising a Humanist by Manisha Pathak-Shelat‘s and Kiran Vinod Bhatia. Click here to read.

Interviews

Communication scholars and authors, Manisha Pathak-Shelat and Kiran Vinod Bhatia, discuss how to bring up children in these troubled times, based on their book, Raising a Humanist, which has just been released. Click here to read.

Sonya J Nair of Samyukta Poetry talks about the Samyukta Research Foundation and its affiliates and its festival, Anantha. Click here to read.

Sara’s Selections, May 2021

A selection of young person’s writings from Bookosmia. Click here to read.

Categories
Adventures of a Backpacking Granny

Visit to Rural Baoying

In 2007, Sybil Pretious travelled to spend a night with a local family in rural China and lived in a ‘hundred-year-old home’. She writes of her experiences with photographs and aplomb.

Grand Canal, China. Courtesy: Creative Commons

“Respect is a two-way street. If you want to get it, you have to give it.”

R G Risch

Sometimes I wonder why people travel. I especially wonder when someone travelling in a foreign land asks me the way to the nearest MacDonalds. Of course, that can be seen as being judgemental, but I don’t think of myself as over critical, because I travel to experience different cultures as they are and not as I am. When anyone asks me, which is the best country in the world my reply is simple,

The best country in the world is wherever I am.”

Travelling alone means that I have to communicate with people. And in general, responses are kind, positive and helpful. This is just one experience I have had while living six years in China but there are many more and equally as interesting.

As I travelled home to Suzhou from Shanghai on the train, a young Chinese lady sitting next to me was laden with packages. I smiled and asked her what she had bought. She smiled and proceeded to hold up many items for my inspection telling me the miniscule prices she had paid for them and where she had bought them and then offering to take me there. The two-hour train trip passed very pleasantly.

Back in my apartment I had a phone call from Jessica, my friend from the train asking if there was anything she could do for me. As I had been unable to get plain yoghurt, I asked her if she knew where I could get some. Next morning, on my doorstep were six small yoghurts.

I found throughout my six years in China that I had nothing but kindness and people going out of their way to help, either with an explanation or an address written in Chinese to show to the taxi driver or an offer to accompany me and be my interpreter.

The friendship with Jessica progressed. She introduced me to her fiancé, Jack. Their families were good friends and the marriage seemed almost expected. Jessica was not keen but was fulfilling her family’s wishes.

After many outings with the two of them, Jessica asked me if I would like to accompany her and Jack on a weekend trip to visit her parents and grandfather in Baoying.

Before giving my answer, I enquired of the Chinese teachers at school where Baoying was and what I should expect. Baoying is a county under the administration of Yangzhou, within Jiangsu Province about 170 miles north of Suzhou where I lived. They painted a very rural picture, and I was intrigued. When would a foreigner like me ever get this chance to experience China with a family in their rural home setting? I accepted.

We travelled on a very overcrowded bus from Suzhou, me squashed in and clutching the presents I had bought for the family, mainly luxury food and special tea, on my lap, together with my backpack. It was not a comfortable position for a four-hour journey.

The bus stopped twice for toilet breaks. The toilets were the usual Asian ones, where my poor knees suffered as I bent them delicately while desperately looking round for something to hold onto so that I didn’t collapse into the deposits beneath. This is when I wish I was a man. Jessica stood guard outside to make sure I came out unharmed.

The roads, all beautifully tarred and lined with lovely trees were not what I had expected out in the country. When we finally arrived at the bus station in Yangzhou, we were met by Jessica’s father who had borrowed the second uncle’s car. Her second uncle owned a construction firm and he appeared to have Government contracts for the construction of offices — hence the smart car. Jessica’s father was slim, with startlingly fine features and a ‘naughty boy’ look about him. Her mother was more solidly built with a kindly, patient demeanour and slightly protruding front teeth.

I was thoroughly welcomed by the two of them with the double hand clasp. We proceeded to an unpretentious restaurant, up the stairs and into a room where a round table with the usual round swivel in the centre, was set. I was welcomed into the seat of honour. That means you get to sit in the chair that directly faces the door – possibly to detect if unwanted guests might enter.  And of course, I was introduced to the one rule of dining that embarrassed me – I, as the honoured guest, had to take the first taste of special dishes before anyone else.

As is usual with Chinese meals, dishes were brought out in endless succession – vegetables, salads and meat. Chicken soup in an enormous pot had every part of the chicken in it, including heads and feet. I tasted everything and really enjoyed it all, especially some of the fish dishes. I was complimented on my adeptness with chopsticks and was happy to use my fingers as well. Lots of lovely slurping sounds signalled appreciation of the meal. Bones, skins and other inedible bits were just put in a pile on the table next to you, to be cleared away later.

There was one whole fish, and I was told the eyes were the best part and naturally as the honoured guest I got to eat them. I tried to look delighted. I ate them when they were offered – well I think I swallowed them whole and tried not to think of what I was consuming! I said they were very tasty, and they might well have been.

Second and third uncles and aunts were there to greet me. Grandfather was there as well. He was a very distinguished looking old man who reminded me of Paul Newman, one of my favourite actors, though I never thought that Paul looked Asian.

Throughout the meal everyone toasted everyone else with much back slapping and laughter, shouting, “Ganbei”, especially every time grandfather drank or smoked.

As a mark of respect, you had to imitate what grandfather did. The men drank wine and beer while the women only drank orange squash. I got to drink a small glass of beer. It pays to be the honoured guest.

Jessica was really mad with Jack who seemed to be involved in more toasts than anyone else. She said he was saying all the wrong things.

 Everyone smoked endlessly but I tried not to cover my face. Smoking in China was very popular at that time and was only banned in stages. In 2009, it was announced that there would be no smoking in all health care facilities by 2011. At that time, there were 350 million smokers in China.

Throughout the time since we had left Suzhou, I had not seen another European, nor had I heard any English apart from what was spoken to me by Jessica and Jack. Many people stared and of course the kids were really curious about me, hiding behind their mothers and peeping out. I just made funny faces and hid my face behind my hand which made them laugh. My Chinese friends could not understand how I got around China without speaking Mandarin! My communication, however, is not always with words. The body and especially the hands perform wonders of enlightenment in many different languages.

Time to get into the car again — four of us squashed in the back to go to view the new Government buildings built by uncle’s construction firm — very big, modern and impressive they were too.

I noticed that the family had been chatting and gesturing animatedly amongst themselves and looking at me whilst doing so. Eventually, Jessica asked me if I would like to stay in a hotel or stay in their home. No contest. I asked to stay with them. I was here for new experiences.

At last, we were on the road where the countryside borders on the Grand Canal.

The Grand Canal from the road

 This canal runs from Beijing to Hangzhou, a distance of 1776km and the oldest part of it was started in fifth century BC. It has twenty-four locks and sixty bridges.

“Don’t these people build anything small?” I wondered to myself.

On the canal, great barges plied back and forth carrying sand, pebbles and rocks used in construction. Beside the canal were great heaps of rock and stone.

Then came the best part of the adventure, the China that my family had thought I had come to. We turned onto a narrow concrete road (one car width and not another car in sight) with narrow water filled furrows alongside and fields of ripened wheat yellow waving beyond them.

This was the season of wheat. After it is harvested, they would plant rice which would be reaped in October — fertile land indeed. Jack informed me that the Government instructed the farmers what they should plant each season.

We turned down an even narrower road made of red bricks and later just sand. Melons growing in greenhouses covered in plastic on one side and further along the road a put-putting pump engine, which was moving water from one canal to another, blocked our way. Jessica’s father eventually called the owner and together they moved it and we squeezed past, a hair’s breadth from falling into the furrow below.

Finally, we arrived at Jessica’s parent’s house in the country.

I was told it was over 100 years old. It was quite basic, with rough pealing, painted walls and an entrance arch with old roses on either side. This led into an open courtyard with a clean concrete floor. Up some steps and inside were three identical rooms connected by a passageway in the front. Plain concrete floors and odd furniture as well as suitcases and cases of drinks and duvets all piled on the sides against the walls. Jessica said that her parents did not often use the house. They usually stayed with grandfather and his new wife just down the road.

I really needed to stretch my legs while Jack and Jessica had a sleep. They were both very tired as they worked long hours. I was happy to go alone and set forth with a fresh breeze brushing my cheeks and unpolluted air drawn into my lungs. The narrow walkways, with ducks and geese paddling furiously in shallow furrows were a lovely respite from the tarred roads and manicured gardens of Suzhou. This all took me way back to early childhood memories of farms in Rhodesia.

 I soon had that feeling of being followed, and realised Jack was wearily walking some way behind me. I felt guilty, having deprived him of his sleep but I appreciated his caring. So often I had occasion to feel this towards my Chinese friends. I apologized and walked back with him.

There was no bathroom in the house and in the evening, I was taken next door to another aunt whose home had a shower.

Hmmmm, yes, a shower? It was like an attic room on the ground floor with a really low ceiling and a bath/shower that I couldn’t possibly get into without bumping my head! So I just used the loose shower head to vaguely water myself, bending double to soap and wash the nether parts. I then dried with a tiny towel I had remembered to bring with me. Finally I tried getting into my pyjamas which was even worse as I couldn’t stand up. In the middle of it all, with the bottom half of my pyjamas round my ankles, Jessica popped her head in to see how was doing – me in the dripping half nude and trying to point my foot in the right direction to get it into the leg part.

 “Um, okay,” I mumbled, trying to place the small towel strategically over the parts that hadn’t got into the pyjamas yet.

Finally, I stepped out and feeling somewhat strange I put a jacket over the pyjamas as I still had to walk out into the road to get back to the house! The fact that, in China, many people walk round in their pyjamas even in Shanghai streets escaped me at that moment.   One of the aunts walking with us stroked my tanned, freckled arm and asked Jessica what was wrong with my skin.

In the evening, we sat in one of the rooms which doubles as a bedroom/lounge watching TV all in Chinese and everyone chatting in Chinese. It was interesting to observe the interactions.

A light supper of rice porridge and beans was served which was very pleasant. Jessica asked me if I minded sharing a double bed with her. No problem. Before bed I had to go to the toilet. She apologized and brought out a cute china potty with a lid.  I did my bit in that and she carted it away for me – shades of my early childhood in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) again! The bed was a typical hard Chinese one with one thick quilt each. I snuggled in and I was surprised at how well I slept – not even the slightest backache.

However, before we nodded off, I became Jessica’s confidante as she told me of her love problems and asked my advice. I was mostly at a loss to advise her as I was not really well versed in Chinese customs, but she seemed happy to listen to what I had to say. Maybe my voice was consoling, and she didn’t really have anyone else to tell. I was woken at 5am, not to the song of birds or a cock’s crow but to a loud caterwauling which apparently signalled all the workers to begin their day!

Later I rose and went to wash my teeth in the kitchen sink and then off to the toilet.  Oh dear! Outside in the courtyard an opening into a room with no door and  a rectangular sloping away pit of which  the bottom slush was visible. I got in and out of there really quickly.

Breakfast was simple and included fascinating rice wrapped in cane leaves to look like an ice cream – delicious.

Lunch is always the main meal and that morning Jessica’s mother had got up at five to go to the market to purchase a duck, fresh fish, prawns and vegetables. There were strange looking creatures that looked like great big cockroaches. They were alive and kicking. The fish were swimming around in a bowl.  All the vegetables – eggplant, Chinese cabbage, other greens and beans were being meticulously prepared on the pristine concrete floor of the courtyard. Five relatives/friends had come to help. One lady was cutting off the legs of the still kicking ‘cockroaches, a goose was also being prepared – I didn’t view the slaughter or de-feathering of that. The ingredients for the meal were definitely as fresh as you could get.

During the morning I was taken to pick my own watermelons, round and green striped, but when broken open were yellow, not pink. Sweet and juicy, six of them were boxed on the spot for me to take home as a present.

During lunch time I was surrounded by ten men (Jessica’s father had invited all his work mates) and Jessica sat beside me. Her mother and the other ladies, who had toiled all morning, did not take part in eating the meal. We drank and ate and went through numerous toasts. I was allowed some rice wine, and everyone wanted to toast me with, “Ganbei” and bottoms up! It seems that I was accepted as ‘one of the boys’ for the moment.

Finally after relaxing, we were driven in yet another car belonging to Jessica’s uncle and we made our way back to catch the bus and to take the four hour return journey to Suzhou.

My chance to repay Jessica’s kindness came a couple of weeks later. I was going to be away for a weekend, and she asked me if it would be possible for a couple of her relatives to stay in my apartment for that weekend. She had many visitors arriving to plan her wedding and not enough accommodation. Of course, I was delighted to oblige. Some of my colleagues were sceptical about the idea. I ignored them.

I felt blessed to be accepted as part of the family and I knew that being on my own was a distinct advantage. If I had been on that train initially with many friends, I would not have started the conversation with Jessica or uniquely experienced rural Baoying.

.

Sybil Pretious writes mainly memoir pieces reflecting her varied life in many countries. Lessons in life are woven into her writing encouraging risk-taking and an appreciation of different cultures.

.

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Categories
Index

Borderless, April, 2021

Greetings from Borderless Journal for all Asian New Years! Click here to read our message along with the video and a translation of a Tagore song written to greet the new year, with lyrics that not only inspire but ask the fledgling to heal mankind from deadly diseases.

Editorial

New Beginnings

A walk through our content and our plans for the future. Click here to read.

Interviews

In Conversation with Arundhathi Subramaniam: An online interview with this year’s Sahitya Akademi winner, Arundhathi Subramaniam. Click here to read.

Sumana Roy & Trees: An online interview with Sumana Roy, a writer and academic. Click here to read.

Poetry

(Click on the names to read)

Arundhathi Subramaniam, Jared Carter, Matthew James Friday, Michael R Burch, Aparna Ajith, Jenny Middleton, Rhys Hughes, Jay Nicholls, Achingliu Kamei, Vatsala Radhakeesoon, Ihlwha Choi, Smitha Vishwanath, Sekhar Banerjee, Sumana Roy

Photo-poetry by Penny Wilkes

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

With an introduction to Blood and Water by Rebecca Lowe, Rhys Hughes debuts with his column on poets and poetry. Click here to read.

Translations

The Word by Akbar Barakzai

Fazal Baloch translates the eminent Balochi poet, Akbar Barakzai. Click here to read.

Malayalam poetry in Translation

Aditya Shankar translates a poem by Shylan from Malayalam to English. Click here to read.

Tagore Songs in Translation

To commemorate Tagore’s birth anniversary, we translated five of his songs from Bengali to English. Click here to read, listen and savour.

Tagore Translations: One Small Ancient Tale

Rabindranath Tagore’s Ekti Khudro Puraton Golpo (One Small Ancient Tale) from his collection Golpo Guchcho ( literally, a bunch of stories) has been translated by Nishat Atiya. Click here to read.

Musings/Slice of Life

Pohela Boisakh: A Cultural Fiesta

Sohana Manzoor shares the Bengali New Year celebrations in Bangladesh with colourful photographs and interesting history and traditions that mingle beyond the borders. Click here to read.

Gliding along the Silk Route

Ratnottama Sengupta, a well-known senior journalist and film critic lives through her past to make an interesting discovery at the end of recapping about the silk route. Click here to read and find out more.

The Source

Mike Smith drifts into nostalgia about mid-twentieth century while exploring a box of old postcards. What are the stories they tell? Click here to read.

Lost in the Forest

John Drew, a retired professor, cogitates over a tapestry of the Ras lila. Click here to read.

Tied to Technology

Naomi Nair reflects on life infiltrated by technology, by Siri and Alexa with a tinge of humour. Click here to read.

Adventures of a Backpacking Granny

In Inspiriting SiberiaSybil Pretious takes us with her to Lake Baikal and further. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Tributes & AttributesDevraj Singh Kalsi pays tribute to his late mother. Click here to read.

Essays

Reflecting the Madness and Chaos Within

Over 150 Authors and Artists from five continents have written on mental illness in an anthology called Through the Looking Glass. Candice Louisa Daquin, a psychotherapist and writer and editor, tells us why this is important for healing. Click here to read.

At Home in the World: Tagore, Gandhi and the Quest for Alternative Masculinities

Meenakshi Malhotra explores the role of masculinity in Nationalism prescribed by Tagore, his niece Sarala Debi, Gandhi and Colonials. Click here to read.

A Tale of Devotion and Sacrifice as Opposed to Jealousy and Tyranny

Sohana Manzoor explores the social relevance of a dance drama by Tagore, Natir puja. We carry this to commemorate Tagore’s birth anniversary. Click here to read

Photo Essay: In the Midst of Colours

Nishi Pulugurtha explores the campus of a famed university with her camera and words and shares with us her experiences. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

Oh, That lovely Title: Politics

A short piece by Bhaskar Parichha that makes for a witty comment on the forthcoming Indian elections. Click here to read.

Stories

Pothos

Rakhi Pande gives us a story about a woman and her inner journey embroiled in the vines of money plant. Click here to read.

Elusive

A sensitive short story by Sohana Manzoor that makes one wonder if neglect and lack of love can be termed as an abuse? Click here to read

Ghumi Stories: Grandfather & the Rickshaw

Nabanita Sengupta takes us on an adventure on the rickshaw with Raya’s grandfather. Click here to read

Flash Fiction: The Husband on the Roof

Carl Scharwath gives us a story with a strange twist. Click here to read

Flash Fiction: Flight of the Falcon

Livneet Shergill gives us a story in empathy with man and nature. Click here to read

The Literary Fictionist

A playlet by Sunil Sharma set in Badaun, The Dryad and I: A Confession and a Forecast, is a short fiction about trees and humans. Click here to read.

Book reviews

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Reconciling Differences by Rudolf C Heredia, a book that explores hate and violence. Click here to read.

Nivedita Sen reviews Nomad’s Land by Paro Anand, a fiction set among migrant children of a culture borne of displaced Rohingyas, Syrian refugees, Tibetans and more. Click here to read

Candice Louisa Daquin reviews The First Cell and the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the last by Azra Raza. Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

Excerpted from Raising a Humanist: Conscious Parenting in an Increasingly Fragmented World by Manisha Pathak-Shelat and Kiran Vinod Bhatia, the focus is on media and its impact. Click here to read.

Sara’s Selection, April 2021

A selection of young person’s writings from Bookosmia. Click here to read.

Categories
Adventures of a Backpacking Granny

Inspiriting Siberia

Sybil Pretious takes us with her to Lake Baikal in Siberia

“Aerodynamically a bee should not be able to fly but the bee does not know this and it flies.”

There are, of course, down sides to being a backpacking granny. The most important one was that I missed out on getting to know my young grandchildren. But the truth of the matter was that my girls eventually lived in three different countries far apart so the result would have been the same. Fortunately, there were old fashioned phone calls, emails and Skype so I was not totally isolated when I left for my teaching post in Suzhou, China in 2006 and I tried to include them in my trips each year. But there was too little physical contact, and nothing can replace that as we have discovered during the pandemic. I hope I have given them courage to be fearless explorers and to fly when they didn’t know that they could.

So, the second half of my Russian adventure in 2007 emerged as I left the wondrously beautiful St Petersburg, one of my favourite cities. The Heritage will always remain, for me, the most brilliant art gallery I have ever been to, both the building and the art therein.

I was to travel via Moscow to Irkutsk in Siberia.

At a small Moscow airport, I had very little time to change flights and hit the ground running from the plane. I whipped off my backpack and threw it onto the conveyer belt and stood, ready to sprint out the door to the waiting plane.

A heavy-set Russian woman stood with hands on her hips.

“You hef knife in bag!”

“No, I don’t carry knives!”

With that she proceeded to empty my carefully arranged backpack.

No knife.

I grabbed everything, stuffed it back into the bag and was about to grab it and sprint after the disappearing queue for the plane when she put a restraining hand on mine and proceeded to put the backpack through the scanner once more. Meanwhile my nails were being chewed to shreds.

The bag came through and she pounced, thrusting her hand right down the front pocket that went under the base.

Triumphantly she brandished a small metal knife, fork and spoon set that my daughter had put in the backpack without informing me when she had given it to me as a present.

It is interesting to note that the backpack had travelled out of China, where I was living at the time, into and out of Canada; into and out of the UK; into and out of Germany without anyone stopping me. I was both impressed and irritated with Russian thoroughness.

As I would be in Irkutsk for a few days before boarding the Siberian Express bound for Vladivostok, I had booked a tour of The Taisy Open-Air Museum of Architecture and Ethnology and then on to Lake Baikal before catching the train.

 The best laid plans of mice and women…

Passing through my mind at that time was the fleeting thought that it would be good to have a companion to travel with and to discuss and share experiences after the trip. It was not a serious plan though.

The tour of the museum was a wonderful introduction to life in this generally frozen land – I went in August, their summertime.

Then on to Lake Baikal. This ethereal lake is the biggest in the world, holding 22% of the world’s fresh water and more water than all the great lakes together. It is a mile deep and has 330 rivers running into it and only one exiting it, the Angarra. The nerpa is the only fresh-water seal in existence. It is the oldest, deepest and clearest lake in the world, and it held me in its thrall instantly. The water is so clear that it is easy to see down to a depth of 39m on a clear day.

Nerpas on Lake Baikal. Courtesy: Creative Commons

 All fascinating facts but actually being at the lake is an uplifting experience. I was entranced and wished I could have stayed longer.

On a high, I arrived back in Irkutsk. People in Irkutsk are keen to tell you about their links with the rebel Decembrists and the history is recorded in The Historical and Memorial Museum. It is a wonderful human story of rebellion, strength of character and endurance in an inhospitable land and climate after they were banished to Siberia.

I did some shopping for the train journey. Standing in the supermarket a woman next to me held up a soup packet and flapped her arms like a chicken pointing to the packet. I laughed and told her I spoke English. She was using similar tactics to me to understand.

The Travel Agent delivered my ticket for the Siberian Express leaving the next day. I glanced at the departure time and knew I would have plenty of time to get to the station.

I therefore arrived at the station next day and couldn’t understand why everybody just shook their heads when I showed them the ticket to get directions to the train platform. Eventually I was shown up a very steep flight of stairs and went, sweating and dragging my suitcase with me.

I was hot and tearful as I showed the clerk my ticket. She stabbed the ticket with her finger and said,

 “Moscow time!”

Oh, no! I had forgotten that in Russia local trains run on local time, but long-distance trains run on Moscow time. I had missed the train!

She said I could book another train which I did and returned to my lodgings. I showed the ticket to the receptionist and she smiled and happened to say,

“Ah, you reach Vladivostoc on 25th August. Good.”

“What? My visa would have run out by then.”

There was nothing for it but to return to the station, up those stairs and cancel the trip. This I did and received a voucher to cash downstairs.

Downstairs was just the vast waiting room, no sign of an office to cash the voucher.

Enough! I just stood in the middle of the that terminal, tears flowing down my face and shouted,

“Does anyone here speak English?”

A young lady came to my rescue and I was directed outside the building to another building to reclaim the money.

This was obviously a conspiracy by the universe to keep me where I was, and I was not amused.

I booked into a room on Lake Baikal for the next three days. I had wished to return to the lake on my first visit so here I was, though I was unappreciative of the events that had brought me here.

Enjoying the beauty and tranquillity of the Lake I regained my elated feeling as I strolled  along the banks,  dipping my toes into the pristine water. I stopped to take a photo of an outlook building on the flower- strewn shore.

                                             

A distinctly Australian voice came from behind me.

“G’day, that looks loke a great photo.”

We chatted for a minute or so and then went on our opposite ways.

I wandered to Listvankia, a charming village on the shores of the Lake. I spent a lovely two hours in shops, admiring the quaint architecture, dressing up in the national costumes and buying my lunch of freshly caught fish which I ate as I sat on the shore.

                                                        

In Russian costume

 I wandered back, feeling relaxed and finally accepting the fact that I had missed the train. At the exact same spot where I had seen him before was the Australian man, strolling down the path, returning from his walk. The synchronicity was obvious and before long we had exchanged emails and promised to keep in touch.

The day before leaving I enjoyed a boat trip on the lake. The weather was overcast and rainy, so I was unable to take the glass-bottomed boat to admire life below the water, but it was special anyway.

                                                        

On Lake Baikal

The travel agent who issued my Siberian Express train ticket took no chances and was at the airport to make sure I left.

I flew into a small airport in Beijing (we could not use the main one because the Olympic Games were in progress), late at night and was due to leave at 5am next morning. My plan was just to sleep on one of the benches in the airport. It would have only been a few hours before my plane left for Shanghai at 5 in the morning.

Airport staff, seeing me through customs asked which hotel I was booked into.

I told them my plan.

Only one hostess spoke English. “You can’t sleep here. The airport is locked for the night because of the Games. We will find you a hotel.”

“But I don’t have money for a hotel.”

On hearing that she chatted away to her colleagues animatedly for several minutes.

I waited.

They looked at me despairingly.

Finally, resigned, she said, “You can come with us to our staff hotel.”

 I thought that she should have top marks for innovation. And thanked her profusely. I was transported with them in their Airport mini-van and directed in the lobby to a leather couch. Toilets were nearby.

I settled for the night and was almost asleep when I felt a presence looming over me.

It seemed that the guard had not been informed of my stay. He chatted away in Chinese, waving his arms towards the door and getting really bothered. I looked blank and held up my hands in despair. Eventually he gave up and said the words that all Chinese people had been taught before the Beijing games, “Welcome to China.”

And I went back to sleep. I was woken at 5am to be transported with the crew back to the airport to catch my plane. What wonderful, caring service I had had from everyone.

If you are wondering what happened about the Aussie and myself, well we corresponded for about 8 months before I invited him to come to China and to accompany me on a trip to Vietnam. Having done that, I panicked. What if he smoked? I couldn’t travel with anyone who smoked.

I emailed him.

“If you smoke, then the invitation is rescinded.”

He neither smoked nor drank.

It is interesting that I had had the thought passing through my mind about a travelling companion a well as a desire to return to Lake Baikal. Both had come to pass but not in quite the way I had expected.

Now when things don’t work out as I planned, or times seem difficult, I tend to shrug and think that there are plans afoot that I am not privy to but which I will understand on hind-sight. Easier said than done, though!

.

Sybil Pretious writes mainly memoir pieces reflecting her varied life in many countries. Lessons in life are woven into her writing encouraging risk-taking and an appreciation of different cultures.

.

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL