Picture Courtesy from Pixabay

Striking through the heavenly sky, soothing moon beams
give a strange calm to my anxious heart and it’s whims
Those infinite celestial pillars of pure, silver light
add an angelic presence to the evil maleficent night

How generous indeed is the moon like a mother
giving away perpetually all it had to some other.
Being a giver in a world reeking with greed,
scattering the radiant sun’s light as it inherited.

What a fine example have you set, O benevolent moon!
Who rewards these selfless works, O distant giver of boon,
Sometimes you shine bright and sometimes you hide
Lore revered and blemished you for changing the tide,
Sometimes you’re good and at times you’re on the wrong side
Shiva dimmed your sheen to counter your false pride
Ganesha brought you to knees for your laughing dare.
Every mother tells her child about the mythical moon-hare

Romantic as it looks to the starry eyed teens
Taking with it those dreamy moonlit scenes,
the tired night yawns and the wandering moon sleeps as well
As the pinkish dawn fights through the moon’s magical spell,
I long for those moon-lit valleys and trails
–those that we often hear in old folk tales,
with cold wintery, jittery nights and gusty gales,
those beautiful, disappearing, silvery Moon-trails.

Autumn had come again

Autumn had come again
drying up my creativity and zeal
What else can such a season evoke
but of stifled emotions and locked-up feel

Autumn had come again
just like the tree outside my window,
the poet in me saw a slow death
the tree lost more leaves than it could grow

Autumn did come again with dry winds
through empty streets giving the icy chills
Drying up the perfect human’s soul and skin
My wandering heart loiters in the high brown hills
Searching for a reason to write a poem about aging.

Oh spring, why did you leave us ?
You left us without a note or goodbye.
A soulless nuclear winter of human misdemeanor ?
No one knows what future holds in store.
All that left is an antique of what was before.
Alas! a lush green tree turned into an eyesore

Poem Summary : The Road Not Taken by Frost

Image result for Robert Frost

Robert Frost

It is never easy to figure how a poem was written by a poet. Sometimes they reveal their influences and sometimes it is lost in translation and time. These influences actually framed the poet’s mind to reveal a new tapestry of words which are revered  by the generations to come. In all kinds of arts, be it music or paintings, the sources of inspiration are lost as people are lost in the act or performance itself rather than going behind the “meaning of it all“. They said curiosity killed the cat. I am that curious cat who lurks and tries to find that “meaning of it all“. In this post, I present a summary of another favorite poem. I like abstraction and multiple interpretations that a vague poem can lead you to. Abstraction removes you from the analogies and imagery which are of course an important part of a poem. But it gives you the lesson the poet wanted to convey through his verses. Robert Frost, in this poem, puts forward the predicament of making a decision which has no easy answer. Let’s break it down to understand it purport.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Here, Frost observes that there were two roads which presented themselves in his journey and he laments that as a single traveler he can only take a single road. Standing at a crossroad and wondering which way to take ? This decision often comes up in life and there is no easy answer  to it. Frost says he “looked down one as far as I could” which means he tried gauging the impact of going through his decision for one path.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

However, Frost then took the other path which looked as the other. Sometimes decisions are not easy. We may assign weights to different priorities in our life and yet may falter in understanding the situation. He justifies further why he took the path saying that maybe it was more grassy and fresh. But, again he counters himself saying that both looked equally used by the travelers. So, it was a mere passing feeling or constant indecision which haunted the poet.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

He notes that nobody ever came back on both the paths, which means this decision was irreversible and needed the poet to take a firm stand. But, he still believes that some other day he will take the first path as we all do. We all have many thoughts : I will read a book , I will paint and so forth and so on. Yet one can only do one thing at a time and leave the other for some other day. This “some day” sometimes never comes.  That is what he says that he just kept following the way he chose as life kept going and doubted his return to this cross-road.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Then, he justifies and reasons again(as we all do!) of a decision made long ago. He pauses after he tells about his cross-road situation : “I—”. Probably he is thinking what shall he say at this juncture. He then says that he took the one less traveled by. This reasoning is to tell people he was different from others in his decision. Maybe he thought people will forgive him for being unique and not blame him for his decision’s consequences. Or maybe in case of a happy outcome, he felt he could masquerade his good luck as his own decision to take the “less traveled path”. The poem shows the poet’s humanity and his mask in front of his future audience(grandchildren?) whom he is narrating as to why he took a particular decision although decision meant nothing to him when he took it. This is what life is. We take decisions some consciously and unconsciously and life turns out as it will. In the end, of course it feels good that your decision led you to this present life of yours. The poet leaves the reader guessing as to what has made all the difference. Being unique does not make the difference. The difference is due to the path you took. You did not know you are unique when you were about to make the decision. We are made by our choices and we have to live by them and make peace with them.

Hope you enjoyed the summary. Please comment if you have an interesting interpretation to share for this great poem. The poem is wonderfully illustrated by Gav from Zen Pencils. Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken


Eternal Symphony

Winds’ whistle and flower’s sway,
Who arranged these notes in array ?
Leaf’s flutter, Tree’s Swish,
Isn’t that the music played to God’s wish ?

A bee’s hum and a woodpecker’s tap,
Does Nature play a harp on her lap ?
A lark’s warble and a Bird’s tweet,
What’s the undertone of this song so sweet ?

Click Clack Click, chips away the rock’s gravel
as the sculptor’s hammer strikes the chisel.
From an ugly formless stone does manifest
The beautiful lady who can allure the best.

Tick Tock Tick Tock,runs the punctual clock
Pom pom pom flare the sirens near the ship dock
Drums beat and cymbals crash, many hands clap
Setting the rhythm to the entire track

The jingle of the bangles, the beat of the native drum,
Whoosh of the whiplash, the buzz of market conundrum
the cling of the anklets, the twang of the harp,
Cuts through the rough exteriors of cruelest men sharp

Beautiful indeed is to witness the music unbound.
How melody wraps itself like a tapestry shawl around
those jolly folks gathered about a night bonfire
Happy ’cause they are content without desire.

Tempestuous waves crashed on the rock,
Breaking shy shore’s silent deadlock,
And the violent thunder of the rainstorm
Shows how nature doesn’t always conform.

Ringing bells of the village church
Tweeting Birds on the tree’s perch
Creates a strange melancholy strain
making bravest man’s courage wane

Squeal of a Boar, Lion’s roar and a deer’s groan
Owls hoot, Elephants toot and Wolves moan
Frogs croak, Donkeys bray and Crows caw,
Nature still delights in a cacophony so raw.

Melodious harmony of these universal sounds,
Opened up the unknown chambers of my heart’s bounds
Isn’t this rapturous, the soulful yet mysterious refrain,
Soothes the soul and sends it to bliss difficult to contain.

Since the time began, the cosmic harvest of galaxies was reaped
On this elegant space, the celestial dancer danced and leaped
This eternal dance still persists, as the sands of time pour on,
The mother nature invents a new step, new move and life goes on.

As tones of this resonant music flow,
Through the veins of earth’s slow.
The remnants of these strains shall sow,
A memorable song every child’ll know.

Filling a pervasive symphony from a celestial lark
in the humongous cosmic vacuum, silent and dark
Breaking, thus, the trance of lifeless warp of space time,
With light, sound and joy,  emanates life sublime.

To-dos as you step in Singapore

CC Image Courtesy: Román Emin from flickr

You are coming to Singapore for a fairly long visit. You already have your passport, tickets and other usual stuff. But you should also remember to do the following things to make your life easier. I have been asked these questions so many times from my friends or relatives visiting Singapore, that I thought of making a future reference for any visitors.

  1. Visa:  If you have to apply for work visa, with the help of company where he is employed. Its not easy to get until company applies for it. He needs a ICA (Immigration Checkpoints Authority, SG) approved letter. This letter could be treated as Visa. Or else, he needs to take social visit pass or something and then convert to work pass. So, your friend needs to get the invitation letter from company first and the company needs to apply for his work visa. Generally the visa is issued after coming to Singapore. Temporarily, a letter from ICA is used as a visa or social visit pass.
  2. Data plan : If you plan to travel a lot in and around Singapore without a tour guide, then I would recommend you to get some mobile data plan. You can navigate through any corner of Singapore using  GPS and google maps. Google maps also recommends the public transport routes.
  3. Forex : Depending on the length of the trip, you would need up to 100 S$ per person per week not counting your accommodation expenses. Get some money before hand.
  4. Prepaid Sim Card : As soon as you land in Singapore, the airport itself has few shops where you can buy a Singtel or StarHub Sim cards. Get a simple top-up if you think you need for just emergency. If you intend to call a lot, buy a 28 S$ top-up which gives 100 S$ local balance and  28 S$ international balance. One important thing to remember is that local calls are quite costly(8c/min) and you are charged for incoming calls too(8c/min).
  5. Taxis, Buses and Subway : Singapore is well-connected by public transport. But, some places are hard to reach still if you use the public transport. In such cases, you can take a taxi. It may be costlier but still works out to be cheap if you are going in groups of four. For anything else, stick to buses and subway. There is nothing cheaper and faster than that for most of the routes. Most taxis work with cards, but some prefer only cash payment. For buses and trains, use the Ez-link card.
  6. Ez-link Card : When you use the public transport in Singapore, Ez-link card comes in handy. You may think why not pay cash for few trips here and there for your small little trip. But a Ez-link card can cost you much less. You can buy one of these at any MRT stations for 12 S$ where you pay 5 bucks for the card and the remaining 7 S$ are put in the virtual wallet. One trip costs typically 1-2 bucks depending on the distance of your destination.
  7. International Credit/Debit Card : Some people may wish to carry some international cards but there may be a transaction fee for every ATM withdrawal. So, it is advisable to carry sufficient cash for at least 1-2 weeks.
  8. Bank Account:  If you are a student or an employee coming to Singapore on a long term visa, please apply for a bank account as soon as you land. It takes less than an hour on a typical weekday. This helps in setting your school scholarship account or job account. Take note of which bank you want to open an account with. Sometimes, some schools/companies have tie-up with a particular bank. You will need just your passport and temporary visa to start with. Commonly used banks are : DBS/POSB, UOB and OCBC. For Indians, there are few branches of State Bank of India too if needed. DBS/POSB is recommended for NUS students and in general because it is easy to find their ATMs all around the island.
  9. Accomodation : Please find accommodation before coming to Singapore as it is not cheap to get hotel rooms(100$ and above per night). There are a number of sites to search for roommates and rentals. Airbnb is also useful for a short term stay and later you could finalize the rental contract. If you are a student, please choose your school accommodation options as they are the best and nearest to your college. For NUS, typically, the best place to stay is UTown for post graduates and undergraduates have a lot of resident halls to choose from. The cost works out to 120$ a week and payment is made for a semester. Rental agreements are generally signed for a lease of 6 months to an year. So, one needs to choose wisely before entering into an agreement.

If you need more information, check out wikitravel for tips. If you have any other interesting tips to share, please add in to the comments.

This post was first published on my academic blog here.

a dream thus broken


the time i awakened
my nightmare was over
i found that life
had just rolled over

in my dream, i lived a life
a life with lost ambition
where hope was crushed and lost was reason
Logic did fail and uprooted was wisdom

it is after all a dream, huh
you may snub me
what harm could it do
but i ask, have you had
a dream that follows through
and wakes up to life

Is not life such a dream ?
Hmm, a dream that is real..
a dream within a dream
that sand falling into the glass
‘I am passing by’ says Time, for all it may seem,
But a dream never ends, but a life does not las(t).

now, time is made of moments
moments that’re gold
some good, some shy and some repugnant
but all come together and then fold

then, there are moments which one laments
why they ended so soon
of course, the worst are torments
which killed the mood.

the times that i pained
believing pain will end sooner
Though the anguish never ended,
i did get resilient and bolder.

and then, there are moments undefined
those puny little times when one is alone
when the brain recesses to thoughts unrefined,
when one ponders about life and life’s dreary zone.

in those solitary moments
of my science experiments and laser beams,
i sit gazing at the broken mirrors and components
thinking about long-lost wild dreams.

dreams that meant something;
that had lost their shine and sheen
dreams that were closely real
but, were seized and made unseen.

dreams of being a king, a poet, a scientist, a business man
with lots of warriors, gold, estate,  books, labs and fame
dreams of being a content human
with a family, a roof overhead, plenty of food and no God to blame.

Is all this a mind game ? Or am I a freak?
Am I the kicking footballer or the football getting kicked towards the goalie.
Then comes a thought like a lightning streak
Blitzkrieg, a shock to kick me out of my never-ending reverie

A buzzer interrupts breaking my daydream
or shall i call it a nightmare undesired ?
I continued my monotonous experimental routine
1. Rotate a screw, 2. modulate the laser and 3. start the scan
Only to drift away in another dream of my age fifteen


The Woe of a Phoenix


I have seen a world.
And I have seen it all.
As a history told or the story untold.
Through its rise and through its fall.

I’ve died here,
and I’ve risen.
Death gave me no fear.
I’ll never smite or be smitten.

I fear life and I fear pain.
To be born, to grow up and then to die.
Don’t I observe the same cycle again’n’again?
Is there a dash of hope or just hue and cry ?

Now my black ashes lie
I have lived enough, felt pleasure and pain
I have nothing else left to try
Then why should I ?
Yes, why should I take birth again ?

Let the wind come by,
And make my ashes fly.
Nowhere shall I be,
Yet everywhere will my remnants pry.

May my dust thus give a raw seed,
All the nutrients that it might need.
End my vicious cycle with a good deed.
May the world benefit from a new creed.