Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Land of Water and Fire

Have I said it before? If not, I say it now: Yellowstone National Park is huge.

While Wikipedia tells me it is only the seventh largest national park in the US [fun fact: five of the largest six, and the eighth largest are all in one single state - Alaska], it is about a million acres larger than Grand Canyon, the largest national park that we had visited before. So, it becomes extremely important to plan the sightseeing around the park because driving can be a real time consuming part of the day here. Thankfully, the Yellowstone map and guidebook that they provide at the entrance is pretty helpful and we had no trouble deciding what we would start our day with. After checking out of Roosevelt Lodge where we had arrived the previous night, we drove straight to Mammoth Hot Springs.

Before we move on to describing this wonderful place, let me briefly describe what Yellowstone National Park actually is, geologically. If you already know this, please bear with me.

Click to enlarge
Yellowstone National Park sits on top of a supervolcano, which I guess means something much larger than a regular volcano. This supervolcano has erupted at least three times in the past, the last time being 640,000 years ago. Now part of the park is inside the crater of the last eruption while the other part is right outside. This huge crater, which is known as a caldera, is marked with an oval on maps of Yellowstone. There is a large magma chamber right under Yellowstone and some scientists feel it is about to erupt again (while others disagree). Today, while the earth's crust is 20-30 miles thick at most places on the planet, it is only 3-5 miles thick in Yellowstone. This causes groundwater to come in contact with the hot magma beneath the crust, and then form hydrothermal features. These hydrothermal features can be of four types - hot springs, geysers, steam vents and mud pots. Mammoth Hot Springs, as evident from its name, belongs to the first category.

As we drove along the road that goes northwards from Roosevelt Lodge, Poulami pointed to a dazzling white formation on a hillside ahead of us, at a somewhat higher elevation. It soon became clear that the dazzling white formation was Mammoth Hot Springs, our first destination. After spending some time finding parking close to the springs, we finally stepped on to the boardwalk.

Mammoth Hot Springs as seen from the road

The boardwalk and a section of the ground that caved in

A portion of the hillside made of mineral deposits
Mammoth Hot Springs can be described as a barren hill with water cascading down different sides. At places, the water has formed puddles and pools. But the real interesting thing about this place is that all of this water is smoking hot and heavy with chemicals. The ground is either white or various shades of rusty brown. Once, there were trees on this barren landscape; now only their blackened skeletons bear testimony to the toxic ground and water. The hillside itself is formed of scale-like layers and some of these places could collapse anytime, leaving a gaping hole underneath. That is why, a wooden boardwalk and stairs have been provided for the tourists, and we aren't allowed to step on the ground. A closer look at the cascades revealed pretty coral-like formations created by deposits of calcium carbonate and other compounds. The water flowed slowly, but in the most amazing rippling pattern. The pools of stagnant water looked like an alien planet - a dead and poisonous world with dead trees and the air heavy with the foul odour of rotten eggs (hydrogen sulfide).

One of the cascades or terraces with continuous water flow

A close-up of the deposits under the flowing water

Another cascade

It rained a little while we were on the boardwalk and I had to put my film camera away. I was carrying my father's old Pentax MX 35mm film camera on this trip with black and white film on this trip, since we were traveling by our own car and had no need to travel light. However, the rain didn't last long and we could see and photograph the place to our heart's content.

Mammoth Hot Springs on B&W film

The village around Mammoth Hot Springs also holds the administrative headquarters of Yellowstone National Park, and so, the place is always crowded. We decided to grab some fast food for lunch to avoid waiting, but even the fast food place had a queue that had reached outside the door. We ended up having chicken sandwiches and ice cream for lunch. The elk herd from the previous evening was still walking around the village, attracting crowds of photographers everywhere they went. We ignored them and went into the visitors' center. There we pestered a ranger until she had told us all about the places to see, and marked the animal viewing areas on the map. Then we set out for Norris Geyser Basin.

The strange thing about Yellowstone is the variety of landscapes seen here. When you go to Rocky Mountain National Park, you see mountains. At Grand Canyon National Park, you see the canyon. At Badlands, you see the prairie. At Yellowstone, you see all of that, and more. As we started from Mammoth Hot Springs, we passed through a region of huge boulders perched precariously on the hillside, as if someone had thrown that mountain into a blender. Later, we passed by a mountain river down in a gorge, and then tree-covered hills descending into serene lakes. We guessed later that this variety was due to the multiple volcanic eruptions in the past. Every time Nature built something new, it got destroyed in the next eruption and Nature had to start afresh. But since the tectonic plate under Yellowstone is shifting over the magma chamber down below, the eruptions have not been in the same place, and parts of everything managed to survive.

The road between Mammoth and Norris is undergoing some heavy construction at the moment and the traffic moved slowly. When we reached Norris, we had to circle around the parking lot twice before we could find a spot. But finally, we were ready to descend into Porcelain Basin.

The Norris Geyser Basin has the most number of hydrothermal features of any place on earth. The Porcelain Basin is a large flat area dotted with steam vents and hot springs, covered with a milky white mineral deposit and crisscrossed by flows of mineral-laden water that are vividly coloured by bacteria and algae. Trunks of long-dead trees scattered around the plain indicated that although the ground was not fit for survival now, it wasn't always that way. The ground here is unstable as well and so a narrow winding boardwalk goes all over the basin. We went down steps into the basin, passing close to a steam vent spewing thick white steam into the air.

Steam vent at Norris Geyser Basin
Steam vents or fumeroles are the hottest among the hydrothermal features. They have lots of heat, but very little water to cool them down. Whatever little water can trickle down into them, turns to steam instantly. A fumerole looks like a hole in the ground with steam coming out. There were fumeroles all around this place and we could see columns of steam rising from the distant hillsides like smoke from chimneys. We walked the length of the boardwalk and came back to where we started. On the way, we saw several small geysers and hot pools.


Porcelain Basin
After coming back on top, we took another short hike to a geyser called the Steamboat Geyser. We passed a boiling pond of emerald-green water on the way that had so much hydrogen sulfide-laden vapor bubbling out of it that it was difficult to stand there. It left our throats and nasal passages feeling funny even after we had left the area.

All that steam smells like rotten eggs


Our next stop was a place called Artist Paintpots. This is also a hydrothermal basin like Norris, with scattered turquoise hot pools, steam vents and dead trees. The new thing that we saw here was a boiling mud pot. Large bubbles were forming and bursting in a small pool of thick mud with satisfying pops. The consistency of the mud was so smooth, and the popping sounds were so soothing that it seemed we could just stand there and watch it for hours. Poulami said she also felt an urge to touch and feel the mud. Thankfully, it was surrounded by a railing, presumably to suppress such urges. The sun was also getting lower in the sky and it was overcast anyway. So we decided to move to our next destination.
Artists' Paintpots

Boiling mud pot
Our next destination was supposed to be Grand Prismatic Spring, but we decided to push that to the next day as it was getting late and we were hungry. We did stop at a small hot pool though, and photographed its incredibly beautiful aquamarine water surrounded by bright rust-coloured deposits. The blue color is due to minerals and the red colour due to the presence of microorganisms. There were lots of dead trees everywhere.

Hot pool
Finally, we were ready to go to our hotel for the night - the Grant Village Lodge. It wasn't very close, but we eventually reached the place. Just before reaching Grant Village, we had one last experience for the day, or so we thought at the time. We saw half a dozen cars stopped at the side of the road and their riders roaming outside, looking at the forest with their cameras and binoculars, so we followed suit. But there was nothing to be seen except for two elk and an indignant man claiming confidently that he saw a bear vanishing into the woods. Some people were going into the woods to see the bear, but it was nearly dark at this time and we didn't want to follow any real or imaginary bear into the woods at dusk. As a matter of fact, we wouldn't have followed a bear into the woods even in broad daylight. So we returned to our car and drove to the hotel.

Grant Village Lodge has a check-in desk that is a block away from the rooms (which are in different buildings named after different animals; ours was Elk Lodge). It is also a block away from the Grant Village Restaurant where we planned to have our dinner. It was 8:45 and the restaurant closed at 10:00, so we decided to have dinner first and then go to our room. However, the restaurant had a wait time of thirty to forty minutes, so we decided to go to the lodge first, take our bags up to our room, and then come back. After a long day filled with hikes and a fast food lunch, we were looking forward to a satisfying dinner to end our first full day in Yellowstone.

Or so we thought at the time.

(To be continued...)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Devil's Tower and Onwards

Both Poulami and I keep referring to this trip as "the Yellowstone trip." But the truth is, while our earlier trips may have been called "the Colorado trip" or "The California trip" or even "the Southwest trip", this one was spread over so many states and so many destinations that it is unfair to focus only on Yellowstone National Park. So when I sit down to write about this trip, I think I'm going to write about Yellowstone, but then realize that there are so many other places and things to write about. In particular, when we are on a road trip, the journeys are almost as important as the destinations. This post is about one such journey.

After Badlands, our next destination was Yellowstone. But we decided to take a slight detour. Badlands to Roosevelt Lodge in Yellowstone National Park is about a ten-hour drive. We decided to visit Devil's Tower National Monument on the way, at the cost of adding an hour to this already long journey. Our choices were Mount Rushmore and Devil's Tower. Both were close to Badlands and kind of on the way to Yellowstone, but we finally chose the latter because we felt the former deserved more than a drive-through. As we drove along the Interstate 90, we realized we must have passed quite close to Mount Rushmore because signs told us so. Here, we also passed places where both sides of the highway were crowded with huge advertising billboards, more than any place that we had ever seen before.
Billboards on the highway near Mount Rushmore
Devil's Tower in Wyoming will be familiar to anyone who has seen the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Steven Spielberg. Or, if like me, you haven't actually seen the movie, you may have seen posters of the movie that show the tower. Either way, the tower provides a visual that you are unlikely to forget. It also happens to be the first site in the US designated as a national monument.

Scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind

We could see Devil's Tower from a great distance away. We left the Interstate about 30 miles away from the tower, and soon, we could see a familiar shape on the horizon. The tower is actually a geological feature, technically a laccolithic butte, that rises 1267 feet (386 metres) above the surrounding plains and the Belle Fourche river. That description (copied from Wikipedia), however, doesn't really explain what it looks like. That is done in a far better manner by the nut-jobs who call themselves the Flat-Earthers.

Yes, there are still people in the US who believe the Earth is flat and the government and NASA are deliberately guarding this secret, but we're not here to discuss them. One of the crazy theories that stem from their flat worldview is that there were gigantic (miles tall) trees on this planet a long time ago and Devil's Tower is the petrified stump of such a gigantic tree. And this is the best way to describe this strange mountain. With its roughly cylindrical shape, flat top, nearly vertical sides marked by parallel ridges all around, and the root-like spread at the base, it could very well have been a petrified tree stump, had it not been so big. Other descriptions that came to my mind were that it looked like an enormous kulfi (a frozen dessert from India), or an upside-down planting-pot.




We were soon at the entrance of the monument where there was a queue of cars buying tickets. Then, when we were at the base of the tower looking for a parking space, we realized that this little detour would cost us way more than the one hour that Google had promised. We also realized why, the people who had stopped by the side of the road outside the monument and were taking photos from several miles away, were doing so. But since we were here already, we decided to take a much-needed break, visit the restrooms, check out the souvenir store and take a few pictures of the tower up close. The souvenir store seemed to primarily bank on the movie and most of the stuff was alien-themed.

Devil's Tower up close (shot by me on B&W film)
The long vertical ridges that run all around Devil's tower are probably the result of some crystalline structure of the igneous rock that formed it, but they make the tower a very popular destination for climbers. On scanning the tower with our binoculars and telephoto lens, we discovered a couple on the tower about halfway up. Here's a photo to give you a sense of the scale. We realized a little later that they were actually climbing down from the tower.

climbers on Devil's Tower

We, however, had no such inclinations. We were back in our car soon after taking those photos and were on our way again.

Both in South Dakota and Wyoming, we had encountered bikers by the hordes. The ranger at Badlands had told us jokingly that the population of South Dakota was now probably double of what it usually is because of all the bikers visiting from outside the state. We saw the same thing in Wyoming. Devil's Tower seemed to be quite popular with bikers and the nearby gas station had long queues of motorbikes at every pump. Our car's tank was about 70% full, so I decided to skip the queues and fill it at the next stop. This proved to be a mistake. Our GPS decided to take us through rural Wyoming and Montana and we didn't find another gas pump until the town of Broadus about 100 miles away. Coupled with the fact that we were often stuck on long jams and dirt roads due to road work, our fuel was almost down to quarter of the tank and we were panicking by the time we found that pump. We also had lunch around this time.

Our next stop was the town of Livingston nearly 300 miles away, still in Montana. The number of bikers had decreased for some time now and we were beginning to get the feel of Yellowstone at this point, but the sun was getting low in the sky and we were a little worried that the park was still over 50 miles away. However, we stopped long enough to get fuel, coffee and a few emergency grocery supplies to act as breakfast or snacks in times of need. Then, driving by the Yellowstone river on one side and hill slopes with bison and elk farms on the other, we finally reached the town of Gardiner, Montana. Here we made a brief stop to take photos with the huge "Yellowstone National Park" sign and the old stone arch (Roosevelt Arch) that forms the northern entrance of Yellowstone.

Before entering Yellowstone
Then we entered the park.


Our first night's stay was at the Roosevelt Lodge. To be more precise, we were staying at the "Rough-rider Cabins" of Roosevelt Lodge which were individual cabins with stove heating and a common bathroom a hundred yards away. When we were making the hotel reservations five months ago, we were lucky enough to get accommodation inside Yellowstone, but were not so lucky that we would find space in the same hotel for four consecutive nights. So after spending this first night at the Roosevelt Lodge, we would spend the next two nights at the Grant Village Lodge and the final night at the Canyon Lodge. As we were about to realize, the lodges within Yellowstone are very far away from each other and it takes hours to travel from one to another.

The Roosevelt Lodge is 24 miles from the Roosevelt Arch. The sun had gone down, but there was still light around as we started our drive towards the lodge, hoping to see animals at every turn. About six miles down the road, we passed through the Mammoth Hot Springs area which holds the administrative headquarters of the park. We saw our first animals here. A herd of elk - mostly does and fawns - were lazily walking around on the village green, surrounded by cars with photographing tourists on all sides. We stopped briefly, but we had little interest in elk after our close encounter in the Rockies last year. So we drove straight to our lodge.

Elk on the village green at Mammoth Hot Springs
We were very tired by this time, and I had been driving for over twelve hours. So we decided to call it a day. We had enough packed food to have dinner in our room, and soon after dinner we went to sleep. We didn't think lighting the stove would be necessary, but the night was cold and we had to light a few logs early in the morning to make the room comfortable again.

We would start our exploration of Yellowstone National Park the next day.

Our cabin at the Roosevelt Lodge


Monday, September 11, 2017

Badlands

We started on our road trip from Madison.

Sunflower fields
I mean we actually started from home, but we have become so used to the two and a half hour trip to Atreyee's house in Madison, Wisconsin that it didn't really feel that we had already started on our big road trip. But we had to drive through Madison to go to Badlands National Park anyway, so we decided to spend the night there so that we could make the ten-hour drive with a little less fatigue the next day. So we really started our journey into the unknown when we started from Madison on day two - August 6.


Seen on the roadside
Starting at 7 in the morning, we drove through Wisconsin and Minnesota to enter South Dakota. Rolling fields of neatly planted sunflowers stretched to the horizon in many places, but otherwise, the scenery was remarkable in its unremarkableness. We were entering the prairie grasslands of Midwestern US. This region didn't have mountains like we had seen in Colorado or Arizona or Utah. Unlike New York and Virginia there were few trees. Just the highway stretched over the slightly undulating land like an enormous snake. We also entered the Mountain Time Zone from our Central Time Zone and I was surprised to learn that the time zone doesn't change at the state line.

Approaching Badlands
We eventually did see some hills though. As the sky filled up with dark ominous clouds, the windswept prairie landscape gave way to low broken line of hills in the distance. We soon saw a sign welcoming us to Badlands. After entering the park and driving through those low hills, we finally reached our campground. As we later found out, these low hills are known as buttes and they are made of soft rock and hard earth laid down in colourful layers and eroded over the years.

Cedar Pass Campground is the most open campground that we have ever seen. It is right in the middle of the prairie with the buttes visible nearby, with a wind-sheltered picnic table at each site. Campfires are prohibited at this campground due to the threat of fires, but covered grills and camp stoves are allowed. There are no trees and this made some people on TripAdvisor complain about the lack of privacy, but we both loved it. But more on that later. At the moment, we put up our tent just in time to avoid a brief but heavy bout of rain. Afterwards, when the sun came out, we finished off dinner with the food that Atreyee's mom had packed for us, took a walk around the place, and settled down in the campground around sunset. I had driven for ten hours and wanted to rest. Besides, it was the night before full moon and I wanted to take photos of the moon rise over the buttes, and the campsite was the best place for this. After the moon came up, the moonlit prairie was almost bright as a day and even the inside of our tent was lit up.The night was uneventful and we slept soundly because we were not afraid of bears or any other animals like we are at other campgrounds. It was terribly windy though, and I was concerned that our tent might get damaged (it didn't).

Sunset near the campground

Moonrise over the prairie

Moonlit prairie
The next morning we cooked breakfast and lunch over our little charcoal grill and then started exploring. The best part of Badlands is that there isn't a terrible lot to see, and wherever you go, it's either just flat prairie, or prairie dotted with buttes. Still, there was this one road which snaked throughout the park and we were going to drive all over it. We wanted to see animals, of course, and the rangers told us we would need to drive over a dirt road for a few miles. We decided to risk it, even though I was driving my own old Honda Accord. In the end, we ended up seeing a coyote, a few lone bison and a group of bighorn sheep at the cost of covering our car in dust and ageing our tires a little. Prairie dogs, which are burrowing rodents, were everywhere. There were entire "towns" of these animals on the roadside. We had our lunch in the car at a viewpoint called Yellow Mounds. The name is pretty self explanatory. Then we came back to the tent.

Prairie dog town

Lonely bison on the prairie

Bighorn ram by the road

The campground had coin-operated showers and we were glad to be able to use them after our morning in the hot prairie. Then we explored the buttes nearby a little more. Badlands has the largest collection of fossils of any park in the world, and people are encouraged to look for fossils and report anything they find. We also looked for fossils, but in vain. Eventually, we gave up and went to have dinner at the restaurant next to the campground. Our dinner of pasta was too much for the two of us and we packed what we couldn't eat. Then, as the sun went down below the horizon, we gathered at the amphitheatre nearby to attend a ranger talk.

The ranger talk was nice, as ranger talks are. The ranger, an avid photographer himself, showed us photos of Badlands and the other national parks that he had visited. As an added benefit, we saw the International Space Station pass across the sky as the talk came to an end. Then the full moon poked its head over the buttes and we walked over the moonlit prairie to our campsite, listening to howls of coyotes in the distance. The coyotes were still howling when we went to bed, but we knew they were too far away to harm us. Coyotes hardly ever attack humans anyway. The horizon-to-horizon view of the sky was the thing that we liked most about this campground. We didn't see the Milky Way this time due to the moon, but we decided we wanted to come back some time around a new moon night to photograph the night sky.

The next morning, we were out on the road again soon after sunrise. Our next destination was Devil's Tower National Monument, and then we would drive to Yellowstone National Park. Overall, we were going to be on the road for over ten hours again. So we finished off the leftover pasta from the night before and started early.

(...to be continued)
Yellow Mounds, Badlands National Park

Saturday, September 02, 2017

A Road Trip and a Speeding Ticket

Our approximate route

We are just back from our longest trip yet, and our first true road trip. Driving through eleven states, we visited four national parks and camped in three of them. We saw a full moon night on the prairie, a meteor shower over a coniferous forest and a total solar eclipse. We also saw a variety of wildlife ranging from bison to hummingbirds. In all, I drove nearly 5000 miles (8000 km) in 17 days.

My trip meter resets to 0 after crossing 999. So that's 4908.4 miles
When did we plan this trip? It is actually hard to point to one particular date, but bits and pieces of this trip were planned over many months. For instance, I had wanted to see the total solar eclipse on August 21 from St. Louis when I first heard about it about a year ago. The meteor shower always peaks on August 11 or August 12 and I try to be at a national park when that happens. The fact that it was just ten days before the solar eclipse was a happy coincidence. Everything of course boiled down to the availability of lodging in Yellowstone National Park. Once we got that, five months before our trip, the rest fell into place neatly.

But more on that later. Now I'll narrate the story of my first speeding ticket.

We were driving from Grand Teton National Park to Salt Lake City on the ninth day of our trip. We were passing through the town of La Barge, Wyoming when we felt the need to fill up the gas tank and have some coffee. So we entered a gas station on the right side of the highway. After buying the gas and the coffee, we came out of the gas station, took a right turn on to the highway and was promptly aware of flashing red and blue lights behind me. I hadn't yet crossed the next block after entering the road, and I had no idea what my speed was, but I don't have one of those cars that can break the speed limit within two blocks of starting. I pulled over and rolled down my window.

An officer approached me. "Do you speak English?" he asked. On hearing I did, he informed me I was speeding. "Do you know what the speed limit is? Look out the window and see that sign there," he said.

I looked at that sign. It said 35. The officer informed me I was going at 45. I had no idea what my speed was, because I had barely started and hadn't really looked at the speedometer, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't 45 mph.

"It's 35 mph throughout the town. Where are you from?" the officer asked me.

"Illinois," I said.

"Which part of Illinois?"

"Lake Forest."

"Oh, I was in Springfield myself. Is this your car or rental car?"

"My car."

"OK. You sound like a nice guy. Here's what I'll do: normally this would be a $180 ticket, and it would go on your license, and your insurance premium would increase. But I'll write down you were doing 40 mph in a 35 mph zone, and then it will be only $70, and it won't affect your license and insurance premium. Does that sound good?"

I had to admit that it was sounding the best that anything could sound under the circumstances.

He took my license and wrote out a ticket. "Any questions?"

"Do I pay online?"

"No, you see that red building there? Just go there and pay right now, and you'll be good to go."

He told me to follow his car and I did. We parked in front of the little red building which was the courthouse. Two people were coming out who looked like outsiders. I wondered if they had received speeding tickets also. On our way in, he asked us again, where we were really from.

"India," I replied.

"Ah yes, India! I was just watching all those kids dying in the hospital on the news. How do you say 'thank you' in your language?"

I was seized by a desire to teach him a well-chosen expletive, but refrained and taught him the actual word. He cheerfully repeated it. He called out to the lady inside.

"Madam Clerk, here's another gentleman who would like to pay up front. Can you take care of him?"

The officer left. Madam Clerk, in the meantime, informed me I would have to pay 4% extra if I paid by credit card. I agreed and we completed the transaction. As we were leaving, we saw the officer had caught another speeder. The speed limit on the highway was 70, but it dropped to 45 for a block, then to 35 for 2-3 blocks, before rising to 45 for a block again and then going back to 70. Wikipedia tells me the town of La Barge has an area of 1.00 square mile and a population of 551. They must appreciate the extra business.

So now I have a speeding ticket in my portfolio, a ticket that says I was driving five miles above the posted speed limit. But more importantly, I have an experience that will definitely help me avoid such situations in future trips.

And now that's out of the way, I can talk about better memories from the trip in my next post.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Compromise

My friends know that I translate a poem by Rabindranath Tagore every year on Tagore's birthday. I have been doing this since 2006, the year I started this blog. I recently realized that there was no easy way to find all of these translations in one place, and so here's a list of all that I have translated over the years.
  • Poems
  1. The River (This is my first translation, done when I was an undergrad)
  2. The Palm Tree 
  3. The Two Birds
  4. The Hero
  5. The Poet's Age
  6. Africa 
  7. Identity
  8. Small and Big
  9. The Schoolmaster
  10. Strange Ambitions
  11. The Right Place
  12. The Poet
  • Tiny poems embedded within posts:
  1. Revisiting Hyderabad
  2. Momentary Rhyme
  3. A Tiny Tagore Translation
  • Prose:
  1. The Wrong Heaven
Coming to this year's translation, this beautiful poem was one of a few suggested by my father. I liked all of them, but chose this one eventually because of no particular reason. Probably I was influenced by the fact that my wife Poulami knew the poem by heart. She also helped me with my translation, giving me feedback on the meanings of certain phrases to enhance my understanding. As usual, I tried to preserve the rhyme of the original Bengali poem, a quality that is usually missing from English translations of Tagore. So without further digressing, I present this year's translation.

Compromise

                                                     ~ Rabindranath Tagore

Today, tell your mind this,
Whatever comes, good or bad,
Accept the truth with ease.
            Some people may love you
              Others are never meant to,
            Some are ever grateful, others
              Don’t owe a cent to you.
            Some of it is their nature
              Some of it is yours, brother,
            Partly, the way of this world ---
              Not each one suits the other.
            Some will bluff you at times,
              At other times, you will bluff,
            You will get your share,
               Others get the remaining stuff.
            From times immemorial
              That’s how things have worked 
            How can you be so lucky that
              You’ll get through unmarked!
                      Today, tell your mind this,
                                                 Good or bad whatever may come
                      Accept the truth with ease.


            Weathering many a storm you reach
              The port of happiness to rest
            An underwater hidden cliff
              Strikes you inside the chest,
            Instantly your weary ribs
             Tremble with a painful creak---
            Does that mean with everyone
          A deathly quarrel you must seek?
           If you can stay afloat
              That’s the best thing to do,
          If you cannot, then quietly
              Sink without much ado.
          That wouldn’t be unusual,
              It’s a common incident ---
            Where people don’t fear
              Shipwrecks are most frequent.
                                                         So tell your mind this,
                                                  Whatever comes, good or bad,
            Accept the truth with ease.


          Not everyone is sized for you
            Nor you made in everyone’s size,
          You seem to die of someone’s shove
            By your squeeze, someone dies---
          Still, if we think it through,
            Over everything must we vie?
          The proper approach can give
            A lot of happiness if you try.
          The sky remains as blue as ever,
            Sweet seems the light of dawn,
          When death arrives, we find
            Better to live than to be gone.
          For those whom we closed our eyes
            And cried out a tearful sea
          Even without them we find
            The world is pretty good to see.
                                                  So tell your mind this,
                                             Whatever comes, good or bad,
           Accept the truth with ease.


          At the sunset if you sit,
             Let your large shadow loom
           And with your own fault
             Fill your life with gloom,
           If fate you choose to fight
            And dig yourself a grave,
           Then please finish this task
            As soon as you can, we crave.
           Weep a while if you must
            Filling pitchers from your eyes,
           With your mind then somehow
             Brother, compromise.
           Then, in your dark chamber
              A lamp you must shine---
           Forget, brother, with whom
              Your ideas don’t align.
                                       So tell your mind this,
                                Whatever comes, good or bad,
            Accept the truth with ease.

(Translated by Sugata Banerji)