HOMAGE TO THE NOBLE SOULS

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
Plutarch

      

The mind is eternal;
And lives forever…..
For the thoughts it gave birth to
When it was alive.

Great people leave their impressions,
In the minds of others.
For their goodness,
For their uniqueness.

Even when they leave their body;
People bow down to them,
Of their own free will.
Respect automatically flows.

It’s thoughts, and the deeds….
Which are the outcome of the thoughts,
That make up our lives.
Which ends with a bang or a hiss.

Losing a great mind;
Is a loss to humanity.
I bow down to such mind,s
And pray for everlasting peace of their  souls.

“And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read;
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.”
John Keats
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10 Effective tips to improve concentration

“Take up one idea, make that one idea your life. Think of it, dream of it, Live on that idea let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”

Swami Vivekananda
Concentration works like magic

Concentration is a vital aspect of any major achievement, along with consistency and perseverance. Swami Vivekananda, a great patron of humanity, went to America to speak at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893. There,  he met a couple of boys trying to shoot some egg shells blobbing on the river. The boys were unable to hit their targets because of the choppy water. Swami Vivekananda watched their game for a long time. The boys invited him to give it a try. Vivekananda took the air rifle, aimed at the eggshells and shot twelve eggs shells with twelve shots. The boys were amazed, and asked him if he was a professional. Vivekananda surprised them by saying that he had never shot before. He was able to do so because he concentrated, only on his shooting…such is the power of concentration.

Concentration is the ability to take the mind off from all distractions and focus it on a single thing. It helps in increasing the effectiveness and productivity of a person. Concentration increases with practice. Just as exercise builds up muscles of the body, similarly, practicing meditation and attention building techniques will help in improving concentration.

1) MEDITATION

“Meditation can turn fools in to sages but unfortunately fools never meditate.”

The best method to improve concentration is through meditation. Meditating for concentration involves closing the eyes and focusing on one single thing. It maybe your breath, a single sound, or focusing on the centre of the forehead without letting the mind wander. Meditation should be done initially for a few minutes and increased with practice.

2) PLACE FOR STUDY

The place for study should be without any audio/visual distractions. The area should be peaceful and calm. Digital equipments should not be kept in the study room; if they are required, notes regarding the same must be made and a separate time must be kept for referring through the digital media. This will ensure that time allotted for a particular topic is not wasted.

3) DURATION

Study plans must be made for 30 to 45 minutes time slots. Each time slot must be followed by a break time of 5 minutes. Some activity like a walk, a snack, listening to music, or simply taking rest will help in retaining concentration.

4) DIET

‘Our belly rules the mind.’

We are what we eat. To function efficiently the brain needs a nutritious diet. Drinking plenty of water, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, almonds,walnuts, green tea, dark chocolate, help in improving concentration.

5) EXERCISE

Good things follow when you sweat

‘In a healthy body, lives a healthy mind.’ For developing concentration, it is important that the brain receives adequate oxygen through blood circulation. Walking in nature for 30 minutes would ensure a stress free mind and a healthy body. Keeping in touch with nature helps in relieving tension and brings about calmness of mind.

6) SLEEP

“Let her sleep for when she awakes ,she will move mountains” – Shakespeare

In spite of a busy schedule and a packed time table, getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep is a must to increase efficiency and concentration. Sleep helps in restoring the memory and relaxing the mind. Sleep also helps in improving the immune system which is essential for performing well during exams.

7) PLAN

A detailed plan for every subject and topic is necessary to be able to focus on priority topics. The plan would help in knowing how much time is available for which topic. A regular routine and time would train the mind to increase concentration at that specific time.

8)TECHNIQUES

There are various techniques to increase concentration. Like putting a black dot on a paper and looking at it for 5 minutes at a stretch. Time slots may be increased with practice. Focusing on a gong or a single sound also helps in increasing concentration.

9) THE 5 MORE RULE

To increase concentration span the 5 more rule may be followed. Whenever you find that concentration is wavering and you cannot focus on studies use the five more rule. It means whatever you are studying or doing, do five more of it. Gradually the concentration span will increase and you will be able to do a little more of your work.

10) AVOID MULTITASKING

Multitasking leads to distraction. It is important to focus on a single task to get the maximum output. Whenever you feel like there is something else which is to be done, write it down in a sheet as a reminder, so that the work can be completed during the break time. That way the task on hand would be completed and the other work will also be remembered and completed at a later period.

Attention is like a muscle. The more you use it the better it gets. Training the mind to focus on a single thing helps in greater efficiency and effectiveness. It is better to focus on one thing at a time. To increase interest in a topic glancing through the chapter and the question answers at the end is advisable. You can also go through audio or video uploads of the topic to get an idea of the content. Reward yourself on completion of a task with something you like. Take power naps to boost your concentration and memory. Distractions will occur. Use spider web technique to avoid being distracted. If a spider’s web is stimulated it will attend to the stimuli to see whether an insect has been trapped. If the stimuli is continuous it will not pay attention. Similarly if you train your mind that there will be distractions, and you must ignore them, the mind will cease to be distracted and concentration will increase. Learn to say no to distractions and don’t try to please everyone. When you don’t feel like studying at all and are unable to concentrate, take a break and be kind to yourself, your mind will reward you with better concentration when you need it the most.

“Arise awake and stop not until the goal is achieved.”

Swami Vivekananda

A Trip to Darjeeling.

DARJEELING.

Darjeeling, (meaning the land of thunderbolts) is a hill station in the foothills of the lower Himalayas. Darjeeling is immersed in a beauty that has mesmerised visitors for time immemorial. Ruling over India, the British had made Darjeeling the summer capital for its pristine beauty and snow clad mountains.

We decided to visit Darjeeling during February as the winter beauty of Darjeeling leaves one breathless. The best time to visit this hill station in West Bengal, (India) is Feb-Mar and Sep-Nov. It is best to avoid visiting during June-July as the area is prone to landslides during the monsoon.

We took the Darjeeling mail 10:05pm from Howrah station near Kolkata and reached New Jalpaiguri station(NJP) at 8:00 am after an overnight journey of 570kms. From NJP there are two options to reach Darjeeling – 1) The toy train, and 2) By road.

THE TOY TRAIN


TOY TRAIN WITH STEAM ENGINE OF 1881

The toy train was established in 1881, and is enlisted as one of UNESCO World Heritage sites. A ride in the toy train is one of the unforgettable experiences of one’s life. The panoramic view throughout the ride of the breathtaking hillsides will leave everlasting pictures in the mind. One can visit the Ghoom monastery or enjoy local delicacies in Kurseong while sightseeing. The Batasia loop is a famous railway loop that offers an amazing view of the mountains. It goes around an open air Gorkha memorial, with a beautiful garden.

As we were not able to purchase tickets for the toy train we booked a SUV for reaching Darjeeling. There are also buses, shared jeep or vans available from NJP. It took us 2 h 55 min to reach Darjeeling via Matigara- Kurseong Rd, one can also go through NH10 which takes 3 h 12 )min.

If you wish to travel by toy train (diesel engine), it leaves NJP at 9:00am and takes about 7 hours to reach Darjeeling. From Darjeeling to Kurseong steam Engine toy trains are available.

On reaching Darjeeling we stayed at The Darjeeling Tourist lodge which offers a stunning view of Kanchenjunga. There are heritage hotels like the Windamere, Cedar inn, Ramada, Hermitage which are upscale hotels and offer a good view of the Kanchenjunga. There is also numerous mid range and budget hotels and home stays available. After enjoying a hot lunch and taking some rest, we decided to take a walk around the Mall.

The Mall

The mall road, Darjeeling.

The mall road is a mountain walkway with serene mountain scenery where one may enjoy a leisurely morning or evening walk. The Darjeeling mall is a loop of about a kilometre, starting from Chowrasta going around the Observatory hill and returning to the mall itself. The mall road is shaded with trees with rhododendrons scattered along the slopes adding to its beauty. Walking along we saw a huge white building with a golden dome. It is the Bhanu  bhavan  or the Ranga Manch. It is an auditorium which is used for public functions. Opposite to the Ranga manch is St. Andrews Church dating back to the British era (1843). The Raj Bhavan which is the summer residence of the governor of West Bengal is also a landmark along the mall road. There are three viewing areas on the mall road for viewing the beauty of Kanchenjunga. We took a stroll along the road while children enjoyed pony rides. Coming back to the Chowrasta we enjoyed piping hot tea, local alu bhurji and roasted peanuts.

Glenary’s

Glenary’s resturant, a landmark in Darjeeling

The walk along the Mall and shopping at the Chowrasta had made us hungry so we decided on having dinner at the Glenarys. The Glenary’s is owned by the Edwards family in Darjeeling and is over 100years old. It has a wonderful Bakery and café and a restaurant. The food is excellent and view exquisite.

The Tiger Hill.

A view of the majestic Kanchenjungha from Tiger hill.

After a nights rest we woke up in the dark for viewing sunrise from the Tiger hill. We had booked an SUV for the entire day, which took us to the Tiger Hill which is about 12 kms from main Darjeeling. We trekked up a little to find that a lot of tourists had already arrived before us. In the biting chilly morning we enjoyed steaming Darjeeling brew sold by ladies carrying huge flasks. We were lucky to have a clear weather, we watched mesmerised as the sun spread its golden rays in various hues across the majestic Kanchenjunga.

The Ghoom monastery

Ghoom monastry

Our next stop was the Ghoom monastery, built in 1850. The clay statue of Buddha was made with clay brought form Tibet. The two huge lamps are kept burning throughout the year. The intricate work and paintings are worth watching. There is a serene spiritual ambience, which leaves a lasting impression in the mind.

The Dali Monastery

The Prayer Room.

After visiting the Batasia loop and enjoying the serene view, we went to the Dali Monastery. The Dali monastery was built in 1971, and is the residence of the supreme head of the Kargypa sect of Buddhists. The structure and paintings of this monastery are awesome. The prayer room has five cylindrical golden drums, which elderly monks were rotating and offering prayers. The chants create a spiritual atmosphere in which one can immerse oneself.

The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park.

A zoo amidst mountains.

The 67.56 acre zoo was made in 1958 at a height of 7,000 feet. The zoo is a breeding centre for endangered species like Siberian tiger, Himalayan wolf, snow leopard, red panda. There are about 60 species of orchids and some oak trees are more than 100 years old. All the animals and birds looked bright and healthy in the natural surroundings. The huge trees and mists floating around created a mystical atmosphere.

Everest Museum.

 After looking around the zoo we went to the Everest museum situated within the complex of The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. The museum displays a chronological history of the attempts on Mt. Everest. The display starts from 1852 when Radhanath Sikdar measured Mt. Everest for the first time. It was named after Sir George Everest the then survey General of India. The personal gears and equipments show how difficult it was for early climbers to mount the Everest. The equipments of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, the first Everest conquerors are also on display.

Bengal Natural History Museum.

The Bengal Natural History Museum showcases animal and bird life in the Darjeeling hills. The stuffed animals, fishes and birds looked so fresh that they seemed to be artificial.

Tenzing Rock.

Our next stop was The Tenzing rock which is a fun place for amateur climbers. A pair of natural rocks is used for practising climbing. People are assisted as they climb up and down the rock. It is a great place to boost up your skills as a rock climber. Although initially it seemed impossible we actually managed the daunting task with some help.

Happy Valley Tea Estate.

Tea estate in various shades of green.

This emerald green tea garden gave us the feel of life in the tea gardens. It is spread over 177 hectares and is situated 3 kms north of Darjeeling. The estate produces hand rolled tea which is as exquisite as it is expensive. We bought some tea for ourselves as well as gifts for friends and family.

The Darjeeling Ropeway.

It is another popular tourist Destination plying from ‘North Point’ in Darjeeling town and ‘Singla’ on the banks of the Ramman river. The journey was exciting and offered us beautiful views of the valleys and hills in Darjeeling.

The Peace Pagoda.

Abode of peace.

Our last stop was the Darjeeling Peace Pagoda which is designed to help people around the world to unite for World Peace. It houses the four avatars of Buddha. It is situated in the slopes of Jalapahar hills and offers a peaceful and spiritual surrounding; which the hills, trees and mountain mists enhance. The driver dropped us at the mall where we enjoyed mouth watering, piping hot momos which are hard to resist. After a stroll and a lot of shopping of woollen garments, we wound up for the day.

The stay in Darjeeling was made even more appetising with the local delicacies like steaming hot momo and Tibetian Thupka. These are must haves in Darjeeling along with Darjeeling tea which is low in calorie and high in caffeine giving you energy to climb the slopes. As we drove down to the plains, the mist covered mountains seemed to beckon us for another visit.

Questions That Arise

Faith restores peace.

Why do the corrupt pray so hard?
Why do they thrive if they are bad?
Why do the good, even if they pray,
Hardly ever find their way ?
Why are the kind thought to be weak?
Why does the world hurt the meek?
Why do the cunning always win?
In spite of being drowned in sin?

The gentle people of this world;
Must speak up for rights and be bold,
Take strong stands and fight for right ;
Fight for justice, with all their might.
Till faith and peace, regains the throne
And belief in goodness is reborn.

Sumita Tah

Save Water, Save Life.

Thousands lived without love, but none without water.

Land without water is hell.

Water woes
My throat was parched,
My lips were dry,
Water! Water!
Was my cry.
I squeezed my eyes,
Far to see.
To find some water,
Or find a tree.
Not a drop was there,
Nor a plant, nor tree.
For rivers and forests,
Were history.

Water is more precious than mutual funds or shares. SAVE IT.


Water is life. Without water life is not possible. Every living being needs water for survival. We all know that three fourths of the world is covered by water. Of this 97% is found in oceans and salt lakes as saline water , and only 3% of it is sweet water. Most of this sweet water, about 2%, exists in the form of glaciers at the poles ,as perma-frosts, ice-caps, water vapour in the atmosphere as well as soil moisture. That leaves 1% of the earth’s water resources fit for consumption. This water is found on land in forms of rivers, lakes, ponds , wells and as underground water in aquifers.
This 1% sweet water is the source of life not only for humans, but for all forms of life that exists on land. Humans have been using this water for ages for cooking, cleaning, washing, bathing as well as for agricultural and industrial use. As long as machines weren’t invented for pumping out water wastage of water was limited. As people had to labour hard to draw water from wells and ponds, they used water judiciously.

Pumped out water requires no labour, hence wasted.


With the invention of advanced pumps and drilling machines. Pumping out water has become an easy task. With the press of a button or a switch, water is readily available for use . In cities and towns, the corporations provide water through out the year, so people do not think twice before using, more than the required amount of water. Washing our hands in running water wastes 27 litres of water which can be done with 1 litre water using a mug. If we turn off the tap while soaping our body we save 50 litres of water. Using a bathtub wastes 110 litres of water. Washing cars uses 150 litres of water , which can be minimised to 50 litres using bucket and mug.

Precious water in poisonous plastic is a deadly menace.
Stop polluting water bodies.


Advancement should be actual, not superficial. The water that we are wasting today belongs to the next generation. Depletion of underground water is a harsh reality , that we are ignoring for the present. Most waterbodies are polluted to such an extent that the water is no longer fit for consumption. This includes seas and oceans, where marine animals and creatures are facing extinction due to chemical and plastic pollution.

Rapidly melting mountain glaciers are a threat to the globe.


The glaciers in the mountains, which are the prime source of water for permanent rivers are also melting fast due to global warming. This means that these rivers would also dry up within a decade or two. It would mean that there would be no source of water, either over the ground or underground.
Trees would perish due to lack of water and agriculture would be impossible. The coming generations would bear the burnt of the deeds of the present generation. Through exploitation of nature, we are paving the way towards a dreadful future for the generations to come.
The children are aware of the adverse effects of the so called development of the present generation. But, being brought up in comfort, they are not equipped for dealing with the impending adverse situations. It is for us to see that our children and living beings at do not suffer due to our irresponsible and callous lifestyle. They would need sweet water , healthy food and fresh air, and bearable atmospheric temperature to survive.
Water is the tastiest thing that God has made. Let us save water and be thankful for the best things in life…. Which are always free.
Save water , every drop counts.

Nature has provided everything in abundance, let us take only what is necessary, so that others can also enjoy the bounties of nature, just as we have enjoyed them.

We need a lot of blue to remain green.

EVERYBODY’S MOTHER

SHE’S SO BEAUTIFUL, ISN’T SHE?



Everyone knows that the Earth,
Is suffering in our hands.
Our everyday lives
Adds to her distress.
She suffers silently our callousness.

Like a mother with many children,
She takes care of us.
Fulfills our need
Gives us what we want.
She also wishes to be appreciated.

We all love her , So we say.
Explain and try to make others realise,
How miserable she is
How uncaring we are
Things we should do to make her well.

Then, leaving everything for others,
We continue our journey;
Fulfilling our dreams,
Staying focused on our goals,
Climbing ladders of success.

Mother carefully holds all ladders;
Perched on her bossom, providing
Support to her children,
For the sky is the limit:
Everything is possible if there’s will.

Willingness is everything
When we set our hearts to a thing.
We set priorities
Fulfill our commitments
And achieve the so called impossible.

Then in hopelessness we blame;
People who are ignorant,
Lazy, worthless, greedy:
It is the actions of this uncaring lot
Which will invite the end of mankind .


                                  SumitaTah


It’s so easy to blame…..

Combating Global Warming

Global Warming and climate change.

‘Global warming’ has become one of the most used phrases in the recent times. Everyone seems to be concerned about global warming but hardly anything substantial gets done about it. It is a sad thing that in spite of knowing the causes and effects of this global phenomenon, everyone prefers to turn a blind eye towards the matter. The causes of global warming are primarily, the numerous concrete jungles that are cropping up, vehicular emissions, plastic menace and the population boom. Among these population boom is the main reason which gives birth to the other causes. It is because of these reasons that the atmosphere is getting polluted giving rise to the ‘Green House Effect’. The heat gets trapped among the dust particles and the pollutants, which stops it from going back to space and letting the earth cool down.

The effects of global warming, is proving to be disastrous for the biosphere. The list of extinct animals is going on increasing, along with the ever increasing list of new diseases.  People are pursuing careers and achieving success only to find that everything is taken away due to ill health. When people have this realization, it is often too late to mend the ways. It is same for our efforts to combat Global warming and climate change. By the time we realize that the basic requirements like air, water and food cannot be supplemented by money, it will be too late.

Protect Plant Rights.

There are laws to protect human rights, laws to protect animal rights but no laws for plant rights. There are of course certain laws for forest conservation, which are molded at will in the name of so called development. Trees like mothers are silent providers, who want nothing in return and are hence the most neglected of the lot. Trees cannot shriek, wail, yell or run away when they are butchered, hence it is Ok. to chop and uproot them at will. We forget that they are the providers of the very oxygen without which we cannot survive for more than two to three minutes. The injustice towards the providers of life giving oxygen, must be stopped. It is high time for humans to stand up for plant rights.

Don’t let the glaciers melt.

If global warming continues, the day is not far when humans will also face the same fate as the emperor penguins whose entire giant colony vanished. (In 2016, as the ice sheets collasped , the entire colony of chicks drowned. The adults did not breed after that. No one wants a bleak future for their children.) The only difference would be that they were not responsible for climate change while humans are entirely responsible for it. The good thing is that all is not lost; we still have time to rectify our errors. Simple efficient and effective measures may be taken to save our lovely earth.

More than decorative interiors, we need beautiful exteriors.

First and formost, is the need to take extensive afforestation measures. Trees must be planted everywhere and by everyone. Here we are trying to achieve a secure future for every living being on earth. Just as we save money for future, similarly we are here trying to protect our, as well as the future generation’s health and well being. It will prove to be the greatest investment that we have ever made. This afforestation measure can be simplified, if we involve our future generation in it. It would indeed be a wise and effective measure on the part of the governments, if they involved all educational institutions in planting of trees. Governments of all countries should make tree plantation one of the mandatory activities for students in the age group of 11 to 14 yrs.

Trees will prevent roads from heating up.

 Once a year the students should be made to plant a tree in a given stretch of road allotted to the school by the government. The school will be responsible to maintain the trees in that stretch of road. Although cumbersome at the beginning, it will be a source of pride in the future. This can be extended to other organizations and industries who will take up afforestation measures as part of community service. If such measures are implemented throughout the world it would prove to be a simple effective measure in ensuring a pollution free atmosphere for the coming generations. The students and people who plant the trees will also retain a good memory, in form of a ’ Tree Friend’.

The cool shade of friendship.

We must find innovative ways to protect our mother earth and be successful in it. Governments should ban plastic manufacturing, and find biodegradable alternatives to plastic. Mindless constructions of concrete jungles should also be curbed through stringent measures. Old buildings should be demolished and new buildings made on those sites instead of encroaching forests and wastelands. Multiplexes and sky rises must be made to have some green cover to prevent heat retention. Along with these measures, schools and societies should preach minimalist approach to life to prevent unnecessary exploitation of earth’s resources, which should be saved for the future generations. If people buy only what they need and start reusing and recycling things, the mountains of waste that is generated everyday can be curbed to some extent. These toxic wastes pose a grave threat to our future and must be generated only at the minimal level.

STOP Plastic menace.

It all starts with our thinking. As we think, so we do. As we do, so we yield. This is the simplest process that guides our life. We must all start thinking about giving back positively to nature. So far, it has been nature which has taken care of us and we have only taken all the way. We have only given back negatively to nature which has resulted in ‘Global Warming and Climate Change.’ We must now change our ways and give back to nature positively, if we really want to continue to enjoy the bounties of nature. If we don’t, nature too will give back negatively which will be very difficult for us to tolerate. It is time for action…. For more than money, we want pure air ,water and food for our children.

WE ARE THE FIRST GENERATION TO FEEL THE EFFECT OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE LAST GENERATION WHO CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Barak Obama.

           “Think, Act, and Save the Planet.”

No Work is Mean

Appreciate other’s work. In order to earn respect, you must first give it.
Sumita Tah

Work is worship. Lord Krishna in ‘Bhagvad Gita’ says, the purpose of life is ‘Karma’ or work. There is no greater worship than work. Lord Krishna says, “Do your work well, do not look for results.” As you do the work ,so will the results follow in its own course. It is expectations, which is the prime cause of grief. We are born to work- work for the betterment of mankind, and the world as a whole.

 Work is work, and should not be discriminated upon. Every type of work is essential for our existence. Work should not be categorized as high or low. This type of categorization is existent in the under-developed and developing countries , where population is high and manual labour is cheap. In developed countries manual labour is held high regard and is well paid. This is also the prime cause of immigration from underdeveloped countries to the developed ones.

It is really strange that people seem to look down upon some of the essential work as mean. Cleaning, serving others, doing household chores are looked down as menial work. Nobody is eager to do them. The truth is without these basic work, our lives would be miserable. Therefore, we must change our mindset and understand that no work is mean, and deserves equal respect.

 We must do each and every work to the best of our capabilities and success is sure to follow. The secret of success is doing every work to perfection, irrespective of what we are doing. We must try to do the work so well that no one will be able to do it in a better manner. Every being must understand the dignity of labour, and make the world a better place to live in.

SLEEPLESS DREAMS

Our life itself is a dream come true. It has given us an opportunity to fulfil our hearts desire. What more can we ask for?
Pursue your dreams, till they become a reality.

Dreaming dreams never helped ,
Until we’re wide awake.
To opportunities that flow our way,
Only for our sake .

Every moment is meant to be ,
Spent in the finest mode;
Brick by brick we realise our dreams.
Thru actions bad and good.

Step by step we move towards,
What we strive to be.
Our Future is a reflection of,
The thoughts of you and me.

Success comes in every step,
That we take to reach our aim.
Every step we take is new,
Two steps are never the same.

We get a chance to fulfil our dreams,
With every rising sun.
It’s up to us, what we achieve,
When the day is done.

Time runs fast we know from past,
And is same for everyone.
Work and play,fulfil the dreams,
For Life is all but one.

                    Sumita Tah 

A Light In The Dark

By guest blogger Tripali.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

It was nearly midnight and I was returning home from my office, my brain weary and on tenterhooks from long working hours. A sudden faint rustling in the bushes made me jump, and a black cat stalked across the street, glaring at me as if I had done it grievous wrong. I shuddered and walked on.

I was new to this mysterious town, and as I walked down the cold pavement through the darkness that seemed to favour this place, I could not help but think about the town’s history. Once a haunt of British ‘babus’ because of its cold climate, these streets had seen both white men make merry and Indians dragged and whipped along it. Dark stone houses of the era still stood defiantly on the deserted streets, seeming to echo both laughter and screams; two sides of the Raj, two sides of the same coin.

I walked on towards the light- wait, light? How was it that I that I had not noticed a faint glow ahead of me, or the fact that I had been following it? In the eternal shroud of this widowed town, the light seemed to be a leftover glimmer, a piece of jewellery that was not removed. Something in the air seemed to whisk away my skeptism of the paranormal, and with each passing second my heart beat faster, as if trying to jump out of my chest and live while I died at the hands of a spectre. I stared with horror and fascination as the darkness began to take shape, the shape of a once-sturdy man, now bent with age, hobbling towards me with a lantern. I shook my head at my own foolishness.

“Hello, young lady! What are you doing, up so late?” said he. I frowned at the accent.” Are you British? Do British people still live here?” I enquired. “Not many, perhaps none at all.” he replied amiably, his voice trembling with age. Something in his voice made me clasp my bag closer. “I do not get many people to talk to. Would you mind entertaining an old man?” he asked. I could not refuse, so we walked. Gradually, the talk turned to the history of the town and the supernatural, as talk with old people usually does. He asked me if I believed in ghosts. Having a scientific temperament, I naturally said, “No.” “Not many people do now-a-days. A pity, eh?” he laughed.”Would you believe if you saw one?” he asked. I shrugged, “Maybe.” I was really tired now and just wanted to get home. But he continued, “Have you heard of stories of spirits of the dead haunting the town?” “Yes, I have.” “Aren’t you afraid, then?” he enquired. “No. Even if ghosts existed, what proof is there that they would mean harm?” I said.

He chuckled, ruffling my hair, and said, “What a sensible girl. I’ll be off now. Thank you for keeping me company.” Saying so, he hobbled off into the dark.

I stood rooted to the spot for a while.

Somehow, my senses had failed to notice all this time that it was not his lantern that was glowing.

It was the man himself.