Of all the places that I have been, no places has captured my imagination as much as Cornwall did. Reminded me of a Farsi couplet written by Amir Khusrau, written sometime around the 13th-14th century –
Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast.
(English:If there is a paradise on earth,
It is this, it is this, it is this)
I wish I lived my life like the oarsman
guiding my boat through the stream;
when I’d steer my way through troubles
however insurmountable they might seem;
Where every tug and pull at my oar
satisfies me of each little job well done;
and the end of each fulfilling day makes me
look forward to newer journeys under the sun.
Of all myriad trappings offered by life
I am but a sentient aggregate
consumer of my own purveyance
A fickle result of complicity and strife
between my actions and my fate.
Yet, you relegate me to an image
in an evanescent meeting of chance
Naivete, or hubris I ask
when you subject me, as aliens gauge
my existence from your cursory glance?
His name is Ravinder. I met him while walking near my house in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, India. I got talking with him over a cup of tea, during which he told me about how, as a young man, he would engage in petty theft. He didn’t tell me if he was ever caught. All that I could see was this expression on his face after he told me about his past. Make of it what you may.