Psalm 23 and Dreams

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It was a ritual in our home that everyone recited the Twenty-third Psalm at the end of the evening prayer and the same was recited at our church at the end of the Holy Mass. This Psalm is applicable to one and all, irrespective of one’s religion and it reaffirms one’s faith in their God. The Twenty-third Psalm begins with “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”. In the Malayalam version which we recited as children, the “I shall not want” part was translated as “എനിക്കു മുട്ടുണ്ടാകുകയില്ല” (enikku muttundakukayilla), and I always looked at my knees after reciting it, as it literarily translated in any child’s mind as “I will not have my knees”.

God will open the door only if one knocks and hence the aspect of “I shall not want” in Psalm 23 is debatable. Without the ‘wants’ humanity would have never progressed and developed to its current stature. The modern version of the Psalm has put it more aptly as “The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing”. These ‘wants’ always tempted me to dream, about anything and everything I came across as a child, mostly to be rebuked by elders saying that I was wasting my time dreaming – even the act of dreaming was rationed in our childhood—‘Who can dream what and how much’ was somewhat a pre-decided issue!

As I grew up and came under the stewardship of Late Mr PT Cherian, our House Master at Sainik School, Amaravathinagar, Tamil Nadu, who always encouraged us to dream –to dream big – that too King Size. As I grew older I read the Wings of Fire by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam wherein he says that “Dream is not that which you see while sleeping it is something that does not let you sleep.” This was the predicament I always faced while dreaming that it delayed my falling asleep and the same continues to date.

Veteran Commander D Reginald was my companion to operate the public address system in the school under the guidance of Mr PT Cherian while studying in Grade 9 (1974). All the amplifiers, speakers, cables, etc were kept in Mr Cherian’s Physics Lab and on Sundays after lunch we both would go there to carry out regular maintenance. Once we were accompanied by our friend S Harikrishnan (currently Manager, State Bank of India), who was an accomplished singer. The idea was to fulfill Hari’s dream of listening to his voice duly recorded on the audio cassette recorder. Being Sunday afternoon, we knew that Mr Cherian will never be around as he always enjoyed his afternoon siesta and never ever wanted to be disturbed at that time and there would be no one to stop us from (mis)using the precious cassette recorder. We recorded Hari’s song and played back the recording. That was the first time he ever heard his own singing. Hari had the brightest and the biggest eyes amongst us and he was so excited that his eyes bulged out like search lights.

After accomplishing the mission Hari left and we were on to our maintenance tasks. Reginald was always a better dreamer than I was and continues to be so till date. Our discussion was about the possibility that one day we would be able to record what we see with the same ease like we recorded Hari’s voice. That dream has come true today and we have even gone much ahead that we are able to transmit the same across the globe in real-time. Remember that ‘What you dream today will in all likelihood become a reality tomorrow.’

We have encouraged our children to dream and the effect of it is mostly heard from the washroom. I always hear their monologues, dialogues, role-playing, singing, etc while they spend their time in the washroom – the most private time one ever gets. I was really scared of doing this while growing up on the fear of what others will think about me (mad?) and so I could never give expression to my dreams.

One must dream, that too dream unlimited. That is when one gets into a creative mood and comes out with ‘out of the box’ ideas. Imagine if Newton or Shakespeare or Ved Vyasa did not dream; the world would have been surely poorer. Some of our dreams may fructify in our life time like the video recording dream we had as children; some we would be able to implement ourselves as we grow up.

One such dream I always carried was that of the ‘Bara Khana’ (Party for the soldiers) in the regiment. One always saw the chefs overworked in the kitchen, many soldiers toiling it out for erecting the tents, making seating arrangements, organizing entertainment, serving food and drinks, etc. Many soldiers took it as a ‘punishment’ and not as a time to make merry. My dream was that all soldiers in the regiment should be free from all chores and commitments and be free to enjoy the party with their families and friends.

On return to our permanent location in Devlali after an year long operational deployment, Late Col Suresh Babu approached me with the idea of party for the entire unit with the families. That was when I gave my directions based on my dreams – everything should be contracted out – from tent pitching, decorations, entertainment, food preparation and service – each and everything and no soldier would toil for it. The only hitch which Col Babu projected was that the waiters of the contractors will not be familiar with the military protocols and hence may not serve the Commanding Officer first and so on. I was fine with it as I never had any ‘doubt’ that I was commanding the unit.

On the day of the party, there were round tables laid out with chairs for all officers, soldiers and their families to sit and the contracted entertainment troupe started off with their performances. Snacks and drinks were being served by the contractor’s waiters and each and everyone enjoyed the proceedings. At this time our chef came to me and said that it was the first party he attended. that too wearing his best clothes and thanked me immensely for arranging this. All the soldiers were unanimous that it was the first time they wholeheartedly enjoyed an evening, otherwise they would be running around and also closing down everything after the party. After the success of the first outsourced party, we decided that we would hold only two parties a year and would always be outsourced.

As one grows up, it would be feasible to implement one’s dreams, but many find it convenient to forget them then.

Banff Gondola, Takakkaw Falls and Duffey Lake

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After visiting the Columbia Icefields, we travelled to the town of Banff and stayed there overnight.  The town of Banff was intended to be a tourist destination from its very inception.  The town is situated in a valley in the Banff National Park, enclosed by the beautiful and rugged Rocky mountains.  The city streets are lively with tourists and is lined with top class restaurants, bars and shops.

The town boasts of the Banff Sightseeing Gondola, located just five minutes from the Town of Banff, on the shoulder of Sulphur Mountain.  The gondola ride offers a marvellous view of the town of Banff as well as the mountains around.

On the morning of August 08, 2016, we boarded a four-seater, glass enclosed gondola at the base.  The glass bottom of the gondola provided us with a 360 degree panoramic view of six scenic mountain ranges around Banff.  Below us, as we were moving up was the walking trail leading to the summit and there were many hikers enjoying the same view.

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After about 10 minutes in the gondola, we reached Sulphur Mountain at an elevation of about 7,500 ft.  It felt like being on top of the world as we stood on the spacious main level observation deck.

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We got on to the Skywalk, a kilometer long walkway, created out of cedar wood platforms and steps, leading up to the Sanson’s Peak Meteorological Station.  As we ascended to the top, it offered us with some incredible views into the valley.  There were information boards placed at all the viewing decks explaining what we were seeing in front.

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The Sundance Ranges was the most prominent of the mountains around the Sulphur Mountain, standing up majestically tall.  Sundance is a sacred ceremony for the Aboriginal people who lived and travelled through these mountains  for many centuries.  The ranges got its name from the many Sundance sites at the base of these mountains.

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On top of the summit was the Sanson’s Peak Meteorological Station.  In the early 1900’s, Norman Sanson climbed a trail up the mountain every week.  For nearly 30 years he recorded the weather data at the historic stone building that is still standing.

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From the summit we had a mesmerising view of the Moraine Lake, cupped high among the lofty mountains and the Bow River which originates from this lake, flowing through the Banff town.

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On our walk back, we were greeted by a flock of Big Horn Mountain Sheep.  They were grazing on the lichens that had grown on the piers of the wooden walkway.  There were many squirrels or marmots running all over the walkway as we descended.

After enjoying the scenic beauty the Sulphur Mountain offered, we returned to the base on the gondola for our onward journey to the Takakkaw Falls, the second highest falls in Canada.

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Takakkaw Falls, fed by the Daly Glacier, is a waterfall located in Yoho National Park, near Field, British Columbia.  Its highest point is 302 m from its base, but the water’s true ‘free-fall’ is only 260 m.  It is a major tourist attraction in the summer as the melting glacier keeps the volume of the falls up during the warm summer months.  In the fall, the water flow slows down and the raging falls narrows down to a ribbon of ice awaiting summer to set it free.

As we drove off the highway through many hairpin bends to the falls, we were greeted by the tremendous thunder of Takakkaw Falls.  The Yoho Valley access road to the falls is closed during winter due to high-frequency of avalanches.  The road is only open from June through October for the summer season.

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We left our car in the parking lot and made our way through a forest track, walking for about 10 minutes, we reached the base of the falls.  As we got closer to the falls, we were blasted by the deafening sound of the water pounding against the rocks.  The walk was enjoyable as it offered a clear view of the falls throughout and the light spray from the falls really refreshing.

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As we inched closer to the falls, we were drenched from head to toe.  The falls appeared to be in slow motion as the wind in the area literally carried the water away from the rocky face.  The falls being high, a large amount of water never reaches the base as it is carried away into a mist that creates many interesting shapes and swirls.

From the breathtaking falls, on our drive to Whistler, we entered the Lil’wat Territory.  Lil’wat is an aboriginal group of people and also one of the largest Indian reserves by population in Canada.  Líl̓wat artifacts dating back to 3,500 BC have been found in this area.  Lil’wat’s connection with the land has been both economic and spiritual, with a harmonious relationship with nature — a value that remains strong today. They harvest wild fruits, hunt deer and fish.  They have passed on their traditional arts, ceremonies and beliefs over the generation and teach their children St̓át̓imc language even today.

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We halted at Duffey Lake.  The lake is called by the Lil’wat as ‘Teq’, meaning ‘blocked’ or ‘stuck to be in the way’.  This name comes from the log jam at the Eastern end of the lake.

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The Western end of  the lake is  called Sd’akw and beyond that is the Cayoosh Mountain.

We Canadians are blessed with an abundance of natural wonders with enough lakes, mountains, waterfalls and rivers to keep us exploring for our lifetime.