It Might Have Been.

This phrase is often used to describe missed opportunities and most people who quote this are not aware that they are from a poem of the early nineteenth century describing a typical rural broken romance.  I was enlightened by my late elder cousin, a Professor of English about this when I had gone visiting him as he lay in a hospital bed suffering from a brain tumour.  Even in that condition, he made me promise that I will look this up when I had quoted this phrase and on being queried replied my ignorance about its source.

I was reminded of this episode when I came across Ekoshapu mentioning it in one of his “Thought Of The Day” posts.

I did not know that Ekoshapu was a poetry buff too and so left these comments on his post. “It is interesting that you are a poetry buff too! Maud Muller is one of the most poignant and beautiful poems ever written. That is, in my opinion.”

Here is the original Maud Muller poem in full.


by: John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

AUD MULLER, on a summer’s day,
Raked the meadows sweet with hay.

Beneath her torn hat glowed the wealth
Of simple beauty and rustic health.

Singing, she wrought, and her merry glee
The mock-bird echoed from his tree.

But, when she glanced to the far-off town,
White from its hill-slope looking down,

The sweet song died, and a vague unrest
And a nameless longing filled her breast–

A wish, that she hardly dared to own,
For something better than she had known.

The Judge rode slowly down the lane,
Smoothing his horse’s chestnut mane.

He drew his bridle in the shade
Of the apple-trees, to greet the maid,

And ask a draught from the spring that flowed
Through the meadow across the road.

She stooped where the cool spring bubbled up,
And filled for him her small tin cup,

And blushed as she gave it, looking down
On her feet so bare, and her tattered gown.

“Thanks!” said the Judge, “a sweeter draught
From a fairer hand was never quaffed.”

He spoke of the grass and flowers and trees,
Of the singing birds and the humming bees;

Then talked of the haying, and wondered whether
The cloud in the west would bring foul weather.

And Maud forgot her briar-torn gown,
And her graceful ankles bare and brown;

And listened, while a pleasant surprise
Looked from her long-lashed hazel eyes.

At last, like one who for delay
Seeks a vain excuse, he rode away,

Maud Muller looked and sighed: “Ah, me!
That I the Judge’s bride might be!

“He would dress me up in silks so fine,
And praise and toast me at his wine.

“My father should wear a broadcloth coat;
My brother should sail a painted boat.

“I’d dress my mother so grand and gay,
And the baby should have a new toy each day.

“And I’d feed the hungry and clothe the poor,
And all should bless me who left our door.”

The Judge looked back as he climbed the hill,
And saw Maud Muller standing still.

“A form more fair, a face more sweet,
Ne’er hath it been my lot to meet.

“And her modest answer and graceful air
Show her wise and good as she is fair.

“Would she were mine, and I to-day,
Like her, a harvester of hay:

“No doubtful balance of rights and wrongs,
Nor weary lawyers with endless tongues,

“But low of cattle, and song of birds,
And health, and quiet, and loving words.”

But he thought of his sisters, proud and cold,
And his mother, vain of her rank and gold.

So, closing his heart, the Judge rode on,
And Maud was left in the field alone.

But the lawyers smiled that afternoon,
When he hummed in court an old love-tune;

And the young girl mused beside the well,
Till the rain on the unraked clover fell.

He wedded a wife of richest dower,
Who lived for fashion, as he for power.

Yet oft, in his marble hearth’s bright glow,
He watched a picture come and go:

And sweet Maud Muller’s hazel eyes
Looked out in their innocent surprise.

Oft when the wine in his glass was red,
He longed for the wayside well instead;

And closed his eyes on his garnished rooms,
To dream of meadows and clover-blooms.

And the proud man sighed, with a secret pain,
“Ah, that I were free again!

“Free as when I rode that day,
Where the barefoot maiden raked her hay.”

She wedded a man unlearned and poor,
And many children played round her door.

But care and sorrow, and child-birth pain,
Left their traces on heart and brain.

And oft, when the summer sun shone hot
On the new-mown hay in the meadow lot,

And she heard the little spring brook fall
Over the roadside, through the wall,

In the shade of the apple-tree again
She saw a rider draw his rein,

And, gazing down with timid grace,
She felt his pleased eyes read her face.

Sometimes her narrow kitchen walls
Stretched away into stately halls;

The weary wheel to a spinnet turned,
The tallow candle an astral burned;

And for him who sat by the chimney lug,
Dozing and grumbling o’er pipe and mug,

A manly form at her side she saw,
And joy was duty and love was law.

Then she took up her burden of life again,
Saying only, “It might have been.”

Alas for maiden, alas for Judge,
For rich repiner and household drudge!

God pity them both! and pity us all,
Who vainly the dreams of youth recall;

For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!”

Ah, well! for us all some sweet hope lies
Deeply buried from human eyes;

And, in the hereafter, angels may
Roll the stone from its grave away!

Posted in Blogging, Language, Nostalgia, Poetry | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Be Practical!

Indians use a term “Jugaad” to describe practical innovations to solve problems. Here is one such jugaad.

Posted in Humor, India | Tagged , | 10 Comments


Last Saturday morning was an eventful one for, the daughter of my friend of over six decades, landed up at home on her way to a pilgrimage centre. She came in and left like a typhoon but had stopped at home for the few minutes only to leave a whole lot of goodies from Chennai that are not available here in Pune. She promised to spend more time with me on Sunday and she kept her word. She spent all of ten minutes on Sunday with me.

During those ten minutes, I caught up with some news of her family in Chennai and she got a whiff of suspicion about my health issues.

She reached home at 1.00 am this morning and sent me a message that she had reached home safely and that she was very concerned about my health.

At 9.00 this morning, her father and my friend rang me up to announce that he, his wife and grandson will shortly visit me in Pune to see how I am. I assured him, like I have been assuring a lot of people that I am not about to pop off any time soon but, he is booking tickets and that is that. He too had taken the news of the death of my brother badly as, he had known my brother for as long as he has known me and now wishes to spend some time with me in his twilight years.  I understand him as he does me.

I am blessed to be given such friends.

Posted in Friendship, Gratitude, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Growing Old!

To appreciate this joke better, please go over to Cheerful Monk’s blog post Time Machine first. Please also read all the comments there.

Posted in Blogging, Humor | Tagged | 8 Comments


The idea for this week’s topic for the Weekly Friday 2 on 1 blog post came to me following a visit to some friends last week to see the new home that they had moved into recently. While we were discussing many things there, being challenged by two very young but sharp minds, their father, no pushover either, observed that though I am not physically very active, mentally I am very curious and keep abreast of many things which he found unusual.

In that particular environment of the whole family taking part in wide ranging discussions, I could not come up with the a repartee that I wanted to but, later, after I came home and had accessed my bank of quotations, I found exactly what I was looking for.

Thomas Freidman in his book The World Is Flat came up with this equation :

I sent the Wikipedia link to my friend and added that I had plenty of CQ and PQ but hardly any IQ.  He responded with :

Bloger Cheerful Monk is another great advocate of curiosity. I wonder what her response to this post will be!

I hope that my fellow blogger Shackman has come up with something as weird as this post in his blog. Please do go over and check.

Posted in Blogging, Books / Reading, Friendship, Language | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

The Way We Were.

There are some days when one gets hit with more than a couple of reminders of how fragile life is and today is one of those.

First in the morning, I rang up my elder cousin to wish him on his 78th birthday and he reminisced about how his birth day and my father’s day of death are the same and also how his son’s birthday and my late younger brother Arvind’s day of death are the same. Both he and his son had younger to their father uncles who died on their birthdays!

I sit to open the mail and I find this from my brother Barath in London to me and our sister Padmini in Bengaluru, reminiscing about Arvind just because he heard Barbara Streisand singing. Despite the long distances that separated the four siblings, we were very close to each other thanks to a dysfunctional home during our childhood and teens. The bonds developed then haven’t been eroded by time but the untimely loss of one has been quite devastating.

“I have been thinking about Aravind and all the childhood memories of being together, albeit briefly. I just thought that this expresses it all for me and brings tears to my eyes.

God I miss him, his Joie de vivre, his imitations, his straightforwardness and most of all, his extreme ability as an Engineer.”

Light the corners of my mind
Misty water-coloured memories
Of the way we were

Scattered pictures
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were

Can it be that
It was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we?
Could we?

May be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it’s the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were

Posted in Family, Nostalgia, Relationships | 17 Comments


Adam and Eve said, “Lord, when we were in the garden, you walked with us every day. Now we do not see you anymore. We are lonesome here and it is difficult for us to remember how much you love us.”

And God said, “No problem! I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will love me even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourselves.”

And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam and Eve. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased.

And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and Eve and he wagged his tail.

And Adam said, “Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal.”

And God said, “No problem. Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG.”

And Dog lived with Adam and Eve and was a companion to them and loved them. And they were comforted.

And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail.

After a while, it came to pass that an angel came to the Lord and said, “Lord, Adam and Eve have become filled with pride. They strut and preen like peacocks and they believe they are worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught them that they are loved, but perhaps too well.”

And God said, “No problem! I will create for them a companion who will be with them forever and who will see them as they are. The companion will remind them of their limitations, so they will know that they are not always worthy of adoration.”

And God created CAT to be a companion to Adam and Eve.

And Cat would not obey them. And when Adam and Eve gazed into Cat’s eyes, they were reminded that they were not the supreme beings. And Adam and Eve learned humility.

And they were greatly improved.

And God was pleased. And Dog was happy.

And Cat didn’t give a shit one way or the other.

Posted in Humor, Pets | 9 Comments

An Unexpected Gift – 2.

My readers will remember my lamenting long ago that I am often called Ramana Sir although,  I would love be called Sir Ramana! Here is another instance of that endearing trait in India of calling elders by attaching a ‘Sir’ to their names.

In response to my query on my post number 1 “What makes you think that I either don’t or, do?”, Ekoshapu, the young man in the story, has written a fascinating blog post.

Now, my readers will know why I found the two young men so endearing!  With this post, Ekoshapu has just been added to the long list of beneficiaries in my will.

Please do read his fascinating take on Tsundoku, a word that I have just learned from his post, and his meeting with me.

Posted in Blogging, Books / Reading, Friendship, Humor, Writing | Tagged | 5 Comments

I Can Scream.

After writing my blog post My Top 10 Guilty Pleasures and having got rid of my guilt seeing how many people shared my weakness for ice cream, this came as a bit let down!

Thank you Ekoshapu!

Posted in Blogging, Humor | 4 Comments

An Unexpected Gift.

For about a year or so, I had been interacting with two young men on a group in WhatsApp. My contributions usually being witty or pithy comments with a great deal of detachment whereas theirs, more involved and passionate. The group is our local Alumni Association’s with membership running across a wide spectrum of age, gender, experience and ideologies. On an impulse, I had suggested a personal meeting to one of them last week and he readily agreed. Not only did he agree but, he also wondered if he could bring along another member, a colleague and personal friend of his. Having interacted with the other as well on WhatsApp, I readily agreed and they both called on me last evening.

They stayed for a couple of highly stimulating hours which I thoroughly enjoyed and they assured me before leaving that they did too.

The combined age of the two equals mine, or, in other words, both are half my age. Their world view and experiences are vastly different to what was mine at that age and the stresses and problems that they have to handle simply did not exist for me at that age. This remarkable difference in our life situations occupied most of our discussions and for me at least, it was a learning experience which, no amount of news paper or periodicals reading would have given me.

Apart from such commonalities, the two had very different social backgrounds which in turn impact their current life styles in different ways but, in more of an understandable way as, these are universal and quite obvious.

One of the young men, let us call him AK is a blogger and reads my blogs every day as do I his posts. Apart from the traditional gifts people take when they visit someone, AK brought a gift wrapped parcel for me which he presented to me before leaving with the ominous comment, “I hope that you enjoy this Sir! I found it very helpful.”

And that is the book that appears alongside. Before I decided on quite how to treat the book, I investigated the author and read up some reviews of the book and then sent off the book for binding as I do to books that I intend reading and keeping for repeated reference. My investigations as well as the first few pages that I glanced through before I sent it off for binding assures me that it will be interesting and I look forward to reading it soon.

Since AK is bound to read this post, my question to him is “What makes you think that I either don’t or, do?” I hope that he will respond either off blog or here in the comments. In case he does off blog to remain anonymous, I shall share his response with my readers through another blog post.

Posted in Blogging, Friendship, Gratitude, Humor, WhatsApp | Tagged | 14 Comments