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Saturday, January 07, 2012

My first blog friend, M.A. Rauf

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I am one who knows how this blogging experience can change a person, for I have been profoundly changed. Later this month it will be six years since I began synch-ro-ni-zing. While it is my spiritual practice to write, and my creative play to take photographs, is it also an act of rapt listening to sit in the blog "theater" where you, my blog friends, share your own explorations. I evolve, much as a result of our engagement with one another.

Within just a couple of months of starting synch-ro-ni-zing, my outlook was transformed by one blogger. When I had just a couple of family members reading my blog, including my sister Ginnie who explained to me the ways of blogs, having published at In Soul for a year already, M.A. Rauf stopped in from India for a warm and welcoming visit. Ginnie had taught me to reciprocate blog visits as part of bloggy etiquette, and so I visited Rauf's Daylight Again after that first greeting from him. ("Rauf" — or "rauf" as he prefers — is pronounced "rah-oof.")

There isn't a way to summarize Rauf, or his blog! But I can say that he is a stunning photographer with heart, a writer with compassion and deep respect for those who are "untouchable" or otherwise downtrodden (you will see this for women in his photography), a lover of science, and a fervent lover of his India, with all her complex layers and intricate arts. He opened my eyes to atrocities; he encouraged me to think for myself. His humor, honesty, irony and sometimes outrage over what humans do to each other—including at home in India, and in the U.S.— shook me out of comfort. His love and compassion taught me to see people differently. He took over where my big brother Bennett left off when he passed away, whose worldview had shaped my own, environmentally and politically. He teaches me tips about photography, too, like Bennett.
Rauf doesn't blog much now, a real loss to me and his many followers from all four corners of the world. But he still takes photographs on his travels around India, and he still rages against agri-businesses that threaten not only all of our health, but the very lives of farmers in India who literally cannot survive financially and consequently commit suicide as families. When you watch this YouTube slideshow I made of a sampling of Rauf's images (please watch, it's just six minutes), observe the faces of his subjects, who cannot resist his charm: even Mother Earth smiles when Rauf lifts his camera.

Today is Rauf's birthday (January 8; it's already the 8th in India). Even though he and I have never met in person, and may never meet (though I hope that one day Don and I will get to India to meet him!), he is my brother. Happy Birthday, Rauf! This is a small "thank you" for the gift you are to all who know you. Watch full screen to be wrapped in the photos, and listen to "Time Remembered" by the Bill Evans Trio.



Photos by Rauf
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52 comments:

Pat said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous photos! I sat mesmerized watching the slide show. Thank you for sharing Rauf's photos.

Happy Birthday, Rauf!

George said...

This was sensational, Ruth! A great tribute to your friend, Rauf, and a great treat for your readers. Loved the photos, loved the Bill Evans accompaniment, loved everything about it. Rauf obviously loves his native country, and he could never take such lovely photos of the women without loving them deeply. Thanks for this wonderful weekend delight!

Christine said...

These were wonderful to look at, such beauty and love within each of the photographs. Thankyou.

Friko said...

Yes, Ruth, I can see what it is rauf has given you and everyone of those lucky enough to have followed his blog.

thank you.

Elizabeth said...

Rauf is one of the most astounding people in blog world. His photos both stun and delight.
I love that he says he' allergic to wisdom -- though this is far from the truth. Yes we should all celebrate joyfully. A fine soul out there!!

Jane Lancaster said...

wow this post has blown my away and brought tears to my eyes. you Ruth were my first blog friend and encouragement and i know from the friends i have made this year exactly what you mean. its a gift this blogging. and means so much to me. thank you for your early support and for this post that is full of heart and love. and for sharing Rauf. truly touching. love jane xx

Patricia said...

Ruth,
If JMW Turner were alive today he, like me would be blown away by the misty images, I am certain. Rauf has an amazing eye and he knows how to capture the sublime.

Sharon said...

Happy Birthday rauf!

ds said...

So beautiful. Thank you, Ruth, for sharing your amazing brother-friend with us, and setting his photos to such perfect music. "Even Mother Earth smiles when rauf lifts his camera." Oh, yes. Wonderful tribute!

Thank you, rauf, for the beauty you see everywhere, and the love you carry for your country and her people.
Happy Birthday!

Amy @ Soul Dipper said...

Thank you for introducing me to Rauf, Ruth.

While watching the slides, I sensed a great deal of trust and joy as a response from the people. I am glad you presented the one most obscure slide as your first photo. It drew me in for a study. To me, it is a mother and son photo - she, in a saffron sari, strives to keep up with her energetic boy.

Happy Birthday, Rauf. May those of us who now visit you because of this intro be gifts to your life in some way.

California Girl said...

ditto what everyone else said.

awesome photographer. just emailed your post to my husband. he's always entranced by the work of others and he is always learning.

Rauf truly sounds wonderful. Lucky you to have him in your life.

Barb said...

Incredible photos - Rauf showcases his country and helps us see the soul of its people. Happy Birthday to him!

Maureen said...

Marvelous post, Ruth!

There is nothing virtual about your friend. What he captures in his images of women is special indeed. Thank you for sharing his photography with us.

Happy Birthday to Rauf.

ksam said...

Incredible pics! Reading Maureen's comment made me think of friendships on paper, from years and years ago. We called them pen pals then and they were as real as the paper and the envelopes that touched both of our hands and eyes. So aren't our blogging/virtual friends just as real, although we no longer have to wait for weeks to send and get our responses! Hooray for electronic media and the very real friendships that result. Thank you for sharing your very real friend with all of us.

JeannetteLS said...

What a treasure you have shared with us. I sat down to start catching up with my very real virtual friends, and for some reason I cannot name, chose yours. I think I will do the rest another day. This is a perfect place to end a day.

Ksam said it beautifully. I, too, have been changed by the absolutely real way people have touched me with their support, but also with their (your) thoughts, photography, poetry, writing, wisdom, and--above all, I think--kindness. If this is not "real" it should be, because I've stumbled upon more of that in here than I have around me. And it gives such joy to know the extraordinary talent in this community.

We SHOULD be celebrating your dear friend's world view and his photography. Thank you so much, Ruth.

VioletSky said...

I, too, miss his regular postings but this is a beautiful tribute to his work and his passion.

Amy @ Soul Dipper said...

Ruth, I wanted to express my appreciation for your blog. Please check out your Liebster Award at: http://souldipper.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/awards-accepted-with-gratitude-passed-on-with-love/

If you prefer to simply acknowledge, please know that I understand...

monsoon dreams said...

Ruth,
So glad to see Rauf's pics.He's my friend too.I'd say that he is one of the best human beings i have ever met(though he always fights with me :-) I like his brutal honesty,limitless love for his fellow human beings and his breathtaking photography.He 's truly an asset.Wishing him many more wonderful years!

freefalling said...

There's that worm hole working again, Ruth!
A couple of days ago I scoured your comments looking for a trace of Rauf.
And here today, is a whole post about him.
I miss him too.
I miss his heart.

Shaista said...

I am sitting here in Singapore, listening to gentle rain, and missing India fiercely watching the slideshow. Can't believe I have travelled so much, so far, and still not yet returned to Rauf-land... Where has he elusively disappeared to? Are you trying to draw him out?!
Let's sing to him...
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear Rauf-ji....
Happy birthday to yoooooo....

Did it work? Has he appeared??

Kathleen said...

What a beautiful thing!

"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

Another heart felt and lyrical post. Your writing is simply lovely. Thank you for giving it to us and sharing...

(Computer screen keeps going to black and we have to get a new cord later. No quote today. -sigh-)

Bagman and Butler said...

Wonderful blog. And thanks for posting the link to his blog so I could experience what you were talking about.

Ginnie said...

I do ponder in my heart, dear Sister, how Rauf carried on where Bennett left off. Neither one can take the place of the other but somehow they've become one. I know meeting him in real life is at the top of your Bucket List, so I wish it for you! Make it happen while you have the chance. Life is short....

erin said...

what a very special man. what a very special relationship, he to his country, you to him, we to all of it.

xo
erin

Louise Gallagher said...

Isn't technology amazing? i can sit in Calgary, watch your slide show of Rauf's photos of India, listening to the Bill Evans trio and be connected to you and to Rauf and to his amazing homeland right here.

As I watched I couldn't decide which photo spoke to me most loudly. I kept thinking, oh this one's my favourite, and then a new one would appear and I'd think, no this one...

My mother is from India and last week I was skyping with my Aunt Maggie who still lives in mom's hometown of Pondicherry -- it truly was remarkable to feel connected across all those miles, and the distance of our different, yet oh so similar, culture, because -- we are all connected.

Happy Birthday Rauf. thank you for sharing your gifts so generously.

And thank you Ruth for opening our eyes to Rauf's wonder.

Dutchbaby said...

Fantastic idea to marry the two geniuses of composition: Rauf and the Bill Evans Trio. Your slideshow is beautifully curated showing the depth and breadth of Rauf's soul and your words ring crystal clear with love and admiration. Wonderful celebration of your dear friend, Ruth!

Herringbone said...

Beautiful people. I felt the connection to the Earth. Great pairing with the music.

rosaria said...

Stunning!
Yes, indeed, we are changed by our interchanges, words we exchange, perspectives we share, skills we develop.

Ruth, this is a great reminder to all of us in blogland how small this world is, and how lucky we all are for reaching out and sharing so willingly.

rauf said...

The grass has gone so tall, over grown weed is covering my blog, its been so long that i forgot how to post a comment. i have never claimed to be wise or intelligent. i am confused. i hope and wish for clarity of thought and nothing else.
Like every one else i want to change the world and i find that i am too weak even to change myself. i am too weak to get rid of my own bad and disgusting habits. Then i ask myself do i have the right to complain about the fellow humans and try to change them ? One of the main reason i have stopped writing or hesitate to write is that i found that i am hurting a lot of people, my friends when i try to make them aware how we have been led to live in a cage with a false sense of freedom and security. i find that many are happy to be in a cage, believing in myths we have created, safe and secure. Why should i bother them and urge them to come out and let the sun touch them ?

Ruth, i was in tears. i was so overwhelmed and i asked myself do i deserve this love and honour ? i visualised, you would jump and say yes you do just like a silly school girl that you are and that brought a smile on my face. That smile is precious in a world of pain and suffering. You have educated me and enlightened me in the past six years which i would honour and treasure for the rest of my life.

I don't see any difference between real and virtual friends. All are here right in front of me doing their best to make me happy and wishing me well.

i sincerely thank all your friends who have wished me, which stirs a bit of desire to live which was long dead.

Ruth said...

Dear Friends, one of the first things rauf taught me was to respond to each and every comment individually out of courtesy. I have done that to the best of my ability these six years. So it gives me special pain, especially on this post for him, not to respond individually to you. But due to my physical issues, I just can't.

I am absolutely thrilled that you all found rauf's work and being as wonderful as I do. Everything you said is true. I'm so glad to see old friends of rauf's here: Elizabeth, Sharon, VioletSky, moonsoon dreams, Letty (freefalling), and Shaista.

I only wish that he were still posting at his blog, so you could experience those joys (and yes sorrows and outrage) with me. But he has explained his reasons for not blogging now, and I respect them.

Thank you, Everyone.

Ruth said...

Dear rauf, yes, Mother Earth is taking over Daylight Again with tall grasses! Even though I hate that you have had to stop blogging, this seems very appropriate. I wouldn't want anyone else taking it over! I remember back in 2006, I think, your government shut down blogs for a few days, and how frustrating that was.

Readers were confronted quite uncomfortably by your blog at times when you wished to expose the atrocities that you did. You never sugar-coated it, and many people woke up, including me. That was your goal, and you achieved it. You have done what you needed to do.

But you also showed us India. And you taught much love and compassion, which opened my eyes in other ways. You sat in the huts of Untouchables with your shoes off, with utmost respect, and ate with them, when most would not. These things are all a treasure; you are a treasure. Your life is a prayer.

I may not have something new to read from you every few days like before, but I still hear you loud and clear, like a bell. Thank you.

Stratoz said...

Peace and Hope.

Jill of All Trades said...

I love this!

Deborah said...

Oh Ruth, this is an extraordinarily special birthday present. I watched the entire slideshow and marvelled at Rauf's photography. Your choice of music was excellent, too, and the justaposition between the very Western style and the India of the photographs had its influence on how I viewed the pictures. Most interesting!
How lucky you both are. I hope you do get to meet one day.

Peter said...

This is how you "meet" bloggers, by chance (there are millions of us), by commenting, commenting comments... and often you have the chance to find what will become real friends! This is how I found you, and via you, rauf...

I already commented on the video on Facebook and can only confirm what I said there and what you express in your writing! What I really feel strongly from these beautiful images are the smiles, directed to rauf ... and indirectly to us! There is so much love behind all this!

Amanda said...

what color and beauty he has brought into your life - thank you for sharing these stunning and delightful images. the world does seem to get smaller, one blog at a time. i loved reading what rauf said - that he doesn't see any difference between real and virtual friends.

freefalling said...

Hey Ruth - hope you are okay?
Are your hands giving you gyp?
(do you say gyp or is that another of our "special" words?).
You're going to have to learn how to type with a stick and your teeth.
Every year I get a pack of Christmas cards that people paint with their mouths - have you seen them?
Extraordinary.
http://www.mfpa.com.au/
Or what about your toes?

How long til your baby comes?

Oliag said...

I often wondered how you and rauf met...your comments back and forth sounded brotherly and sisterly. I thought perhaps you met while traveling...or perhaps he had been studying at your college:)

Just before I sat down at the computer I poured myself a glass of delicious Zinfandel and had a very pleasant time sitting back and listening to the music while watching the slide show. Not a bad way to spend a few minutes of the evening!

evocativeembrace said...

Beautiful

Leena said...

After all those warm beautiful words and thoughts I wish you Ruth happy joyful 2012 - this year is so very special to you and yours - all the best!
Regards Leena

Brendan said...

Hoping you are feeling better soon ... Your presence is very much missed ... Brendan

Shattered said...

Loved reading this. Blogging is an amazing thing isn't it? I'm no where close to being as consistent as you are but I've still made some wonderful connections. Thank you for writing; your posts touch a lot of people.

Jennifer

Montag said...

This is quite cool. In re agribusiness, check out The Atlantic on the research on microRNA from genetically modified rice getting into the bloodstream of the people who ate it.

Vagabonde said...

I watched the slide show – Rauf’s pictures are outstanding – and with the music it creates a wonderful mood. Rauf is a genuine person, a great commentator of our world – he sees it with open eyes. Reading his posts has always been stimulating.

erin said...

i read this from rauf, "i sincerely thank all your friends who have wished me, which stirs a bit of desire to live which was long dead."

and then i read this from ruth, "Your life is a prayer."

and i weep.

and i know beauty

and potential.

thank you, both.

xo
erin

Jeanie said...

What a tribute. WHAT a tribute. The photographs are magnificent, but more so your insight and love that came through as you assembled them into a work of art of another kind.

So many bloggers bring so much to me, as Rauf has to you. (I confess, I find some of that inspiration here!) I am glad you discovered this wonderful man while he was still a more active blogger. Thanks for introducing him to us.

Margaret said...

I am so glad you posted this. I have wondered about your dear friend Rauf. We are truly blessed when we meet someone who can do as you described:

shook me out of comfort. His love and compassion taught me to see people differently.

And truly blessed if we let it soak in and consider words we might not want to hear. Obviously he is touched having you for a dear friend as well. It is friendship like the two of you have that makes this world a better place.

And his photography is joyous and celebrates life!

Susan Drummond said...

Sometimes the dearest friends are met in the most unlikely places. Your love and respect for Rauf shines in your tribute to him. Amazing how one person's journey to self-discovery leads to another person's journey, and another.....

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Rauf! And thank you, Ruthie, for sharing his astoundingl photography (I remember a few of them) and your wonderful story.

Nathalie said...

Ruth, thank you, thank you thank you.
Just like you I hold Rauf in high esteem and I consider myself blessed to have been able to follow his blog and get to know him - and it's all thanks to you dear Ruth, because I believe I discovered him thanks to a comment he left on your blog.

I was quite familiar with many of the topics that Rauf developed in his blog but his approach is unique. His passionate involvement in the causes he believes in (the condition of women and farmers to begin with) and his care for the people make him a most endearing person. I love his questioning of religions, his anger against the ravages of corporate greed, his talent as a photographer. Rauf if you read me, the world needs many many more people like you !

Wander said...

This is a beautiful thing, this blog thing.I dont know why society at large has such an averson to this...
I am new to the blog life and I have found a freedom like none other through it and joy. I was brought to your blog through a post by Erin at In search of white spaces. Thank you!

Wander

sandy said...

Hi Ruth, I had been telling my husband about Rauf's blogs and how I wished he still had them, when i thought to do a search for them. I came across this post. Enjoyed the video so much. I always loved his blogs. You probably won't see this message but decided to post here.