The birds had started making their way back home. I had sneaked into the fields. It was cooler there. I could see sunlight quickly receding towards the horizon. It was my favorite time of the day. Fresh from the afternoon sleep, I set for my destination. I had to come back before it was dark.
We had our summer vacations. And as a ritual, we were spending it at our Nani’s village. Most of my profound childhood memories are marked by this place. It was so beautiful and unpredictable. There were so many things that fascinated me. The fields beyond the mango farm was one of those things. I liked walking on the ridges of the irrigation canals. They connected the entire farm. I looked at the sky. The hues were shifting with every passing moment. All the different shades of red. I rushed forward as I crossed the jackfruit trees. It was the end of the farm, faced by a mini jungle of Bamboo trees. They made all kind of noise when the wind blew hard. The constant shatter and struggle, and yet they survived together for years. There was a hill to be found if you went a little deeper in the trees. Everyone at home told us the stories of snakes infesting that hill and how it was completely forbidden to go the Bamboo trees. I promised myself to keep that adventure for another day, and made my way around the trees. I kept walking for 10 minutes when I finally reached the fields.
It was a vast plain. There were patches of green and brown, stretching all the way to the horizon. A railway track cut across far away. A serpent was sliding over it. We called it “Paanch Pachhis ki Gaadi” (train of 5:25). It was one of those elements that made this place I used to so look forward to. Marching forward the field, looking over the few farms that appeared and faded away, I walked with the train whistling in the background. I could see that Babool tree. The lonely tree that stood in the west. With the Sun setting in the background, I imagined the tree with the Halo. Can trees have Halo? Though I was rushing towards the tree, it was not the tree that I was most interested in. It was the Maina’s nest on that tree. A raw structure of brown pulp, devoid of any green, the tree protruded out of the ground like a huge thorn. A thorn that was home to someone. I found it so ironic when I first found the place. But I realized later what it really was.
The place which was like a heartbeat – The magical village of Grahan
We woke up in the morning, two days prior to Holi, amidst the beautiful music of Parvati and magnificent pine trees. Kasol looked pristine as ever. Being a long weekend, the place was starting to buzz with tourists. But we intended to leave all the hustle behind and trek to the village of Grahan. This trip was all about this beautiful village, it’s lovely inhabitants, colorful huts and lots and lots of Snow.
Kasol – It’s not a place. It’s an experience. The valley is bustling with these wall graffitis.
The magnificent Parvati – and the iconic bridge
The mystical music of the river. Sleeping with this in the background.
The path from Kasol to Chhalal. We hiked and explored the place on our first day.
Everyday, as I make my way from home to office, I see a guy in a dusty, torn, black uniform, with a cap on his head, blowing a whistle after every 5 seconds. He stands at the exactly same place, a few inches from the divider, staring into the abyss, whistling. I have been seeing him do the same for the past 2 years now. At first, I mistook him for a security personnel. But as the time went by, I realized that there is a lot more to him than it meets the eye. Many times I wished to take a pause and see where he goes. But I did not intend to make him uncomfortable. Everyone living in that area seems to be used to his presence. No one bats a eye at the pointless continuous whistling. No one seems to believe that this could be changed or he needs some help. He seems content and focused. I wonder how long would he continue doing the same. I wonder what was his story.
About a 100 meters from where he stands, is an assembling point for police. I ride through a sea of cops in the morning, all of them sporting a smile, chuckling at each other’s jokes. Few years back, when I encountered a cop on my way, I used to get nervous at the very sight of him. Even when I had all the documents, I still got worried. Why? Because I had seen and heard many unpleasant stories in my childhood, involving police. Story of power, arrogance and torture. Stories of innocent people harassed, who approached the law rightfully. But that doesn’t hold true anymore. This city has changed my outlook. Now when I see them, I feel safe, not worried. Seeing them daily, on my way, is a part of routine. A very happy part.
On my route, I encounter busy signals. The one manned by multiple traffic cops and still not running efficiently. People here are, inadvertently, impatient and angry. And then there are a few crossroads, where no one follows the signal, and still there is no hustle. People here are more empathetic than others. Who are these people? The angry ones and the calm ones. Are they different? Not at all. The same red light which irritates you in the city, seems to lose its purpose when you are traveling. The object holds no significance. The situation does. Some turns will bring a smile to your face while the others were dampen your mood. You just need to keep riding, waiting for your happy turn.
Wishing everyone a very happy 2017.
It might be true that just a passing day isn’t going to make much of a difference to your everyday’s life. But a change in scheme of things would definitely help you start afresh. Plan to tick things out of your To Do list. Add new items to it. Finally take up that hobby you have been wanting to pursue for long. Write more. Read more.
Everytime you write 2016 and strike it off to correct it to 2017, it would come as a friendly reminder. Don’t stand still. Move. Evolve.
The old tree and the murky sky
Looked at me and asked the question
Who are you?
Not the name. Everyone knows the name.
Who are you underneath.
Do you know? They asked.
What makes you think I am answerable to you?
What gives you power over me?
The tree. You are old and weak.
You have no time left here.
The sky. It’s approaching twilight.
You will soon disappear into darkness.
Why should I listen to you?
I might be gone, but my seeds will remain.
I will leave behind more than I ever had in this life form, the tree said.
I looked at the sky. The emotionless canvas stretching towards infinity.
The darkness might consume me but I will still fight.
And rise from within it, like a phoenix, the sky chuckled at my contempt.
It was approaching twilight.
The tree already looked dead. The sky sad.
I was angry. My thoughts were not clear.
I could not stand it any more. I reached for the blinds.
One last glimpse out of the window before I shut the view.
There was a lot of movement outside.
Birds were making their way home.
No one would surely want you as their home, I laughed at the tree.
The tree did not respond. It was dead by now.
The only thing I could hear was incessant squawking.
A pandemonium of parrots rushed by, interrupting my moment of victory.
I looked on as they made their way into the holes in that tree.
The tree, which I thought was dead, looked at me and smiled.
Who are you, it asked one last time before falling into darkness.
Do you like when it sparkles, asked the sky.
I looked at the stars as they shone in my eyes.
The sky was looking spectacular.
Darkness did not consume it. Neither did it try to fight darkness.
It accepted the night the way it is and turned it into something beautiful.
My ego could not stand it any longer. I finally pulled the blinds.
The tree was not dead. The sky was not sad.
They were in a state of calm.
A state of calm I always strive to achieve.
Why do they talk to me?
How are they so composed while I am so angry?
What gives them the power to make good of such adversities?
The answers would come, I thought.
But only if I know the right questions to ask.
I could see it now. The reason for my anger. The cause behind my discontent.
It was not the sky. It was not the tree.
It was me asking that question to myself.
Who are you?