Sunday, May 22, 2011

Moments and Thoughts

The music was getting louder by the minute. My friends and I were sitting in a restaurant which wanted to behave like a pub. Loud music, low lights, strange d├ęcor and stuffy air. It has been ages since I last went to a pub, so the atmosphere of this place was slowly getting to me. All I wanted to do was dash out into supposedly fresher air outside. I waited a few minutes.

In those minutes something changed – maybe the music, maybe the conversation…or maybe it was my mind that switched. I got caught on with the music and my mind lost itself to the rhythm. All I wanted to do then was just lose myself, let myself go. It has been ages since I last done that…close my eyes, let the senses take over and lose myself to the moment.

Life gave me two such moments in the last few weeks but almost at the edge I held on….afraid to let go. To leap, let faith take over.

No, I didn’t start dancing to the music at the restaurant then. I continued with our conversations and then walked out in the night.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saving the Planet

A friend and I were discussing causes when she mentioned that asked to choose a cause she would prefer to give first to education of children. Environment for her was least important; that these same educated children will save or conserve the earth later. I realized then that she voiced this mass preference aptly for the first time. People love children…nothing wrong with that….even the ad world is using supposedly cute kids to sell houses, cooking oil and even tyres. They have every right to grow and get all that we have got in life. Love, a good job, lots of money, 2-3 houses, cars.

But if they have got all the things that we have got including education, would they really be interested in saving the planet? We didn’t, then how can we put such a huge pressure on their shoulder. In one of the elite schools here, when asked where water comes from, a student replied – tanker! No surprises here because how many of us adults really know that trees and forests are the real source of many perennial rivers, lakes and ponds. You cut them down and in a few years time there will be no water….like that in the deserts. Ever wonder why there is no water in a desert? Maybe because god came down and cursed the land, that’s why?

Saving the national animal might be media brouhaha and a human rights issue, breathing down on environmentalists to let humans stay in the forests. However, people are not aware of a simple fact – that the fight is not about saving the tiger; it’s about saving the forests and our rivers. It’s all intricately linked. Tigers on top of the food chain can only exist if all elements in the forest are healthy and occupies its rightful spaces. Will any one of you come forward or notice if media says ‘save the langur or the spotted deer’?

I recently visited a few homes in the urban developed city of Pune, a place where in the 1990s there were no ceiling fans. All these homes had stories of greed, abuse, torture, incest and psychological problems – in middle class educated homes where people had good jobs like you and me. By the end of the day, I was nauseous and disoriented. All the education for what, when in the end it all boils down to Greed and more greed, and no respect for your own family members, so called ‘loved ones’.

Yes, there is definitely a need for education, to first save humans from each other. Respect for nature, environment and wildlife then will follow automatically.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Impressions: Part 2

J&K: Paradise on earth. And I consider myself lucky that I have visited both Kashmir and Ladakh at the time of its prime, i.e. when there were less violence and less human interference. It will kill me to see the state it’s in today. The taste of roadside kababs and radish chutney in Srinagar still lingers in my mouth. And needless to say, Ladakh has been a life changing experience….the highest form of spirituality.

Gujarat: Strangely, this state was one the last in the list of places to visit for me. Somewhere vaguely there existed way at the back of my mind, a desire to see Kutch. When the time came, I saw Kutch and much more. Beyond the beauty and nature, was the fact that material progress was not far behind. It might be heartening to many….but for me that made me feel like the state is losing its innocence.

Maharashtra: Monsoons! I can never tire of it and I have never seen anything like it even in the Himalayas. It’s one of the very few things left that still makes me feel all gooey and romantic. Beautiful forests and my first tryst with royalty – the tiger.

MP: Much to explore but whatever little I have seen just strengthens my belief that our country is one of the most beautiful and varied places on Earth. Laid back capital city, warm people and an unhurried life. As the ad said, it’s truly the ‘Dil’ of India.

Chhattisgarh: It’s definitely not for tourists nor is it for those who call themselves travelers. Chhattisgarh is an experience meant only for those people who can ‘feel’. For me, it’s been the best discovery so far.

Karnataka: Hampi! A place that is still alive in every rock structure and temples. So alive that if you stand alone among its ruins, you can feel the life flowing in your veins and can hear the long gone voices.

TN: The first thing that crossed my mind when we entered TN was that it’s easy to see where all the tax money went - rickety buses, bumpy roads and no public facilities. Yet there was a time long ago in the 1980s when Marina beach was clean and deserted. I had my first taste of filter coffee here and had burnt my tongue. Ooty was a deserted place too meant for honeymooners where mist floated in inside the hotel rooms. My sister and I wore slacks (yes back then it was in fashion too!) with heavily oiled hair. In Kanyakumari, we stood watching the approaching storm as it blew sand grains all over us and created a clear demarcation between the ocean and the sea.

Kerala: Trees and hidden between these trees were villages which looked like semi-towns. Kerala is queer where there is no break in habitation; one village followed the other unlike most states. Brightly coloured houses dotted the landscape – I felt like being in a candy store, not knowing which coloured candy it will turn out next.

Andhra Pradesh: A chance discovery which led us to beautiful rugged beaches of black sand, estuaries and vales of red earth. Smooth roads, electricity in rural areas, friendly people and smell of chilly in the air. I couldn’t control my greed and ate so much chilly-laden local food that it ruined my stomach forever.

Goa: Is seductive – it works its magic slowly but surely and can mean different things to different people. My first brush with the monsoons (western India) happened here with brooding sea, short intense showers and a deep melancholy.

Pondicherry: A European experience and the joy of riding a bicycle freely amongst its many quaint lanes and bylanes.

Daman: A remnant of beautiful days gone by.

This list seems long, but I feel I still haven’t explored enough.