Saturday, 10 October 2009

on worth

If now, for a moment,
Bearing witness, it stands that a romantic interlude –
with the dancing and the lights, stars and long walks, no less,
in effect interspersed and comforting, uncertain yet hopeful –
were to have been;
would it stand to humanly reason that the ensuing time, the time spent apart in waiting,
been differently spent?

If now, as then,
We were to consider –
Is a poem, all that is out of it, worth the effort?

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Up the Parvati Valley

We went up the Parvati valley to the source of the river, which is a glacial lake called Mantalai. Parvati is Shiva's wife, so a very powerful woman indeed! As we saw it, the river is calm near the source but gets angrier as it nears civilisation.. which is understandable.
It took us 5 days to Mantalai from Varsheni, and 4 days to get back to Manali. Of course, throughout, the Himalayas are majestic. Even if you're seeing them and walking through them for not the first time, they do not cease to amaze. Up there, all they ask of you is that you give them due respect. That is all. Once that is done, they may treat you well.
We were not so lucky as we had hoped to to cross the Pin Pass over Mantalai, but it was far too snowed over and we did have all the equipment we'd have wanted to get back down the other steeper side.
Next time then.
But in the mountains you see and feel and hear like nowhere else - not the middle of the ocean, not across expansive plains. And on top, you are there just to be. Nothing else. No plans to be made, no phones to be answered.

Over road from Kerala to Delhi - A note on a few days of the journey

I decided to join my sister's fiance's father on a trip from the South to the North - he's done it quite a few times before.

We started in Kerala, which is probably the first place in India into which early humans from Africa entered. Unequivocally beautiful place – I was in a jungle village with four homes and a church (now that I read that it sounds quite a Marquez-esque situation..).

Anyway, first day we traversed some of the Deccan plateau, the cotton belt of India, and up across the Western Ghats. We managed a fair bit, about 700 kms. I was surprised by how good the roads were – often 4-lane, and actually cemented. Of course, regardless of the roads themselves, the traffic on them is still very much Indian – so vehicles and non-vehicles of all shapes and sizes give each other company and fight for space. And with the drivers possessed of a quiet assurance of ignoring the multitude of rules that exist (they really do exist! On paper.)

The next day, over some parched land. And then, after a while, across a rushing, happy river with screaming, splashing children and washing women. Through dirty little Indian towns; in which, in Maharashtra, does one find men in starched white Nehru caps & kurtas walking about. Then one sees three red buses in a row – and you know there are three idiots driving them, continuously trying to overtake one another, and only when one of them has to stop to drop off a weary passenger is that possible. So essentially, for the entirety of their journey they remain as it is – three red buses in a row. Also, there are overloaded Tata trucks – laden so that they can hardly climb the gentlest of slopes, or loaded so heavily to the left that the driver has to constantly keep the steering towards the right just to go straight. The horns of these trucks, very distinctive – imagine a long twitter of a single bird, brought 2 notes lower, and amplified to a blare (you know how it is, I'm trying to describe it, don't know if its worked!)

And that, is a little story of an Indian highway scene.

And next morning - through parched destitution. Over land ravaged for more than a century by the British, continued by newly independent Indians, yet to realize and recover from its injuries. This is Madhya Pradesh, the central provinces. I have traveled extensively through Rajasthan, the desert state of India – and that is a land that has come to terms with itself, whose people make the land colorful with their music & clothes dances language. But this, this land looks wounded.

A flash of yellow, a patch or two of mustard perhaps, and a little girl in pink through the empty fields – that is all the color here. Children shuffle along outside their homes, looking down. Trees, many naked, many seeming to lean on the wind for support. That deep scar from which an orange truck takes away rocks must have been a river.

In time, over generations, all this too shall pass.

And that… is another story!