Saturday, May 28, 2011

Moving to the hills in summer

Moving to the hills in summer

The popular adage ‘Nothing comes out of nothing’ comes full circle for me around this time of the year. Running away from the sweltering heat of the plains becomes a necessity especially if you have a small place you can call your own, some where in the hills. Fortunately I have one in the lap of hills at Kumarhatti in Himachal Pradesh. The transition from your permanent home to the temporary one in the mountains is a herculean task, and the exercise is worth mentioning to validate the wisdom which lies at the core of the above quip.

I had to work round the clock for a few days before embarking on the intended journey. You can well imagine the toil and travails of winding up a fully operational household. Every conceivable issue has to be dealt with. Starting from the payment of utility bills to lawn care, security, mail delivery and much more has to be taken care of. After that the momentous date for moving up is fixed. It is here that the toughest task starts. Arranging provisions and other stuff in the car, including water bottles and some food stuff… require the skill of a master craftsman. Finally you reach your destination after overcoming traffic jams, traffic snarls, raging tempers and racing hearts. Great relief it is to be in one piece after the twists and turns of the eventful journey.

. In the process of settling down you have to pass through unavoidable drudgery and experience muscle pulls and pains in the body because of over exertion and stair climbing. In the real world one has to bake the cake to eat it too. Likewise to enjoy the sweet coolness one has to set the things right in the summer home before one reaps the fruits of one’s labour. It is an exercise involving many days before there is a semblance of a feeling of home sweet home.

But you can’t help noticing the sweat less activity and the cool breeze fanning you. Even the overstrained back tries to straighten up, already nourished by the whiff of clean and fresh mountain air.

The teething troubles, major and minor hic-cups are all forgotten after a few days. Long walks in balmy air and the sight of lanky pines swinging in the breeze; transport you to a dreamlike world. Sharpened appetite makes you feel stronger and fitter. Lethargic feelings of the plains produced by whirling fans, deafening coolers and ACs are bidden farewell to. You feel energized and take on life with a positive orientation.

It is however at night that the surreal aspect of hills is revealed. You step into the balcony and behold the oasis of twinkling lights stretching up to the horizon and brightly blinking stars in the cloudless sky over head. The fantastic spectacle gets etched in your mind. It is such exotic sights which leave indelible images in the reservoir of your memory.

You deserve it all, after going through the stresses and strains of a sort of domestic upheaval.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Why I Love a Morning Walk

My most loved activity is going for a walk in the morning .Ever since I retired I got into it and I enjoy it immensely .I miss it sourly the day I am bogged down. This is my staple diet I cannot do without.

Stepping out of the gate every morning, the first one to greet me is the balmy cool breeze. Instantly it embraces me in its fold and accompanies me all the way. It lathers my body with its scented gentleness and bathes it with unseen strokes. Its fragrant freshness continues caressing me with its sweet presence. While I sleep at night it is at work. It gathers all the sweet smells emanating from the verdure around to present to me, its dear friend and admirer, at dawn.

It stays totally in sync with me. It writes my thoughts in my head long before I ink them on paper. It loosens the knots in my grey cells, calms me and prepares me for the day .It buckles me up to face the challenges. It goads me to introspect and contemplate. It wants me to learn each day and be wise.

I prefer to walk alone. I have so many conversations to do. The leaves, buds, flowers, hanging seed pods and swaying branches talk to me when I pass by them. Sometimes they pour their angst out against the humans for being indifferent and callous. I keep listening like a soul mate and that satisfies them. They understand and don’t press for an answer.

When I am out early I observe a birds’ meet. Before embarking on their respective hunt for grub they hold an assembly. Perched on the twigs of a richly leafed tree they say hello to each other in the form of no holds barred crescendo of chirping, twittering, squeaking and many unnamed sounds. It is their way of welcoming the day together and displaying solidarity. Suddenly they come out in a flourish and fly away hither and thither but not without acknowledging my presence by tweeting over my head.

My morning walk is on a straight road with no turns and bumps which surprisingly is least trodden. On one side it is lined with trees. Their luxuriant branches cover one third of the road like a canopy. While I stroll under this umbrella, I instinctively finger the leaves above. .At times the touch is smooth and soft and at other times rough and abrasive like life itself. The wind fans my hair, I yawn and feel drowsy, strength leaving my legs and I lose myself to the intoxication.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cuckoo Comes Calling

Since early March when spring ushers in all that is beautiful in nature, there comes cuckoo. Perhaps from the labyrinth of shadows to enhance the loveliness of the season with its melodious coo cooing. Spring and cuckoo are best of friends. They remain in sync with each other and come and go together. Strange but true that the musical strains of cuckoo’s song transform into a special waking call for me each morning. I take my cuppa of tea and sit in the lawn to listen to the sweetness of her voice undisturbed. It is like keeping a date with her each daybreak.

Throughout the day I remain alert not to miss her song because of the joy it provides. From where it comes, I fathom not. I can merely guess from the pitch of the sound ,whether it is huddled somewhere in the thick foliage of a mango tree, which is growing in our vicinity or perched on a rich leafy branch of the Neem at a distance. For me the voice symbolizes a mysterious poignancy. Many questions crop up inside me. What and who inspire her to sing with such depth of tone and vibrancy? Is she pining for her elusive mate who is unrelenting? Does the song express the pain and longing of her heart and soul? Or is she besotted by the soothing balmy ambience of the season itself?

Her musical notes start on a medium pitch and become full throated after a few seconds. Her sonority lasts for half a minute and then she takes a breather and begins all over again. She keeps this schedule till mid day and then rests for a couple of hours. When the day cools down, her second shift of refreshing our environs begins all over again. May be she knows that there is an admirer of hers missing her melody and pricking her ears in wait. So she comes and obliges. Telepathy as they say it. How strange the ‘kali koel’ with its mellifluous voice has ordinary looks. So be it. Rightly said, isn’t it? that ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.’ In this case it lies in the ears of a devotee.

I only saw her one day when I was coming back from my morning walk. I stood there watching her chasing the predator crow with ferocity and anger which was evident from the fluttering wings and a threatening sound. The scavenging crow is a nightmare for small birds like the cuckoo as it destroys their eggs and nests.

As the heat intensifies she may become elusive again. But not for long. I am sure when the rainy season comes along , once more we will be inundated by the flow of her melodic voice through the rustling and glistening wet leaves of her beloved mango tree, laden as it would be with the luscious ripe fruit.(Our folklore associates this bird with the tree which gifts us the king of fruits.)