Living Bridges And Walk Of My Life

I was awestruck when I encountered ‘Umkar’—the jaw-dropping ‘living root bridge’—while exploring the woods of Cherrapunji in Meghalaya. The breathing roots of trees met, merged, and melted into a spectacular living bridge. ‘Umkar’ called me to connect, lured me to climb,  urged me to cross.

The primitive relationship between trees and people echoes in these living-root-bridges, such as the legendary ‘Double Decker’ of Nongriat village. Villagers of West Jaintia and East Khasi Hills in Meghalaya create these marvels from the living aerial roots of Ficus Elastica—Indian rubber tree. 

The merging bridges signify the possibilities emerging from enduring bonds among humans, and between humans and nature. These bridges implore us to build, not to burn or break. Trees and roots teach us the ancient law of existence, infinity, and eternity—to rise but to retain and remain rooted.

Walking in the whistling woods is the walk of my life—a journey within and without. Sights, scents, and sounds of surroundings seduce my senses; heart wonders, mind wanders. The wind caresses; the morning warmth envelops and spurs me to sing Denver’s “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.” Dawn enchants me, dusk enthralls. The stars and the moon play hide and seek among the silhouettes touching my melancholy.

I hear children laugh and clap when the birds coo and flap. My eyes see a lass flutter her eyelashes when the butterflies dart and flit. Swinging trees remind me of dancing lads drunk on youth.

The walk of life takes me to times, people, and places—near, far, and forgotten. Nostalgia overpowers, reason raises existential questions. The heart hums Tagore’s “Ekla Cholo Re”, while the wind whispers: “I am with you in your quest.” I discover the search is never complete, the journey never ends.

Great minds join my life-walks. I regain the lost paradise when the music of a Mozart or a Beethoven seeps into my soul. The world is worth and a wonder when a Wordsworth or a Wodehouse exhilarates with his words. My thoughts ask people petty and pompous to ‘take a walk’, but never with me. I imagine scenarios from Orwell’s “Animal Farm” when I see dogs on the leash—what if the roles are reversed?

People closer than closeness betray. Men and women use even the beautiful and the fragile—a flower, a ‘Parijat’—to deceive. Parijat wilts, love withers, memory mourns, treachery torments.

If we forget the count of time, forsake the weight of living, and embrace nature with abandon, we can drown in the ecstasy of “dolce far niente”—the sweet pleasure of doing nothing. Exhorts us Mary Shelley—to live by leaving: 

“Let us… seek peace… near the inland murmur of streams, and the gracious waving of trees, the beauteous vesture of earth, and sublime pageantry of the skies. Let us leave ‘life’, that we may live.”

Nature’s rhythms sing songs of bliss. Its spirit tells stories of love and kindness. Her sounds are symphonies of silence and solitude. With nature in the heart, soul breaks into a dance; the Wordsworth in us serendipitously finds a hidden beauty.  But this mysterious temptress never reveals all. It delights with the innocence of a nymph and entices with the coquetry of a woman wily and wanton. 

Mother nature provides shelter, solace, and sustenance. She gives us sense, sensitivity, and sanity, and sanitizes our souls. We return to roots and answer our calling when we come home to her. She invites us to feast on her, on life—to drink and devour from its abundance. Forever fecund, life pours from her pores; but we kill this very life. We pilfer, pillage, plunder.

The universe is unity. Humanity, the most conscious member of this singularity, must keep the harmony intact for its survival. Call it an epiphany, or awakening of ecological conscience—we share the pulse of existence, and in this sharing lie human hope and destiny.

“Wondering Mind Wandering Thoughts -Trees Series”

The edited version of this article was published in The Economic Times dt. 11.01.2021: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/blogs/the-speaking-tree/the-living-bridges/

Images

  • Umkar Living Root Bridge Pic: Sukumar Bardoloi;
  • Double Decker Living Root Bridge: Arshiya Urveeja Bose

In Search of Mergings

Rooted apart, trees crave to unite, intertwine, interlock. They grow to reach out and connect. Their trunks long to meet, branches yearn to mingle, roots lust to merge. They sway in unison and sing the song of togetherness with whispering winds, or in silence. Trees dance in euphoria when they touch and embrace.

I see it every day when I look out of my window, when I take a walk in the park, or when I pass through a forest. Trees support each other, give space, share, and spread the shadows—but never sinister. Trees are the same everywhere.

Humans too are the same everywhere. But they differ from trees. They grow apart when they grow. They seek separation, not closeness. Proximity causes anxiety, affection is affected, feelings are faked.

Trees put me to thoughts like none else. I wish humans were less like humans and more like trees.

Robert Macfarlane captures the magic:

“I think of good love as something that roots, not rots, over time, and of the hyphae that are weaving through the ground below me, reaching out through the soil in search of mergings.”

“Wondering Mind Wandering Thoughts”—‘Trees Series’.

Pic: Jacaranda sings n sways to meet mingle n merge

Jacaranda Pic

Soul has no Secrets which Behaviour doesn’t Reveal

Recently I read a true story. Takeaways:
There are two kinds of advisors in this world:

(a) Those- who hear both sides of the story, filter all exaggerated nonsense and obvious lies, and give advice based on basic principles of truth, fairness, equity and empathy… If they err, they err on the side of kindness;
And
(b) Those who hear only one side and ill-advise—gloating in their bookish knowledge and wisdom without considering human values, and short and long-term repercussions. They put a price to each emotion and act, and dig long forgotten graves to bring skeletons out. They do enormous harm to all.

The ill-advisor and the ill-advised either have no soul or have sold it.

As a wise person had said— “Soul has no secrets which behaviour doesn’t reveal.” 

david-marcu-14AOIsSRsPs-unsplash

Wise in Foolishness

Religious rituals perhaps have their logic and use, but they don’t sit easy on my shoulders.

Not for me the rituals with no relation to the real. If feelings glisten my eyes, if emotions touch my heart, if sentiments stir my soul—I am alive. And being so alive exhilarates me.

If I can keep my sanity, achieve equanimity, and forgive myself and others for the dark deeds… I would have found Nirvana.

I believe—I am good enough if I am human, and better if humane.

My prayers were answered whenever parents held my hand; I find heaven in the smile of innocent children; I see Gods in the humans who are kind.

My simple routines uplift me—work gives me a high, reading a good book delights me, I am buoyed when I don’t write nonsense.

I am intoxicated in nature’s embrace; I am thrilled when children bring out the child in me; I am awesome and in awe of myself with friends.

My little rituals and elaborate idiosyncrasies—brewing a heady mix of Earl Grey, Assam, and Darjeeling for 3 minutes for that perfect cocktail in a cup, admiring swaying Jacaranda from my window every 33 minutes, listening to Richard Clayderman’s ‘Souvenirs En France’, ‘Theme from Romeo & Juliet’, and ‘Ballade Pour Adeline’ (only in that sequence) for 13 minutes in the shower every morning—transcend me.

These unadulterated rituals and routines fulfil me and reward me a life uncluttered, uncomplicated, and uncompromised. These put my feet firmly on the terra firma and the head high in the heavens while my middle meddles with the mundane.

I am religious about my rationality, fanatic about my fancies, and stubborn about my story. I don’t pretend, nor do I fake.

Perhaps I am wise in my foolishness.

“Wondering Mind Wandering Thoughts” Series

These are my personal thoughts. The intent is not to criticise or belittle anyone or any views.

Jacaranda Tree

Cede & Concede… Lose Senses & Control

Decided to cede control? Cede all the way… And sooner the better.

Putting someone on the steering wheel and continuing to caution and correct from the back seat is a perfect recipe for disaster. The driver has a nervous breakdown; many times the passengers are burdened with broken bones and the unfortunate others suffer collateral damages. Two drivers are too many.

Having ceded management and control of affairs at home or work, why be a leech? It is foolish to nag, instruct, and enquire repeatedly. Trust people, let them make mistakes and learn on the job.

Try to pull the reins forever and be sure to lose respect… and self-respect. Limit yourself to offer help in changing the punctured tyre or filling the tank. Be subtle when pointing out a wrong turn.

Sit back in the back seat and enjoy the luxury of being driven around; after all, you have driven the people crazy all your life. Feel and fly like a bird and sing “Una Paloma Blanca” at the top of your voice. Consume chilled Corona*, sip nimboo-paani**, or savour a Shandy. Be sozzled, spill—it makes sense to lose senses… and control.

*the bottled version; ** lemonade

Wondering Mind & Wandering Thoughts Series

Image: LA Times

JPEG-backseat driving-LA Times

S I S T E R

‘Sister’…the word echoes and evokes all that is good and beautiful.

Sister gives us love akin to parents, shares strength of a brother, and brings happiness like a friend. She is our go-to person – in joy and in sorrow. She gives us her shoulder to cry on, stretches her hand to pull us up, keeps our secrets like her own…sister is our ‘man-friday’ in woman’s clothing.

Sister is a person for all seasons. A selfless soul, she gives all of herself and more…mostly unseen,  unsaid, and unacknowledged.

Some sisters laugh and slap our backs, some hide their smiles and slap nothing; few offer ‘kadha’*, others snatch and finish off our beer in a gulp. Aren’t they amazing?

Good that we can’t choose our sisters, for we will not have any others.

Our sisters paint beauty and create joy in our lives.

(I write this on behalf of all my bros and friends, and dedicate it to all our Sisters: sisters born to our parents, and sisters who left their homes to make our homes).

* Kadha: an Indian herbal concoction

children-1879907_1920

Middle Muddle

I never meddle, but plight of the middle needles.

Mind-boggling, if not maddening. Amidst motley of ‘mids’, it’s a medley of ‘middles’.

Malady or melody…depends:

It is a mystery why the mid-wife is a wife only in the mid;

It is an enigma whether ‘midnight’s children’ are born on this or ‘the other side of midnight’;

Even if it is a wily woman lurking in the shadows, behind every shady deal is a sinister ‘middle-man’;

While one end devours and the other discards, the middle alone fights battle-of-the-bulge;

Facts: It is always the mid-riff which is reported bare on a bike; Middle names are lost like middle-ages; Medium-spicy always turns out to be low-bland, like mid-day meals;

Having lost youth’s charm, and lacking wisdom of the old, the misfit middle-aged try to be both, and land up in no man’s/woman’s land;

Caught in the middle, like pendulums they perpetually swing from end to end, as if caught between ‘goodbye’ and ‘I love you’;

The moment we mingle middle with class, we assign it to the mundane; sensing the mood, even Modi has abandoned it;

Glory is of the elder, love is with the younger, and leftovers of both for the mere middle;

The middle-of-the-road always gets it – hook from the ‘left’, hit from the ‘right’;

A hit is a hit, but it is amazing over the mid-wicket; Out is out, but it stumps when ball hits the middle;

The mean is never mean, the median adheres to the median, and the mode is always a model, yet the central tendency of being in the middle is scoffed at;

No one wants them (even though they have their advantages): middle seat in airlines, middle berth in trains, a puncture in the middle of the journey, a slap in the middle of the road; the notable exception being a fiendish fart in the middle of a politician’s lecture;

Even though it is the longest, you can’t raise the poor middle finger, lest you are booked for being illegal or immoral;

Whereas the mad flings with mids* or maidens cause the mid-air collisions, the ‘midsummer night’s dream’ becomes a midwinter nightmare for the jilted;

The middle-east today is so west, it has none of the middle and little of the east; And in that County why is it only Middlesex, even if no one is counting?;

Don’t come running to me with your mid-life crisis when I am in the middle of nowhere.  My signboard is succinct:

“Don’t disturb, I am in the middle of something” (read- I am enjoying ‘nothing’ more than I had enjoyed ‘anything’)

*weeds

Disclaimer: I have written this in good humour, not to ridicule anyone. I believe we can laugh at ourselves.

Pic: Gabriela Pala, pexels.com

girl in forest

SUSHANT SINGH RAJPUT… An Ephemeral Creature Of Transient Times…

Sushant Singh Rajput… A brilliant star in quest of stars, now in a galaxy faraway. 

His last thoughts (?) in my words:

An ephemeral creature of transient times…

I lived in the world of soulful quiet;

Firefly of the future, my soul found wings…

In life lost and stars-kissed light.

                 Words echoing from my deepest depths…

                 I owe to those who took my breath away;

                Living now, now dead…

                Neither regret, nor rejoice, nothing to say.

 Nothing like forever old and forever new…

For not in moments, in memories I live;

Born to die and born yet again…

Nothing to forget, yet nothing to believe.

              Past a beautiful lie, Present was existential angst…

              Future but an agonized quest;

             Scorched soul sitting on pierced wings…

             Flies me to distant shores- dark, day, or twilight.

 Nano particle in the void of time n space…

Infinity ensconced in a fleeting second;

Effervescent, enchanting, exhilarating…

Yet, in palm, are life n times ever held?

              An ephemeral creature of transient times…

             I lived in the world of soulful quiet;

            Firefly of the future, my soul found wings…

            In life lost and stars-kissed light.

Note: I wrote this poem in January this year. Didn’t know my words will echo the life and times of Sushant- a brilliant star, his astronomical quests, and perhaps his thoughts and emotions just before his journey to the faraway galaxy.

When Some we appreciate, Some self-depreciate.

WHEN SOME WE APPRECIATE, SOME SELF-DEPRECIATE.

IS IT THE LOUSY FEELING I CALL ‘GUILOUSY’?

 Under the shower I was seized with an uncomfortable thought- should we refrain from praising some, because some other wise ones take it otherwise? They don’t express it, but the sulking and ruing are in the air; we feel their absent presence… like ghosts.

They feel slighted merely because some one else is delighted. Desperate, they love praise heaped upon themselves, even if undeserved; but recoil in jealousy, if not horror, when someone else is applauded, particularly when that someone is close or known.

Is it inferiority complex? Or guilt? Or jealousy?

Or is it guilt-jealousy combo…the lousy feeling I call ‘Guilousy’?

But how to assuage their hurt? Their deeds or lack of them are so awesome, one can’t voice admiration…for the mouth is agape in astonishment. : )

                      chimpanzee pic: pixabay.com