Friday, 19 October 2012

Time Warped Dreams

It happens very rarely to me. Waking up at unearthly early morning hours. This dawn had a calming hush despite the hum of usually inaudible rumblings of gadgetry reverberating with their distinct resonance. Yet I lay enveloped in a warm kind of lull around me. A faint footfall upstairs or rustling out the window informed me of morning creatures up and about.

What really woke me up was this dream of wandering around the huge inner courtyard of my grandfather’s house that has long since been pulled down. I could see the white columns; the smooth  steps on two sides leading up to covered verandahs as also brick-lined pathways on the sides. Through the tall grill doorway I was seeing the checkered floor of the gallery beyond.

The square green courtyard with the tulsi planter at the center and the clothes line to one side. I could almost smell the cow-pen too! The three mango trees at the far end stood tall as did the baelkathal and amla. The grape vines clung on to terrace walls atop. Walking towards the sizable pooja room I saw people chanting an aarti.

Joining in with the group of whom I only recognize my father, I simply stared ahead at the white, floor-to-ceiling carved niches where familiar deities stood in their usual spots on the wider middle alcove. The side recesses held Godly pictures along with copies of brown hard-back scriptures and even a bunch of Kalyan magazines!

It appears as if I have been in a time warp. As if a sliver of a childhood just flashed back to flood my memories awash.  I woke instantly and lay awake wrapped in the backtracking of the mind in sleep. I smile as this flashback trance allowed me to live in a time gone by. The best thing was I was revisiting a real past that is but a remembrance now. Oddly this was a fun dream that had me quizzing myself – why do we have to live so many worlds altogether.   

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Leaves are FALLing

It’s that off-beat time of the year when you are neither here nor there. Right out of summers shadow the autumnal atmosphere forebodes the onset of winters ahead. But for now the sun shines even though right under the orbs glare the air is nippy with a nice bite that has you reaching out for the woollies.  

The rustling leaves all around draw your attention as they gladly disrupt the quietude of the afternoons that all too soon will languish into frosty hazes. Once in a while the gray chilling skies cast their foreboding shadows and the heart freezes with the thought of winter blues. But for now crumbling leaves everywhere cover the ground in a maze of reds and browns.

The trees are changing hues. See a yellow there, a brown here or a red too. Soon they will flare up in unison in a riot of shades from limey green, yellow, ochre, orange, red to brown. This annual high drama has your senses reeling and I for one await it with trepidation. I say trepidation because following nature’s bizarre performance the scene will be pretty desolate.

Soon enough the foliage will be bleak and scary. Leafless limbs of dark shadowy trees in austere climes will cast a spooky effect on the landscape. With Halloween round the corner it will be time for ghoulish games to begin. Already pumpkin lantern faces stare menacingly from windows. Stiff autumn bouquets in brighter hues offer solace. Fall leaves continue to be perfect motifs for this wacky season. 

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Niagara Experience

Straddling international borders between USA and Canada is a body of water well known all over as one of the natural wonders of the world. I am talking about Niagara Falls of course and the collective waters flowing down the Niagara River actually form the highest flow rate of any other such waterfall around the world. The stupendous sight with its rhythmic resonance comes in the wake of a sheer vertical drop of over 165 feet!

It is the upkeep of these renowned waterfalls that also drew my attention. Decidedly the beauty of the vertical waterscape attracts tourists by the hoards and it is the challenge of engaging the recreational crowd to remain disciplined to the surroundings that leaves me nonplussed. While maintaining the pristine sanctity of the place, it is the stark cleanliness all around that leaves me overwhelmed.

One cannot but find it equally appealing to see the spotless surroundings clear of ravages of time. Actually it was after the 18th century when tourism began gaining popularity that the Falls became the area’s main industry. And to have maintained the pristine immaculate naturalness of the surroundings is nothing short of a miracle. The New World discovered not quite far back in time had the original inhabitants also respecting nature in all its form.

As a tourist from India it all appears to be a gigantic achievement for my senses. The onus of responsibility I believe has been as much by careful stewardship of the authorities as by the public helping maintain the aquatic environment to be clean and uncontaminated. It is unbelievable that nearly 12 million annual visitors arrive here. The Maid of the Mist that was launched in 1846 first as an actual ferry service has since 1854 operated as a tourist attraction.  

We in India might gloat about our six thousand year history but when it comes to conserving our natural resources we have a lesson or two to learn. When I look back at our attempts at saving the Ganges River from contamination I am at a loss, for all our fervor. Not for them the religiosity hype that we associate with our ancient rivers. It is hands on action and discipline that has the River distinctively clean despite the huge tourist influx. Preservation efforts take care of the natural beauty and despite the regular tourist accoutrements the River and the Falls remain clean and pristine to this day.