Monday, 5 February 2018

A splendid Sunday.. and the long awaited walk to the river!

Wheat fields!
Today was an ordinary Sunday like any other but sometimes the crisp blue skies and the yellow sunshine make all the difference. Even before I could properly open my eyes, I could see the golden beams of sunshine knocking on my vintage glass doors. In a place like this where winters are literally bone chilling and there's no sun for days on end, a sunny radiant morning has the power to lift spirits instantly. After bath and breakfast, I decided to just stroll around.

Perhaps the opportunity beckoned. I digressed from the my regular walking route and into the vegetable patch and wheat fields. With a little help from Prisma and phone camera, I too could immortalize my memory of this day with my own series on wheat fields. And being reminded of  VanGogh's wheatfields' series, I realize why artists are often drawn to the beauty of what might appear to others as the ordinary and the mundane. It was also an education of sorts to witness how broccoli and lettuce grow.

When I had broached the possibility of walking from our house to the river bank (the proximity of the river was known to me thanks to Google Maps) to our staff few days back, I was not just discouraged on account of the fear of wild animals and snakes, I was also told how impossible it was to cross the the boundary wall of the campus.Yet the spirit of adventure (attributable to heavy dosage of Ruskin Bond stories) refused to die and as a first step, I thought it would be interesting to survey the wall itself and check if it offers any recess for me to disappear quietly. While the wall appears low and easily surmountable from a distance, upon reaching near, I discovered that it was toughened concrete and there was also a trench running alongside which was overgrown with low bushes and thorny shrubs. Yet the view of the house from the wall was a joy in itself and I continued walking parallel to the wall (not to mention my socks and shoes which were soaked in mud by now from walking on damp farm soil of the fabled wheat fields). 

My doubts over the idea of an impenetrable fortification were shortly confirmed when I discovered a section of the wall that had possibly been vandalized for either ease of access or some other petty theft like mangoes etc. However, that little egress was also my portal to the magical realm beyond my boundary walls. With an escort in tow (who was even more game), and Google Maps for general sense of direction, I embarked upon my little expedition.

The 'pucca nala' behind the campus walls and the mango orchard in the distance
It became clear that if I managed to cross the adjoining sugarcane fields and the mango orchard behind my house, the river would be less than 200 m away. However, there was a brickwork trench that separated me and the orchard. Common sense dictates that this 'pucca nala' must be some sort of emergency channel when the river  is in flood. At the moment, it was dry as dust, and I used the trench as my path for roughly 100 m till I found an easy entry into the orchard. Crossing the orchard was easy and Google Maps showed if I walk North-West, I would reach my destination. Reaching a thicket of foliage, I managed my first sneak preview of my neighbourhood river. The river was reduced to a clear stream and was flowing in a narrow channel at least ten feet below my vantage point. I saw a beautiful pair of Saras birds (which made me long for someone's presence) playing on the river bank but flew away quickly hearing the rustle of my feet on dry leaves. 

First glimpse of the river

As the river quietly flowed, I wondered how in the midst of a bustling city, these few moments on the river bank are full of serenity and pristine beauty. I was reminded of a few lines by the poet Keki N Daruwalla who wrote; 
"if you decide to pull away
from the dust of your lives,
the best thing would be
to get hold of oars
and row down a river."

I decided to make this trip to 'river' again, possibly with a DSLR camera next time and definitely before the wall is repaired. It was my own little meditation and my own piece of solitude in an otherwise whirlwind existence.mAnd also the joy feels incomplete, if you constantly think of bringing that special someone to share the beauty of your find and marvel at its existence.

On my way back (through the vegetable patch), I decided to feast on a Pilibhit version of Caesar salad (with lettuce-broccoli-raw paneer- tomato tossed in olive oil) for lunch.  A good siesta and evening tea followed by a beautiful orange-lavender sunset are perfect nourishment for a starved soul.  I sincerely hope all Sundays gave a sense of fulfillment like this one did.

An orange lavender sunset