A total recall

I have been thinking quite a lot about the land of the Bhils and Gonds – the tribals of the region of India I have my roots in. A long time ago, it seems, B and I visited a section of it, and fell in love with the greens and the browns and the blacks of the place. I’d love to, someday, write about it. But today, I am so full of the memories, that all I can do is post some pictures and reload the page over and over again through the day to keep looking at them. Why post them and not see in my personal gallery? Well, posting it in the blog has an added advantage of pretending I am storing it in a diary. And I was a religious diary-writer as a kid.

Besides, I always love to share what I think the world deserves to know. So, here goes a collection of memories from a land that has not seen ‘civilisation.’

The creek that gushes close to where we stayed.

A reservoir close to Bhoramdeo, the place where we stayed for the night. The red soil turns all waters into remarkably dirty-coloured entities. But all is beautiful, still. The fisherman promised to keep a fish for us to take home. We couldn't go back to him after our little jaunt at the hills. Our loss. The cow bells came with me, though. In the mind. I can still hear the sweet sound.

The dragonflies, blurred in the foreground were the stars of the season. It was summertime, the worst time to go there. If the worst time offers such beauty, the best should be just that, no?

This kite flew down to perch on the distant guard rail. As if to pose, it stayed there only as long as we clicked pictures. Quite a celeb, eh?


Moti of the Baiga tribe. The man we went to meet because people from the world over come to meet him, to seek cures to their ailments. He claims to walk the darkest of forests with tigers and elephants for company, make medicines to cure anything ranging from constipation to multiple scleroris. He claims to have eaten a herb for the duration he didn't want children. Natural contraceptive. 🙂 Pointing at my spectacles, he said, "I can get these off in one day". I'll tell you the outrageous cure, someday. Suffice it to say, I am chicken-hearted. And they make stylish spectacle-frames these days. All the tongues-in-cheeks aside, he has remarkable eyes. I couldn't meet them for long. He kept looking into mine, deep and deeper. It was unnerving.

Child-mothers, all. The local weekly market is quite a draw. People come in throngs from distant villages to buy several things. My favourite among them? The circlet around the girl's (on the left) neck. It's called a sarota. Pure silver, awesome weight. I got myself one. 🙂

Leopard kitten (a leopard cat is a wild cat, but not a leopard). A domesticated devil at a local village. I'd have taken him if the people weren't so attached to him. Such fire in his eyes.

A lotus pond at the Shiva temple at Bhoramdeo. The temple itself is so mind-numbing, I was slightly scared to click its picture, so I took its companion's instead.

This classy lady is off with her bargain of the week - the mahua. A local wine made of mahua flowers. The blossoms fill the forests during the summer season with their heady fragrance. Lotus-eaters would find these a much bigger challenge. People have been known to have fallen asleep the moment they came too close to a tree in full bloom. Or have been attacked by bears who wish to claim their share. Mahua. A heady, fruity, sweet brew.

Not a great picture. Doesn't quite capture the beauty of the fall, but it is important to post it here because a couple of ten minutes after this, as we trekked along the dirt track, we were to have a memorable experience. Since the track was a narrow one, we were walking in a straight line. The leader was a spirited dog we'd found close to the creek posted above. It wanted to come with us, or lead us rather. He was followed by our guide, then B and then finally, me. After a few minutes of walking along, we heard a rough grunt that reverberated not only through the hills, but within our heads and hearts as well. A growl followed. And then a yelp. By the time we'd trundled to the place, all had already happened. The dog was cowering, the leopard was gone. Yes, there had been a leopard ahead in the path, probably sleeping. Our leader was the only one to sight the cat. A rare example of a dog cowering in front of a cat, perhaps. At any rate, the leopard was gone before we could say Dog. All we had left of his presence was the memory of the inimitable growl (showing disgust, probably at the intruders) and the unmistakable big-cat smell. I can still feel the adrenalin. Our leader deserted us immediately thereafter. We never saw him again.

This outing, just a weekend, was an important one. I grew up very far from all these visions and smells and experiences. Despite the lack of familiarity, I somehow felt a part of it all, as I walked these roads. A feeling akin to home. B; a child of lands much beyond these, lands of tall mountains and great lakes, with people so different yet not quite; also, for some strange reason, felt one with the land. I know no better pleasure. Bhoramdeo is the place that brought me closer. To what? To life itself, I daresay.

I could go on living.

Looking out of this window at this beautiful bird chirping the sweetest call I’ve heard, I feel it is here and now I can live. No other moment or world exists. What is it about nature and its many wonders that simply do not let you feel  inadequate for long? The joy of life it radiates is incomparable and irreplaceable.

Of old lessons

When in doubt, run to friends. Their station in life or the grades they got in school regardless, they will come up with responses that light up your life. Serious, concerned, pertinent answers or witty, in-your-face humour. Years back, I ran (virtually) to friends, implored them to help me remove the cobwebs in my head. I take life too seriously, you see. It becomes a humongous task to not analyse my contributions in my own life. This particular situation arose from the doubt that I was probably being too impatient with humanity in particular and myself in general. So . I did what I feel most comfortable doing. I wrote. And sent mails to a few friends who I knew would be honest. The following is an excerpt.

“I am introspecting again… It’s like spring cleaning…. I need your feelings on this. It may seem strange, but I’d like to know my faults/weaknesses/what have you. I am terribly uncomfortable with saccharine praise. Is it possible for a person to do things and not make ANY mistake?… There needs to be a not-so-nice bit in people somewhere.  All this praise makes me feel unnecessary conceit… I look for validity of all that we see around. I want to believe. In compliments, smiles, expressions of approval. And try as I may, I don’t see any validity. It’s a lonely place to be in.

…Cynicism makes me dizzy with fear. I am alone here in this world, usually. Loneliness is the last thing any of us chooses, right? I fear spending my time peeping at the world from behind a veil made of cocksure I-am-okay-by-myself attitude. … that loving is a lonely thing to do. And it is such a sorry plight. I am scared, because I have stepped into this threshold of accepting loneliness as the only way out of an insane desperation in search of something that is so wonderfully wholesome, that it overwhelms you for the rest of your life.”

(You must grant me bravery. Now that I am reading these words after a gap of seemingly zillion years, I admit I must’ve been quite a character back then. Who spring cleans the nice bits? Why analyse when you can live? Whatever. It was back then.)

And they wrote back. And lit up my life. Good Samaritans, all.

Don’t lose your spirit trying too hard!

OK just don’t sound so cocky when you answer calls. You might scare people away.

Forcing humility or self-evaluation has no value attached to it.

Conceit is not a problem as long as it is not apparent.

Talk because you want to, because you want to share. And there shouldn’t be the feeling of wanting to say the right things to get approval.

Each one’s emotional investment in a relationship can never be to the same degree as yours.

You simply have to be able to open your mind and speak.

I honestly believe that even though we lend power to everyone for the way we feel..at the end of the day we believe in ourselves through other’s eyes because it’s convenient. It’s easier to blame others than one’s own self.

Try doing things for some one else. Unless that coincides with what you want  to do too, it’s a strain, you have to push yourself, things don’t go right, everything is generally miserable because we are trying to go against nature.

…..and you definitely don’t need their (people who don’t know better) adulations.

Anything they don’t understand, they just idolize and antagonize.

I see the shelves at bookstores crammed with books on improvement, and how to live a better life… everyone seems hell bent on trying to teach the world how to live and how to improve (and wonder of wonders, the reviews point out that it actually works for people!!) I say this again – I’m not evolved enough to understand how I can improve by accepting parameters set by people whose views on life, and whose beliefs are probably poles apart from mine.

What we have to learn is  that every minute we live is important . Everything we do, think, see, taste, smell, blah, blah is important.

Look for peace within you. If you are not calm , no amount of love from the outside can be a balm. You are your own disease and your own medicine.

Well, phew. That’s a lot of lessons in a short time. Begone, unnecessary ‘introspection’! Reading and re-reading this (and all the other stuff they wrote) reminded me of the importance of simplicity.

We spend our times wondering whether or not we did the right thing. Or whether we received what we deserve. It can become an overwhelming whirlpool. Getting out of it requires much more than the knowledge of swimming. And some don’t even know that.

In such situations, skepticism may become necessary. Cynicism, however, is just hogwash.

(Skepticism – it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.)

(Cynic is one who “shows a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions, and is wont to express this by sneers and sarcasm.”)

My leanings towards a lonely road of disappointment at the moral and emotional inadequacies? They were curbed.

I have believed (and thankfully still do) in living and letting live (one friend did point out some enlightened souls like Mr. Axl Rose who believe in living and letting die). In the path of leading such a seemingly indifferent life, I may and do encounter times when I want control. Control things for the sake of love or self-preservation or both. But as long as my own harmless existence is not threatened, it is suicidal to want to be in control. As long as I remember to sip from my own wellspring of soul-wisdom from time to time, things normally turn out just fine!