Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Mad Tree Party

FYI- My article for the Pune Tree Fest 2012, the original can be found here: A Mad Tree Party

I haven’t read the newspaper, not in a long time. I haven’t written, not in a long time. But yesterday, when after so many days, I picked up the Times of India lying on my couch, I had no idea why this tree festival article caught my eye, and made me read that page longer than any other, ultimately ending up in this tangled representation of a multitude of experiences. I was actually surprised, I mean, I have never been much of a strong idealist for plant-life, I love greenery and blossoming nature just like the next person, then why the pause?

And then suddenly, out of nowhere, a small scene flashed out. A little girl, sneaking chili seeds out from the potato sabzi in her lunch, just like every other day, only this time, not throwing them into the bin, but secretly putting them into a small white plastic Shikakai pot hastily filled up with damp mud, in the few minutes that her mother dozed off. Who watered it every day from her water bottle, fearing someone would discover if the water in the jug seemed lesser. Who looked at the tiny pot every day, and prayed that it grew enough chilies so her mother wouldn’t have to buy from the grumpy old vegetable lady. Who was terrified when her parents finally discovered it, fearing the worst, and jumped in ecstatic joy when they allowed her to keep it and gave it a nice, cozy place of its own in the window! Who looked in wonder at her pot after a few weeks, that contained a miraculous transformation from few seedlings to a handsome, swaying chili plant, and decorated it with stickers and glitter and chart paper and wrote in proud letters – My Tree. Who took it to her school and showed it to everyone and celebrated the plant. Who still has the white pot, although the plant, too big to grow in it now, had to be shifted to the park.

My relationship with plants has just been so natural that I don’t at all remember making a conscious effort to do anything in that regard. For no reason, I just choose them. More moments started flashing out in random order - I remembered caressing the jasmine plant when I plucked a flower, giving a long speech in front of the neem tree that always greeted me every morning when I looked out the window, reading tree chapters in my textbook with extra interest. I remember listening awestruck to stories of my grandfather tending to his neat vegetable garden in our village house backyard, I remember climbing onto the slanted rooftop to wave huge bumble bees off the bean-vines (even though I felt dead scared of them), I remember pleading excitedly to my mother to take me to the huge farm of her aunt where they used to grow everything that could be grown and who didn’t buy a single food item from outside except salt, I remember my great-uncle teaching me the names and the origins of different varieties of spices that he’d planted in his kitchen garden.

And the most splendid experience of all - spending the last four years of my life in companion with a tree that had become an inseparable part of me – The Banyan Tree of the CoEP campus. It was my spot for contemplation, its thick stem a hiding place for dodging professors who would walk by it to the next lecture classroom, dozing off beneath its cool aura as we waited for the next practical, to go so far as to conduct an entire club meeting underneath the natural canopy it provided! Every day included at least one trip to the tree, even if it had to be the only reason to walk to that side of the campus (well, not so much considering how lethargic I can be, but yeah, lots of trips :P). 

The countless moments spent beneath its benevolent branches, blink smilingly up at me now, as I can’t help thinking, trees are companionship. Trees understand. Trees soothe. But trees also rebel. Because trees, are life. And that is why, trees are memories. :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Come Again.. Or, have I?

I have decided it's high time that I have kept ignoring my inclination towards expressing my completely irrelevant thoughts in the light of less important things (ex: work, office). :D Well, I was just going through the multitude of drafts in my blog that had collected alphabetical dust over the past few years, having never seen the light of the desert that is in the middle of nowhere. I found many that will soon come out, a bit dusted and toned, but there is one that I would like to put up, uncut now.


The last week was one of the most bizarre I've encountered, in terms of night-time adventures. One of the rare few string of days during which I've gone to bed extremely early (around 10.30 - 11pm), and dreamt the most inexplicable of dreams. But yesterday night will take the cake, baker and his oven in the Department of the Unexplainable. Let me jot it down before it trickles away, and I’ll try to interpret it later.

Scene: My home, the place where I've been staying since 18 years. Now, it's very important to picturise the venue of this incident to take in the fantastically out-of the world nature of this dream. I stay on the 3rd floor of our measly three-storeyed building, and there's a couple more flights of stairs separating us from the terrace. Meaning, from our flat (no. 25), the terrace cannot be viewed directly, but which can be done from no. 28. There is a small square space before every flat, and similarly, before the entrance to the open roof area, enough to put a chair or two.

Time: Sunset, around 17:45 hours, and my granddad is sitting on an easy chair in the squarish space before flat no. 28, and staring on in front (exactly at what, a person can't see from behind unless they walk up to that level, combined with the fact that the door to the terrace was not exactly open). I, after finishing a yummy snack, came out to wash my hands (Yes, there was a wash basin outside the house, and yes, my mind has the capability of conjuring up just about anything :|) and saw grandpa sitting alone, so I just went by to sit with him and spend some time. He told me to take him up the the last flight of stairs towards the terrace, and when we reached there, he told me to completely open the half closed door, saying he wanted to show me something. I was on his left side, closer to the door, and when I opened it, what I saw could not be digested with jaw closed. It was one of the most mysterious sunsets of my life. 

I pushed the door and it slowly twirled on its rusty hinges, to reveal a brightly shining, perfectly normal, evening sun. Then, just as we were admiring its beauty, in about 5 seconds it turned into a just-about-to-go-down beautiful, golden orangish hue-giving off, calm, all-pervading, light sun. I looked on, mesmerised. But then, in the next 5 seconds, the colour of it swept off to reveal a shy sky blue from right to left! Just as my sluggish mind realized it had to register panic, the sun camouflaged itself into the light it itself gave off to the sky (making it light orange), and dark black spots started hovering in the sky, in the place where earlier the sun was visible, making it appear as if there was a black sun in the sky, with huge chunks torn apart from it, and the other remaining chunks started vibrating violently as if they wanted to be set free from the tortuously restricted circular sunspace. 

The next few seconds were so shocking that I almost fell over on grandpa’s easy chair; the black spots actually broke off from the space (as if someone had suddenly jerked off the invisible chains holding them down to the roundish prison) and flew off, leaving behind nothing but the slightly orangish sky. When they were breaking free, it appeared as if the spots were great, big black bats that had all but covered the sun, and they were now flying away into the horizon after gobbling it down. 

No sun, for a few minutes, and then the cycle kept repeating. And when I looked back to see the expression on grandpa's face, he had dozed off.

I stood there, perplexed. All the contentment that my post-nap snack had filled me with was gone. What does this mean? Did I just see a novel form of eclipse that has never been witnessed before? Perhaps, Bird Eclipse? :| 

*At this point, I woke up, covered in sweat, as if I had been the one doing all the flying, cursing the pillow for being too hard, at which point, I realized that my pillow had actually been a set of internship assignments. Sigh.*