Thursday, March 6, 2014
All these pictures were taken on way up the Chamundi hills in Mysore in the beginning of summer 2010. The 1000 steps stairway always hold interesting views and episodes.You are likely to meet some most unexpected people there.
Stop the wanton destruction of this place.
It will be gone pretty soon, unless the concerned act fast before the government 'develops' it destructively. With pasticy cover over the path! What an unimaginative, wanton act?
These steps are the real democratic heritage space in Mysore. Thousands of people move up and down every morning enjoying the free wonderful air and the forest like walks with a lot of tree cover, innumerable flora and fauna for those who are care fore to notice. A lot of devotees also go up doing ritualistic pasting of saffron on every steps. No one steps on any one else's treads. One meets all kinds of people. Regular climbers, old and young, visitors, tourists, school children in groups and some mendicants too. No one complains of a need for a canopy here. The beauty and utility and sanctity of the place is in its openness. It is part of the Chamundi ecosystem.
Unfortunately as this place has no big name of rulers attached has not been declared a heritage place, a heritage walk. No pompous building, no artificial 'thandi sadak ' associated with any king. No major ugly construction so far marring the nature. Only plastics and wastes in someplace, lack of basic facilities like toilets at both ends and proper parking space at the foot hill. Dirt do accumulate at the top, some juice sellers do clutter at places with their push carts. They could be organised if the authorities want to . That is so far.
Now the Government acted too fast. Yesterday's news paper carried an item that the Chief minster inaugurated the construction of cover over this. The picture showed an ugly blue cover with rickety pipes popping it up. There were many other bigwigs too in the picture. Why this now? Why this at all?
The trees provide adequate cover over this from sun. In some places, that is open more trees could be planted. The plastic sheet will only be a nuisance as it gets too got in summer. And every one will be sure how this will become eyesore with dusty and brittle too soon. The monkeys will add further damage over it. In rain, people mange to stop somewhere for a while and continue.
Chamundi is fragile. Wanton destruction has left scars of land slide in the past. Please don't act with out thinking. I appeal all the ministers, MPs, MLAs, Public Figures and Officials and more importantly all environmentalists and right thinking pleoples to think about this and act appropriately. One's this place loses its charm and ecology, Mysore will lose a major asset for ever.
It will really be sad, if this is not stopped.
Monday, March 3, 2014
It was a dark night. Or was it? I could see the almost full moon through the half open wooden shutter of the only small window. Grandma would not allow to open any window at night, even in the sultry pillow-drenching summer night. Some unknown fear of the unknowns. Some how this small slit of opening just happened that night. Outside the sky was beautiful with stars. But nights were meant to be spent in fatiguing cells of tubular spaces. I never knew then that I would once imagine up beautiful nights spent outside where the grandma will tell stories of revengeful bitches wandering around gobbling up children or some such thing; an imagination constructed from fragments years later bragging to colleagues in the city who reveled in such snob stories. Then it was simply stultifying nights to be endured inside. After grandma had gone, she became an angel. She was a loving lady I was told by everyone. Anyway elder people have to be nice and wonderful, especially after they are gone. What the children thought of them would not be real and correct assessment, and what they really think even at that time also would be prompted. The fragments in my head was a mixture and one major image was that of a loving gaoler who constructed dreadful insurmountable castles of fear. Fear which had no real lime or stone; no rhyme or reason. Perhaps it had.
Where was she then that night? She was sleeping there? Where were my mom and my father? My friend Velan was there. We were studying together since evening. Or were pretending to be.
The moon on the sky was a delicate thing. Like a glass ball. It will crack if it falls down. Like the one I have seen in a local doctor’s table when I was taken to him. He had kept it to fight against bitchy winds flying away his papers. Why did he have so many papers, all neatly stacked up with a three forth of a glass ball on top? Once it fell down, it seems, and a portion chipped off. That had left a mark on it. A dark rabbit like mark. I was chided when my hands almost reached to touch it. The moon, I used to imagine then, also fell down like that during some heavy cosmic wind. That left the dark mark in moon. But my father used to say it was a real big rabbit, the pet of the moon. Moon, the beautiful lady. My mom used to supplement that story and would tell us children that again later. But she would to scold me as I wouldn’t believe. I heard from my uncle - teacher that it is a crater and moon is a satellite going round the earth and it had no light of its own. I didn’t like that too. Moon would be beautiful without this science explaining everything and making it to reason, I thought. Yet I couldn’t agree with my parents.
They thought and made too much of gods or goblins – moon was also a goddess and was a small deity in a nearby temple. That moon was fun and was thought clothless, all worshippers placing a bit of threads from their clothes to cover the goddess. They believed and were scared of more of the evil spirits than the gods and worried of bad sights and spells who would visit us children dropping periodic seeds of fever and cold, and sometimes much more. A week of escape from school; but no going out in the sun and only salt less liquid ganji and papads burned in fire, no fried stuff, no cold food, nothing sour, nothing spicy. A bland existence and the dreadful pampering love hovering around like sticky useful perspiration. And then, a bitter kashaya, and the worst, a talisman. Something inscribed in a copper leaf and placed inside a small tubular silvery trinket. A local astrologer cum heroic fighter of all evils and bad spirits would tie it around my hip after an hour long brouhaha and gibberish. That would stay there or would fall off or removed with no one noticing it until the next bout of visit by the evil. And I would have to sit for more than an hour in front of this ‘ noble soul’ until he finishes his rites to receive a dakshina of coins or notes, the quantity depending on the length of the rites and the severity of the evil attack . It would be given by my father through me. Some times in addition to this, there would be additional fortifications, arriving in the form of nomadic mendicant evil catchers/ warders who would claim themselves to be descending from the forests -with rare leaves flowers feathers and small drums all together to create a cacophonous theater of sound and jumps and shivers, for a small group of neighbours who would gather around. I would be the sacrificial goat to stand in front his diatribe against the spirits. I don’t know if to avoid these celebrations of evil visits or simply to have the pleasure of rebelling against the parents, I tended believe in the reasons of science which the teacher uncle averred though halfheartedly. He still believed in gods at the least, though he thought there was no goblins and evil spirit. I was not sure. But surely my mom was. She was sure that the bit of science has really made me a non- believer. She was always worried that something bad would happen to me in the long run. What one learns at school was needed to be remembered only to pass the exams but that should not be to fight the beliefs that were facts existing since time ever was, as being told.
Sorry, back to my story of that night. We, me and my friend, decided to do something that night we wanted to do for a long time. There was a huge rectangular wooden box of storage for the paddy, called pathayam. It was very large, a grown up man could sleep over it. A man could go inside it though a lid on the top, an act which I liked when asked to take out the last bit of paddy from inside. The pungent smell of paddy, the irritating dust of it, stinging sweats , near suffocating air ,or lack of it, combined to produce the unknown pleasure of being in that self referential space with no context of connections, even if for a small time. It was like going to one’s one womb. Ah, can we say the womb one was conceived in is one’s own? Sorry for the absurdity. Any way it was a strange way of enjoyment of confining space, an escape from the real world, forty years later it would seem. That huge pathayam sat in the middle of the room like a womb inside another. A rectilinear cuboid womb. If I was conceived inside a cuboid womb, would I been cuboid too? I wonder even now, did they make the rooms rectangular to fit a rectangular pathayams and cuboid objects inside or the other way? Whatever that may be the techtonic origins, the huge pathayam left very little space around for us to sit and study on the floor on either side of a shivering kerosene lamp. We could sit over it, though not allowed for some strange reasons of belief. It was almost our height any way. To climb up was not easy without a stool or a chair.
Many a time we toyed the idea, ( with it or just toyed- not sure) as knowledgeable intelligent ones would say, to move it to a side. The best time would be when it was empty. Even an empty pathayam would be too heavy for two children of 12-13 to move; to do that to one pregnant with paddy was unimaginable. But that night we decided we would do it. Some strange weird spirit possessed us, certainly not the science liking spirits; it is the other kind, perhaps. With all the might we heaved together to move the giant. And lo, move it did. With a horrible scrapping sound like a giant cow would belch, it moved on the rough cement floor. The whopping noise could wake up the whole world. Suddenly cries were heard from outside. I heard my mom calling out to me. I went and closed the door to prolong the heroic act of moving the demon womb. The scround, i mean the scrapping sound, vibrated the whole house. The half shut shutter fluttered a bit. The moon- three fourth of it, looked pale and was looking scared. The sound of cries outside was raising; so was the cry of the patthayam. It all energised, nowadays we would have to say synergised, us. Thought of nothing else, but enjoyed the act of doing the impossible. Even if it was an environmental disturbance. Uncivilised, brat-like. As one would say now. Once we see a goal possible, we get more energy; even if that goal is unsocial. Once you are drenched, get off after a bath; my grandma used to say. Did it mean this?
Mom called out to stop, So did gradma, grand pa, neighbours, all. We were disturbing the moon they said. Ah, the moon. Through the window I could see the moon shivering. And there was a thunderous sound that could be heard across the world, I thought. And with the cry of the pathayam which started inching along by itself, weird, devilish or goblinous, the lightning and a thunder occurred outside, raising innuendo of confusion, all were shouting to me to surrender to gods and goblins. Don’t challenge the gods by moving the pathayam. Plead that I would atone for the fault so far. So on and on. I felt myself important to have attracted the attention of all. The feel of the local thug who challenges gods in public.
I was not sure what happened next; the moon started cracking in the middle. It broke and one piece fell off. Grrrrrr. The terrifying noise. An one fourth of the moon was what remained on the lower sky, its head tilting to a side. Was she crying? I could not control myself too, what will happen to me. I challenged the moon and the gods. Mom was wailing too. So were others. Panic struck me, which happens to me very often even forty years later. Panic is a way of relief from the clash of irrational and rational parts of mind, perhaps.
“Da!, Eda!, wake up to go with the father”, Mom was shaking me . Was I wailing or what? She violently shook me to get up. It must have been just when white was scratched on the east, as they would say, but actually it was red. Have to follow my father and the beasts to the farm, swaying half asleep vaguely hearing the hoof of bullocks club-clubbing on the winding narrow gravelly paths bound on both sides with short mud walls sprouting cactus and sisal plants on their top. On to the field I looked at the western sky.
The slice of the moon still hanged low there precariously. I smiled to myself.
an attempt make a story of a dream, a day dream?