Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The walking man………?
Great minds think alike! As a matter of fact, this has been a title of one of Ruskin Bond’s essays, in which he speaks about his habit of walking it out, whenever he wanted to spend some time with himself. Truly, this connection, more than a coincidence, is an aspect which every one of us should realize. Walking, jogging, or even just strolling around before or after a meal, actually anytime, I feel it will always give a chance, one would need to introspect, and may be get close to his or her human existence. For somebody it might be fast biking, for some a game of badminton, or table tennis would suffice, but for me, it has always been walking nevertheless. Since my Mumbai hostel days, I had this rather miserly way saving a few bucks, but now it is my quick fix solution to slip into “Romanticism” mode. In Mumbai I would undertake such journeys on foot, for sheer cash crunch, but now these walks are my best friends. I remember a few of my walks, in wilderness, or within the concrete jungle, and would like to share the entire gamut of emotions and feelings such endeavors would evoke in me.
I was quite a regular, at the morning walks in the Sanjay Gandhi National park, Borivali. Once I decided to walk out right up to Kanheri caves and waterfall, because rains had just stopped and as expected the falls would be in good spate. It was still dark when I set out, being a clear night as it was, the stars shone from among the trees, for me to take a notice. It was so pitch dark that I even stumbled upon a tiny speed breaker, and thought, how we get away from the realities, as soon as we get into the cozy company of nature? Anyways, I had a light torch with me, to keep of any apprehensions and fears in mind. Mind well, it was a risky task, venturing in this forest, while still dark, and that too all alone. I normally walk at a brisk pace, and while walking I suddenly found myself in a dense part of the forest, with so many hills around me. I had never come to this part of the jungle before, and I only realized that those were hills, when the almost full moon, got hidden behind them for a moment or two. I carefully treaded the path, keeping a watch on sign boards, and every single human being on my path. By the time it was a little bright, I reached the historic caves. It is being said that Pandavas, through their many journeys had stayed here for quite sometime, and few Buddhist monks, had made those beautiful, and enormous caves. Throughout my walk, I was only with myself. No thoughts of office work pressure, nothing else crossed my mind. I only thought about every step I was taking to the destined location. Once there, I could hear the lovely li’l roar of the waterfall. It was just over from one of the caves, and it met the earth, almost 30 feet down from where I was seeing it. A small series of steps has been made to get atop those caves. It was a tricky thing, moving on them. The incessant rains had made them sticky, and a slip on them could see you running for a plastic surgery! Anyways, it was one of my most beautiful sights once I got onto the caves. It was like an amphitheatre, with a cluster of lush green hills, where the stage should be. A group of clouds, small and large, were busy doing a ballet, on a distant hillock. As they faded away into the wings of the stage set up by nature, another spectacle was about the unveil itself. The sun was about to lighten up this mean, noisy world. From behind the hills, I saw the rays, long and straight, bisecting few clouds, on its way, to reach unknown places in the sky itself. I sat there for almost an hour, relishing the sheer opportunity, life had bestowed on me. But once I realized, I was from a mechanic world, I rushed, to get back to my usual life. On my way back, I came face to face with a funny situation. I was near a cluster of illegal hutments. A stench of human waste lurked around, and few hens were grazing around. As they saw me taking a brisk walk towards them, they, almost 5-6 of them, started running towards me. It appeared funny to me, and I thought I would caress them, once they get close to me. But within few seconds, fear overtook my caring thoughts, as I could see them running towards me, as it to kill me. I almost left the tar road and ran for life, for 10-15 metres to get myself, out of their way. Once out of the situation, I thought I should turn back and look at them, so as to ensure that they are not following me. On looking back, I realized they were actually running towards an elderly man walking behind me, who, regularly used to feed them, pieces of stale chapattis! So, dangerously obsessive for food, funny, isn’t it? That brood of hens, seriously, scared the life out of me! With ritualistic Amla, wheatgrass, karela juice and sprouted moongs, I returned back to my dingy flat, with still some cold sweat dripping down my brow. Just think of the plethora of emotions, I went through.

Another such memorable walk was, in New Delhi, on the Raj path. This stretch really evokes that feeling of pride and patriotism, because of the architecture of various embassies, Amar Jawan memorial, and The India gate. Just recently, a sense of déjà vu’ struck me, when I was watching “Rang De Basanti”. As I walked besides the lush gardens on the road, and posh vehicles whizzed past me, I was looked upon by a quizzed look, by the security guards posted over there, nevertheless, it’s their duty. Ruskin Bond, at some point of time, also had walked on these paths. A walk inside the Jamia campus was also truly exhilarating.

Another place, where I enjoyed walking was Matheran. Ullas would definitely nod his head in approval, as walking on that moist, horse dung smelling, red earth of this pretty hill station definitely transports one, into an era, devoid of all material inclinations. Looking at the buildings, temples, homes, a lonely church, a fountain near sunrise point, it certainly feels that the place is still living in a different century altogether. A walk inside the woods makes one feel like a baby in the lap of Mother Nature, and at such times, I don’t mind behaving like a naughty child. Playing pranks, humming old songs, grazing on anything and everything, doing all such mindless things, talking about old movies, songs and similar such what nots. While on such sojourns I also make sure that I do not miss out with the local cuisine, even a home made steaming hot platter would see myself at peace.

Another such memorable walk was in Mhalshej ghaat near Mumbai. This one was amazing, on the most picturesque and enjoyable ones. Mhalshej is the place’s name, and a high way passes through it. We took a bus from Thane via Kalyan, to mhalshej. The beginning of ghaat is symbolized by a water fall, that falls directly on to the highway. And actually the buses pass through under that fall. We got off, after that one, but before a tunnel. As we crossed the tunnel, we could see deep ravines, with hundreds of water falls cascading down their lengths. The entire place was filled up with a stupendous roar of all these waterfalls. We were surrounded by waterfalls on all the four sides. As we walked a little further, we saw, two tiny falls, where we could take a bath. We had a ball of time, splashing in and out of water, playing mischief with each other, and then finally tiring ourselves to death. We felt so hungry that, only good hot non-vegetarian food could have satisfied us. It was drizzling all the while, and as we moved forward, we could see innumerous paddy fields, each sporting a different hue. Here we were amongst a few hutments, and as people looked us with question in their eyes, I told Mandy, let’s act crazy. He affirmed and started walking like those fast walkers in a walking race. We walked out of the village like that, and could see people smiling on turning back. By this time, we were able to see a big flock of Flamingoes, resting in a field near by. We slowly without making big noises got as close as possible to them, but they were smart creatures, they would distance themselves, as much further as we got close to them. Sometimes, on feeling the insecurity, they would just take off, fluttering their enormously long wings, with a patch of lovely pinkish red under them. It appeared as if they are breaking into a synchronized dance sequence, right from their homelands, may be cold climes of Siberia, or Russia. As we quietly watched this spectacle, we were apprehended by two old men, thinking that we were poachers. I immediately flashed my staff i-card and got away with it. Later we, had a satisfying meal and returned to the tunnel, where we had started from. But I felt, something still remained, untold, undiscovered, may be…….unseen for ages. As if Mother Nature had fixed this date, I wondered what was there at the end of that tiny path from besides the tunnel’s edge. Mandy was in doubt, whether to go or not, but adventure is father of all discoveries, just like necessity is mother of all inventions! We walked beside a mammoth rock, just about to break away and few metres, ahead of it saw the tiny trail, end abruptly. I sat down, out of exhaustion, with head close to my knees, eyes closed; I tried to get drowned into the deafening crash of water falls around. This is when I thought somebody was there. My eyes wanted to meet her eyes, in this crowded room, with such dense woods beneath and noisy child like water falls around. I was in a hurry, the state transport bus, I could see on another edge of the ghaat was inviting me to take a seat. But, still I waited, remember this was a date…….and there I see her. She was distances apart….may be I could have never reached her, because she was there, but may be she was not. Almost a kilometer away, she stood their, waving to me, opening her arms wide, as if to embrace me, and relieve me of all my worldly tensions. It was a beautiful waterfall, falling from a ridge exactly facing me. It fell down like any other waterfall, for almost 300 metres, and then rose again, to get dissolved into the moist chilly airs of Mhalshej. It’s hard to describe, but I know one thing, I fell in love, sorry, rose in love with her, just like she did….after falling. I am sure; I will show this lovely creation of God, to whoever I decide to spend my life with.
At the end of this all, I feel like having gone so far, still I am very much here. Those thoughts, those thrills, those smiling faces, silly situations, and ……such uplifting experiences have definitely made me a silly, crazy and untiring “Ro(a)mantic”. Wish me “Happy Walking” on the unknown trails of life. If you wish to join, I am waiting, with my arms spread out wide!

“basti se bahar jaanewali pagdandi hamesha bulaaya karti thi, socha chand baate karke jee halka kar lenge!,
Yaarana hote hi kambakht ne to sawaal poochna sikha diya!”


Blogger blah_blah_blogger said...

haan bhai...walking surely is a stress buster...probably one of the few activities that can be enjoyed alone as well...though, with a friend or two with you, the fun just multiplies...the walk at Matheran being a case in point.

5:59 PM  
Blogger blah_blah_blogger said...

I am reading Room on the Roof and Vagrants in the Valley by Ruskin Bond...this author is absolutely unputdownable...the way he describes Dehra...I am sure anyone who has read him is in love with Dehradun...

10:38 AM  
Blogger amit said...

Thanks for turning up!i totally agree with you, about what you said about Ruskin Bond. his style is so simple and real, that you almost feel like you are in the places that he talks about. i am his fan since, i was a kid. though i am not reading any of his books, i will always be his fans. one of his simple thoughts was, " i wanted to run away from home, but where was i to go". he knew that its only home where he can be at peace, thats what happened,he went to england for a period and returned back home to india, for amny reasons. anyways, i hope such walks happen to me again and again.

9:42 PM  

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