Rain and Dew

Memories old and far, 

Still…..

The first raindrop kissing me—

—–surprising me , tantalizing me to goosebumps….

I rose to the arousal….

And swayed my green to splash my pigmented sky….

 

Memories old and far, 

Still…..

The young dewdrop caressing the maiden me ,

In a joyful frolic in the autumn aubade…

Whispers of our sweet nothings at dawn and dusk…….

Complementing me……completing me;

 

Memories not so old and far—-

Memories speaking mine and hundreds’ saga of exploitation—

Memories of rain and dewdrop love—ephemeral and irresponsible;

Still….

Still my roots are moist ..

..the percolation inoculating me to this day.

Wanna uproot me ?

Try !! 

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Sunset Hues

How many times had I been,
But never had I seen,
…The dying sun, yellow—-
With a touch so soft and mellow—
Painted my room through wide,
With hues of nostalgia
….And memories hidden deep..
—A part to us so dear,
——The other full of fear;
Of seeing ourselves…
I laugh, I dance , I cry—
Till all the tears dry…..
And make the pillows wet—-
And then—a kiss goodbye—
—-My beloved sunset…..

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                                                                                                                                                                                                           photo courtesy : Debmalya Mukherjee

The Majestic Malshej

For the first time, the grass was greener on either sides…..life is not always unfair ….in the daily junk of garbaged life….where paradise is lost every moment in the hands of the Satan, sometimes it  is also regained by not Milton…but by muggles…a group of them speeding through the national highway 222…on their way to the picturesque monsoon coated hills of Malshej ghat…..  a mountain pass in the Western Ghats range in Pune district of Maharashtra
Arranging the car..meeting up of the muggles…light refreshments are all but a mundane part of the story and find no place in the historic saga where He met Her…So, I am going to skip them all ….yet in no way undermine their value in time-space fabric….and go straight to the point….that there was no point…. there was no aim that day….no objective……no targets and no gradation of mental state… time flowed like the rolling avenue…so fast and yet so slow…so understanding  letting each second of itself to be devoured by us…..
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Although it was full monsoon, the day was not one like a nagging problem child’s incessant tears….and that made the start all the more enjoyable…overcast day with no rains…..relief was in the air…which only gave way to awe as we started driving up the ghats……..it’s like, you know, translation of emotions as in plays and ballads…..
Up the ghats, the roads were convoluted with steep turns and mood swings….all along with us ran the hills of Western Ghats like a constraint, or was it like a guardian?
The far was obscured by the descending clouds hanging low on the hill-skin….suddenly vanishing future roads weaving tight the mystery….the untold story of the abode of the Lady of Shalott…nature is an art, I feel…and vivisection of art is the destruction of its beauty….so sometimes mysteries are blissful….they are the curators of the museum of nature..
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Strong chilly winds were blowing……and in the distant far, we could see a nebulised waterfall running upwards under the effect of these winds……it resembled an exotic Indian woman , after her bath,  splashing her wet cascade from her front to her back in an ecstatic rhythm..
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Malshej ghat seemed to be punctuated with puddles of water, here and there…..and the muggles were playing all around….not everyday do you see freedom freeing her arms……and not every day you witness poetry catching hold of it….Malshej has a literature….with an eerie style and a gaudy fashion…stopping your pulse for a moment and synchronizing with its own vibe on the next..
Monsoon had soothed the terra firma of the western ghats with plush green of different shades— a wide variance such that could challenge even the repertoire of a chameleon…let alone M.F. Husain.
Lunch was satisfying with a common curry and changing contents in the curry to earn different names, and chapattis. Post lunch, the folks retired near a small water bank …serene and strewn with small wild flowers….nature was so superfluous…its sound like a soothing lullaby luring us into a wonderland far from the war of  bricks , the quarrels of  concrete…the honks of the horn and louder still…the shouts of our quotidian demands from life….
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The most exciting part of our trip started only after that, when we reached the scenic backwaters of the Pimpalgaon Joga Dam, built on the Pushpavati River.

The vast expanse waters , amidst the lofty cliffs was a spectacle….although we did not chance upon the migratory flamingo ,whistling thrush, alpine swift , nature witnessed the metamorphosis of humans to birds….with wings wide apart….frolicking over the cool waters..

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The guys had within a few moments hijacked the local versions of the rafts kept there by the fishermen….they were riding them like canoes…stable at this moment and toppling in the next….all were drenched…wading through the waters…….these forms of relaxation are so hard to find ….everyone was having the time of their life. Even our driver could not resist the call of the waters. Those moments were the perfect proof to the saying—“there is a child in everyone”. This was perhaps the most rewarding part of our entire experience….
The overcast day…the moist winds…the wide vistas of green pastures on one side … the clouded hills on the other and the lake in the middle——-if there was Elysium anywhere in the cosmos, it should have been there.
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Slowly time passed by…and it was hard to realize..our blissful sojourn had actually come an end……The tired souls changed dresses and after a brief round of tea set on their way back….on our road to perdition….
 
 
Back in the regular drudgery   life becomes cluttered….memories fade….spirits discharge…it’s a fast drive against time or some people say….a drive with time…..whatever, we do not debate……it’s those moments we value…the moments of solitude and pensiveness…the moments in which we sit back and close our eyes and feel so ensured…wherever the time in and around our urban trickeries races to…time still stops at Malshej…………..
 

The Report

All characters  in this story are fictitious and any similarity with real character or place is purely coincidental
bustling weekday, a cozy office as most of the I.T. companies provide these days, and Amit was deep rooted into the screen of his PC, investigating a computer code that has been relentlessly showing up a bug for the past seventy-two hours. Suddenly, Amit’s cell-phone rang. “Hello! Am I speaking to Mr. Amit Ray?” the voice on the other side said in a professional and stagnant tone, “Mr. Ray,” the voice continued after obtaining primary affirmations   from Amit, “..This is Dr. Kamat from Belle Vue Clinic, you remember? I am sorry, but you would have to manage some time post lunch and come to the clinic. Nothing to worry, just come”. Amit could remember, their office had arranged for a medical checkup of their employees at Belle Vue Clinic, only a week ago , but he could not gauge a plausible reason of this meeting. His subconscious flatly discouraged him to discuss with others, whose reason Amit himself failed to unearth.
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Amit pushed open the door bearing Dr. Kamat ’ s name —“May I come in?”.A well dressed doctor stood up from his high back chair, “Yes, yes, Mr. Ray, come in, I was waiting for you only.”Amit walked into the room in small steps, he was uncomfortable and the medicinal smell lingering throughout only irritated him more. Both seated, Kamat started in a plush and composed voice, “ Okay…Mr. Ray, do you feel any problem or any type of difficulties like fatigue, feverish, or do you think you are losing weight, you can tell me.” Amit was awestruck, what was he hearing!! He never had any problems of the sort .He suddenly retorted, “Why are you asking me all these?. “ Cool down, Mr. Ray, and listen to me calmly .Your blood sample had some abnormalities, so we re-tested it and the reports suggest ,” Kamat paused, “that you may be required to undertake a bone-marrow test. I just..”, Amit intervened in a cold voice, “ What has happened to me?” , he waited..
–“ See, Mr. Ray, I won’t confirm now, but there may be a possibility of leukemia. Please do not panic, but at the same time, things should not be delayed, the bone marrow test requires to be done.”
Amit murmured into the doctor’s words, “But, why on Earth, me?” and buried his face into his hands. Followed by some empowering consolations and some contact numbers for the bone marrow test, from the doctor, Amit left in staggering steps. He was dying to share this with someone.
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Back at office Amit was unmindful and restless , and pensive, . His thoughts of imminence of death set his memories loose, and he dispassionately let them flutter—he was spending the worst hours of his life. The doctor’s words wanted to gush out of him like bubbles out of depressurized soda. Suddenly his eyes found resort—Avinash, his close friend and project leader in office, and both of them lived in the same apartment complex. Amit walked up to Avinash hurriedly, “ I want to have a talk with you, its urgent, please” and before Avinash could even reply Amit was dragging him towards the cafeteria.
Deep into the corner seats of the café, Amit broke loose, “Avinash, the doctor at the Belle Vue clinic called me today and told me that my blood report suggests a possible leukemia..leukemia, you hear, its cancer! And I am going to die”,  he burst into tears, “I cannot even imagine how mom will react when she hears this!!and how will I tell this to Sahana, we  had planned to marry this year only”. His words were gradually being garbled by the sobs. Avinash, although hit by suddenness of the circumstance, had coped up fast and had all this time been trying to protect his friend from the lurking inquisitive eyes around. He knew, consolations only aggravate situations and his words were brief and terse—
 “Amit, Amit listen to me, please do not cry. I know many other doctors, we will talk with them..silly boy, why would you die? Do not panic…let us do the examinations….ok..come on you will be going home early with me today..”
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Amit cuddled into the front seat of Avinash’s black sedan, kept his mobile on the dashboard—he was mentally stressed and exhausted and in no time ,was fast asleep. Midway through the travel, Amit’s cellphone rang and Avinash took the call—he wanted Amit to have some rest.
“Hello Mr. Ray , I am Dr. Kamat from Belle Vue clinic..”
–“ No, he is sleeping, I know all of it, what is the situation now?  tell me, please..”
–“With whom am I speaking?”
“I am Amit’s colleague Mr.Avinash Sen”
–“Ok, ok just give him the message that he should not be worried, it was not his report ,it was our fault..We had mistaken someone else’s report with his..He is completely fine….by the way, what did you tell your name was?”
“My name? Avinash Sen..why?”
–“Oh!! Mr. Sen  I was going to call you only.. I am sorry, but can you come to the clinic now? Nothing to worry, just come         ….”…………..
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THE TEMPTING KARNALA

[Written on a trip that happened on the Christmas,2010]

However mundane one maybe throughout the year, the year-ends always have a plan (at least a plan for a plan). This Christmas, the day which heralds the winter carnivals mood, a lot of eleven people had a plan, —a plan for a small scale trekking effort at the Karnala Fort.
 
Karnala fort(also called Funnel Hill) is a hill fort in Raigad district about 10 km from Panvel city. Currently it is a protected place lying within the Karnala Bird Sanctuary. It was a fort of strategic importance as it overlooked the Bor pass which connected the Konkan coast to the interior of Maharashtra(Vidharba) and was the main trade route between these areas.
 
The fort is perched on a vertically jutting column of basalt rock and is geographically a part of the Sahyadri Hills.
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 The journey commenced with the gradual assembly of members at the Vashi station at about 8.30 am. The train was not crowded,probably because it was a holiday. There is a saying–’one’ is an idea; ‘two’ is a discussion ; ‘three’ is crowd—but sometimes the crowd, particularly a crowd gleaming with youth can fill a coach with roars of laughter, pouts of childish joy, punctuated with incessant snapping of photographs. Much as the warmth within the coach, was the chill in the air outside , quite unlikely of a Mumbai winter(!).
 
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 As the train crossed Kharghar, Manasarovar etc, visibility was low, with dense white fog smearing the vistas, and possibly that was why the train moved abnormally slowly in certain segments .Ultimately we reached Panvel.
 Panvel welcomed us with light refreshments and two rounds of tea(some people also took coffee), following which we advanced towards the bus stand. The bus stand came out to be a jostling place with buses which physically resembled the ‘iron safe’ used by the older generations and the travelling comfort seemed to be no more than a digital file being compressed into a RAR format!!! Who knew then that Mr. Santa Claus would be arranging for us a 8-seater auto and an unputdownable traffic-jam to wade through!!
 The hoarding “Karnala Bird Sanctuary” seemed too sweet a sight to the tourists who had half an hour ago, amidst the traffic doldrums lost all hopes of making it to the place.
  
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From the point of entry, it seemed as if a green canopy had been laid over us, with trees filtering every quantum of our sight of the sky. The air bore a chlorophyllous aroma and the casual movement of the light-hearted monkeys, the backdrop of the wide greenery only reminded us now and then of our genuine minority with respect to nature. Although it is called a bird sanctuary (I came to know about 140 species of migratory birds visit the sanctuary every year), we could not catch up much variety or numbers of birds, thanks to the noise which we and other tourists were producing. To add salt to injury, were 3 cages bearing a meager display of a white rabbit, a parrot and a peahen. However none of us seemed to mind the absence of the sight of a bird and all were quite happy to stride though the shady woods.
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The first few metres were fairly easy going, the trail sloped upwards gently and combined with our over-enthusiasm, we headed at a fairly quick pace. The ground was strewn with ignaceous rocks and boulders of varied sizes , all around was fauna , and swaying branches, artistic and aesthetic—resembling a dancing ornate lady in this moment and a venous giant in the next. Gradually the trail was getting steeper and the members stopped to take a breath or a gulp of water every few metres. However strenuous it was, everyone was enjoying, climbing up trees, swinging on branches, taking photographs of their inner tarzan‘ avatar!!
 
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After a trek of about two hours, we reached a flatland covered with dry yellow long grass. The view down was overwhelming— everything so small, the far-off ONGC workhouse seemed to be made of Lego toolkits—―I was the monarch of all I surveyed!
This flatland was the base of the basalt column which housed the Karnala Fort. The team members decided to cool off a bit, with frantic poses for photographs, some light refreshments like biscuits and an occasional ogle at the young beaus with the other groups. Ahead was a tougher climb with steep slope, irregular geometry of rocks and the realization—a miss is amiss…
For inexperienced people like us , conviction was the only tool at hand and we started the next phase of the journey. All of us were very careful, slowly selecting stepping-rocks and the sharp ledges to climb and support themselves. Every rock we climbed up we gained more confidence, and at the same time were growing skeptic about the methods we would have to resort to in the backdrop of the high altitude feel-dizzy views while coming down. ―Slow but steady wins the race – an arduous climb had led us to the gate of the Karnala fort!! The date of formation of the fort is not accurately known but likely it predates 1400 CE built under Devagiri Yadavs and later on changed hands from Yadavs to Tughlaqs ,then to the Gujarat sultanate and eventually to the Portuguese , Shivaji,Aurangzeb, Peshwas of Pune, and finally East India Company in 1818. Karnala fort actually consists of two forts one at a higher level and other lower. At the centre of
 the higher level is a 125 feet high basalt pillar. It is also called Pandu’s tower. This structure was probably used as watchtower when the fort was occupied however now it is in a ruined condition.
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 An ethereal joy gurgles out of you, when you reach the end and perhaps such joy is sourced at the ego satisfaction of winning over the problems Nature poses in front of you. All were tired , yet happy , and relaxed for the next half an hour or more, chatting and frolicking at an elevation of 1440 ft above mean sea-level.
 It was 3.30 pm in the afternoon, and soon we decided to start off our descent so that we could complete the trek before dark set in. The descent was tougher than the ascent for the flat soles and souls!! These were tired legs and the loose gravels which had somewhat provided grip while climbing up, now just started doing the opposite .
 

Remember Murphy‘s law?—―if anything can go wrong, it will‖—the team had divided into two during descent and the second team suddenly started seeing new trees, new rocks and new paths—those not encountered while coming up, which meant we had diverted from the older route—I should mention that it feels romantic to be lost in the woods!!The sun was softening, the ambience was so sound with serenity (the members‘ voices had become tired) with chirps of birds and monkeys impregnating the flow of all pervasive silence. However ,―all roads lead to Rome!‖and our road also led us to the base where we found our other team members waiting for us. Our drinking water had been exhausted just when we had needed them at the top and now at the base people were guffawing in litres of water from a not-so-maintained tap. It was time to return.

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 We had no cars booked for us, and   even worse, we were hungry!! And as if the Christmas
 package tour was not complete we were given board by a kindhearted‘ minitruck driver for a ride upto Panvel Station. It was the perfect end to the day with the tired lot charging up once again , with an auspicious oath of remaining united, fostering the togetherness and nourishing it for a future trip!! 

Rendezvous

Running uphill and not getting tired—–
Is this a dream or what?
Moving far from them and the relations never tore—
Is this reality?
Or, is this the lack of a moment?
..a moment to realize, you are out of breath ….
… a moment to feel the tensions on the bonds, so cherished..
Out of reality ,yet not in my dreams..
Where? where? where?
Where am I ?
One foot on the thoughts…
The other on the arguments….
And their rift stretching me apart..
The tears defying gravity—
The Sun getting out of my reach—
Is the Sun setting?Or am I drowning..
…………..am I?

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The Common Man

I am the common man of Narayan
   I am the common man of Kutty,of Laxman…
I am the common man……
  Whose ultramodern watch reads silent digits,
    But life still hears the unending ticks of the omnipresent repeater…
I am the common man…..
Whose inability to become the crouching tiger made him the hidden dragon….
  Whose Woodland shoes only make him more grounded..
  Whose attempts to be romantic with his partner only end up in a soliloquy,
I am the common man ,
Who never tried and yet failed to be the revolution..
Who protests against fear, but fears to protest,
I am him,
           The common man whose dreams are as unobtrusive as his reality….
“I am the common man
  I am the COMMON MAN,
   I am THE COMMON MAN“,–
 I pressed—  
The voice remains numb,
Only tears run down…………………
And then  the glimmering city lights through the refracting teardrop
 Pacify me,
  Assure me,
     ..Reaffirm,
                     “You are the common man..
                               You better be…”
common-man