A lemon tree and her visitors

“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” ― Emily Dickinson

IMG_3019 (The lemon tree)
The Lemon Tree

Two meters away from my bedroom window, close to our granary, we have a lemon tree. It used to bear massive and delicious lemons. Once I asked my mother how it got there. She told me that my sisters may have planted it while I was in boarding school.

Over the years, we’ve harvested its produce countless times. Sometimes it would give us a plentiful harvest; at other times good. My mother would take it to the market to sell whenever reap would be plenteous. But, many a time, we would just give it away to our friends and relatives to share the grace. Then there were our neighborhood that would slyly sneak in our property, but its robust spikes had often thwarted their ambitions.

As time goes on; as year turned into years. Everything begins to fade away. Our lemon tree is also showing us the sign that she has grown old. I’ve tried to prune its withered branches, but it didn’t help her much. Still it bears fruit, but the size has reduced to a tiny ball. Of late, despite her age, she began to attract a lot of new visitors. She‘s getting on quite well with feral birds, besides the fact that it has been a playground for numerous house sparrows ever since she attained three meters in height.

Some months ago, I saw a beautiful white bird with a long tail perched on its branch. I couldn’t believe what I witnessed. A fine looking bird on our lemon tree! In the heart of Hapoli town! Since I’d never seen this beautiful bird in my entire life, I thought it must be new specie. So I used to address him/her as an “Angel bird” until someone told me its name – Asian Paradise flycatcher. For two days, Angel bird would come, groom and hop about for hours while hiding among the branches. Though it has never visited our lemon tree again, but its majestic look was permanently etched on my mind, will remain there till the last breath.

That wasn’t the beginning of the end for visitors. Among others, the Tits were also enrolled in the list.

In another incident; it was rather very early morning when I was woken up by birds chirping. As I opened the window a crack, I saw two Red-vented Bulbuls alighting on a branch. Two were already there – settled on nearby branch. House Sparrows consider our lemon tree as their own, their recreational area. So they were trying to scare away the new visitors. Despite their boisterous chirpings, they were unable to budge the Bulbuls.

After the flight of the Bulbuls, the lemon tree has become the dominion of Sparrows again. Not for long, though. The Bulbuls have kept returning to our lemon tree since last few days.

Needless to say, this chapter will pass. Nothing stays same forever. Someday we all are going to make our exit – at destined time. Our lemon tree. The sparrows. The Bulbuls. Money. Friends. Happiness. Grief. You. And me. However, I’m enjoying every bit of it while it last. I’ll cherish our lemon tree while I still can and I’ll miss her when she’ll be not around.  By the way, who can tell whose numbers will be up first?

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Asian-Paradise flycatcher
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Red-vented bulbul

Majuli

My mom must be annoyed as I never let her know of my intention to travel in advance. Honestly, Planned Trip just doesn’t suit me at all. It frustrates me when things don’t go according to the plan.

As always, I told her about my irresistible impulse to see Majuli – river island in the Brahmaputra River (Assam, India) – just a few hours before the journey.

It takes only a day to reach Majuli from my hometown (Hapoli, Ziro). However; I had to change and board five different vehicles, and two ferry rides to arrive at Majuli. The trip was adventurous though.

I am not happy with the photographs I’ve taken of Majuli. May be, I need to have a dslr. May be, I need to visit this place again. Or maybe, both.

Majuli 1

Majuli 2

Majuli 3

Majuli 4

Majuli 5

Majuli 6

Majuli 7

Majuli 8

Majuli 9

Majuli 10

Majuli 11

Majuli 12

Majuli 13

The Lake in Itanagar

Though I heard a lot about Taai Siimi a.k.a. Gyaker Siinyi a.k.a. Ganga Lake I couldn’t muster enough passion in me to visit it.

D-day finally arrived. Obviously, my expectation (to get hold of a great shot of the lake) was extremely high.

I got frustrated when I saw the face of the lake. It was not a photogenic as expected.

My friend and I toured the length and breadth, but nothing strikes me. The lake appeared to be quite depressing and sinister.

My mom used to tell us a story about the Taai Siimi.

According to Apatani folklore, a man stumbled across an unclaimed Gayal near the Taai Siimi. The mammal bred beyond imagination. The rise in numbers consequent upon the prosperity of the man. At long last, the man decided to sacrifice it to the God. Perhaps the consideration was immoral in God’s eye. And so the mammal took all her progeny and vanished into the lake.

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An invitation of hike

During a weekend meeting, Dr. Kanno asked me if I want to go for a hike. I was somewhat diffident to join him as I got drenched with rain while I was returning home from my place of work. I thought I was going to catch a cold, but it was an invitation I couldn’t refuse.

The minute I reached home I plugged in my camera to a socket to charge it.

At night, he SMSed me to tell the time of departure.

The next day we were accompanied by three other hikers. One of them was actually going to check the trap he set for the rat at his privately-owned forest. My fellow hikers informed me that Ziro, of late, is experiencing a mass migration of rats. Since the meat of rat is considered as exotic delicacy by many, hence the rat-trap.

I don’t want to bore anyone with the text. . . So please go ahead. . .

Listening to my inner voice

Back in April month, I had some savings in my bank account.

Each time I realize I have some money saved up; my wit would merrily give wings to my reverie. And it would say, “You think, you’re going to take the cash and the material goods with you when you’ll die, eh?” In the long run I would often find myself standing in a long queue outside ATM.

As I was queuing to draw out some cash from ATM, a friend phoned me. The call was from Ladakh. My mind said, “It’s a call. Don’t be a cocoon. Go out. Have some fun”.

The next thing I knew was arriving in Itanagar. I thought I would make some inquiries about train ticket when I’ll get to Guwahati (Assam). First, the train fare is cheap. Second, it would be exploratory.  But I had to give up the idea of boarding a train when I saw huge gatherings at reservation counters. April, May, June and July is a period of great activity in India. A chance to get a ticket during those rush months was virtually nil, so I went to try the flight instead.  A day later; I was far from my hometown, I was in Delhi. Four days later, in Srinagar.

“You must try a Houseboat”, a friend suggested. I obeyed diligently. Two days in a houseboat. Both the toilet and bathroom was attached to a room – within houseboat. There was even a T.V. set in a one corner. I noticed it a day afterwards while packing my backpack as it was veiled by muslin kinda fabric.

The temperature in Delhi was ranging from 40°C – 45°C but it was still wintry in Srinagar. The water was too cold to withstand, so I never dared to take a whole body bath. I ate my Kashmiri breakfast and Kashmiri dinner with houseboat owner and his family members. At night, the wind gently rocks you to sleep in a houseboat. Apart from eating and sleeping, I rowed around the Dal Lake in Shikhara (row-boat) and experienced my first ever snowflakes on my head at Sonamarg while leaving Kashmir for Ladakh.

If I were asked,”What color is the Ladakh?” I would say,” Beige”. Green is my hometown but diminishing bit by bit.

Because of snowfall and road blockage, my travel was limit to monastery and Stupa in Leh. However, I met almost all my Ladakhi friend I had befriended during my school days. They were surprised and pleased to see me in Ladakh. I was pleased I listened to my inner voice, but the better part thought,” Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! The opportunity of a lifetime”.

I returned home very tanned and light. 3 kg lighter than I used to be. So was my bank balance. I had drained almost all my savings. It was a poignant moment. “Don’t fret. Money change hands. Besides, you only Live once”, said my wit.

 

Ziro, in Spring.

Myoko festival was coming to an end. One more ritual ‘moreh éha la’ was yet to be performed in a community forest to give thanks to the God of the Forest for endowing with rich resources.

A band of brothers set out on such journey to proffer their deference. And I was a part of the family.

As soon as we passed by pine grove, the fragrance of pines tingle our nostrils. And there were beds of infinitesimal wild flowers for our eyes. And each tiny flower was no longer than 3-5mm in diameters. I took shots after shots until the Li-ion was totally exhausted.

We mounted a few hills. When we were surrounded by many more hills, a member of the family finally announced the end of our journey. We were encircled by the splendors of spring, and it reduced me to silence.

. . . . . . 

Yes, I am hopelessly in love with the wonder and beauty of nature.

My Monsoon Diary

All of a sudden the rain starts thumping vigorously on the corrugated tin roof. Though there were dark clouds loomed large on the horizon, I didn’t expect it too soon. Within a second, it seemed as if the sky had poured all their savings. The force of the downpour was weighty.

“A wholesale trade of rainfall,” he said loudly, to make his comment heard.

The banter of thunder and rainfall had suddenly muffled our vocals. He quickly peered out of the window; in a distance, on the road, we can see people running helter-skelter to take refuge in available shade. He rose from his seat and went out on the front porch.

He stayed there for a few minutes; and looked at the floorboard of the porch completely drenched with rain.

“Khii!” he sighed a tired sigh while settling down on his chair. His face was turning pale.

“Are you all right?” I asked nervously. “Is something wrong?”

He looked at me and said morosely, “I wish I could split those dark clouds with an arrow…”

I eyed him curiously.

“…to have the sunshine back on the earth again,” he said, sensing my interest.

“Ha! Ha!”I could no longer stifle my laughter. Still laughing, I asked, “Why arrow, why not Gun?”

He said in a monotone, “Noise pollution, obviously.” He abruptly got up and went outside for a second time.

“Come here, my lord. You must see this!” he asked me gesturing with his hand. The drain seemed too narrow and shallow to quell the sudden uprising of overcharged rainwater. The rainwater had been spilled out onto the ground. Ankle-deep water. The pavement, which leads to the front porch, had vanished into that ankle-deep black dirty drainage water.

“Look!” he exclaimed. “Pepsi bottle. That’s Coca Cola. And there, see those orange colored poly bags. Here comes the blue and green one. All the colors of the Rainbow. How apt? ” he said sarcastically, pointing toward myriad of things carried into the home turf.

“I don’t want to build a dam. There’s enough controversy over building dams. “He said half-despairingly and half-in jest. “Moreover, I pleaded to be declared as a poverty-stricken lifeless gentleman. But it doesn’t mean that I want abundant rainfall. Or abundant wealth. Just basic items only. Basics for Basic people.” He added, grinning widely.

I couldn’t fathom how many snags he was struggling with inside his head. Yet his sense of humor was discernable. I know. I knew he was having his share of misfortune for quite so long but his funniness was still intact. “I was made compelled to marry misfortune. And I begat misfortune,” he once affirmed.

We walked back to sitting room in silence.

“With the water level so high, you may not be able to leave my place without the kisses and caresses of distilled water. Therefore, you have to bear with my lecture,” he warned me. I beamed at him and said “Fine with me,” as the rain played havoc with my plan to trim the hedges.

“I guess the drainage is not deep and broad enough to contain the rainwater,” I expressed my thoughts when we settled down again on our seat.

“I guess you are wrong, my lord” he said. “The drain is deep enough to accommodate ten dead bodies. It’s all those poly vinyl materials, which is blocking the flow of drain. Can we change the topic of our conversation?” he said losing his composure.

“K. What about Playboy bunny and penthouse doll?” I said to light up his mood.

“When people start losing brain power, they often think and indulge in Sexercise,” he snapped back hilariously, making me laugh with him.

“K. I give up,” I said, surrendering myself to him.

So we discussed about the de-learning process of human being for sake of orgasmic ecstasy of material achievements. Libya. Syria. Anna Hazare. Guns and Roses. Myopic pot-bellied politicians and bureaucrats. Mostly, we blamed people including ourselves for our harsh conditions.

In the meantime, the downpour had already stopped. The gloomy weather had already overtaken the stormy weather. “I must be off now,” I said while gathering my things.

He looked up at the sky and said, “They do not look satisfied yet. But don’t forget your parasol. Darn! This Mount Everest of polythene! ”

When I was leaving, I saw him assembling empty PET bottles, packages and poly bags into heaps.

“When two elephants are fighting, it’s always the ants that get crushed. These are not my words, honestly. Borrowed,” those were his parting words.