Tuesday, February 21, 2012

LA NATURA E L'ARTE DI DIO

"I love to think of nature as having unlimited broadcasting stations, through which God speaks to us every day, every hour and every moment of our lives, if we will only tune in and remain so."


     7 AM. 7 AM. 7 AM. (the Android phone screeches). Why did I install this application that tells me the time? I roll off the bed (literally), rub my eyes and walk to the front door. The newspaper is out there, and so is a packet of milk.
     "Sneha, make some tea." I spread the newspaper on the floor and commence reading from the sports page. I hate politics (which covers most of the front page), and don't have a keen sense for business or gossip (without taking potshots at leading dailies). And then, my mind wanders (lonely as a cloud, that floats on high over vales & hills - dedicated to Wordsworth).

(Kowsalya supraja Rama poorva sandhya pravaarthathe...)
6 AM. I don't need an alarm to wake me up. The radio awakens me with a soothing effect. I sit up and hear out "Suprabhatam" (I get a red underline that suggests I misspelled the word, and further suggests Mahabharata as the right spelling!!!). I brush, bathe and dress before sitting at the table for breakfast. The time is 6.50 (I didn't wear a watch in those days) as the regional news starts on the radio. I step out of the house and watch the dawning sun displace the darkness.
      It takes me about ten minutes to get past the fields, and to the bus stop. I can't afford to be late because if I miss the bus it would take another hour before the next one comes along. Adjacent to the bus-stop, there's a Mosque (Islamic prayer house) & a tea stall (we Mallus can't travel long without stopping for chai). Most of the elderly clerics find their way to the tea-stall after Fajr and sip steaming sulaimanis as they discuss world events. A few of them are well-acquainted with my uncle (he is a local panchayat member) and exchange pleasantries when I run into them. Those five minutes keep me well-informed, even better than reading "Bangalore Mirror." The bus appears, and I'm on my way. Like every other day.

Sunday Morning (8 AM).
Brushed my teeth. Check.
Logged into Facebook. Check.
Commented on someone's status. Check.
Had breakfast. Check.
Watch a movie, have lunch. Check.
It's only 2. How do I kill the rest of the time?

Sunday (6 AM) - 10 years back.
     We (my brother & I) tiptoe to the door. The door slightly groans as we pull it open. We step out and pull it shut. And then we run. Did I brush my teeth? Would it really matter? Because I'm out to play cricket, not act in a toothpaste commercial. It's almost noon when we get back. Hunger & fatigue are not on our minds, at least till the time we return.
     Initially, our cricket kit included a rubber ball and the bough (not past tense of bark :P) of a coconut tree.
Stumps were three well-cut stems of a fledgling bamboo tree. Our pitch was a gravel-base and the ground was in the middle of a coconut grove. Apart from the opposition fielders, we had to comprehend with the coconut fielders in order to score runs. Our game would resort to Messrs Duckworth & Lewis method as soon as we lost the ball. If the matches were played in the evening, we would play out till darkness encompassed our "stadium".
     After lunch, we would sit down and play cards or chess under the Mango tree. During summer vacation, the trees would bear in-numerous mangoes which generally made up for dessert (we had 6 trees, all of which bore different types of mangoes). We would slice the ripe mango and dip it in a mixture of salt & red chilli powder. My mother would cut the mango while we drooled, waiting for the biggest piece. As the sun headed west, we would head out to the paddy fields for a game of soccer. April generally meant that the fields were barren and appeared as our Old Trafford. The game would last even after dusk set in (till the time we could kick the ball or the opponents feet). We would make our way back to the house through the rear entry after washing up near the well. Bruises & wounds would be hidden from mom's observant eyes. A quick dinner and a good night's sleep would keep us fresh for the next week.

     What are the advantages of growing up with nature? For a long time, I didn't know what pollution meant. The air was fresh and clean, and we remained devoid of allergies. It was always cooler under the trees than inside the house in summer. Air-conditioning literally meant "conditioned by natural air." We cultivated our own vegetables, rice & poultry. A Healthy way of living.
     I remember one specific incident from my childhood. I had gone on a trip to Chennai to visit my father's relatives. The house was adjacent to a Mango Grove and the ripe fruits tempted me. We stood on the terrace and threw stones at the mangoes. A couple of them fell on the other side of the wall and in a flash we jumped over the wall to retrieve them. The very next moment, I felt a hand on my arm. An old lady was talking to me in an unfathomable language. She dragged me to the house and rang the bell. My dad and his uncle quickly came out and negotiated with the hag. She wanted 50 Rs for the two mangoes and got away with it. After living close to nature all my life, I had imagined mangoes to be free of cost.
     Most kids of our age had never seen a television set. They had seen more of real life than reel life. Babies grew up seeings crows & sparrows, and listening to frogs croaking during monsoon. They grew up touching flowers & leaves, and playing with the mud.
     Today's kids grow up with cellphones, laptops & game consoles. A bee might scare the wits out of them &  walking without a pair of crocs is totally unheard of. It would take a lot of convincing to muddy their feet and taste the sweet nectar from the banana tree. The sting of the bee hurts, but makes up for an experience. I hope that my kids get a similar chance in life to grow up in nature's lap. Far, far away from the madding crowd.
Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip's bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat's back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.
- The Tempest

 


P.S: This post is an entry for "The Kissan 100% Real Blogger Contest." #Get Real

4 comments:

  1. very sweet post with very beautiful pictures....all the best for the contest

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  2. terribly nice- I am another mad nature lover too

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  3. nice.. I dont usually like music on blogs as a rule, but this song's a favorite for everyone, i guess.. :)

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