Friday, September 16, 2011

Of Ruskin Bond and Mother Nature

I treated myself to a great morning walk today, yeah a SAHM with 2 kids, a morning walk is indeed a treat! Anyway V started with school 3 weeks back and J started with hers today. So after dropping J and before getting back to the relative comfort of home, well more precisely to the grind of tidying it up as a house lays in mornings after two young kids and an older one have just bathed themselves, had breakfasts as remains of toasts and peels of fruits lie in plates and outside, some clothes have been opened, deemed inappropriate for the day as have some socks and lie around; I decided to first put on my sneakers and enjoy the outdoors. To put it in a few words, everything about the outdoors was splendid and I had a lovely time. About 40 minutes later, as I sat down with my cup of milk and breakfast, this is what I posted as my fb status.

"Kids off to school, the slight nip in the air, the blissful fresh air on my face with a light drizzle to boot, the hues of fall on the trees, "taazaa gire patte ki tarah sabz lawn par lete huey, saat rang hain bahaaron ke ek adaa mein lapete huey" playing on the iPod, picking up a much treasured acorn for Vansh and an orangish red leaf for Jiya for appreciating later - mornings got back to being WONDROUS again :) :)"

Some kind friends commented that I paint a beautiful picture. Which is when I was reminded of one of my favorite writers Ruskin Bond. I have loved and relished his stories for the vivid imagery he employs. His narrative is so simple yet so powerful as to transport the reader to where he is. As a child, I often used to mentally learn the paragraphs from his stories that I found brilliant and tried to reproduce them when we got essays to write in exams. Unfortunately I have not read him in a long time now (though I requested The Ruskin Bond's children's Omnibus from the library just today) and so the stories are blurry but one that I distinctly remembered and was lucky to find online was The Cherry Tree. One of my most favorite paragraphs, like I said because of its powerful imagery has been

"Rakesh went into the garden and lay down on the grass beneath the tree. He gazed up through the leaves at the great blue sky; and turning on his side, he could see the mountain striding away into the clouds. He was still lying beneath the tree when the evening shadows crept across the garden. Grandfather came back and sat down beside Rakesh, and they waited in silence until it was dark."

Also came rushing to the mind were memories when the environment around has been splendid, mother nature has been at its best, lovely, untouched, gorgeous, gratifying and I thought of penning down for posterity some of those memories. I am such a huge fan of such outings, just give me nice music to listen to and comfortable shoes to walk in and I would be happy for as long as I can be there.

- We went to Manali in the North Indian state of Himachal Pradesh - utterly beautiful. Among other things, one of the most enjoyable memories has been buying 'chosa' mangoes, which are famous for being eaten just as they are, without peeling or cutting, amazingly aromatic and having a fiberless sweet flesh. We were three families and we bought a whole 4 dozens or so, let them be in the plastic bags, held the bags in the rushing river as we sat on the rocks that lined the river and soaked in the blissful sunshine. After about 15 minutes, the mangoes were refreshingly cool and we sat and devoured one mango after another, squeezing the juice and pulp, licking it off our fingers and in short tasting a slice of heaven.

- On a trail in Kasauli in recent times, Ruskin Bond's own city, my entire family on the in-laws side and both the kids too. The sight was perfect - tall teeming trees, sunshine finding its way through the many trees to fall on us; the fresh smell of the ground and the leaves; the only sounds when we all became quiet to listen to them were of the trees swaying in the breeze fascinating the children with the constant 'swish-swoosh', the birds chirping cheerfully and the rumbling of the river somewhere down below. An absolute treat for each and every sense.

- The sweetest and a major chunk of the memories I have are from the summer holidays. My mom was a teacher herself and so this was the time both of looked forward to spend together with little activities planned for the whole day. In spite of being vacation time, our days started early at 5:30'ish as we got ready to go to 'Sanjay Park/Lake Park' in Laxmi Bai Nagar, a 40-45 minute walk from our government quarter in Lodi Colony. The path to the park was a treat in itself, wide roads, a cool breeze, chirping birds, the first rays of the sun just beginning to shine their way to illuminate the top of trees and make the dew on the grass glisten. The park was always a delight, lush grass on both sides of 2 ponds, a big one for the ducks and a small one for the fish, on either ends of the park with a stream of water running along the entire length of the park joining both of them. The major attraction of coming to this park, while passing another beautiful one on the way closer to home was taking small pebbled sized flour balls to feed the fish. For the same reason, many cousins liked to spend part of their vacations with us. There was another steps like structure made in the park, an amphitheater kind of setting, where the steps were all covered with the green grass and the area just next to it was a slope again covered with the same rich carpet of grass. How much we loved to just lie down and roll our bodies on the cool grass, letting out peels of laughter and giggles, taking pleasure in an absolutely simple, yet pleasurable activity. The other end of the park which had the big pond and the ducks was then visited and we again delighted in chasing the ducks.

- A gigantic splash of color comes gushing to mind when I think of Duluth, Lutsen and beyond along the North Shore of Minnesota. A gondola ride between a pair of mountains where the flaming red maples, the sunny glow of golden poplar and birch leaves glittered against the blue sky, underlined by the deep maroon of the low-growing moose maples. Probably one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen, it  felt as if the Master had picked up a giant brush himself and painted the mountains in those brilliant, fiery, dazzling colors. An equally wondrous sight was that of orange and red maples against the brown ground. I think the image of a year and a half old Vansh walking on that vibrantly hued ground and marveling all the same will remain etched in my memory forever.