November 30, 2010

And he laughed back….

   (The first in the series of my thought provoking writings, stuff that is inevitable for one and all!)
     It has been long since I sat down with a calm mind to muse over something that strikes or interests me. The growing agony within and the strong urge to vomit out my thoughts was uncontrollable, today being a very grumpy day! It is not very often that I start thinking whether despite having all the luxuries in life, I fall behind in life. When I do, I reach to the brink of tearing myself apart mentally, a self destruction drive via the process of obsessive thinking with the only cure being a good night’s sleep or a readymade ‘drive the sadness away’ Beatles playlist!
“ They're gonna put me in the movies
They're gonna make a big star out of me
We'll make a film about a man that's sad and lonely
And all I gotta do is act naturally”

I will write some sense I say to myself. I got lost in my memories pertaining to the time when I used to prepare intensely for my 10th standard examinations. This time around, I had taken a much needed break at Poinguinim which is my mother’s native place and also my summer hideout. Being here was a natural choice, as I definitely needed a break for the mind churning sessions which I was reluctant to undergo. And there I was, along with my elder cousin who was in the middle of answering her 12th examinations. And as for you, you must have also gone through this ritual of squeezing in hours for the preparations for exams, haven’t you? So, you will know how volatile studies turn when two talkative people preparing for one of the most important exams of their lives decide to visit the terrace of their house which overlooks a calm and peaceful evening road (Yes, we did carry texts just for the sake of it). Unexpectedly, we decided to settle down on the steps and study till it darkened up. What happened next, made me loose my sleep that day, I guess you will see no such potential in such stuff to give you sleepless nights, but here here it goes. *Sigh*
“Well, I'll bet you I'm gonna be a big star
Might win an Oscar you can never tell
The movies gonna make me a big star
'Cause I can play the part so well ”

Being a place where traditional agriculture is still practised and at a comfortable distance of about 80 kilometres from Panaji, expecting an odd vehicle to pass down the road once in a while keeps you on a hunt. But, this time around while in the midst of a geography chapter, I sighted something unusual. There was a man, an old man who was walking at his own pace down the road. Unusual to me because he the only piece of clothing he had on his body, was a loin cloth covering his parts. Quite natural in such parts considering that the vast majority living there had their roots in farming. And definitely a thing to be laughed upon. But, this was one of those few moments that I will both regret and not regret laughing (more of a ‘says it aloud’ smile) at. Regret it because I know one should never make fun of others for absolutely no reason. But I do not regret it because of what happened next. As the blog-post title reads, he did laugh back at me.  Laughed louder then I did. He shook his head and laughed. And went down the road, his reaction completely knocking the senses out of me for quite a while.
“We'll make the scene about a man that's sad and lonely
And beggin down upon his bended knee
I'll play the part but I won't need rehearsin’
All I have to do is act naturally”

   Why was his reaction so? What compelled him to smirk back at me at that very instant? I have a habit of trying to reason out things that do not matter, so I would have never lost out on such an opportunity. I suppose I came close to the answer. Simple! Yes, the answer was simplicity. How simple are we when it comes to our living? Does our style of living or those glittering saris and ironed suits have any advantage over a simple loin cloth?  He laugh was his answer to my shameful instance of laughing at me. He mocked my complicated city life in his laugh, he told me that he, being less hipper was as good as a person as me. He had peace his side, I had ‘technology’…. but how does that matter?

What do you feel, what was the reason for his laugh? I'd be happy to know! And no, he wasn't drunk, as someone suggested!

Yours always,
(P.S. – The Beatles song cited above is titled ‘Act Naturally’)

November 2, 2010

Trek Ahoy !


My musing on the Biodiversity trek to Keri, Sattari on the 31/10/2010  as published on the AFA blog


  The exams ended without much ado, the lazy mood was waiting to set in this vacations when, the sudden call of adventure struck me. Thus when Videsh called me up, and the dialog that ensued convinced me that this would be the the perfect way to start off my vacations, and have a much awaited and deserved ‘break-free’ trip.


Sunday morning blues couldn’t pose a hurdle when it came to the lucrative prospect of snapping photos and having a good time with my second family. And so, I landed down on the steps of Junta House fully loaded with the 500D. From almost falling asleep on the stairs to checking to Suyash’s new camera, i had an indication of what kind of day it would turn out to be! We got onto our usual trip bus, Glaksha (wish it was promptly named as ‘Galaxy’) and the 25-odd people fit in snuggly. Govind Potekar, the Editor of Via Lactea, our magazine was more than willing to share historical insight on the various structures that we saw on the way. The trip was steadily gaining tempo like an A.R. Rahman song….


  After usual discussions on Indian politics, discipline in our society and the new organisational structure of AFA, I was truly amazed by a monocular that Atharv had got from his visit to S. Korea. And funnily, I when I was starting to find the locality we were traveling through to be pretty striking and familiar (not a deja-vu), I realised that this was the same route that we used to take on our star parties to the Sakhli Surla Plateau… We were already in Keri before we knew it!! As people got down and stretched their arms, I could smell the air, the cool climate was sinking in. And as our tradition goes, we had a truly lip smacking breakfast at a local adda. Sniffing the aroma of the tea and the bhaaji aroused all our senses! After that, we were welcomed by our dedicated nature guides who were to lead us into the trek.

  After getting a heady dose of what to expect that day, and the regulations to be followed i was floored by the fact that here, people still bothered to keep aside land spaces as self-declared sanctuaries (God’s cove). This was followed by a ear pooping journey up a

mountain pass to an altitude of about 600m above mean sea level. At the sight of a distant waterfall, we stopped to have a glance. The sight of the distant mountains made us feel that we had done the right thing by coming here. Oh boy! This was gonna be exiting! And thus an unexpected surprise followed. And that got all of us hooked. The various stones and minerals that we saw around us suddenly started to speak out to us, in the sense that we being Geology students, could understand the language of the rocks! And yeah. After taking the guide’s consent, we bagged whatever we could for our studies. Later on, we were told that the locality that we were present in was unique in an ecological sense. The Western ghats being a Biological hotspot, promised us a lot of glimpses today.

  Finally,  we reached our final destination and were raring to go and explore the vast wilderness around us. Partly promised the sights of a few (dangerous) snakes, we were in high spirits!! making our way on the trail proved to be a constant hurdle as we, the photographers (who tend to get attracted to anything and everything) were

moving ahead at a snail’s pace. That is a good thing, isn’t it?  Well the brisk climb up to the plateau was physically and mentally demanding too, as I had to keep a watch-out for interesting things (and snakes, perhaps) on the path! On the way, thanks to my trained eye after all hours of ‘flat-on-the-ground’ style photography, I managed to sight a caterpillar who had fallen down from its resting place. Promptly, with the satisfaction of saving it, we all placed it back on a tree.

  Finally, we reached the plateau, and it was a sight to behold!! Lush green meadows, water pools at every footstep, grasshoppers jumping in delight and of-course, we the exited people who treaded all the way from the city to see this spectacle…Standing

tall amongst the tallest peaks of Goa was a good feeling, and having the guide explain to us about the flora & fauna of this region was an enthralling experience. On the way, we together collected about a kilogram or two of various curious looking rocks for identification… A challenge of sighting tree-frogs was put forth to us by the guide, but we were unsuccessful. But, that lead us to the sight of buffaloes who had come to a water-hole to drink to their heart’s delight.

After going snapping pictures all over the place, we went to the e

dge of the cliff and sighted the tallest peak in Goa, Sonsogad. We were in a state of awe comprehending the fact that we were standing so tall. The best part was that the weather that day was just the way we all prefer it. While the sun was playing hide and seek behind the clouds, my friends were busy racing down the flat lands! Never the less, we decided to leave all the grasshoppers and minerals in peace and walk down. The walk down was as a bit confusing as I was held behind because of the never-ending discussion on Quantum Mechanics that a few of us had indulged into!


Back in the bus, we were driven toward the Anjunem dam that provides water to some parts of Goa. But, it wasn’t much of a spectacle as we had already experienced the mammoth Selaulim Dam this year! We let go off the clamour and seated ourselves besides the dam for a few moments of piece. As the guide explained to us that a nearby tree was said to possess a ghost or a spirit, I pitied the scientific temper of the villager folk. But, I guess they turn out to know more than us in the field of conservation of nature!! When we went down for a ‘ghar-guti’ lunch to a village, besides the food being worth the journey itself, we felicitated our guides who were the lads from a local conservational group. Aaah! This reminds me of the food, pickle and the papads once again!


This was not it. The journey back was as eventful as the whole trip had been! The moment we stepped in, our scientific instincts were not left far behind… And thus, ensued a debate on ‘How would people’s belief in God change is science cracks the mystery of the universe’ . A lot of views followed and before drawing a conclusion, we dropped by the Harvalem waterfalls… This was a refresher for a tired party who needed sleep! The vapours of the waterfalls refreshed us all and most of us got wonderful photographs. On the way back, after the derivational mysteries of ‘De Broglie mass wavelength’ formula we settled down for ice-creams at Marcel and this soothed our spirits. As our final destination drew near, a lull was present throughout the bus, but the excitement of the Science picinic to ‘undisclosed – secret locations’ on the 3rd left us wondering… Thus ended our journey when we returned back to our second home, the observatory.

The trip left me wanting more of mother nature and such treks. hop our wishes are fulfilled soon!

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