A Townscape

This sleepy town where I reside, wakes up late,so that if you start early for your day’s work, you find shutters down and few vehicles plying on the road.If a commoner, you might finally , manage to jump into one of those ever-bustling three-wheelers criss-crossing the town ,but your ride is sure to be fraught with disappointments.First, it’s because in this concrete jungle, we have roads appearing more like unpaved tracks where elephants would’ve been a better option as a means of conveyance.Naturally, you get to experience the craziest of jerks and jolts with your co-passengers.Much to your chagrin, you might sometimes ,surprisingly become part of an adventure race engaged in by these racers between themselves for their sheer delight.Second,your journey through this town will be no less spectacular than an African safari,for you get to encounter the quirkiest of sights and of course, odd smells.You need to hold your breath, literally,since you never know what ominous odours await you.Not to speak of over-filled garbage dumps and brimful surface drains out to terrorize your olfactory organ , now you get to encounter on your way, truckloads of filth being carried to and fro from these garbage sites at the busiest hours of the day, marring all your good feelings for the rest of the day.Third, you hardly cover a few distance,when your vehicle halts for yet another half an hour scouting for additional passengers as you begin to wonder as to where these would be tucked in, as there is no room for more. This will be your plight, usually when you are scurrying and scrambling in a hurry ,leaving you fuming and fretting over the loss of precious time.

Talking of such grisly encounters, I’m reminded of a particular scene at one of the traffic points of the town.Till a few months back, you could witness an uncomforting sight,that of a vagabond who had put up his home on a heap of garbage itself near the footpath and that too, with much pride.Now, this was a man,whom people took to be insane,for now and then, he would give a cynical laugh or sneer at and even shoo away pedestrians and commuters.Despite his abnormal ways,he seemed quite sane in the sense that he appeared to mock at the insane ways of the so-called sound people of this town,debunking their unmindful,materialistic, inhuman and reckless attitude towards life.The garbage man,so to give him a name, seemed to regale ,though in an idiosyncratic way, by insinuating”‘Look, what have I made of these garbage that you pile up every day.’But very soon, the people being fed up of his uncouth ways ,had the entire area cleared up with the man being ousted in consequence. Isn’t it an irony that it took so long for the people to wake up and that too, due to the nuisance created by the garbage man?Thanks to the attention thus created by him towards the dismal site, that there now stands an eaterie, making that corner no longer unappealing.

Coming to the word ‘appeal’ again, I’m afraid you’ll have to strain your eyes in vain as you’ll be disappointed to find a lack of good taste in terms of beautification of the town.Arriving at one of its busiest points,you might witness a marbled sculpt of a few unknown freedom fighters, if I am not wrong, looking more like a mockery of sculpture”a work that bespeaks volumes of the lack of artistic taste of the town planners. A connoisseur of art would surely curse his day after having witnessed it.Again,what you’ll be dying to see, like the townsfolk longing for it for a long time, is perhaps a well-maintained public park, where one can hop into, to refresh oneselves. There are, in fact, one or two public parks, most notorious not only for the presence of tall grasses and creepy things but also for nefarious activities, where one would rather not put one’s life to risks.Well,to crave for objects d’art is asking for too much. But there is probably no denizen on this earth who would not long for a minimum of needs in his place of abode. Besides, this is no ordinary town, being significant in more ways than one and deserving a status almost at par or next to the capital town of the state.

The ever-striding statue of Mahatma Gandhi installed at the same point, can surely boasts of the town’s well clichéd assets”its tea-gardens, renowned institutions, bountiful resources et al.,but he probably might not have witnessed much development of this town except, of course the increasing number of cars and people on its road.Nevertheless ,it’s reassuring for us denizens that we can still have a view of the sky above coz sky-rocketting buildings haven’ t yet eclipsed its sky line. We can also boast of the fact that we haven’t yet faced any of those chronic ills of large, expanding cities”over-crowding, an acute shortage of water or a condition of even purchasing or stealing water, an alarming rate of noise and air pollution and a state of nature stripped of its greenery. But we are getting to see dismal signs of such an onslaught soon .Why not, the increasing vehicular traffic on the road is surely a cause of concern. On other fronts, the arrival of a multi-storeyed shopping mall has ushered in a steady wave of urbanisation, which of course comes at a price.The townsfolk are lately quite excited to see this piece of urban life but such euphoria deserves censure .Being provided with such showstoppers in the name of urban development , is like being asked to eat cakes if not bread at a time when we have more pressing issues at stake.For this age-old town of ours is in a precarious state, buffeted as it is by the ever threatening danger of erosion looming large over its distant horizon and giving sleepless nights to its denizens. Unless effective countermeasures are not taken, the day is not far when this town shall move towards a slow,silent destruction and be totally obliterated from the earth’s map.

Lessons from a leaf

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This leaf which was lying there, after being severed from its home, the tree, reminded me of so many things today. As I was soaking in the warmth of the morning sun on a winter day, I seemed to relish the beauty of this leaf, looked up to see from which home it belonged to, amidst a cluster of trees in my backyard. Then my eyes traced its way to the other leaves. Interestingly this bit of green was quite different from the other dried up, worn out, wilted discoloured brethrens. This seemed to be unique in its design by its colour and display of lines. Looking at its orange palette wherefrom again different hews and shapes seemed to emerge, I remembered the chapter on plant physiology that of the role of chorophyll in changing the colours of a leaf. Now I don’t relish in knowing or explaining the functions of chorophyll in terms of science. What intrigues me is the aesthetics behind a simple object as this. Despite knowing about plant biology, I seemed to derive more pleasure in assuming that there is some mystic source in this gift of colours.

Eulogising on this little piece of nature, turned out to me to be a unique pleasure-filled moment. For I believe what constitutes happiness in life is these litte bits of pleasure that make up the whole and not some great events in my life. I wish silently that I can savour more and more of these exquisite moments . For they have a luxury and joy that cannot be surpassed by anything else. I gathered up the leaf, washed and rubbed it and placed it cautiously on my study table. Then I decided to capture it with my camera before it could lose its beauty, transform into nothing and mix with the earth. I completed my task reassured that I could freeze this invaluable artefact.

Towards evening as I chanced to glance upon the leaf again, I was surprized to see its form and texture intact. But then I was sad too, for a while. Strangely this leaf brought in the fact that life, for us, is ephemeral, that it too is similar to this leaf, that we are gonna lose our colour, gonna be old and die like the leaf whose life span is momentary. It reminded me of times left behind, that I could no longer get back, deeds that I could not undo, regrets of things I could not achieve or of the person I cannot be. Tomorrow the leaf might be crushed, for me tomorrow is distant. But what is with me is the present. Lately I have been deriving pleasure in seeking beauty in different places, sometimes in strange places. There is beauty in what people wear, decorate themselves, their homes, no doubt, but there lies beauty too in poverty, in the ordinary, in the humdrum. That is what I have heard, that true artists forever seek… beauty in the ordinary and not in luxury, in the elite company, in ivory towers, in expensive foreign travel packages. And this is what keeps me preoccupied now and gives me hope, teaches a lesson each day, gives a meaning to carry on life…