Days on Fast forward

Before you knew it, months flew off from 2016, and here we are, in August, already.

A lot of new things happened, some for the best, some heartbreaking. College ended, faculty retired, there was a lot of nostalgia. In the meanwhile, almost as if a parallel story was running, I got selected into one of the premier institutes in the country, met a whole bunch of people from completely different backgrounds and upbringing than mine. I wish I could write about each person here at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences; each one is a reservoir of stories, told and untold.

What is happening is essentially a rediscovering of self, or as they like to call it here, unlearning and re-learning. I’ve been placed in a disability setting for fieldwork with a great partner, hence learning here happens on multiple levels. People constantly surprise you, you get bombarded with assignments, and then there are a dozen other activities happening, you wait eagerly for a respite…but before you know it, it’s fieldwork day again! In between, birthdays, celebrations, outings, outbursts, sickness all happen, but they are never the defining parts of the bigger picture. Before you know, it’s ‘tomorrow’ already. The fast forward here will wind up, in 2 years. In the meanwhile, the winds here will blow upon us, shaping, changing, informing, forging new bonds.

So far, so good.

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#BengaluruDiaries

The summer of 2015, I’d been on a visit to Bengaluru, and I’ve to say that the city is, in many ways just the same as Mumbai is.
On a busy Monday evening, when you would expect the streets and markets to be relatively empty, and the city peaceful – it’s just about the opposite! Streets filled neck-to-neck with people that come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colours and ethnicities – all of them ‘Bangaloreans’, Kannadigas or otherwise. Temples stand shoulder to shoulder with hardware stores, stationery stores wrestle for visibility with those selling adornments – accessories like trinkets, bangles, necklaces, earrings. Lingerie stalls jut shamelessly out of the footpaths onto the roads, and the Gods are well taken care of and appeased in many a roadside shrine.

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The people here are largely just as filthy as those in Mumbai, with plastic litter jostling for walking space with the pedestrians.
At Chickpet, the wholesale silk haven of Bengaluru, dresses and drapes in all shapes and sizes are variously displayed. Ganigarpet is the place for all kinds of gift-items and other nitty-gritty. Avenue Road is just off Ganigarpet – all by-lanes here appear to be similar – it’s like a maze with crisscrossing roads everywhere with excessive wares on display!

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There are sellers of all kinds of things here – jackfruit, bhel, mangoes, more mangoes, paan, sweetmeats and savouries, guava, and other fruits, (stalls selling) sugarcane juice, and the apparent South Indian favourite – sweet corn!
Excessive vehicles were a sight in this marketplace too, continuing the impression of Bengaluru as a city with too many vehicles. I say excessive not because of the lack of people to own/drive them, but because they are all out in a grandiose display everywhere you look. The result is a watery-eyes, stifled-breath, kerchief-on-face kind of pollution. The residents don’t seem to mind, though! The climate is pleasant here – how, marred by all this pollution remains a mystery to me! (Hint: maybe because there are more number of trees here.)
All in all, the city is an ordered chaos, and totally lives up to its reputation of being a metropolis, replete with wide roads, a booming real estate, and blotches of greenery right in the middle of it….you just get swept into the way things are!

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The First Nature Trail – The Green Beyond The Grey.

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What happens when a city-bred, concretised person goes, following what the tacky call ‘the voice within’ into the lap of Nature? The entity beneath the concrete emerges, and the city-bred recognises himself for what he is – human.

This realisation dawned on me as I made my 1st ever trip (okay, I’ve been to places before that haven’t yet been bitten by the development bug, and by the virtue of which, host the welcome sight of green; but then, those were official excursion trips organised by my college (read compulsory)) to a place not far from the city that can be, for convenience sake, called a forest.

A bird-watching trail, it culminated into a beautiful experience of sightings of various birds, and more importantly, coming in contact of people actually in tune with Nature (I’d come to think that such species of humans hardly exist). Nah, it’s not just all talk and no action. Various people, from different walks of life, in their own little ways bring Nature closer to us ‘civilised’ beings. They are those whom we see probably everyday. The college professor, the apparently good-for-nothing guy-next-door, the girl in our bus who is a tomboy, the school-going kid who can identify well over 100 local birds…

We learn today in a very definitive manner. We live our own lives and judge others by using standard definitions as the yardstick. But beyond it all lies the source of our origin. Soil. The place where we came from and the place where we eventually end up. It is important to stay connected with that part of our being, just to make our transition smoother, if not to create sustainability.

Pause. Listen around. You’ll probably hear ten different sounds around you. Noises maybe, if you live in a metropolis. Each tone has a different texture, a different depth. And when you start recognising this, you truly hear your own Self.

 

Oh, what a joy is it to be listening to whistling, chirping, cooing birds!