Thursday, December 17, 2015

Linguistic Diversity, Morning Walks and the Budhha in Nature

So many languages in India I don’t understand, yet we all belong to the same country. It also made me wonder, how even though I am an Indian, there are so many parts of my culture that I am unfamiliar with. Each of the 28 states has a unique language, unique literature, unique stories, unique rituals, unique ways of seeing the world and more. To come to this village, and expect myself to acclimatize in no time, because I was from Mumbai, was not a realistic goal. I would be a little out of place, in almost every place I visit over the next few months. How long does it take an individual to actually get used to a place? 

I have stayed in Mumbai for the last few years. I still am exposed to new sides of the city, I did not know about, almost everyday. That led me to another thought? What is a city? Is a city its buildings? Is a city its resources? Or is a city its people? The people that come and go. This I suppose is the same for a rural town. If there is one certainty at both levels. It is this idea of temporariness. That everything will not be here for ever. The buildings will stay. But in the next hundred years, every individual that is alive in the city or rural town, will be dead. New people will be born. New stories will develop. New Ritual, New perspectives on language, new ways of seeing the world will arise. Nobody will even know I exist, two hundred years from now. So much for my search of legacy. When I am dust and part of the earth that created me, will it matter to me if I was once famous? Maybe then human language will not be a barrier. My worth would not be determined, by what I do. My worth would be determined by who I am.
We are standing by a little stream. It is 8 am in the morning. After a scrumptious breakfast of  dosas and idles. A lot of doseas and idles and a wide variety of chutneys, I decide to digest our meal with an early morning walk around the village. My aunt's daughter and her nephew come along. It is so quiet and beautiful. The trees are so big and their branches create a canopy of sorts protecting, early morning walkers from the rays of the sun. My co - walkers (my aunt's daughter and her cousin) have taken this walk several times before. They tell me they have spent their childhood exploring the forests that surround the village. I see a group of people approach us form up ahead. They are farmers from the fields and farmlands nearby. They know my co-walkers and my doubts are confirmed,  that I walk with experienced comrades. I also notice the banana plantations. We stop by a little stream. I wash my face and am then informed that snakes swim by often. I almost slip into the lake when I hear this. Fortunately that did not happen, and I climb back onto the road. 

My aunt's nephew picks up a fruit that is edible. I had a ground rule before starting my trip, that I wouldn't pick up and eat things from the ground. That is as ground level as a ground rule can get. But I notice my new friends eating it in front of me. They seemed to be doing alright. So I bite into a piece of this fruit. Not too bad at all.Five minutes have gone by. I am still alive. I wan't more of this magic fruit. We see some abandoned old homes and my aunt's nephew shares stories of old inhabitants with us here. How he knew the people that stayed there and where they were now. We walk back home and then pack our bags and get ready. The car was going to leave for our next destination. 

The driver that never spoke
Kochi was next on our itinery. We stop over at a hospital nearby to visit one of my friend's other relatives who was admitted there. After meeting them we change cars and meet Mr Mouchad (MoustacheMan). Mr Mouchad was our guide and driver for the rest of the journey. Me, Aunty and her daughter. Her nephew had better things to do and would not join our pointless wanderings. Mr Mouchad was an interesting man. He wore a white formal t-shirt and brown pants, with formal shoes to accompany the outfit. He wore a gold watch and carried a big bottle of water in his car to quench his thirst. He was interesting because for the next few hours, he did not utter a word. He just looked up front and drove the car. 

Not even a word. I tried encouraging the group to include him in our conversations, but nothing worked. He seemed like a stone that drove a car. Sometimes, I would just observe him for five to ten minutes through the front rear view mirror of the car. And he would not get a least bit intimidated. It seemed like he was a jedi, that had super powers to detach himself or shut his hearing facility, when normal boring humans started normal boring conversation around him. 

This natural beauty
The drive from Kottayam to Kochi was quite beautiful too. The landscape changes like a stop motion animation film. The ultimate stop motion animation film of life. One natural scenery, slowly leading to another. Nothing was disruptive. Every scene build on the past. Like a documentary about nature. Actually nothing like a documentary about nature. Most of the nature documentaries are filled with such intense, jump off your seat visuals. Some of them included a cheetah chasing its prey, ten years of growth of a tree shown in a few seconds, mountains and skies shown from above. It is like these documentary makers can take their cameras anywhere. Here it was just plain old nature. It seemed bored. I mean bored, from a human perspective, because nothing sensational seemed to be happening there. 

Why trees are buddha like?
I mean a tree is born in one place and dies in the same place. It sees the same people every single day. Its only friends are the other  shrubs and grasses growing around it. If these plants cannot talk tree language, the tree is screwed. Because if the only living tree is situated 100 meters away, that is a long distance, to have simple everyday conversations. You would have to shout for the tiniest of things. Maybe the tree thought it was too much work. So it decided to just keep to itself. Over time, trees evolved to be enlightened beings. I mean we had one siddhartha, but for some reason, I feel like most trees have buddha like qualities. They are calm, they are never in a hurry, they do what have to do when they have to do it, they don't consume more than they need, they live a peaceful, harmonious life. Shucks. Now I am jealous. Trees don't have human problems. They do not have to find themselves when they enter their early twenties. How unfair!


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