Friday, April 30, 2010
As the Chevy Malibu whizzed past blurry scenes of pastures, meadows and water-bodies, time appeared to stop a bit- and rewind upon itself. The sky went a dull blue from the melange of colors that it was., the pines turned into teak and eucalyptus, the road from flawless tar to a random mass of fine gravel. The Chevy turned into a bus and my uncle and aunt into its driver and conductor. The only constant appeared to me, although hardly half the size of what I was barely a few seconds back.
Passing scents of ripe jackfruit and mountain flowers overcame the diesel smoke. The air was getting thinner and we were climbing uphill, which meant every corner in the road only made life tougher for, what now- were perennially blocked ears. Nevertheless the joy of visiting a hill station knows no bounds for an Indian kid from a hot city.
Hillstations represent most of what all Indian kids would want to embellish their summer vacations with- except for say theme parks. For the average urbaner who's just seen billowing smoke from vehicles and a stack of matchboxes for houses, the higher altitudes bring in the much needed romantic respite. The laidback lifestyle and wonderful climate soothes the mind and sets it thinking differently about the things in life you thought were pretty straightforward.
It was no different for me, on this trip. Nurseries, milk farms, cashewnut and coffee plantations, a blanket of mist, the roadside tea shop, the "monkey"cap-clad people, houses with dangerously sloping roofs, a fresh vegetable market.. absolutely everything about the things surrounding me felt beautiful. The bus was now a warm cozy bed compared to the dingy storeroom it looked like before. All around me appeared very simple, down to earth, lovable, one-dimensioned. People grew trees, crops, hens,etc. sold them to get food, or had a small shop of their own products, or were just random nomads quizzically staring at sophisticated people touring their place.
I was sucked back into the warp., and my eyes read a beautiful Californian countryside from the confines of the Malibu. The car sped by a farmer weeding a vegetable field. Chickens ran around the field and the mistress sat outside the farmhouse sewing a sweater.. Not very different from what my eyes saw ten years ago.
Somewhere in the quest for a better life,I guess man won...but mankind lost.