Journey called life

Fascinating Hills

Hills are a natural feature which is located at a higher pedestal than surrounding ground. It rises above the surrounding area and provides a bird’s eye view. Don’t get confused between hills and mountains. Both are same land features having varying heights. In fact , mountains are even more charming than hills but they are hard to conquer.

But, why I am talking about hills ?

Reason is that hills are intriguing feature for people living in plains of big rivers who loves to climb it and enjoy the view from top.

As someone has rightly said that it is easier to go down a hill than up but the view is much better at the top.

So, climbing hills is tough but once you reach the top , you realize that effort was worth every penny. Soaking the fresh air of hills is especially beneficial for people living in fast-paced life of metros.

Hilly roads

Few days back , I saw the viral video of long and serpentine queues of big and burly 04-wheelers on a hilly road trying to enter a north Indian mountainous state. Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand provides the perfect getaway locations for people living in nearby States of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. Everyone wishes to get away from scorching heat of plains and soak into pleasant climes of hill states.

A new term, revenge tourism , was coined for the people speeding towards scenic and cool locations of these hilly state.

So, why are affluent people heading in towards Himalayas ?

One reason I can fathom is the forest cover enjoyed by these states.

Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand boasts of a forest cover of more than 66 % and 71 % respectively.

Now, compare it with nearly 06 % forest cover for Punjab as well as Haryana.

The purpose of above-mentioned data is not to bamboozle you with statistics but get a reality check about our priorities in life.

Once you get your basic needs fulfilled by any means. You need to live life. How will you live ?

Long time back , when I drank water from a packaged drinking water bottle , I laughed about the irony of situation that how will humans survive if free water (available abundantly in nature to our predecessors ) has become a precious commodity.

I have not read in any history books about the need of packaged drinking water for any ancient civilization.

So, how come we reach at this destination about packaged water system ?

Same way , I got a deja vu about Oxygen during the ongoing pandemic.

Is oxygen also going the same way as water ?

If water isn’t available, air isn’t available , then how will 07 billion people survive on planet earth ?

We need to search another Planet desperately now, if our civilization wishes to survive for foreseeable future.

I am not talking about distant future. I am talking about a time span of 30-50 years from now.

So, people going uphill for getting oxygen is a phenomenon which must remind us about our vulnerable civilization.

Anyway , hills are literally abode of gods for us. Every hill boasts of a mandatory installation of some deity. If hills are so pristine and pure, it means that gods must be living amidst sylvan green cover. Sometimes, I feel that hills get scary during night time and that’s why people remember gods fervently and construct religious places at tough spots to remind them of protective umbrella of almighty.

Towering Presence

Since earlier times, kings and rich people used to have long vacations in Himalayas. Entourage of kings used to visit hills for several months whiling away time amidst godly forests.

So, the concept of revenge tourism is not a recent phenomenon.

English people formally established the tradition of going to hills for ruling class in India as they got tired of sultry and irritating summer in plains of India. Lord Curzon (viceroy of India from 1898 to 1905) even named his youngest daughter after Naldhera, a charming hill town in Himachal Pradesh.

So, the hills have always been a fascinating site for powerful people.

I remember an interesting story about people in large private automobiles wishing to use scarce resources of government of the day to get away from a hilly state in times of war during the tumultuous years of 19th Century. People wanted planes for their Cars to get away from hills.

What they were doing in the hills in times of war ?

May be, it was an earlier version of revenge tourism !

But, hills have an intrinsic quality of making you fit.

Walking on hills is a task in itself and people tend to get fit just by living among hills. It is a fact that native hilly people are stronger and hardy people. They live in harmony with their surroundings and are normally happy as compared to city people. That’s why many well-off people after spending their youth in mundane tasks in city tend to go towards hills to get near to god in their sunset years.

Now think about living in hills in your prime youth ?

Not as nomads ? Though, nomadic life is not a bad choice but how will you get Internet to read this blog in distant hills ?

So, live in a habitable area in harmony with nature and take life easy.

Going down a hill like water

Nothing happens without a reason. Slow down your pace of life and go towards hills.

Nothing matters more than your happiness.

But, remember prophetic words of Nelson Madela :

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

New Boy in the Town

It’s not the name of a book. It’s just about a boy who arrived in a town.

But, how do you arrive in a town ?

Majority of people shift to a new town in search of livelihood. Some people do it for fun or living life in a better place.

There is something called push factor & pull factor which explains that why people migrate to any place. It literally means that people are pushed from their comfort zone and pulled by the mirage of a better life in an unknown place.

Concrete Jungle

It’s not that shifting to a new town is a recent phenomenon , it is believed that few million years ago people from Africa moved to Europe , Asia and later on to Americas.

So, our history is replete with movement of new boys moving into new towns or whatever they used to call towns at that time (02 million years ago).

But, the process always involves uprooting some trees of friendship or bonding with the place (both living as well as non-living entities). Nevertheless, it hurts when you leave a well-established home and move out in a jiffy.

You may have tonnes of memories of the place but it just becomes a folder in your flash drive.

That’s why every religion talks about renunciation.

Leaving a town without a promise to come back again is truly the highest form of renunciation. When you are well-off and belong to moneyed class, you sometimes think that if you leave the town , the town will go to dogs.

But, life plays games and you realize that not even a dog is bothered about your departure.

People come and go……every town resembles a railway station which only houses travellers for a specific period of journey.

I vividly recall the words said by a wise man long time ago –

The cemeteries are full of people who thought the world couldn’t get along without them.

So, a new boy arrives in a big town and first thing he realizes that the town is polluted. All sorts of pollution, be it air, water, soil or may be human psyche.

Living in towns is not a cake walk. The days of drinking water from fresh river and plucking fruits from trees are not feasible in a town. Even vegetable and flowers are grown in labs in towns.

How do people eat vegetables grown in unhealthy soil ?

Does it taste any good ?

New boy noticed a giant guava weighing nearly 01 Kg. each in a shopping mall. He learned that these guavas are sourced from Thailand and salesman informed that guava is tropical tree. It can be eaten as a fruit or used as an ingredient in drinks, smoothies as well as desserts. He told that guava tree is a highly attractive tree. Leaves and flowers are both mildly fragrant and attractive. New boy became happy to learn so many new things about guava, felt like a novice about fruit trees. He realized that the day is not far when ubiquitous guava trees in our villages will become extinct and our youngsters won’t recognize it. May be some exotic garden in big towns will preserve it for prosperity.

Think about it. If our fruit trees vanish , what will we eat ?

If we keep expending our natural resources at such a fast pace, the day is not far when such situations will become the norm and food items will become scarce.

What will happen after that ?

Artificial intelligence can’t manufacture fruits. What will we do with all our modern gadgets if there are no fruits to eat for anyone ?

It is projected that population of India will stabilize around 1.70 billion by the year 2101 (AD).

So , now imagine the amount of guavas needed for feeding that many stomachs ? I am just talking about 01 fruit and 01 country. You can multiply it with thousands of eatable fruits and more than 200 countries on the planet.

Big guavas are okay , they even taste like a potato, but can we produce enough to feed everyone ?

So, new boy in the town thinks about just 01 issue and is worried what will he eat in the town as there are no farmlands in the town.

Town is like a jungle but not made of trees. It is made of concrete and metal in abundant quantities.

It is devoid of trees and fresh water bodies which sustain our life.

Fresh water in Town ?

Rich people living in glittering towers of towns go to mountains to find trees and fresh air.

The irony can’t be starker ?

Why can’t they make a town in midst of trees and co-exist with them ?

They drive gasoline-guzzling big & ugly SUVs. They take immense pleasure in pollute serene environs of small hamlets in mountains.

Trees and animals have the first right on natural resources.

We have to give them their share. Or else , doomsday is not far away.

So, new boy just thinks about the difference between living near bank of a river where dolphins swim in crystal clear water and on the bank of a foul-smelling, black and chemically- polluted thick river water.

That’s is the difference between Ganga and Yamuna.

What will new boy think about other issues in the town ?

That’s hidden in the belly of future and you will have to wait for a new blog.

Till then, keep reading.

A Chance encounter with a Stranger

This story begins in a small (mofussil) town in India in the month of November, 2020. This is a predominantly rural area situated on the banks of river Ganga (mighty as well as perennial).

Land is fertile and a variety of crops are grown in abundance due to round-the-year availability of water. Soil is fertile and mango trees are dotting the landscape. Many cash crops, leafy as well as pleasant (to eyes and soul ) vegetables are also grown in large quantity. So, this area is rich in resources but irony is that people inhabiting this fertile soil are poor.

Mangoes are not for everyone

Not all but a vast majority of people can be classified as poor if you include provision of basic amenities and connectivity among the criteria of classifying poor. Yes, I missed the connectivity part. The area at the centre of this story is poorly connected to major cities of India.

You can pluck this town out from map of India and put it in any under-developed or poor countries of Asia/Africa/South America , you get the same picture of strange relationship between people and resources.

Mahatma Gandhi has said that –

There is enough for everybody’s need and not for everybody’s greed”. So, he literally said that if resources are shared equally, no person would go hungry or thirsty. After all, how much a person need to survive ?

600 grams of Oxygen on daily basis which is provided free by nature & some food/water which is also free but we have become salesman and are selling it since last few centuries.

Does an animal need to purchase food or water in wild ?

There are around 20 Quintillion animals on the earth. In simple terms, 20 billion billion animals are sharing the planet earth with us. To put this number in perspective , now think that only 7.8 billion humans are walking on earth.

May be honestly, not all are walking , large number of people may be crawling , some because they are infants or some because they must not have developed spinal cord due to their submissive behaviour. What is the reason of unequal distribution of resources among people of a same geographical entity ?

Any way, coming back to my story –

02 middle-aged ladies were walking in their neighbourhood in the early evening hours. This was in a tony township colony in midst of rural landscape where few rich people lives.

Weather was pleasant and easterly wind was blowing slowly which had a magical charm to it. The midpoint between ending of autumn season and arrival of winter season brings pleasant weather. The fallen leaves on the black-topped roads were presenting a mesmerising vista. If your stomach is full, such weather can make you a poet.

Isolated Fairyland

However, ladies in this case were just enjoying an evening stroll on wind-swept roads and indulging in gossiping. Sometimes, gossiping can be fun and many people play this game round-the-clock.

They were walking in a colony which can virtually be termed as self-sufficient in respect of all basic and advance amenities. Even if, the world outside their colony gates vanished , the inhabitant won’t need to worry about anything for next few years.

Yes, such small townships can be found in large quantities in an unequal society.

It is a tradition in poor countries that rich people always enclose themselves behind big walls. This separation wall has 02 benefits, first one is to block the movement of poor and hostile neighbours towards their cosy space and second one is to block their own view of outside world so that they can live peacefully in their isolated fairyland.

While walking they(ladies) passed through the cluster of neighbourhood shops which sells everything from A to Z items i.e. all conceivable household/kitchen items. A single shop was open and one of the lady suddenly saw an item of her interest dangling from frontage of the shop.

She went to shop and asked for that item. Shopkeeper was a chubby middle-aged friendly man who gave the said item to the lady.

When it was time for paying cash, the lady realized that she was not carrying her money bag. She wanted the item desperately. However , she was reluctant to ask for favours as she wasn’t familiar with shopkeeper. Nevertheless, she told shopkeeper that she will pay for the item tomorrow and shopkeeper obliged by packing her things suitably.

She kept telling him repeatedly the she lives close by and will pay him tomorrow. By now , an undeclared bond had developed between them as shopkeeper told her not to worry about money.

During this short span of few minutes, both were acting as if they knew each other since ages and transaction had become immaterial for them. Lady kept talking about paying money repeatedly and man repeatedly asked her not to think of money.

It is incredible…….how do people form a relationship at the drop of a hat.

Are we humans wired to understand each other ? What compelled shopkeeper to behave in the way he did ?

Complex question …..without a definite answer ?

Both ladies walked off with happiness writ large on their faces.

Chubby shopkeeper was also happy.

Some bystanders who watched this episode also seemed happy by the trust shown by the good shopkeeper. It brought a smile on everyone’s lips.

There was no monetary transaction between individuals but all seemed happy .

Both were stranger before this episode but must have formed a lasting salesman -customer relationship in foreseeable future.

It was getting late and shopkeeper closed his shop and went back to his home ….still a mysterious smile dancing on his lips.

Weather had turned nippy this evening and darkness was about to engulf this small town. Both ladies went to their respective homes singing a folk song happily and got busy in their home and life.

Tomorrow will be a new day.

Sunrise can give rise to many possibilities.

What if they hadn’t met today ?

Roads are dark and lovely

What if the shop wasn’t open or ladies had decided to stroll in another area of the township ?

What if………………. ?

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