This is in response to the writing challenge from The Daily Post
In my day-dreams, I envision a place. A cottage in the countryside, compact, having a garden and a sit-out. Often, I imagine living in a place like this, peaceful and contented, tending to my garden, eating organically grown food and taking long walks in the countryside, with lush fields on either side. Of course, it should not be too remote and have a fairly good connectivity to nearby towns and cities, which one can visit occasionally. Does it paint a wonderful picture? Perhaps, this is a vision which is not uncommon among the urban dwellers, especially those who are past their prime. Serenity in a great setting? I would like to have that, please.
When I was younger, I would often imagine buying a small house in the countryside after I have earned and saved enough to quit my job. This was to be done some day but, in the meanwhile, I kept visiting the countryside, sometimes as a day-trip from the nearest town where I could stay, sometimes as a part of hiking in the mountain trails, a few times when I could find a home-stay in a village or farm. These have given me the opportunity to live for a day or two in the countryside and walk a good deal. Over the years, I find that this is better than buying a house with all the attendant problems of ownership, local politics and being tied down to one place. Also, serenity is a state of mind, is it not so? And I should attempt to move in that direction, in the here and now, wherever I am living. So, my new mantra is “earn well, save well and travel well”, with more journeys into the wilderness rather than to big cities of the world. During my ramblings in the countryside, when I come across a quaint cottage with a garden, I re-visit the day-dream with a slight twinge of regret. And then, I tell myself that being there and experiencing the beauty is more important and has greater value.
My recent visit to a place called Igatpuri (a small town in Maharashtra, India) and the walks I had in the countryside around this place were sheer joy.
“Yeh daulat bhi le lo, yeh shauharat bhi le lo, bhale chheen lo mujhse meri jawaani, Magar mujhko lauta do bachpan ka saawan, woh kaagaz ki kashti woh baarish ka paani”.….. (a popular hindi song by Jagjit Singh) (Take away my wealth, my status and even my youth if you will, but return to me the monsoons of my childhood, those paper boats and those rain drops) What is it about the Indian monsoon that it evokes inexplicable feelings and yearnings? The first monsoon shower is awaited in all parts of the country with eagerness, hope and anticipation. After all, this puts an official end to the Indian summer and as you watch the parched earth greeting the rain with abandon, you cannot but experience some of it. The sense of joy and wild abandon touches a common chord in all, cutting across the barriers of age, class, social status and IQ. The Indian summer is harsh and has to be endured every year for at least three months. The summer does have its redeeming features – mangoes(which get sweeter as the temperature soars), blooms of fragrant madhumalti and mogra and the call of the koel. But these are small mercies and ways to beat the heat remains the dominant preoccupation. The heat, dust and the weariness of the body and mind have traditionally been kept at bay with cooling agents – cold water baths, thin cotton clothing, sherbets, water cooled in earthern pitchers. Believe me, these work better than the air conditioners and the refrigerators! If only we had the patience and the time to try them out! You have to go through the Indian summer to be a part of the magic of the monsoon that follows. The monsoons advance from the Arabian sea and hit the Kerala coast in the first week of June. It advances up the konkan coast and towards the east, covering almost half the country by the third week of June, leaving the northern and north western parts of the country thirsting and longing for the monsoon rains. And after that first spell of rain, the trees look freshly washed and are a treat to the sore eyes, the wind is cool and you sleep very well that night. The woes of continuous rains thereafter will surely follow but it does not take away the deep sense of joy and peace that pervades at the time of arrival of monsoon. It is also a great time to travel. Wear sensible footwear, carry an umbrella and don’t worry too much about clothes getting a little wet and you can have an enjoyable time. Driving on a long and winding road on a rainy day or standing at the door of the train watching the rain- drenched countryside pass by with an occasional spray caressing your face, you will feel so alive. I intend to be childlike and greet the monsoons with joy, let go of my inhibitions and apprehensions and get drenched in the first showers of the monsoon this year.