We reached our new location, somewhere in the North East, sometime in the afternoon. After dumping the bags, I stood at our entrance and looked out. I could see beyond the low boundary wall a vast stretch of barren land dotted with few shrubs and bushes, on my right and left there were a couple of guest rooms and beyond them more barren land. Nobody was around, the sun glinted fiercely, and quite suddenly I felt as if I was the only one on earth. Loneliness engulfed and swallowed me. I felt a sense of… What the hell?.. Where am I?, Where are the birds, the stray dogs, the stray and ever available cows? There was a panic desperation…a need to ‘DO SOMETHING’!
I quickly emptied the bags and put everything in the cupboards. Then I picked my mobile and dialed a number only to hear a female voice say , ‘this facility is not available’. Disgusting! At least she could have said what was available … by the looks of it…it seems ‘nothing’ was easily available here. Oh! That’s so true in life too nothing is easily available, whichever way you think. I slept off to avoid any more philosophical thoughts.
Evening brought in some cars, people and dogs, I had panicked unnecessarily. Then it started raining. It poured and poured. And I was back to… What the hell?.. Where am I? After dinner I settled down and suddenly I heard a howl. A jackal! There was a reply howl, JackalS!! The din of the night began; it seemed there was a jungle surrounding me especially near my doors and windows. All sorts of sound made itself heard. Was that an elephant? With a sigh I prepared myself for a sleepless philosophical night.
I did fall asleep.
Morning I woke up with a start and rushed to the window. I drew the curtains a little and peered outside to see what? a jungle, maybe with many wild animals roaming freely. Unfortunately no! I saw a VERY bright day and long stretches of barren land. I looked at my watch and it was just 5am.
Welcome to the East.
It’s about a month since we moved into this quaint (old fashioned) bungalow. It is a house so located that you can see people coming and going from three sides of the house through various doors and windows. Likewise, travellers on foot and cycles can carry on their journey with some entertainment along the way by peering into our house. All free, Of course!
Talking about entertainment, I am entertained by hordes of monkeys in the colony. There are more monkeys than people. It’s we who are in cages. (Literally and mentally, another philosophy) They come in batches, walk on the roads, jump on the roofs, pull out plants and flowers, toddle on telephone wires and cables balancing and hanging if required. Their 'Games time' is three in the afternoon when I am trying to take a nap. After a round of ‘Catch Me If You Can’ they start jumping violently on our roof and the tinned-roof shed; they love the sound of the tin. The competition to make the noisiest jump continues all afternoon.
|Docile Ones.. Posing|
On one such afternoon I saw many monkeys jumping and hanging on our clotheslines. This was the very wild and rogue batch. One was hanging deftly on the mouth of a tap trying to suck the water out. Another was jumping on the rod that links up with the dish antenna. The little ones were pulling out grass and running around joyfully. The mothers were looking out for any sign of danger and the fathers (I think ;-) ) were chasing each other and creating a ruckus..
My attention was drawn to a small baby. It was sitting by itself in the shade on the clothes. A slight breeze was blowing my dupatta on its upturned face. It loved the feeling of the hanging dupatta on its face. As soon as the breeze stopped the baby monkey looked away, the moment the breeze started it turned towards the dupatta and lifted its face up expectantly for the soft caress. I watched this with mixed emotions. It was a delightful sight but I was also worried about my dupatta. Finally my worry for my dupatta was put to rest when a larger monkey yanked it out of the clothesline, tearing it in the process, and rushed with its possession up a tree. All the other monkeys wanted their share and followed suit. A frenzied action left my tattered dupatta hanging on one of top branches of the tree for days.
Well, people hoist their flags on mountain tops. I am getting there…almost!