Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Behind the scenes

The fragrant flowers

Late in the evening, if you came out to the veranda, you could tell the unmistakable fragrance of sewali flowers wafting from the corner of the courtyard. It didn’t take much wind to carry it; the fragrance would spread even when the air stood still, though not very far. And if you stepped down the veranda, notwithstanding the mild cold of early winter, and took a stroll near the tree, you would see it laden with tiny white flowers much like some studded jewelry. The air around the tree would be heavy with the subdued fragrance of newly bloomed flowers and you might possibly even want to pick up a few of the fallen flowers to be put by your bedside. Although difficult to describe in words this fragrance is variously associated with sadness, melancholy, or longing. It is notorious for making people pensive.

The river by the cemetery

The leafy green cemetery does not see too many visitors. Often enough, you would find yourself to be the only person walking by its neatly maintained rows of stones. Pink bougainvilleas and dark-green creepers adorn the walk-way that runs through the middle of the cemetery. Tall sandstone pillars bearing the names of unknown soldiers stand in the formation of an arc. On the grassy lawn, sparrows hop around much of the time. But, it’s the quietly flowing river that runs just behind the cemetery that gives the place its peace and charm. In such a peaceful little place, you might find it is easy to forget what prices these soldiers – young, old, and unnamed, coming from faraway corners of the world – had to pay to wage a war, and then perish, in a foreign land.

The Deepavali diya

As you would agree, Deepavali, contrary its beautiful name, is often more associated with noise than with light. But still, nothing captures the essence of Deepavali more than the image of rows of flickering diyas. Or, for that matter, even a single solitary diya that you might have lit and left alone on the balcony.

Wild grass

If you climbed the hillock that lay behind the buildings, and walked a bit further, you would reach a relatively flat grassy land that is unusually green for this time of the year. Partly because of the abundant rains in the last few days, and partly because not many people come walking to this side, the grasses here have grown tall, reaching as far as your waist. Tired by the climb, if you wished to have a little rest, you could sit on the rocks that lay partly hidden among the grasses and spend a few moment watching the grasses sway in the late-afternoon breeze as grasshoppers, dragonflies, and tiny colorful butterflies hop around.

Weary legs

If you happened to finally make it to the small, almost camped, cave that is carved on the wall of a giant stone on top of the hill fort, a stunning view would await you. As far as your eyes could see, there would be hills, their cliffs draped with passing clouds. In the valley below, the early morning mist would still be lingering languidly. With such a view for company, and the feel of gentle breeze blowing into your face, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to give your weary legs some much-needed rest here. If you wished, reclining on the stone walls, you could also click a photo or two.

The baoli

You would be pleasantly surprised if you discovered this baoli on the hilltop. It is hidden by a thick growth of wild shrubs and is often missed out by people who climb this hill fort. Nevertheless, once you have found it, you would definitely be impressed by the structure. Two flights of perpendicular stairs would lead you to the underground source of water that might once have served many (legend has it, that this place was once a thriving village that got abandoned after a vicious plague epidemic). Sitting on the steps of this dark and cool baoli you might experience time standing still between the ancient brick walls.