I felt like a thinking traveller. I had camera to supplement my thinking. The weather was glorious, perfect for a travel, for photography, for those right scenes to unfold before me. There was so much to see, feel and words did muster themselves to help me articulate what I saw. In a way it was to shape a post for my blog...and I knew it even when I was going through the visuals frame by frame.
|Another Hill Begins: Near Kala Amb |
The hills of Nahan are different.
They are not as rocky as the ones we find in Shimla; they have no cedars, no
pines, no Himalayan oaks. Rather they look like the deciduous forests of central India. It’s the
only place in Himachal where we find sal trees. I liked the difference.
The river Yamuna flows from Uttarakhand
to Himachal. It flows by Poanta Sahib, the place where Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708)
stayed for four years out of his short life-span of 42 years. It’s a peaceful
place sanctified by the prayers of the gurudwara. There are many inspiring stories associated with the guru that one comes to know while visiting the place. One such
story was that once Guru did not conclude the prayer meeting because a lady in
the gathering did not come forward to give her offering. Though optional, it was
conventionally expected that a devotee visiting a temple or gurudwara should
offer something in the name of god. The sikh religion encourages its followers to donate one-tenth of their earnings, dashans as they call it. Guruji asked the lady to offer whatever she
had brought with her as her offering and so she complied. It was with a lot of
hesitation that she complied. What was that she offered after being exhorted to
do so? It was only a cowrie or the conch shell which was not as valuable as the
metal coins that were offered by others. Despite that, Guru was appreciative
of the value of the cowrie which, according to him, was much more valuable than
the other offerings of that day.
The story has a powerful message. It is the
message of equality and the mantra of inclusive economy. In the development of our nation, the contribution of the poorest of the poor is more crucial than that of the rich. From each according to
ability, to each according to need.
|A Rivulet Meanders|
There was another interesting story.
Guru Gobind Singh was a poet besides being a religious stalwart and a brave
warrior. Every full moon night he used to organize poetic gatherings. One day
the poets complained before Guru ji that the river Yamuna was flowing beside the
venue with gurgling sound for which all of them were getting disturbed. Then
Guru Gobind Singh took the complaints seriously. He ordered the river to
behave. Then on Yamuna has been flowing beside the place but silently. A few meters
upstream it is noisy and it is noisy a few meters downstream; but it’s not so when
it passes by the gurudwara. Taking the cue from it, I exhort the family members
of a writer to cooperate with the creative fellow in their family by ensuring
that peace prevails in the house, or else Guru Gobind Singh, the patron of all
poets will be unhappy. Remember: Guruji is watching. And if on any day I’m disturbed, I will pray Guru ji to help
me, asking those responsible for my distraction to behave!
|The Avian Conference|
Even before entering the holy place I
had had my quota of meanderings though. Asan Barrage on Yamuna is a wonderful place
to visit at this time of the year and I had headed for it. The place was full of
birds. They were perhaps the migratory ones from Eurasia.
|Walk the Talk: the Avian Style|
At the bank of Yamuna beside
Poanta Sahib I came across a scene that was easily the most interesting of all
I saw this afternoon. It was about the clever activity of two exceptionally smart
children. They were about seven years old, fishing not for fish but for coins.
They had in their hands a fishing line each, tied to their ends was a round
magnet. Purpose: that would attract coins for them from the depth of the
flowing water, the ones thrown by devotees into the river. Quite an interesting
method to earn money, isn’t it? I felt interested and asked them as to what their
daily catch was. Oh, it was three hundred rupees every day as per their
admission. That did not include 50 paise coins that were caught few and far between, for nobody accepts them these days even though they are legal tender. Inflation decides the economic behaviour of the people, not necessarily the law of the land. Anyway, I had difficulty in believing what he said about his daily catch. True, they were not saying the
truth, yet it was not an instance of their bragging altogether. I was soon to find that coins did actually
get stuck to the magnets as one between the two catchers lifted his line. The boys' assertions thus vindicated, I had
no more disbelief left in me about the efficacy of the method. They deserved
kudos. I blessed them aloud to grow up as the two successful geologists to
prospect gold. Listening to that the senior between them asked--rather surprisingly, ‘Is gold found
from underneath the surface of the earth?’ I quipped, ‘Oh yes. What else do you think? Do you think
gold is dropped from the sky? Remember: The sky can only give you snow and nothing
else.’ I knew the fellow was telling lies: about his daily income from the
river; about his study; about the investment he made to prepare a magnet-tipped
line, and so on.
|Even the Sun was Happy|
And soon, as we were returning, another boy came following us just to report
us that we were being told lies by his friend. Standing at a distance, he was overhearing
our interaction with his friend and had felt the need of giving us the correct
perspective. He, too, was a school dropout. When asked the reason behind his
aversion to study, he informed that it was ‘waste’. As we insisted, he said his
father was no more, and as such he was not going to school after his fourth
class. Well, I’m not sure if he was also speaking the truth.
|His Fishing Line was an Extension of His Eye|
Anyway, before leaving the
riverside, I had managed to get a hands-on experience of the sport called “catching
|Catching the Coins:credit-Ratan Sharma|
The icing on the cake was yet to come. We had timed our visit to the
gurudwara in such a way that there was a glorious sunset to greet us. We stood feasting our eyes on the golden aura of the western horizon.