Grand Canyon

Similar differences !

Walking by. Or may be flying past !

I have been asked ‘what was ONE moment / event in your US trip, that stays with you?’ Prefacing the answer with ‘choosing one is difficult’ is as close to truth as truth itself. Not only that, it is fashionable you see. Any famous director worth his film roll has these first words in response to ‘whats the best movie that you have directed?’!

In my trip, the grandeur of man made creations stand tall in memory best matched by the moments spent soaking up oodles of natural beauty and the sheer majesticity of nature, left less touched. Those were truly moments that took my breath away. Quite obviously a few will get detailed in these pages.

While those moments took my breath away, there were other moments that filled me with LIFE. Much as the mind races to recount the stories of the bay-buildings and beauty, quite unsurpassed as they are, the heart wills to share these other stories.

Stories of people. Moments tucked away in the suppressed mutter of a word, the resounding splendour of a ringing laugh, a quiet exchange of an idea, a shared understanding through a glance, handshakes, brush pasts and many others, all heralding simple conversation! Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese, Desis, Mexicans, Britons, Australians and many others. And ofcourse, Americans. Including the original Americans!

We met her in the Grand Canyon. Just as we finished our helicopter ride. ‘How was it, she asked ?” The slight quiver of her voice gave away an elderly age that was otherwise hidden by the spontaneity and a joyful zest in her words. That got the conversation started.

‘Mother nature maintains it for us. Like she has been doing for hundreds of years’, she said. With a hand movement that required her to take one hand off the buggy wheel! As we echoed her thoughts and waxed further eloquence, she warmed up ever more.

‘Been living here, ever since I know. Having Mother nature taking care of your backyard is worth it all’. With a wistful twist, she added, ‘She makes the big mountains, small rivers, and smaller people’. Her voice trailed off, allowing silence to complete the sentence !

We chatted for a while, about life, living, giving and contentment. Even as she maneuvered the buggy on a terrain that was tough, sporting an intelligence that was profound and an attitude that was humbling.

The Hualapai people, as they are called, are a native American tribe who live in the mountains of Arizona. Markedly distinct in their features, if not in their costume.

One of the attractions of the Grand Canyon is a skywalk, atop the canyon. Some sort of a cantilever bridge, built on an edge of the Canyon to give people a REAL view ! With strength enough to support 71 filled up Boeing 747s ! Some chutzpah ! Isnt it !?!

skywalk atop the canyon

Viewed by some as a money spinner that is so vital for survival and addressing basic problems that the people face here. Yet others see it as a violation of a sacred land!

Which brings me back to the lady and her sign off statement. I told her that I was Indian as well. But a different Indian !

With a twinkle in her eye, a sparkling smile on her lips and a warm hand placed on my shoulder, she responded, “The more different we seem the more alike we are. We are all from mother nature. Come again young man. It was nice talking to you”

I thought of us and our pangs around ‘development’, tradition, preservation, distractions and such else. It seemed to be the story of the world ! “The more different we seem, the more alike we are !”


The grandest of them all !

Faced with this choice maze on commencing sharing of the things we saw, the food we ate, the conversations that we had and such else, some logic had to get applied to get the first topic out.

So it was, and this post is about the Grand Canyon ! Imposing.Colourful. Instilling pride in people . Yet, so close to nature. Most importantly something thats stood around for millions of years.

Here is an attempt at perspective building : Imagine building a road that is TWICE the distance of Mumbai – Pune ( which would be a four + hour drive in sane speeds and simple cars). Quickly imagine ensuring that the road is 30 kilometers wide. Yes. 30 full kilometers wide. Even before that can settle down, think of digging the ground 6000 feet to make this road !

That’s the size of the Grand Canyon. 446 kilometers long. 30 Kilometers wide. 6000 feet deep ! All engineered by mother nature’s masterstrokes. One amongst them being the Colorado river whose continuous flow is said to have created this art in the mountain with corrosion as a tool!

Logical that the posts commence with the Grand Canyon. Isnt it !?!

As we stood on the west rim of the Grand Canyon and looked at the myriad shades of crimson on a series of walls that seemed to extend forever and beyond, greed announced its arrival with a desire to take a closer look. Perhaps touch the sands of the Colorodo river? At a depth of 6000 feet?

America singularly stands out for being a land of choice. If a desire is implanted in the mind accompanied with a wherewithal to act on it, there is always a way to make it happen! At a cost. Ofcourse !

In what can be called a truly Californian moment of budgetary rashness, wringing the last dime in the wallet dry, we chose to have an unplanned helicopter ride.

The ride operators promised to fly us from the western rim of the Canyon, all the way down to base where the Colorodo river runs its meandering course. Plus, take a boat ride in the river! The allure to see the work of mother nature over time, was simply irresistible. We signed up at a speed that could have blinded Lewis Hamilton.

Every wring of the wallet was worth it. The rock pattern dramatically changes colour every few feet the chopper drops, like a synchronous seamless background screen change in a show. At the end of what seemed like an unlikely landing point, the chopper landed and we were face to face with the Colorado

The boat ride in the meandering river showed much of the continuous work at beauty by corrosion! As the June Sun showered his unmerciful rays with a protracted wistfulness, beads of sweat showed up on tanned foreheads, copious sun tan lotions notwithstanding. All of it compensated by a gluttonous feast for the eye and a strange peace in the heart !

The big eagle !

To think of the Grand Canyon a month later, still evokes the same feeling. Of an exceedingly fetching view with a history that can really show what ‘long long ago’ could mean !

Please scroll below for earlier posts on the US Trip. Or find them here