Salted history

I used to hate him. Hate him with the bottom of my heart. For what he did to his father. For what he did to his brothers. For what he did to many many thousands of people who he killed and mowed and so on.

Yet today, i want to see him. Kind of go stand where he lies. Its ironical. For my friends don’t want to go anywhere close. Not because they hate him as much.

But today to go close to him, you have to go to a small nondescript place. A place nondescript enough that without direction and desire to get there, missing it would be normal ! He perhaps had all of India under his thumbs. Palaces were built and minor empires destroyed with a casual wave of a hand.

And all who talked thus far, about him, talked with a sense of borrowed spite and frown. The eternal bad chap image stayed fixed. Today, the simplicity of what i hear moves me to think.

Today, another man gives us another angle:

Imagine being born in a royal family. Imagine seeing your head of state dad, spend crane heaps of government money on a tomb for his wife. Imagine you having consternation about it. Imagine having the resolve to fight for simplicity yet scale. Fight anybody.

From an aggressive neighbour to your own father. Imagine ruling the land with great simplicity and methodical precision. Imagine living a simple frugal life when surrounded by royal splendour.

Imagine stitching caps and writing the holy scripture. The proceeds of which, you mandate, is all that would go to making of your own tomb ! I

Imagine, first of all, mandating that there wont be a significant tomb, despite being the emperor of India ! Imagine Aurangazeb.

As the shudder runs down the spine all the way to the left toe, he adds. “History is written by the victor. Its never factual”. The tourist guide moves me.

In some time we reach Khuldabad. In what appears to be another mosque in a predominantly muslim neighbourhood, Aurangazeb’s lies at the feet of his guru. No grand structure. Simple and quiet.

The Taj loses sheen in the mind. Think of it this way: Shah Jahan built the Taj out of government money and emptied the state coffers. His son threw him in jail ruled the land ably and died a simple man.

Well, i dont know what the truth is. None of us will never ever know. But then, i have resolved to read history with pitchers of salt by the side.

And as Dylan says, “All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie”

Nat Geo

Silvaasa. A three hour drive takes me here. This is a resort they call. The night we arrive in is too dark for any kind of soaking up of the place. Except perhaps of the night air. Other thoughts keep me occupied. For i am here on work.

We stay in a ‘resort’. ‘on the banks of the Daman Ganga river’, it was announced with pride. When the first rays of the sun sneaked past the cloud and the December darkness, the river showed up too.

Actually, a huge river bed shows up. The river itself is a trickle of a mix. Of water, chemical, detergent. Largely stagnant. Flowing in parts. Thats a subject for a different post though.

A few meters from the river is this huge banyan tree. This is what it says.

Eye squinting wonder pops in the mind. For this tree must have been witness to life before the Portugese came here. Of portugese rule. Of British rule. Of Indian rule.
There is wonder at the depth of the history that India holds. Every other sundry rock and seems to have along history beneath it !

Coming back to this tree, perhaps in its tall structure and broad all encompassing expanse lie stories of valour and passion. Of kindness and joy. Of meditation and activity.

How must it have been a 200 odd years ago ?

The river would have been flowing in full speed. Taking with it dead leaves and dried wood, perhaps ! The birds would have been chirping. There would have been no need for the bridge across the river.

No vehicles. No building. No resort. Perhaps some monkeys. Some snakes. But then..No TV. No multiplex. No cinema. No Facebook. No EMIs. No newspapers. No traffic jams. No border crossing. No strategy meets. No publicists.

Sitting under the banyan tree and watching the river and the world go perhaps was a National Geographic special of that age !!

‘Sage’, they say. Hmm. ‘Knowledge worthy of Gods’…Hmm !

Pune Residues

Pune. That was where the car nosed to. The reasons were simple and straightforward.

1. There were kind souls who offered to host. Providing us with bed, food and some love. There needn’t be any other reason.

2. Add in an expressway that’s smooth as silk at Rs.140/- one way, some scenic mountains and blue skies as freebies.

3. To that concoction throw in some ‘huge’ curiosity around Pune and it being spoken of as the ‘culture capital of Maharashtra’ and the like.

4. To that solution, sprinkle some details about the awesome weather.

5. If all that were not enough, look at the long weekend and spending time between fixing a broken computer and a run down body frame !

Of we went. To Pune. And loved every minute of it. And here is the first residue. Residual feelings ! More will follow.

At first look, Pune seems to be kneaded with the fingers of history and baked in the kiln of culture.

The Aga Khan palace stands in majestic stately grandeur, that almost obscures the pieces of history that it holds. Facts of it being a quasi prison for Mahatma Gandhi and the place where he lost his wife gives it a different coat.

Goosebumps pop at frequency of popcorn in a microwave oven, to stand in the very room that must have seen all these events unfold and think of those times. Kastur Ba’s samadhi right there.

Shaniwarwada is the other structure. Magnificent opulence from the 17th century. A building of great magnificence has to be imagined, for whats left is just the periphery wall and and a towering gate !

Its not too difficult for the imagination though. If the ‘compound wall’ is this opulent, the building must sure have been something. To look down at the modern day buses and city bustle through traditional arches was something indeed. And yes. Make no mistake. Look http://pharmacy-no-rx.net down it is !

The sights of the living times are no less awing. This White tiger at the zoo. Majestic in the stride and magnificent in elegance. Emerging from the undergrowth and just standing there, as the pictures clicked. Imposing in the posing. Moving away with an air that will get a bollywood star give her entire nose for. Plastic surgery and all included.

The essence of our love, seems to course in the city’s living. A city that is soothing yet burgeoning. Where, the divide between the yesteryears and the present day visible by the starkness of the difference. Yet, invisible by their seamless merger.

Its a city where tradition doesnt rub shoulders with modernity, but is infact the other shoulder ! Oh yes. Its a city where people are kind and the kinds that are ‘people’, well, very frequent !

We fell in love with the city. Chomping on what ‘German Bakery’ had to offer. Contrasting it only with Maharashtrian thali. Rounding it off with brun-maska, chai and Shrewsbery biscuits.

But there sure is more. Thats the feeling that permeates. Thats the flavour of the residue.

There definitely is more. A certain indescribable portion of the city that is seen, yet hidden. That seems easily describable yet remains elusive. Perhaps it is do with the understatedness in its existence. Perhaps it is do with a way of life that is free of hurried frenzy. Perhaps it is do with its people : gentle and mannered.

Or perhaps it is because of a certain beauty in its midst. The city that is ! The women are covered.

Perhaps protecting the perfect complection and their texture of their tresses, the missus avers. The helmets seem missing though.

More will be figured. Hopefully. For the car will be headed in that direction. There is much to discover. Pune is plain awesome, you see.

Meaning From Within

Please do take a moment read the post by clicking here.

It was two years ago. But the memory of it all is evergreen. I was particularly pleased with the way the entire activity galvanised the neighbourhood into action. We were like any other neighbourhood in modern day India. Ok, most other neighbourhoods. Middle class with aspirations, new money, apathy and focussed on self.

On this day, it all changed. Even if it were for a brief while, it changed. We found support from every quarter. And today, what was once a mound of garbage is a clean place with no problems. Most of the people who were involved arent there any more to enjoy the fruits of ‘labour’ !

That doesnt seem to be important at all ! We were part of a moment. An important important. An important moment where there was disticnt movment. Both for the world and for us. That activity showed us what was possible. And that it was possible to go beyond illusory borders in our own minds.

All this, a tribute to a man, who showed it is possible to go beyond ! Yourself !

Even as i write this, there is new found energy to do something. Far more deep, distinct and ‘making a difference’. There is a plan. And watch this space ! More on that, is on the drawing board !