I traveled to Pune the other day, in a car. It was still early, and the city was just waking up. But the number of vehicles on the roads of Mumbai still seemed many. They were all whizzing past, each in a hurry to get to a destination…
I was in no hurry, merely accompanying my husband on an official trip. While he was busy with his laptop and multiple phones that are the “true connections” to the world, I pressed my nose to the window and peered out. We were already approaching the Sahyadris and I was looking forward to see nature in all its glory.
The valley was dry, yet beautiful. The mountains towering, yet not so high. I could catch glimpses of trees, the expanse of the arid lands, the undulating plateaus and the winding paths. One odd eagle soared by, or a flash of black in the bushes indicated a bird…
The eyes looked beyond, to take in the blue sky above, and see the peaks or rather tablelands where a proud tree stood. What caught attention though were the billboards – huge and inviting. The promises many – of living in a neighbourhood as beautiful as the French Riviera or with a view of the mountains like in Switzerland or of Italian food in a Chinese riverside!
The sense of hearing strained to hear the chirping of the birds and the calls of the eagles soaring high up. Or just take in the stillness of the heights. Vehicles zipped by without a care, snatches of Hindi film music blaring out, almost draining out other sounds.
The Western Ghats are a mix of moist deciduous forests and rainforests. These hills cover around 160,000 sq km area. They are home to over 5000 species of flowering plants, 139 kinds of mammlas, 508 types of birds, 260 reptile and 179 amphibian species. It had to be beautiful, magical, and awe inspiring.
Yet, here I was, in an AC car, oblivious to the temperatures outside, and looking at resorts and houses that promised conveniences and luxury…(obviously a controlled temperature too, even out in the swimming pool)! Seeing fruit sellers, selling their wares freshly plucked from the farms, but with no sense of smell of the fresh strawberries or the green moist grass or the fine dust that blows across.
In desperation I turned to the mountains for some inspiration. Surely they stood there proud and invincible and could instill confidence and hope. But I found they were also chained!! A metallic net containing any rocks that dared to fall….
Man controlled the whole scene!
In a desperate attempt to see the better side of the scene in front of me, I turned heavenwards…. From the top of the window, I could catch glimpses of the sky, and against it the hills stood taller than all around, the birds winked from the cables running overhead or sang atop the billboards, leaves and fruits fell on the milestones and carpeted the roadsides, and water gushed out of every possible crevice or hole. Nature still unleashed its glory.
It was chained melody.