A Walk for Talk and Snaps

I would do it invariably every morning whenever I go home to Maynaguri – be it a day in summer or winter or a day in the rainy season. It is a walk through the path that leads from my home to a nearby village, which takes just a little more than half an hour.

The pathway has on its both sides agricultural fields, ponds, clumps of bamboo, plantations of sal and teak, and hamlets draped in thick foliage of banana, betel vines and all kinds of trees.

Kash phool on the pathway

Nature assumes wide variety of forms and colour in different seasons, changing from lush green during the rains to golden in winter with paddy covering the fields. My passion for photography only pushes me to go along this path, looking for a scene or a moment to capture in my mobile phone camera.

The people living in the hamlets do not only know me but also have known my parents and grandparents. In villages, people know each other for generations. Now I live in Hyderabad and can visit home only once a year.

Thus, when I come across an acquaintance, they would naturally smile and ask, ‘Oh, you have come.’
‘Yes, yesterday,’ I would say.
‘For how many days?’
‘Seven days.’
‘Only seven days?’
‘You’re now an officer, doing an important job. You must be a busy man now.’
‘But you’re free,’ I would say. ‘You don’t need anyone’s permission to go anywhere.’
‘So how many more years will you be there?’
‘Still more than ten years.’
‘You’ll be old by then.’

I break into a conversation and ask about their well-being and then take leave. To be recognised on the road by people is a privilege I do not have in Hyderabad.

Again, I tramp and look for something special to feast my eyes on and capture in my camera. Water lilies flower in the pond after it gets filled with water after the rains. In the autumn just before Durga puja, Kash phool (Kans Grass) adorns the fields with their white chiffon like flowers. Bengalis have a deep emotional connect with Kash phool as it heralds the festive season. I look at the flowers for a while and judge the spot and angle for capturing them in my camera.

Fishing in the paddy fields

But then there would be a moment which I need to capture immediately, or else the moment would be gone and opportunity missed. In the rainy season, it rains incessantly all day in North Bengal, leaving brief interludes when it would be drizzling.

I go out with an umbrella. As rivers and ponds overflow, fish comes with the flood to the agricultural fields. In those interludes between spells of rains, people come out with nets and fishing rods to catch fish in the streams and the paddy fields with knee deep water. I quickly position myself and take snaps for my recollection of the visit later or a Facebook post for my friends to enjoy the beauty of life in my native place.

After a brief stay at home, I have to return to Hyderabad. I have to wait for a year or so for this pathway to appear in a new form. But what I see year after year and season after season go into my mind’s album, and all the talk I have with people and snaps I get from the walk become a part of my lasting memories.

Dance of Rain

Monsoon has set in! The dark clouds are hovering over our heads, threatening more rains. It is usually after the summer months of heat and dust that rainy days start, bringing relief to the part of the earth we live in. However, it was a little different this year here at Hyderabad and also most other parts of the country. The summer was quite an extension of the spring, cool and pleasant, with disturbances in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian sea causing spells of showers, keeping the mercury down.

So after a very enjoyable summer, monsoon rains are here and are pouring with the rhyme and rhythm of their own. People caught in the middle of the road are scurrying for cover. The bird that perched on the branch of a tree seems to go into deep meditation, fluttering its wings from time to time to shed water from its feathers. I am reminded of the rainy days of my childhood.

Rains in my village

My childhood was spent in the Dooars region of West Bengal in the floodplains of the Himalayas. There the monsoon clouds hit the mountains, causing precipitation, and as a result, it pours profusely for two months and more. The rains would start in the evening and continue incessantly throughout the night. And then what a sight to behold in the morning! My village has lakes, ponds and also a river. The ponds would be filled to the brim! The cacophony of frogs would be heard all over! The rills would cut through the ground in front of my home! The river would suddenly swell up and the water would gush, forming a swirl!

I loved to frolic in the rains. Along with other children, I would go around the neighbours’ homes in our hamlet. The houses were made with slant tin roofs. Through the troughs of the roofs, water would pour in gushing torrents. We would stand just under them and bathe, holding our hands close to our chests.

After ponds were filled, on a sunny day, diving into the water and swimming was a way to release our energies. The water lilies would flower! They have long stems that extend from the bottom of the pond up to the surface of water. We would make garlands of the stems with the flowers at the bottom and wear them for some time before throwing them away.

In the afternoon when rain would let up, it was a great fun to play in the grounds that would be slippery after rains. We would play football, splashing water in the puddles. Trying to kick the ball but not quite making it and instead slipping and falling on the ground was perhaps the ultimate game and had no parallel!

Pond with water lily

The rivers would overflow and the fish would come to the ponds and agricultural fields. To catch fish with fishing rods required patience what with sitting in a corner for a long time, making the baits and waiting for the right moment to lift the rod. Far easier was to place a basket of bamboo with an opening, through which the fish would only enter and not come out, against the flow of water in a channel in the evening and collect your prized catch in the morning. The fish would always flow with the current.

School hours used to be cut short because of rains. The teacher would come to the class and do roll call. And notice would come also immediately and we knew what it was for. The matron would clang the bell, ‘dhong dhong’ twice and then ‘dhong dhong…dhong’ in close succession, sending music to our ears.

Today life has brought me to the city of Hyderbad. An average rainfall here causes water-logging in the streets, traffic jams and all sorts of things. Sometimes I get caught in the rains while driving my car or scooty. I enjoy the showers by making a detour on the roads. I often get drenched. Then I fondly remember the dance of rain in my childhood.

Welcoming the Rains

A whoosh of wind,
Icy, fresh;
Blows away the blind
And washes my face.

A smell of soil,
Earthy, soft,
Wafts into my nostril
And makes me glide aloft.

I go out on a high
And behold the sight.
Thunder rumbles in the sky,
And plays sound and light.

A drizzle falls in streaks,
I hear its strain.
Nobly, gracefully,
Here comes the rain!