All posts filed under: Tales from Rural India

Jyoti Bhatt : A Tribute to a Living Legend : A Photographic Essay on Rural Gujarati Indian Life(1971-1987)

Today, he is 87 and I will only wish that somehow a film compiling his works, his life, no matter however directed, should come out before we lose all of it. His experiences of that time and era must be recorded.

Pandava Forest and the Brahma Kamal: The Nights of Change in the Higher Himalayas – I

But before finding Brahma Kamal, Nara had to go through the forests where Pandavas once roamed. Pandavas!   The mighty heros of the Indian Epic, Mahabharata. Who after defeating the Kauravas, after slaying their own uncles, brothers, friends in a battle that went on for 18 days, not night. The rule was to rest and sleep in the night; until Pandava’s sons were murdered. The rage from there onwards became the reason to kill; not merely win. The carnage started then. Pandavas killed each Kaurava till the last count one by one. It was a bitter victory. Pandavas went on to rule for 36 years. But the guilt of killing their own kept breathing in their minds. Pride over the years melt into feeling sinful. As sharp pangs of remorse led the Pandavas to leave their kingdom they had won; leaving their worldly clothes, ornaments, and even their weapons; to find eternal peace, to attain Moksha. It was during this search on their way to heaven, while walking for years in the mountains; numerous stories, …

Truth, Evil and the Sun

When we reached Gopeshwar that night, Gana seemed speechless. But Neel looked at him with satisfaction giving an expression like then he has seen. We sat around fire, while waiting for the food to arrive. Open your ears said Neel and he began speaking like reciting an over practised hymn. The men in the east, he said, are trees; those in the south are flocks of animals; those in the west are wild plants. And those in the north like ourselves, who cried out while they ate other men, were the waters. When the collective sound started filling the air, he started explaining about eating. The act of eating is a violence that causes what is living, in its many forms, to disappear. Whether grass, plants, trees, animals or human beings, the process is the same. There is always a fire that devours and a substance that is devoured. This violence bringing misery and torment will one day be carried out by those who inflict it. Pouring milk into the fire- every morning, every evening- …

Remember me with a Lotus: Memoirs of heaven and birds in Kashmir- IV

Narayan, do you know why I am here today? I kept my silence. I couldn’t see my father when he died. I wasn’t there. He had stopped me from leaving home but I left regardless and all my life i have been living with this guilt that i couldn’t even gave my hands for his body. I wasn’t there with him when he wanted me most and it had needled me every moment. You know, when he was young, he too came on this yatra, with someone like you, his friend. I remembered his stories of bathing in the coldest waters of Sheshnag.

Life and nothing more- II

Continuing from Call of the Now, for the Great Himalayan Road Reunion. : ँ : To Srinagara, to zojila, to Leh, to Hanle, to the land that invoked my spirit, beyond the Indus, towards the Karakoram, to the parents of my children in Turtuk, to the man who flipped, to all the treks that lead to mahadeva and Gaura; to the top of that Himalayan mountain where the first tyre burst, to i don’t know what pass that came after where hundred’s of horses ran just to take left, and we took towards sky. Stone laden river bed that kept us moving on a conical mountain all afternoon, many called it a road. Through a broken bridge, through the ditches connecting another ditch on the World Yoga day. To stopping in front of the snow, and drinking it. To dipping in the coldest river Tirthan, to filling stomach from the river Chandrabhaga. To standing all night under the milky way. To crying for my parted child, to buying eyes for Rasool bhai. While laughing at …

When Krishna calls. A dream life of an Australian Photographer from Paris : Travels in Vrindavan

“O Krishna, the stillness of the divine union, which you describe, is beyond my comprehension. How can the mind which is so restless, attain lasting peace. Krishna, the mind is restless, turbulent, powerful, violent. To tame the mind is like to tame the wind.” – Srimad Bhagvad Gita  I was in my early teens when on my grandmother’s fierce insistence, parents took us on a tour to Mathura and Vrindavan. Krishna had supposedly entered my grandmother’s dream. She lost her sleep, and waited for that day when she would touch the earth of Krishna’s birth. And encircling the epical, ancient, holy Govardhana hill,  गोवर्धन पर्वत on her bare feet. The sun was setting in the land of braj as we arrived, the winds started blowing, grandmother’s eyes went backwards; her body calmed, voice started mumbling the words known to every wall and each monkey sitting on them, as they could  be heard from myriad mouths. Narrow lanes of brick, tall walls wearing Mughal attires turning holy, as the time turned blue like romance, the colour of Krishna, Yamuna …

Love in Himachal Pradesh

Lets start from where we ended. For twenty-seven nights, I was the only one living in a wooden balcony that hung facing the jungle on a whole mountain. The red moon that I saw on the forehead of a mother in the village down, i saw a similar one on my lover. But her eyes were set against the only window the first night. Pink walls. She told me she wants to scream. Now! I said. She smiled. Fire. She kept looking in my eyes and started screaming. I closed my mouth. And opened my eyes. It was winters. It was cold. And you know when it is winters and when it is cold how heavy the rains hit. It confuses the heart. It was sunny next day. Pluto arrived. Nara, let’s go meet the man who sneezes forty times. He does that once daily. We left our two limping dogs behind. It was a beautiful walk. We reached. We sat outside Daulat Ram’s home in his garden on uncomfortable plastic chairs. An old brown …

One night at the Indo-Pakistan border

As Corona and the bats are the rhetoric of the year, i remember one night that came and crossed all expectations of mysticism and fear that will always go together, found me at the lonely town of Rajasthan with Pakistan. – The day was done by the noontime. After a whole day of chasing a manganiyar singer, I finished my interview with an old tribal song as i requested Veeru’s great grandfather who sat under a neem tree looking up at a bird. I left Veeru’s beautiful white wall, red lined home in a hurry. I was leaving for Tanot, barely even a town, 120 kilometres away from Jaisalmer towards Longewala- and visit Tanot temple situated right at the border of India and Pakistan. I rented a Suzuki bike for three days. and left for the wilderness. It was all fine till a point but after Ramgarh, the road transformed into something like riding a snake. A snake slithering across, passing through the dunes of the oldest Asian Desert, that has forgetton the horizon between the …