Laziness was creeping in as lazily as someone who has solved the mandatory three sub-questions at the semesters but just couldn’t get the goddamn hand to write down the known Q. 4. The examinations had ended-bringing in days of planned events, though nothing falling in place- recently. Hence the metaphor!
And on one such indolent evenings, Dad stormed into home, almost screaming – “Book tickets for Konkan!” Feeling productive suddenly, I made my way to the equally lazy IRCTC website with its yawn inducing UI.
“September or November? And how many?”
“For day after tomorrow, look for an early morning. And you with me!”
Eerie silence prevailed! For someone who watches the commercials just because he is lazy to carry his ass to the fetch the remote control some feet away was going to carry it a good 600 km away from his super comfy pillows and sofas. The only person who could veto this decision was the great mom, but since some ‘official’ work was pending there and finding me absolutely dormant, my fate was sealed! Packed and ready to be delivered to the southernmost part of Maharashtra crunched between the magnificent Sahyadris and the endless Arabian Sea.
CST has 16 platforms! I didn’t know that till our train was stationed on it one fine Sunday morning! Gliding over the single track way southwards, by evening we reached after passing through many viaducts and tunnels guarded by metal straps to prevent landslides and boulders and experiencing the onset of farming activities over vast farms divided into pockets!
The usual period for me of experiencing the picturesque Western Ghats would be the magnum opus celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi. The air has in it the sounds of cymbals and pakwaj throughout the 11 days when steaming modaks are served and high intensity aartis are sung.Wading through gushing streams in the flickering torch-lights that cuts through the pitch black darkness with nothing but the endless starry skies and narrow pathways from one house to another singing bhajans late nights-an experience that leaves us spellbound and wanting for more!
This time it was at the onset of the monsoons at the end of June that I found myself in Konkan when the farmers who you can find in meticulously decorated homes worshipping the elegant Ganapati idols with camphor and incense were now busy cultivating their farms: tilling, sowing and harvesting rice, a major crop down south-ankle deep into the paddy fields. This was what I had never experienced before and had no choice now when one evening we decided to visit the fields along the Karli River that flows parallel to the Mumbai-Goa expressway! The river was enormous compared to what I was used to see during the summers- flowing vigorously and carrying in it fallen trunks of trees from the lashing rains the previous night.
As I was drafting this exact article after dinner, sitting in the verandah with downpour slashing on the roof before me, when the lights went out! The mobile screen suddenly seemed very bright as it stared in my face. I lifted my head to see that the skies were in the darkest shade of violet I’ve ever seen outlined by the trees that went into stygian blackness. The winds blew more violently now as the dry coconut shells that were kept burning in the courtyard to keep away the insects now caught fire! The storm now grew so strong; it bent the towering trees to their knees that stood in front of the house! Dad came out with a big flash-light to find me gazing at what was an astounding firsthand experience of what I used to hear in stories about the great land of Konkan.
The light insects now came out as the gusts died down with rains still continuing. An airplane with its lights flashing disappeared amongst the caliginous clouds, probably on its way to Goa! The vast expanse of the stars that lay on the horizon were slowly coming out as the grey skies now cleared away. And then, just like that, the lights were lit again as the electricity was restored. The branches of palms and chickoos glistened as my shadow was cast ahead of me onto the washed out courtyard but the darkness was missed! Albeit not for long…