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Roads

6/01/2021

Bangalore

Taking on the last lap of a thousand kilometers into South, one thinks of the expanse of this country and what it holds – an unceasing stream of people, farms and steady flow of rivers. To have highways stretching into horizons and each one being a multiday project in themselves is nothing short of a blessing for a restless traveler hungry for landscapes.

Over the years, roads have gotten better. Towns look cleaner and prosperous. People less fatigued. It now takes one to leave the National Highway and connect to a smaller and slower State Highway or an unmarked road to see how the rest of them, those that the cameras havent caught or bothered with, live and go about their spaces.

Khajuraho

13/01/2021

Khajuraho

Does marking a creation with reference to time the only way to understand? It startles a visitor to realise that Khajuraho’s temples were built more than a thousand years ago. It strikes further to see that much of them have stood through these centuries, presenting themselves in a time and era which is nothing like the time of their creation.

As the ‘sound and light show’ progresses in the lawns of the Western cluster’s sanctuary, I look at the planes flying far above, in the night sky. The contrast is of centuries.

These monuments are to touch time. To continue seeing possibilities beyond one’s own frontiers of imagination and experience.

Day 290 of the Pandemic

09/01/2021

290th day of the pandemic. The evening at Harmandir Sahib seemed as though religion held captive man’s ability to reason. The footfall of the faithfuls continue to be high. The kirtan held thicker than the evening’s blanket of fog. The queues held steady, waiting to bow down to the Akal Takht, seek the Guru’s blessing and be on their way back into the world that exists outside the Harmandir Sahib’s sanctuary.

Religion doesn’t always help reason. It surely helps in finding fragments of resilience within oneself to get back into the world and face it. For reason shows limitations, whereas faith in a God, a book, or in a Guru helps in unburdening the heavy yoke of thinking what would happen to us.

Power or love?

06/01/2021

Agra

This gorgeous monument on a winter evening during these pandemic times was a striking sight. Very few visitors around. Inside the mausoleum, in the solitude afforded by these times, one could hear the wind. A pigeon flew in and perched on top of the marble enclosure around the cenotaph. It’s flutter echoed inside the massive tomb.

One imagines this monument as a memorial to love that a King lost. When a king loses love, perhaps, power fills in the void to undertake such a grand project that can match the stature of the grief stricken King.

It is hard to keep love from becoming an exercise of power. Same in 17th century, as in the 21st.

On a quiet night with cenotaphs

03/01/2031

Orchha

On a quiet night on the banks of Betwa the sight of over a dozen cenotaphs rising in the skyline is startling. A landscape that hasn’t known manmade structures that rise a little above a man’s height has towering memorials for dead kings. The Rajputana held ambition stronger than life itself.

The village has an eerie feel. Perhaps the winter cold and darkness shrouds its liveliness. Perhaps it hasn’t known better days than the past.