LIFE STORIES – PLAYING IN THE MUD IN MONSOON, INDIA
Monsoon brings life. Everything in nature blooms. Plants and tree turn greener. Frogs come out. Birds began to build best to breed and care for their young ones. Even insects and worms flourish.
Monsoon brings happiness to India. Crops and vegetables are grown. Water from rain is still the major source of supply for agriculture and drinking. Rivers and dams start to fill. Ponds and lakes rise again. Peacocks dances with might. Life is replenished.
During Monsoon, young kids used to play in mud. They used to build houses and castles with the freshly soften mud. The smell of the Earth would feel them with new energy. As they play in the grass and the mud, lot of animals would come to graze. Buffaloes, Cows and Horses would be left free to have a good meal in by their owners. They would munch fast enough to not even chew anything but gulp as fast as they can. Once they are all done, they would go to a quite place under a tree or a shade and sit quietly while they chew slowly all the food they just ate. Watching such things as a child, you learn how nature reacts and responds to different situations in life.
Kids create new games or follow the old games being played from ages in their villages and town. One such game played in the mud during the monsoon was very unique. A group of kids would come together and decide whose turn it was to play by other toss or by some trick. One such trick was to form a group and bring your hands together. Then shout and flip your hands. You can either keep your palm up and face it down. Whoever turns out odd, gets to be the one to serve the play.
By forming a circle with a iron rod, it was considered as home. Each one would go about throwing the rod about 8 inches long. Since the mud was dampened by then, anyone who throws the rod well, it would stand upright. Failing to throw the rod to stand upright, you will loose your turn. And you will be next person to serve.
As one by one the kids kept on throwing, they would go far off from the home. Once in a while, one of the kid would through the rod like a parabolic very far in hope that it will fall upright. It may fall flat but if it falls upright, then it feels like a triumph to them. It is almost like a victory. Because that will push the game too far.
Whoever faults, then end up serving. Now from the point wherever the fault occured, that is the rod fell flat, back to the point of the circle as home, the first kid had to come back jumping on one leg. That is the game. They had to learn to jump on one leg all the while in the mud, without putting other leg down. So farther it went, the chances were some may slip, some may end up getting tired and they would have to do it altogether again.
It’s a harsh game that way but the kids do not realise it. It’s fun usually. It develops resilience to keep going. Playing in nature is not only just a fun or playing in mud dirty experience, it’s more about learning how to function as a group. How to compete in a healthy fashion and how to take turns. Also you understand how to stand strong. You develop physical fitness and various motor skills. You become prone to weather. And develop an understanding of underlying vibrance of nature.
In a matter of a decade, most of such open lands have been replaced by colonies, multi-storey apartments, factories and shops. Such open lands used to be as wide as a km or more. Now only a sparsh area of some hundred ft is left for many kids to play. Most kids end up playing games on electronic devices, watching TV and movies, eating junk food and never actually stepping out in the open. They never see frogs, let alone seeing a tadpole. Chewing of food by animals is a distant concept that they read about in books after being adults. Getting drenched in rain is a trouble because of the clothes and gadgets we carry get damaged and we fall sick. We prefer to go rain-dance in some amusement park.
The gap we have created in our lives is causing lot of disturbance in how we perceive and respond to it. By succumbing to four walls and being connected via electronic gadgets, we are experiencing a change in our brain responds to our surroundings. The constant need to be online, read what’s happening around the world, knowing what has gone around the world and being able to see at our finger tips is causing constant drain. It is creating toxic experience. And the same people who built such network and now selling products for mindfulness, meditation, apps, sessions, lifestyle change and coaching.
By pulling us out of our free flowing life and putting us in a cage filled nowhere to go and constantly serving visual attractions, we are collectively creating a world that is causing more damage than the good.
LIFE STORIES – CROSSING THE WATER LOGGING DURING MONSOON IN INDIA
When you are young, you do not think much. You go through whatever comes in you are life and cross it. You learn from your experiences. Sometimes you are not even aware what you accomplished because you are not keen to show that. You are interested to reach where you want to go and reaching there is your only quench. Whatever lays ahead of you, is like a undeniable path which you have to navigate and you do not think of options or shortcuts. You just see that your task is to get there.
And when you look back in time, you will notice and realise that was something unique as a young kid. Without being concerned about what’s around you and why it is the way it is, you are more interested in the how. How do I reach there. How do I cross this. And by following that simple approach you divert all your energy into doing the thing that matters the most at that point of time.
Where as grown ups are most of the time consumed in their thoughts and worries. Instead of focusing on how to go about something, they are wondering why it happened to them. They are looking for someone to blame or themselves. By shifting and distracting their energy on multiple thoughts and looking for shortcuts or alternate routes, they do not take the route they had to. And when the result is not as per their expectations, they feel disappointed and dejected. But they never did what was supposed to be done in the first place.
As a kid, I saw people going to far off distances (over 15km) on bicycles. Even those who had vehicles, they too had to go on the same route. This particular route was intercepted by a railway tunnel in between. Any other cross over was a roundabout route for over 5 km and even that would have to be crossed under a tunnel, which sometimes was worse than the original one while other times slightly better.
Railway trains would pass over the road across and there would be tunnel that would go across from below it. Often during monsoon, since the tunnel is dug below the railway route, it would be clogged with water. Water used to be deep upto waist level and underneath somewhere there used to be drain which would be rushing with the water. Usually such drains were opened to allowed water to flow out faster but that posed danger for someone going in that direction. But with time people became aware of such things. So it came natural to people crossing such water to be following a queue one behind other and usually taking into consideration of the terrain of the place based on their previous experience.
Being only 16 and going out far from home for the first time, such imminent difficulties did not present themselves as challenges. Instead it came as something simple as a bump in road or a traffic jam. You go right through it as you are drenched. You cross it with caution and once you are done, you do not even think of it. You just keep going towards the destination that you have to reach, in this case school. Being alone and no one to guide, you learn to become aware of your situations. You follow your fellow men like a herd. You seek for advice and then cross over. With time, you become adept in this skill. So you keep going ahead without any confusion.
Even when the water is higher and going around like a whirlwind and it’s pouring so heavily that you cannot see more than 10 feet, you just make it your prime task to go across either towards school or towards home. And when you reach home, you are drenched from top to bottom. You do not think of waiting in the way. Because you are already drenched. It doesn’t occur to you that you can take a break or you may catch cold if you are drenched beyond a point. Probably it works like that when you have no option, you just go with whatever is available.
Once in a while, when you have become accustomed to the rain, which visits for 4 months, you like to try other routes to see what is the condition there. You want to explore.
One of the tunnel was huge and was connected to the highway. Most of the heavy loaded trucks and buses would go under it. During summer and winter, it seems to be a better way to cross over the railway route. So when Monsoon arrives next season, you try to take the alternative route. And what you find there you learn something new. The water is fierce and deep. The road is a slope and the flow of water is like a river. Down below under the tunnel, the water is bubbling and creating froth. You are not clearly aware of the terrain and not many people on cycle are crossing it. Mostly the people in cars and buses are going that side. Only a few people on bike and cycle who had their destination on the other side and didn’t want to go round about for 10-15km to reach their home in this constant downpour went across it. And for them they had the terrain mapped in their mind. They knew every bump, every slope, every manhole and the drain. They could close their eyes and say how long it would take to cross the tunnel and when the next bump will come. That kind of awareness helped them to cross over. And it was evident by then that it cannot be undertaken for fun or excitement or the experience of thrill. Anyway we had another usual route to go about so we just took it.
Over the period of time, most of the bicycles got replaced with bikes. Only rarely do we see a bicycle in the city. Many flyover bridge were constructed over the railway route. Better drainage systems were put into place to avoid water logging. Pre-monsoon work was carried out to fill any gaps. So the previously existing scenario started to diminish. Only rarely would there be a water logging that required someone to go through it. And there were other options like flyover bridge and better routes.
So most of the young lack such experience or awareness of how things used to be. For them it comes as natural to use a bike or any vehicle to go overboard a flyover bridge as high as 25m at 60kmph without usually getting drenched. And even if they get drenched it’s more for fun then any kind of necessity.
Eventually comfort got replaced with circumstance. We started to forget that there are subtleties of life that train us for things in ways we do not know. We go through things only to become tougher. Such experiences are blessings in disguise.