Tag: Nature

Rain in the hills

It is raining cats and dogs(as the popular saying goes)in Dehradun since afternoon. As I am writing this sentence there is a loud, long grumble of thunder from the clouds and rain is drumming down on the roof making my mother increase the volume of her Television as her favorite serial comes on. The boys have missed their daily game of cricket, making them cranky. I, on the other hand, have been in a pensive mood.

(picture from unsplash.com Abhidev Vaishnav)

The sounds of thunder and the rain pattering down, the whole atmosphere is making me nostalgic for my grandparents home where I grew up. I miss my bed next to the window, where I would sit with my back resting on the wall  ( it used to be heaven in winters, snuggled in the razai). The sound of the dripping raindrops from the leaves of the frangipani tree of our neighbor. I miss the dampness of my grandmother’s room, the green of the moss growing on the mango and litchi tree.  Hating to walk under the same trees as the raindrops from the leaves would splash on you invariably getting in the collar of the school uniform making it highly uncomfortable. Finding mushrooms sprouting on the trunks and branches of the litchi tree and marveling on their toadstool shapes. Cleaning the water off from the cement seat on the roof, so that I could study outdoors and also look at the sunset.  All the creepy crawlies would come wriggling out making us avoid the kitchen garden patch, remembering to close the screen door else the rain insects would come in drawn by the light, making us swat them with rolled up newspapers. Lying awake after the lights were switched off, hearing the crickets and the jhingoors, trying to watch the jugnus flit by in the dark garden. If perchance there was a thunderstorm in the night, I would spend half the night awake, watching the zig zagging shapes of the lightning fascinated by it, a fascination that I still have. Not understanding at the time how powerful God is, to create something so beautiful and yet so awe inspiring. The alacrity of the electricity department of Dehradun in switching off the power at a single rumble from the clouds. The days when we reached sopping wet to school despite the raincoats, a hazard of going to school on the bicycle, packing our school bag with an extra layer of plastic to protect the precious books. The countless days when it used to alternately drizzle, rain and pour intermittently till you would long for the sun to come out. The brilliant blue of the sky contrasting with the white fluffiness of the clouds when the sun would finally shine; the mountains a dark, sharply etched silhouette against the horizon, the trees, a luxuriant green.

People ask me why I come to India during the rains, I reply that I come because of the rains.While most of us agree that Dehradun is no longer the sleepy town of the nineties, one thing which is still familiar is the rain. Monsoon was and still is a magical time in Dehradun. The world turns green with new growth and moss (most tenacious here, found all over, including the outer walls of the houses). It is damp, it is musty but it is very very familiar. As familiar as the fragrance of adraki chai and crispness of pakoras. It makes me long to be that young girl again, with the bed by the window, whose only worry was to reach school with dry shoes and dry books.

How Green Was My Valley.

” Dehra  was a green and leafy place. The houses were separated by hedges not walls and the residential areas were crisscrossed by little lanes bordered by hibiscus or oleander bushes”.

                                                                                                             Ruskin Bond

( Friends from small places)

This was the Dehra my father grew up in. This was the Dehra I was familiar with though some walls had come up between the houses and the leafy places were getting fewer.

This is not the description of Dehra anymore. All I see around me are houses , tall palatial buildings  with their gardens hidden behind tall walls. I see cars parked on lanes because the people while building their palatial houses forgot to build garages. I see old canal on E.C. road covered to widen the road, but still no place for the people to walk.

In the Dehra I grew up in I could see the mountain from the rooftop of our modest one storey high house. I could see whether it had snowed in Mussorie or not. I saw spectacular sunsets in which hues of orange,yellow ,blue ,gray all blended together. Now from my rooftop I am lucky if I catch a glimpse of the mountains, sunset…..have yet to see one.

People say it is the march of time, the town has to progress , infrastructure needs to be provided to people. Seems to me that progress has somehow become synonymous with cutting down trees to build luxury apartments affordable to a select few (beware if you are planning to invest in any,Dehra is in high seismic zone) . Progress seems to mean more vehicles on the road so that you are barely able to walk ( or cycle!). Progress seems to mean garbage all over the city , even in the river beds, choking them. Why cant progress go side by side with nature? Why if some trees are cut down for a road and equal or a greater number of trees planted to compensate for that? Why cant affordable ecofriendly houses be built which blend in rather than stick out like sore thumbs.

While I was writing this a bird perched on the wire high above our house started warbling. It’s lilting music made me realize that maybe all is not lost still. There is still some hope as long as the birds sing.

If only the people would stop and listen to their music