This poem was first published in Peacock Journal edited by W.F. Lantry and his team. Do browse the journal for some excellent work.
the shadow of the Oak trees
lies heavy on the grass below
no life stirs in the green expanse
that stretches until it meets the sky
with its cargo of clouds
along the distant ridge of hills
dust rises from a winding road
that looks lazily down upon
the slowly moving river
that crosses the land
along that road is our house
the house we loved and shared
until the day we drifted apart
now that lonely house waits
hoping again to become a home
Two of my Poems were published in the prestigious Tuck Magazine in August. Tuck is a political lit, music and arts journal with a difference run by Michael and Valda Organ.
I don’t know how I forgot to share this news on my blog. I do remember posting the original link to my poems on all social channels. I am really enjoying these small memories from my travel in the Himalayas. Something I miss so much. A lot has been put on hold due to lack of funds, a lot is at stake too due to a sudden financial jolt but I have a belief that the hand that taketh also giveth. 🙂
Here is an excerpt from the poem the poem ‘Waiting‘
“a missed turn can lead you to the most unexpected places
and here I was beneath a canopy of dripping leaves,
in the backyard of nowhere, watching a dream unfold…..”
Read the TWO POEMS by clicking here. Also read the other splendid work on the website.
Thank you editors for giving me this wonderful platform.
Meanwhile good things continue to happen. Rebecca Behar, a poet friend from France read one of the poems, written impromptu by me and my mentor friend James Goddard, at a poetry event. Do listen to it by clicking the link below.
Thank you Dear Rebecca for giving your voice to our poem..
This poem is from a set of two travel memory poems first published in Cafe Dissensus Everyday.
A window opens through time
scented by Deodars and Pines,
as I lie on the wooden balcony of our cottage
my eyes linger on the shadow stencils
of the Dhauladhars rising beyond the valley,
the leaves murmur as the breeze tugs at them,
the sun, forgetting to set,
filters through the swaying branches
and meanders along forgotten paths,
a twist of smoke rises to meet the sky,
I breathe deeply, eyes closed,
inhale the aromas that we once shared,
the crackling warmth of wood stove,
the tang of our salt-laced bodies
with their steam rising into the stillness
like the echo of dreams haunting this house,
outside my window time advances slowly
September is a bitter-sweet month. It is the birth month of my younger son who completes twenty-one years on this 25th and that makes it very special but on the other hand it has a lot of heartbreak attached to it. Somehow, with each passing year a lot of good things have begun to happen in September. I will focus on the good especially on the writing front. We lose some we win some. Onward we go.
I have been experimenting with writing poems based on travel memories and readers have encouraged and appreciated my work.
TEKSTO is people’s magazine, the elitism of journals is something they are working against. They need work from all you writers out there especially the young upcoming ones. Do check out the magazine’s other content as you read my Two Poems here. These are memory poems not travel related but close to my heart.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine and has fabulous content. I have been associated with the magazine since some time and absolutely love sending my work here. Do read some very fine articles, fiction and poetry among other things once you read my travel memory poems which recently got published. Two Memories
Recently I attended book launch organised by AuthorsPress which is the brainchild of Mr. Sudarshan Kecherry. I was delighted to see that they encourage Hindi Literature along with English and the launch had some fine poetry books to offer in both languages. I bought some and got them autographed too. It was a joy to listen to Dr. Ampat koshy, Dr. Santosh Bakaya, Geetika Kohli and others. The poetry reading was enjoyable. I met some old friends, made some new ones.
I also received very positive feedback from two very good authors on my debut poetry book Collection of chaos. I will share it soon.
Here is a pic from the launch. You can check out their FB page and list of publications.
I am working on a few new writing projects and hopefully share some news soon. Till them keep the love going and do leave your views about my writing.
Thank you to all my readers for being an important part of my creative journey.
I write this post as the rain douses the raging fire in the forests of Uttarakhand. Forests are the lifelines of hundreds of humans, flora and fauna and this kind of neglect is criminal in my opinion. To think that 3465.94 hectares of forest land lies ravaged by man-made fires is deeply disturbing. (number source Indian Express) The loss is immeasurable. Read this brilliant piece by Peter Smetacek about steps that can prevent future forest fires and sustain our forests. I hope some lessons will be learnt from the devastation caused by these fires and strict measures will be taken.
Flanked by lush forests the lake district of Kumaon, Bhimtal / Sattal / Naukuchiatal, has some beautiful high altitude (3000 – 4500 ft ASL) lakes. The decision to go there was impromptu. We booked the hotel from Ranikhet and after a refreshing early morning drive arrived at Bhimtal just in time for a good breakfast by the lakeside. The sight of calm emerald water was soothing to the eyes. We lingered around for a while and then headed to Naukuchiatal which was to be our base.
The valleys and the foothills of the Himalayas have a different charm all together. It was good to be back. Though the sun was bright and warm we were ready to explore the water bodies, winding pathways and the dense forests for the next two days. Solar panels on top of the roof of our hotel immediately gave it a few brownie points and the fact that it was right near the Kamal Tal or the Lotus Pond added a few more.
Flowers, bird calls, tall chir pines and mighty oaks, paragliders sailing in the sky and the floating leaves of the lotus plants were a good start to the last leg of our trip. I stood watching the vast spread of green water and an abandoned boat wondering how it would look when the lotuses would bloom.
A walk along the road took us to the lake of nine corners or naukuchiatal, its iridescent bluish waters glistened in the mid-day sun. Mythology tells us that the lake was created by Lord Brahma and even today the parikrama around the lake is considered sacred by the locals. There is a little Brahma temple near the KVMN guest house right near the lake.
It was good that the lakeside wasn’t cluttered with the tourists that day. Naukuchiatal is the deepest of all the lakes in that area. It is nourished by a natural underwater spring. A few shikaras were drifting languidly on the glistening waters. It was an ideal setting for us lazy bones and we made the best of it.
The moment we hit the town we were surrounded by the people offering paragliding services. Later at the lake it was the boat owners who kept persuading but we politely declined much to the displeasure of Adi who of course wanted to do both. Some inner fear kept me away from such activities and I wouldn’t let him go either which resulted in some bad blood between us.
There is nothing that a chilled glass of fresh lemonade made from Hill lemon can’t resolve and we had a glassful each and soon we were happily ambling down tree flanked banks of the lake, teasing, laughing, talking and basically enjoying ourselves.
Many times we stopped to watch the colourful boats, kayaks and shikaras docked by the harbour swaying gently with the breeze or a kingfisher diving into still waters to catch a fish. Naukuchiatal, like its sister towns, is seeing a lot of construction and we could see the hills, that once were spotlessly green, were now dotted with buildings. While this region falls under ‘no construction’ zone, it is being ravaged by rampant construction work, undertaken by private builders. A little disheartening to see the how alarmingly adverse developments have occurred threatening the existence of this ecologically fragile region. The lakes too have high rates of sedimentation which isn’t a good sign.
After a long walk we sat down to simply gaze at the water. After a lot of persuasion I agreed to let Adi go for Kayaking. With heart in my mouth I waited as he made his way to the middle of the lake and back. Now, I love water but in recent times I have lost courage to venture into any such adventures. We lingered around the lake for some more time sipping lemonade enjoying our quiet Zen moments along with the anglers waiting patiently for some Mahasher to get caught in their lines. Fish reminded us of food and we walked back to the hotel for lunch.
In the evening, a stroll in the opposite side of the lake and up a winding path into the forested area left us mesmerized with its beauty. A tranquil walk amidst the Oak and pine forests have a distinct soothing effect on the mind and body. The place also has large number of fruit trees like figs, pear, guava, apples and hill lemon. Naukuchiatal has some 500 odd species of native and migratory birds besides butterflies, moths, and small animals, leopards are also sighted in the deeper jungles. We spotted a number of birds but the lack of good camera prevented us from taking photographs.
There wasn’t much time to explore the nearby villages and hike to the deeper woods so we came back before it got dark. Meal that night was at Mahindra Resort. It was a letdown that the town did not offer any local food. I was really hoping to find it here as much to our disappointment the only place in Ranikhet that served kumaoni food on request had closed down. The food at Mahindra was extremely delicious and value for money.
Next morning we left for Sattal. The lakes at Sattal are nestled in the midst of thick oak and Pine forests below the lush orchards of Mehragaon Valley.
Sattal has a larger area of conifers than Naukuchia and Bhimtal, whereas Nainital has more Oak trees because of the high altitude. Bhimtal on the other hand has more grassy patches. Naikuchiatal has a mix of all in small measures.
As we drove down the meandering road downhill I could see one of the lakes down in the valley peeping through the forest green. Do stop to admire the terraced farm, the distant hills, greenhouses, and pretty little hamlets in the picturesque Bhimtal valley en route to Sattal.
Sattal is one of the many birding hotspots in this area of Kumaun. These forests rising from Bhimtal right up to Ramgarh boast a wide variety of birdlife. More than 300 varieties of birds, including, oriental white eye, magpies, flycatchers, kingfishers, babblers, tits, bulbuls, warblers, woodpeckers and barbets are found here. You can see many of them from the roadside, sometimes chirping in a bush or perched on a distant tree. There are more than 500 species of butterflies, moths and other insects. Sadly, rampant construction is slowly diminishing their natural habitat and I won’t be surprised if the actual number of birds could have dropped due to this.
When I first visited Satal many years ago there wasn’t much touristy stuff around the lakes. Five of the seven lakes were full and I think out of those five three were only accessible by foot. Surrounded by lush forest the area had more to offer than just the lakes. Treks in the woods, secluded natural waterholes for birdwatchers, quaint campsites, natural water springs to name a few.
Two of the seven lakes have dried up now and the biggest three interconnected ones, Ram, Lakshman and Sita lakes look like a replica of Naini Lake with the same touristy fanfare.
The Lakeside is encroached by food/tea stall owners and the “adventure sports/activities” groups catering to the tourists. A lot of people were engaged in kayaking, zip lining, and zorbing.
I wonder how long before these gorgeous water bodies will become just memories. Though I agree that these interconnected lakes are much cleaner and flanked by more forest green than the ones in nearby Bhimtal and Naukuchiatal, the tourist activity was maximum at this lake.
The pristine beauty of the lakes is most magnificent during monsoons but even now the blue green waters offered solace to the eyes. We decided to leave the noisy stalls at the banks and explore the wooded areas on the other side of the lake.
The place is so tranquil and picturesque that one just wants to reach out and explore its deeper secrets. From the main road a small trail that goes to ‘The Studio’. Birdwatchers’ paradise, this place is often visited by many rare birds and they actually seem to pose for the camera hence the name Studio.
There is a small lake there and often one finds the placid cows grazing around it. Tucked away in the forest the place is on the way to Subhash Dhara, a beautiful natural waterfall. We went up to the Studio but did not know how to proceed to the waterfall. Thinking it was wise not to venture on our own we trekked back to the main road. The rustling leaves, the music of the wind floating through the pines, gushing water, wild flowers and fruits, chirping of crickets and birds made the walk less strenuous.
We were hungry and decided to skip the Mission Estate, the Methodist Ashram and other ‘places of interest’. Out of all the lakes, I personally love the jade green garud tal. While there, do visit the Jones Estate. Frederic Smetacek’s butterfly museum at Jones Estate is a must see if you are in this area. We had visited it earlier so decided to skip it too. Lack of time was one of the reasons for not indulging in camping, hiking, nature walks etc. One needs to do a solo trip to this place to enjoy all this. Combining it with other places often leaves one wanting for more.
While returning we discovered a delightful cafe called ‘I heart Cafe’ located at the beginning of Bhimtal.
One of my long cherished dreams is to own a cafe in the hills. This one won my heart. Everything from food to decor was just awesome. We had delicious German teacakes, shakes and sandwiches over a game of chess and then relaxed there for some time.
This was our last day of holiday and on way to the hotel we stopped again at Bhimtal lake, the largest of all lakes in Kumaun region.
Usually vivid green, the colour of the water changes with time and seasons. The colour comes from the glacier minerals washed down from the hills covered in mixed deciduous forest. One can roam on the peripheral road fringed with Jacaranda trees along the lake to experience its beauty. have seen these trees in full bloom and the effect is mesmerizing. If you love the gorgeous Jacarandas you must visit in the month of June. Bhimtal’s climate is excellent for floriculture and one can see so many varieties of flowers in season.
The waters are unruffled and a serene sense of calm prevails here. A thriving ecosystem of aquatic species and birds is supported by the lake. Rich with aquatic life the lake is a boon for fishing enthusiasts. We saw anglers waiting patiently at a secluded point of the lake.
The little town of Bhimtal set on the slopes around the lake is slow paced and ordinary as compared to the other hill towns. That perhaps makes it beautiful. It has the least tourist activity at the lake as compared to Naukuchiatal and Sattal.
To have dinner at the hotel turned out to be a good decision as there was hail storm and rain that night. I guess it was a perfect round off to a great holiday for us.
Now, back in the malicious heat of Delhi, my heart wants to escape to the mountains again. you can not have enough of it. There is a constant pull, a constant call of the mountains that will haunt you until you pack your bags for another adventure. Let us see what time holds for me.. Right now my heart is set on Kasol. Praying that this trip works out.
This marks the end of the three part series of our travel to Uttarakhand. We will be back soon with more adventures. Keep watching this space. 🙂