Last month, we went on a drive to Dodda Alada Mara, located 28 kilometers from Bengaluru. ‘Dodda Alada Mara’ literally means the Big Banyan Tree. During the drive, I told my daughter what a banyan tree is, how big a banyan tree can be, and about the aerial roots that start from their branches. I myself visualized a big banyan tree with its roots finding the way down into the soil.
There are mentions of banyan tree in religions, that originated in and around India. Earliest mention of it is in the Rig Veda, that originated around 5000 B.C. Lord Buddha was enlightened while meditation under a huge banyan tree, called Bodhi Tree. Great sages knew some secret that makes this tree something special.
As we entered the gate, my daughter shouted, “Jungle!”. It did look like a mini jungle with many happy monkeys screeching and jumping around. As soon as I entered the gate, my eyes fell on the information board just and started reading. My jaw dropped! What we assumed to be a ‘mini jungle’ was a single tree, spread around 3 acres. “This is huge!”, I exclaimed, and moved on to explore. There is a tiny temple in the premises of Dodda Alada Mara, outside of which, many people were offering prayers. Monkeys were happily climbing up and down the roots. Somewhere in between those roots and those branches, I was lost. Lost in thoughts: A moment of introspection. As we grow old, like the roots of the banyan tree finding its way in to the soil, we too find ourselves going back to our roots. Like the banyan tree grows high up and spread its branches wide, we grow, spread our presence in the social circles we live in. After we mature, like the roots of the banyan tree, we start to find our way back to where we belong – a journey backward. We want to be close to our home land, where we were born and spent our childhood. Our people and our cultures, from where we started our life’s journey seem so dear. I was snapped out of it by the bells in the temple and I heard my daughter ask, “Why are you smiling mommy?”
Red wine, Red wine
I don’t know why I whine!
Saw the up, saw the down
You are the only one my own!
Red wine, Red wine,
I think of you, when I dine.
After a day full of stress,
You are the only one I confess!
Red wine, Red wine!
Oh, don’t worry I am fine!
When the life turns its back,
I just change the track!
Oh, Red wine, I am fine!
I had learnt in my school that a rainbow is an optical illusion. The one you see is different from the one I see. Millions of tiny water droplets, a few more rays of warm light is all that is required to fill the canvass of sky with colours. You cannot see it just anywhere. You must be positioned at a certain angle from the source of light i.e. the sun.
I visited my home town Alappuzha last week. It is known to many as Alleppey, a major tourist location in Kerala. We spent a couple of days at a small resort, named ‘Kayaloram’ meaning ‘on the banks of a lagoon’. At the resort, there was an array of around 8 cottages, built in old ‘Naalukettu’ style of construction, in a grass carpeted compound that housed a restaurant, a spa, a pool and a pond. A gaggle of six geese patrolled around and honked, occasionally chasing the guests who went too close to them. Drenched by the monsoon showers, the place looked nothing less than heaven.
As I enjoyed the heavenly peace from the veranda of the cottage, my daughter came running, splashing the water on the ground. “Rainbow!” She shouted. She came up to me, grabbed my finger, pulled me outside and pointed up. “You see that?”, she asked with a startled expression. It was the first time she saw a rainbow. She was so elated that she shot a few questions at me in one single breath. The first one was “Who painted it?”. Do I tell her the science or tell her what I believed as a child? I wondered. When I was a child I was quite sure it was God’s painting. Later the belief was destroyed by a few science chapters. “It happens when sunlight passes through water drops up above” I replied. I don’t know how far she understood. Luckily there were no further questions regarding rainbow formation. We were disturbed by the gleeful geese. They were honking and flapping their wings in the pond. They seemed to enjoy the rain. Perception! I thought. Some crib and curse the monsoon showers, some enjoy it like the geese.
It’s how you look at it, isn’t it? Some look at the sky and see a rainbow, some others see just a dull sky. Water droplets up above and the light passing through them is all the same. Only thing that matters is the angle. The angle in which you look at life determines whether you want to see it as a rainbow or a dull sky. As I was thinking of this excellent simile of life and rainbow, it rained again. Like those geese, we drenched and saw life as a rainbow!
I’d been to a shopping mall today. As I recollected what I wanted and moved swiftly past the shops, my eyes fell on the doughnut shop. It has been a long time since I had one. I made an instant decision of having one. I walked towards the shop. I glanced through the wide range of doughnuts and there it was in a corner, a very simple Sugar Doughnut. I ordered one and waited for it at the table. While waiting I scribbled down a rough list of what I wanted. There it came. I took a bite, like a gentle breeze flipping the pages of a book, it flipped back many years in my mind.
“What do you want?” asked my Dad,
“That one” I replied with a smile, pointing out to the Sugar Doughnut.
The doughnut reminded me of this conversation many years ago. I still remember watching it through the glass of the bakery display case. It was my very first doughnut. No doughnut I ate in the later years matched the taste of it. Not even this one. Thank you Dad.
That doughnut I ate opened a big box of memories. The one at the beach, is my all time favourite. I was scared of waves when I was a kid. The scare was wiped out through a trick. Dad used to hold my palms tightly, and wait for the wave to come. Once it was there near our feet, he used to lift me up. Then put me down gently, I felt the water withdrawing under my feet. Gradually the scare vanished. The trust I had on you during those ‘wave attacks’, has multiplied many times, as I encountered many waves in life, and without fail you’ve lifted me up always. Thank you Dad for being there and making memories memorable.
Now when I see my husband and daughter, I see my dad and me, the bond between a daughter and a father. It is a delight to watch them. I am reliving the experience through them. Like the shape of a Sugar Doughnut, in life, I have reached back where my dad and I started.
Happy Father’s Day!
I had been to Karkala this weekend. A small town in Udupi district, Karnataka, where my husband belongs to. Located at the foothills of the vibrant Western Ghats, this place during monsoon is a nature lover’s dream. All you get to see especially during rains is the fresh lush green growth as far as your eyes could see. I love that place for what it holds within it, people, culture, cuisine, nature and more.
I had ‘Alambo’ a.k.a. Thunder mushrooms, this time during my visit. Though the name sounds something thunderous, they are pretty small and delicious, stemless mushrooms. Its one of the seasonal foods that is available during the rainy season, especially during the rains accompanied by thunder and lightning. My mother-in-law was preparing Alambe Ambat, a sumptuous Konkani dish, made out of mushroom and coconut based gravy, that is loved by Konkanis in the region. She was cleaning the mushrooms, I learnt how to do it and I joined in. As I cleaned it, I was thinking of the many smiles that will come out of the melting taste of it. It has this little bit hard, clingy, rubbery outer skin, inside of it, is a white pebble like delicate mushroom. This is the face of happiness, I thought. Happiness in life is just like those mushrooms. We have to find those tiny bit of happiness underneath the soil even during those thunderous rainy days. Even though there is a little bit of rubbery layer of anxiety or fear that clings to us, tear it off! Enjoy what’s inside though its negligible and momentary! Gather them slowly so that it becomes a handful. Make something out of it so that it melts many hearts and gets those hard to find smiles out.
This place has made me so happy from deep within. Nature, the healer has blessed this place truly. My guide, there in Karkala and in life, is my husband. He takes me to various places there in Karkala. Never lets me sit idle at home. We have been to many eateries, and tourist places there before, there are some places you would want to visit again and again. One such recurrent spot is a Jain Shrine at Gommata betta. Its a rocky hill on to which a 41.5ft granite statue of Lord Bahubali is mounted on a platform. I was amazed to know that the whole statue is carved out of a single stone. To reach on top we have to climb the stairs carved through the hill. The view from there is breathless. Our favourite spot to watch the sun set. As we climb down each time, he asks me “Manchurian at Mallya’s Angdi (Shop)?” without fail, to which I never said a no to and I never will. It is that tasty. My husband surely picks up those small bits of happiness to bring a smile on my face. I surely am a lucky woman!