Home in the Lap of Nature…..

The Real Face of Realty

Market is overflowing these days with the advertisements about properties. It is the leading investment industry in town that thrives mainly on increasing demand and hence price of properties. Basically this is about a vicious circle of greed that some people may term as “progress”.

Those who have no house, desire to rent a house. Those who have a “house on rent” desire to buy their “own” house. Those who already own a house desire to own two houses. So naturally the demand keeps increasing multiple times the actual requirement. Since the demand is high, prices keep rising higher. Anything that sells for a higher price becomes an investment asset. So now properties become an investment asset. Naturally the demand increases ever more. The more the insecurity in social mind, more the sale and purchase of such assets!

There is nothing created in this business yet money keeps rolling. It apparently gives a “feel good” mood but kills the habit of “working for money”. “Sit back and earn” is a dangerous culture. But never mind, this is not about the illusory economics of the realty business.

This is about what after you make all that money….There is the next advertising sport awaiting you….

The Weekend Home

The holiday home….”stay in the lap of nature”…. NA PLOTS!!! Observe the hoardings in and around the city. 80% of them are overflowing with serene pictures of lush green hills and valleys lined with blue rivers! That’s where you will get to stay…. Or so they claim!

You like the pictures and luxurious advertisements…. And you visit the site. A stately site office welcomes you with some more attractive landscape flex boards. A colorful broacher with landscaped plan decorated randomly with green blots of trees, some high quality 3D visuals of plush, furnished houses…. And they sell you a dream house! Then you look out of the window…. Yes! you can see a rolling hill adorned with bright green grass (if you go property hunting between the months of July to October!)

You feverishly sign the documents! And the moment deal is cracked…. So is your dream! By the time your house is built, the hill is no more green… its ugly color of grey… the color of concrete and the color of weathered plastic fence… the color of your hair by the time you get possession of the house!

There are many more houses popping up identically like yours along the driveway. You check ten times to confirm which one of those factory-made cubes is your own house! From distance, the hill that was green once now looks like deceased skin of the earth!

There will be designed landscape of course! Of fancy delicate plants that remain wilted almost half the year….. Or shamelessly overgrow as weeds. Nature will painfully try to heal itself through tiny patches of soil you leave by the concrete driveways…. Old grown trees that you had seen in their pretty pictures have long gone from the hill… replaced now with stubs of some foreign tree standing within a cage, along the driveway, waiting thirstily for a tanker to pass by…

And the serene stream that was shown in the graphics… it has dried away. Besides you do not need that mud bank to breed mosquitoes. You have a wonderful blue tiled swimming pool right there in your premise! Why…no… we hardly get time to go and stay in that house… let alone to swim!!

You wanted to stay in the lap of nature…. But now it is killed. You have a house… an expensive one…but just like your city house…crammed up with all the “modern amenities” that you will hardly have time to look up. A handkerchief size patch of yellowing lawn will laugh at you, mocking your own desires now confined again in a few square feet of a weekend home!

This is high time we as consumers start to look into the reality behind the face of realty market! This is high time we start to question and demand some ethics! But in order to demand ethic we must first “know” them. We must know what we really desire deep down in our hearts….

Life in the Lap of Nature

Life in the Lap of Nature

When you started to look for a weekend home, you had actually started to look for a life in the lap of nature… had you not?! You desire to stay in a house surrounded with trees and birds, just as they portray on the bill boards! You work hard for years and years to be able to afford such house… and you end up buying a lump of concrete placed among some more lumps of concrete that look exactly like yours! “NA plots and row house schemes?!”

First proof that you are NOT getting a house in “nature”: check the colorful plan they show you. Forget the uniform green wash on glossy paper. Look at the plots. They are just enough proportioned to fit a house…. There is no space left for nature to crawl into your backyard. A handkerchief sized lawn is not nature; do not insult your own intelligence!

Second proof: if you fit all your “modern amenities” in the lap of nature, you end up staying in the lap of amenities…. Nature has just run away!! You city house was much better; nature had anyway run away from the cities long ago!

I believe that there is not a single human heart that does not respond to nature and feel big, light and fluffy as cloud! Every single person holding this sheet of paper smiles at the mere thought of standing in a clearing among trees with soft breeze that even smells green!

If you really, truly desire to live in the lap of nature, continue to read. Otherwise I have already lost my case and your interest. But if you have mugged up in your schools….rubbed nose in your jobs…just for a house within trees, my nature lover, this is for you….

Living in the lap of nature is not about affording or buying a house. It is about a mindset… about adopting an entirely different lifestyle. Just as you cannot truly live with your family without loving them, you cannot live with nature without loving it! Nature is not a piece of artifact to be bought and kept in the corner of your house! It is a dynamic, living and life giving entity that flows through us right at this current moment! Love nature!

And one cannot love nature without understanding it! Understanding is the first basic stage of love! Understand your surroundings and the silent loving traces and trails of nature around you. I know they did not teach this in schools. But they cannot “teach” you to love anyway!

Observe the green hill that you wish make your home someday. See the clusters of trees and shrubs…and birds nesting in that thicket…. It is their home first. Would you like a guy called “developer” come and run a bulldozer over their home and then give you a little yellow patch of lawn?!

Small shrubs and thorny bushes, deciduous trees that have always adorned our Sahyadris…. They are the nature you have been looking for! Give them just a moment out of your busy life… and they will tell you the ten secrets of living with nature!

The Ten Secrets

  1. Do not cut any old grown trees or clusters on your land. Add more native trees to the green. They are hardy, just need little water, protection and love!
  2. Do not level, cut, fill or flatten your land. Responding to the natural terrain will give a unique home of your own. (Pic: that insect mud castle….)
  3. Learn about the wonderful biodiversity that is already making a home in your land. Hire ecological experts to study and show you the nature’s wealth you got free of charge, when you bought the land.
  4. Leave a large portion of your land for nature to be your neighbor…. Give it some space! Protect the natural habitats such as seasonal water pools, streams, trees, bush clusters in that area.
  5. Design your house for minimalistic requirements and smaller footprint. You do not need Olympic size swimming pool or a huge golf course if you wish to stay with nature!
  6. Using natural material or recycled material is not as impractical as your contractor says. Concrete is expensive and harmful in many ways. Use it as less as possible.
  7. Keep manicured landscape features to their minimum. Foreign ornamental plants and lawns require large amounts of watering, artificial nutrients and hence expenses.
  8. Arrange for amenities that you truly need during a holiday. Watching the moods and melodies of nature is going to be your best recreation activity, and it comes for free!
  9. Plan your wastes properly. The sewage can be effectively used to recycle nutrients back to the soil, instead of polluting the rivers. Decomposable solid waste can be composted easily. And take your non degradable plastic wastes back to the city from where it came. Your new neighbor Nature does not love plastic litters!
  10. Ignore what the bill boards and advertisements say…. Beauty of nature cannot be picked out from a glossy catalogue. You must find it in wilderness. Trust your innermost instinct… it unfailingly takes us back to the nature.

    A flood-proof soil-fort built by the Harvester Ants
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So Glad To Love…

I always thought people who live too much in the spirit of friendship are too weak to exist individually. I thought it was some sort of gang mentality, a weakness…

Being a loner most of my tiny life, I had vast personal space and friends remained beyond the boundary of that space….loved, but at distance.

But some things…. some random things DO change your perspective….

And lately mine has changed drastically!

I lost one person I loved, by the hands of death and another loved one chose to walk away. When the most possessively treasured relationships of my life suddenly got severed… I opened my eyes to unbelievable number of people that loved me even from outside my boundary of personal space…. People that I never let approach me fully, and yet found me worthy of their love….

The moment my big empty balloon of space broke with two blows of some divine interference… all the love, all the wonderful faith and strength rushed into my world…. when I imagined I should be in pain of loss…. It overwhelmed me with joy of immeasurable gain….

It feels like floating in a sea of love…rippling, warm and full of light…..sea that cradles me in my highs and lows….without letting me suffocate even when I sink!

Some love silently…. Some love jubilantly! Some humor me and some make me proud…. In the constant rush of interactions, I still remain ME…. being a tiny drop of this sea of people does not diminish me anymore…. It rather enhances the ability to express my individuality…. And yet I notice a thin underlining of oneness with the sea of people….

“Me and them”, are one yet special…

“Me and them”, exist yet don’t…

“Me and them”, remain free yet love…

“Me and them” are a wonderful concoction of emotions and thoughts…. A kaleidoscope of life and its variant joys… beauty and a heavenly reason for it to exist!

This is life as it should be… hurts, shocks and pains are just there, sitting in corner moaning about their vacant selves…. You can choose to sit with them and moan too…. But you CANNOT!! So beautiful is the co-existence of “Me and Them” that I cannot mourn anymore….about anything in life….

And for the first time I realized that for years I was sitting alone…. And mourning my own demise…that had not actually happened…. The moment I let THEM in… they pulled me out…forced me to LIVE and let the trapped and bruised LOVE flow out in every possible direction…. Never worry about where to flows to! There is too much love to contain… too much love to keep account of…. Too much love to withhold!

I know you will wonder WHO the hell are “THEM” in this whole issue! If you felt vibration of strong toxic love while reading this,

you are already part of my “THEM”!!

So let me tell you something I never said before….

I LOVE YOU…. AND AM SO GLAD THAT YOU LOVE ME TOO…

Ragged Old Roof….

Through a tiny hole in my ragged old roof, your dazzling light falls over me….

Grateful for that ray of hope, I embrace a roomful of darkness ever so happily!

It may rain sometimes through the ragged old roof…

But I finally have decided, to never mend it…

Never will I block the rays of hope…

Never will I ban the tears of your divine love….

Falling from all over the sky….reaching me through the same….

Ragged old roof….

I know you loved me more than kings and earls….

You gave me this leaky roof, no grand palaces…not gold, not pearls….

Smiling face across the flowers…

She was restless all through the night. Thinking if she should do it or not….

What if they catch me? What will they do to me? But I can’t just sit. I will not be able to hold back….

It is a day to express my love…. It is my rightful time to speak what I feel! It is my time to say that I love you! …Flowers! Yes! I will get flowers tomorrow! There is nothing as pleasant as a beautiful flower to confront the love! It brings a smile, makes you agree, even if you are angry with me!

Who will sell flowers on the Valentine’s Day?! I have heard they burn down the shops

It will be very tricky… but I will feel so nice when I will see that smiling face across my flowers, watching me with admiration?!

And with that thought she smiled to herself….laying in her bed, watching vacant ceiling she drifted to sleep with sweet dreams in her eyes….

Morning came with distant bustle of awakening human world….and she woke up from her dream world. Her first conscious thought was the same smiling face across the flowers, watching her with admiration! Again she could not help but smile!

With eagerness of a five year old she got herself ready. As if she wanted to catch the first flower of the season, first ray of that special sunrise, first smiles and first laughter! She changed her dress five times before the mirror….but finally selected the first dress only! She went through breakfast as if it was first time she ate food! And she rushed out in hurry…

Roads were still covered in lazy traces of last night’s fog. As she reached, the florist shop was only opening its shutters… its clean glass doors shining in soft morning light…. There was smell of soft watered earth… And fresh flowers were yet to be arranged. Florist, an elderly man of wise temperament was busy arranging the bouquets on display racks. He saw her approaching with a beaming smile on her face, and he thought to himself,

Here she comes, another fool! She will buy flowers for her lover and he will cheat her first thing tomorrow morning! How many like her have come to buy a red rose and gone home with a wilted face like stale lilies!”

But working with flowers everyday gave him a youthful heart, the one that can encourage love everyday with a new blossom on his display racks! He smiled as she entered the shop overflowing with smiles and so many things to say!

She bought flowers of assorted variety, unlike everyone who was expected to come today for red roses. She got fresh white lilies and sunny yellow roses along with pinks! Even when she was selecting the flowers she could not stop her smiles! What an overflow of zest!!

The florist chuckled to himself and he too could not help the smile that retouched his face! He took the money from her tender, inexperienced hands and noticed that it must have been her hard earned, saved for so long, money that she was spending today…. He looked down at that innocent smile and prayed to God that, “You still not have stopped giving out innocence and love in abundance! Thank you lord, world needs this so very much!”

Unaware of the florist and his prayer, the girl swayed her way out of his shop, controlling her desire to dance into walking steps across the pavement. The roads were almost empty, so unlikely for a beautiful morning like today! She thought for a moment but it could not dampen her joy and she walked on with the bunch of flowers cradled like a delicate baby in her arms… As she saw the flowers, again she melted into the fantasy of the moment when the flowers will be given! And there was the same smiling face across the flowers, watching her with admiration! Again she could not help but smile!

Around next corner she heard voices….as if people following her…. Smiles tucked in…. as if they had never known how to smile….tall and rough… in a moment she was surrounded…. Another moment had realized her flowers, her fresh and beautiful flowers were strewn across the road…torn petal by petal…. She could not concentrate on next moment…. Her eyes were closed… And there was the same smiling face across the flowers, watching her with admiration! Again she could not help but smile!

Her eyes opened to reveal white vacant ceiling…smell of something familiar….like a hospital….. With a tiny shock she looked around… it was not a dream…. Was it?! She was definitely coming here….right towards the hospital…but not to lie in bed! Why was she in bed?!

As she tried to get up, a searing pain went through her stomach…. A soft but firm hand came from somewhere and supported her up, so that she could sit and look around. That was some strange surprise to see her best friend by her side! What a great day it must be! And as her gaze moved around, she saw that old grandpa on first bed with his toothless smile, little foreigner girl craning her neck over the pillow to look at her, Head-nurse aunty in her crisp white uniform, bustling around the beds arranging curtains….sweeper uncle with his broom swashing under the beds smiled at her….

All the smiles that she had been dreaming of from across the flowers were right there! And she remembered flowers! Where are my flowers?! Some distant vague scene of petals strewn across the road…. Was it true?!

“I was getting flowers for you all” She said to the room at large, though her confused and pained look contradicted her words….

“Grandpa, I had got white lilies for you…you said it reminds you of granny…. And for nurse aunty and sweeper uncle, I had got yellow roses…those big fragrant ones….For the little china doll over there I had got pink rose”

She looked up at her friend, “What happened of my flowers?!”

He just smiled as if relieved from great tension. “You are safe, my flower! That is all we need! You are one fool to carry a big bunch of flowers right on the road, when you know things are very sensitive these days! If I had not found you in time, the people who stabbed you would have left you bleeding there on the road!”

His expressions of warm love changed to ferocious anger while he spoke! Late morning light fell across the tall windows, his red angry face glowed in that light…. But his rage could not touch her! She still smiled at him the same way! What could he do?! He had to smile too; such was the intoxicating wonder in her smile!

She was not much disturbed….as if violence never touched her! “Alright, so the flowers are gone you say?! Could we get fresh ones? What do you say? Do you have some money?”

“My dear, it’s the morning of 15th February, 2010! It was not very nice of you to remain unconscious for one whole day and keep everyone worried!” though now everyone was laughing!

He got up from her side and yawned and stretched “Is it okay if I go home now?! You are safe here with all your valentine friends and your parents will come in some time. I will see you later today…. Is it okay?!” she smiled and nodded with the enthusiasm of a fresh daisy swaying in morning wind!

She waved a goodbye to him, and relaxed back into the soft pillow, realizing the small effort had tired her out…. She saw from her bed… grandpa had taken his medicine and was dozing away…. The little Chinese girl was watching the doctors bustling outside the ward. It was very quiet… tranquil place.

Her gaze moved around…..and stopped on a wrinkled shirt, clumsily folded on her bedside table…. She recognized it at once….it was the same shirt he had worn. She knew her best friends shirt so well that she could have closed her eyes and picked it out of hundreds! But it was stained with blood… was it her blood?! She touched lightly on the bandaged wound on her stomach….trying to feel it….remember it…. It hurt for sure, even through the heavy painkiller dose….

She opened the folded shirt…and from its folds fell something in her lap…. A wilted red rose…one solitary red rose… and a note,

“to my dearest flower, you have been my best friend ever since I know you…. You have brought magic and wonderment in my life. You are no less than a magician for me! Would you want to spend your life with me, fill me with your magical love always and forever?!”

She Smiled and closed her eyes…and she saw his smiling face from across a solitary red rose, watching her in admiration!

She was restless all through the night. Thinking if she should do it or not….

What if they catch me? What will they do to me? But I can’t just sit. I will not be able to hold back….

It is a day to express my love…. It is my rightful time to speak what I feel! It is my time to say that I love you! …Flowers! Yes! I will get flowers tomorrow! There is nothing as pleasant as a beautiful flower to confront the love! It brings a smile, makes you agree, even if you are angry with me!

Who will sell flowers on the Valentine’s Day?! I have heard they burn down the shops…

It will be very tricky… but I will feel so nice when I will see that smiling face across my flowers, watching me with admiration?!

And with that thought she smiled to herself….laying in her bed, watching vacant ceiling she drifted to sleep with sweet dreams in her eyes….

Morning came with distant bustle of awakening human world….and she woke up from her dream world. Her first conscious thought was the same smiling face across the flowers, watching her with admiration! Again she could not help but smile!

With eagerness of a five year old she got herself ready. As if she wanted to catch the first flower of the season, first ray of that special sunrise, first smiles and first laughter! She changed her dress five times before the mirror….but finally selected the first dress only! She went through breakfast as if it was first time she ate food! And she rushed out in hurry…

Roads were still covered in lazy traces of last night’s fog. As she reached, the florist shop was only opening its shutters… its clean glass doors shining in soft morning light…. There was smell of soft watered earth… And fresh flowers were yet to be arranged. Florist, an elderly man of wise temperament was busy arranging the bouquets on display racks. He saw her approaching with a beaming smile on her face, and he thought to himself,

Here she comes, another fool! She will buy flowers for her lover and he will cheat her first thing tomorrow morning! How many like her have come to buy a red rose and gone home with a wilted face like stale lilies!”

But working with flowers everyday gave him a youthful heart, the one that can encourage love everyday with a new blossom on his display racks! He smiled as she entered the shop overflowing with smiles and so many things to say!

She bought flowers of assorted variety, unlike everyone who was expected to come today for red roses. She got fresh white lilies and sunny yellow roses along with pinks! Even when she was selecting the flowers she could not stop her smiles! What an overflow of zest!!

The florist chuckled to himself and he too could not help the smile that retouched his face! He took the money from her tender, inexperienced hands and noticed that it must have been her hard earned, saved for so long, money that she was spending today…. He looked down at that innocent smile and prayed to God that, “You still not have stopped giving out innocence and love in abundance! Thank you lord, world needs this so very much!”

Unaware of the florist and his prayer, the girl swayed her way out of his shop, controlling her desire to dance into walking steps across the pavement. The roads were almost empty, so unlikely for a beautiful morning like today! She thought for a moment but it could not dampen her joy and she walked on with the bunch of flowers cradled like a delicate baby in her arms… As she saw the flowers, again she melted into the fantasy of the moment when the flowers will be given! And there was the same smiling face across the flowers, watching her with admiration! Again she could not help but smile!

Around next corner she heard voices….as if people following her…. Smiles tucked in…. as if they had never known how to smile….tall and rough… in a moment she was surrounded…. Another moment had realized her flowers, her fresh and beautiful flowers were strewn across the road…torn petal by petal…. She could not concentrate on next moment…. Her eyes were closed… And there was the same smiling face across the flowers, watching her with admiration! Again she could not help but smile!

Her eyes opened to reveal white vacant ceiling…smell of something familiar….like a hospital….. With a tiny shock she looked around… it was not a dream…. Was it?! She was definitely coming here….right towards the hospital…but not to lie in bed! Why was she in bed?!

As she tried to get up, a searing pain went through her stomach…. A soft but firm hand came from somewhere and supported her up, so that she could sit and look around. That was some strange surprise to see her best friend by her side! What a great day it must be! And as her gaze moved around, she saw that old grandpa on first bed with his toothless smile, little foreigner girl craning her neck over the pillow to look at her, Head-nurse aunty in her crisp white uniform, bustling around the beds arranging curtains….sweeper uncle with his broom swashing under the beds smiled at her….

All the smiles that she had been dreaming of from across the flowers were right there! And she remembered flowers! Where are my flowers?! Some distant vague scene of petals strewn across the road…. Was it true?!

“I was getting flowers for you all” She said to the room at large, though her confused and pained look contradicted her words….

“Grandpa, I had got white lilies for you…you said it reminds you of granny…. And for nurse aunty and sweeper uncle, I had got yellow roses…those big fragrant ones….For the little china doll over there I had got pink rose”

She looked up at her friend, “What happened of my flowers?!”

He just smiled as if relieved from great tension. “You are safe, my flower! That is all we need! You are one fool to carry a big bunch of flowers right on the road, when you know things are very sensitive these days! If I had not found you in time, the people who stabbed you would have left you bleeding there on the road!”

His expressions of warm love changed to ferocious anger while he spoke! Late morning light fell across the tall windows, his red angry face glowed in that light…. But his rage could not touch her! She still smiled at him the same way! What could he do?! He had to smile too; such was the intoxicating wonder in her smile!

She was not much disturbed….as if violence never touched her! “Alright, so the flowers are gone you say?! Could we get fresh ones? What do you say? Do you have some money?”

“My dear, it’s the morning of 15th February, 2010! It was not very nice of you to remain unconscious for one whole day and keep everyone worried!” though now everyone was laughing!

He got up from her side and yawned and stretched “Is it okay if I go home now?! You are safe here with all your valentine friends and your parents will come in some time. I will see you later today…. Is it okay?!” she smiled and nodded with the enthusiasm of a fresh daisy swaying in morning wind!

She waved a goodbye to him, and relaxed back into the soft pillow, realizing the small effort had tired her out…. She saw from her bed… grandpa had taken his medicine and was dozing away…. The little Chinese girl was watching the doctors bustling outside the ward. It was very quiet… tranquil place.

Her gaze moved around…..and stopped on a wrinkled shirt, clumsily folded on her bedside table…. She recognized it at once….it was the same shirt he had worn. She knew her best friends shirt so well that she could have closed her eyes and picked it out of hundreds! But it was stained with blood… was it her blood?! She touched lightly on the bandaged wound on her stomach….trying to feel it….remember it…. It hurt for sure, even through the heavy painkiller dose….

She opened the folded shirt…and from its folds fell something in her lap…. A wilted red rose…one solitary red rose… and a note,

“to my dearest flower, you have been my best friend ever since I know you…. You have brought magic and wonderment in my life. You are no less than a magician for me! Would you want to spend your life with me, fill me with your magical love always and forever?!”

Crisp Winter…

It is crisp winter in the Indian subcontinent. And the Deccan plateau is covered as usual in its multicolored drape of deciduous forests. Here we do not have a single fall season. Every tree sheds its leaves at different time in winter. And the mountains always look covered in different colors all through the winter.

The air is crusty and cool. Though the sun heats up open meadows, there is pleasant cold shade under most of the trees. If you are tired hiking through the sunny countryside, the shady ovals marked under the trees call you to rest, occasionally dropping a solitary dried leaf in your lap….

Winter-scape of Sahyadri

The mornings and evenings stretch till mid day in winters… Except few hours of afternoon the weather is calling you out to run wild in sharp dry streaks of wintry air… You feel like running miles through solid curtains of morning fog hung in valleys, fighting with the chill. As sky grows brighter, sunlight comes to your help. The fogs scamper away and you can locate chirping bird far in the valley….

Then you wish to fly, to chirp, to sway on the treetops, just like the bird…

There is laughter in the air and inside you…. If you look down at yourself you see icy bright light in your body… The winter air lights you from within…. Like a bonfire night….under the deciduous tree, occasionally dropping a solitary dried leaf in your lap….

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