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Finally, getting off of roof tops, I resumed my walk along the main road that led to the outskirts of Khandwa in one direction and to the center of town in the other. Starting off towards the center of town, I noticed a rather unique, frugal and maybe even energy-saving method of disposing off trash. There were ditches in the ground along a section of the road that appeared to be designated for incineration of trash. There were trucks parked on the road and were barely visible through smoke emerging from those trash incinerators. I learned later that this activity was performed every morning, to get rid of the trash that was strewn all along the road during the previous day. A sight that again reminded me of a scene from one of those ‘Road Warrior’ movies.
Realizing that the center of town was probably not the best place for a walk, I turned around and walked in the opposite direction, headed for the outskirts of town. The pavement and shoulder seemed to merge halfway, or maybe the pavement had just worn off along the edges. Motorized vehicles competed for whatever was left of the pavement. Well, at least there was an abundance of greenery around. Apart from some run-down, dusty dwellings, I noticed coming towards me a tractor with a tank-like trailer. On closer observation, I saw that it was a mobile water tank – the city’s drinking water being transported by a tractor! Fascinating, to say the least!
Walking along the road, I came across a very familiar sight – a pack of stray dogs taking it easy by the side of the road. On one of my walks in Mumbai, later that month, I was chased by a pack of stray dogs and had to climb over a wall to escape their attack! Anyway, coming back to Khandwa, and my intriguing morning walk, I noticed a bicycle parking lot of sorts. Yes, bicycles are a rather common mode of personal transport for the average person in small-town India, and one often sees bicycle parking lots along city roads. Along with stray dogs, seeing people walk on the roads, seemingly oblivious of the vehicular traffic that may run into them, should not be surprising. Noticing a truck, or a lorry, approaching, I decided to continue to walk safely on the dirt road, I mean, the sidewalk.
On the other side of the road, there came into view a colorful structure that I instantly recognized as one of the many temples that one usually sees along busy roads. These temples are the focal point for local folks on their way to work and it is common practice for them to stop and say a quick prayer and acquire God’s blessings for the day. Taking a closer look at the temple, I realized that it was probably among the better looking structures in this neighborhood, adorned with intricate drawings, carvings, and colorful religious notations. In contrast, right behind this temple loomed a rather plain-looking structure that resembled an abandoned parking lot, although on closer observation, it turned out to be a building under construction.
Before getting back on the street to resume my morning walk, I looked around from my roof-top vantage point and noticed the different colors, shapes and sizes of the other roof tops as they gradually came into view in the broadening daylight in this city where time appeared to have stood still.
A scene more commonly appearing on TV, showing shattered cities in the aftermath of a shelling or a bombing, this view, albeit peaceful, made me shudder just a bit. There was not a soul in sight for as far as the eyes could see, except for those two crows who could now be seen perched on the railing of the roof top of an orange colored dwelling in the photo below.
Fascination and curiosity compelled me to get a closer look at one of those dwellings, and what I saw took my breath away! Peering into what looked like a backyard porch of a run-down dwelling from my vantage point above, I first thought the place was abandoned, but then noticed the white socks hanging on the clothesline. Reminding me of scenes from the ‘Road Warrior’ movies, I wondered if this is how everything turns into after a nuclear holocaust…
Looking back, I notice the lone bird now gliding with a companion, no longer alone. I trace my steps back to get a closer look at the birds and recognize them as the common blackbirds of India called the ‘crow’. I run up the stairs of another building, and just as I reach the roof of the building, I see the crows swoop down and land right in front of me. A beam of light from the sky cuts through the haze and makes its way directly at the spot between me and the crows, turning the morning into an eerie scene from a Twilight Zone movie.
Capturing this fascinating play of the early morning rays of sunlight piercing through the haze, and the crows looking expectantly around waiting for the early worm to pop its head out of the ground, I realize that being at one with nature is perhaps the only way to experience peace. Standing stealthy at my spot so as not to scare the crows away, my camera happily capturing this captivating scene, I sense time coming to a standstill, even if just for a fraction of a second. Suddenly, one of the crows decides to take off on its hunt for food, and the other looks up as though saying, ‘Hey, wait up!’
As I continue along the lazy road past the railroad tracks on this hazy morning, I come across a school that appears to be taking a well-deserved rest from the rigors of the week gone by. Running up a flight of stairs that take me up to the roof of a dilapidated building across the street, I quickly capture these golden sunrise moments, not wanting to wait for sleepy Khandwa to wake up. The school in the foreground, and the home dwellings in the distance, if they could speak, would say nothing at all, as they appear least bothered by my apparent invasion of their privacy.
Suddenly, a lone bird appears as though from nowhere, languidly gliding over the school building, as though bringing a message of peace and tranquility to add to the already serene misty morning. And as I captivated by this perfectly undisturbed morning, the sleepy school, the hazy veil over the distant home dwellings, and the lone bird, daybreak sneaks up on me. Capturing the encroaching daylight over the peaceful scene, I alight the steps of the dilapidated building, jump over an open drain, and resume my morning walk in a city so blissfully detached from the world.
Before heading on to the paradise state of Goa, I took an overnight train journey to the Indian countryside, in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The town in question is Khandwa, where time seems to have stood still, judging from the infrastructure. However, I was later relieved to find an ‘Internet Cafe’ where I could jump on to the Internet and communicate with the rest of the world!
These railroad tracks struck me as something emerging out of a time machine, as I took an early morning walk near the outskirts of the main city. That man on the tracks appeared to be lost in his own time zone as he walked his dog, adding to the mysterious serenity of the hazy morning sunshine.
It has always been my passion to capture nature at its best, or worst, depending on the circumstance. As a kid growing up in a paradise I call Goa, I would keenly observe my father as we drove around Goa and he captured nature from every angle possible. Driving in or out of Goa required maneuvering the curvy roads of the Western Ghats. And at almost every blind curve there would be a ‘photo opportunity’ and we would stop and ‘smell the roses’, so to speak. My father must have captured many wonderful sights in and around Goa. However, as the years went by, I never got to re-visit those photographs. Back in 2009, I visited India, and spent most of my time – close to 3 months – in Goa. Yes, I did capture the sights in other cities, such as Mumbai and Pune, but of all the 6000+ digital photos that I brought back from my visit, at least 90% were taken in Goa.
Being an artist at heart, I am sometimes driven to fantasy – by losing myself in the beauty of nature. Natural surroundings are God’s gift and everything in nature is God’s masterpiece. So, by capturing such masterpieces of nature, I am, in a sense, praising God for His creations and his gifts of nature. I will share my digital photo captures of nature (including man-made structures) along with a few words to add to the mix.
Thank you for stopping by. And I hope you enjoy my photo blog.