January 29, 2008

at mumbai

In what seems to be, so many years returning in a flash, I came to Mumbai on the morning of 26th Jaunary, 2008 and rediscovered, revisited so many old aspects of my life that I had forgotten.... the fact that Ranvir looks a bit like me, the way bhaiya combs Ranvirs hair as he used to do mine several years back, the way he talks shit in the manner that only he can, his face resembling bade papa even more, only that bade papa took to the darkness of the coal mines. It only reproves the point that revisiting is of true essence especially when one starts growing up and settling in worlds far away from their birth place.... it felt totally great to see bhaiya and me reconnect after so many long years... He was waiting at the airport and then ensured that I had a good sleep, next morning bhabhi and bhaiya ensured that I had a good time along with Ranvir... who is my nephew... my first nephew... wow... a great experience that I could never really think, spending a few moments with a small kid who is part of the heritage that our ancestors had started.... whoa feels aprubtly strange......

More thoughts on that keep coming, but then reaching pinky didi's home was great.... why great because she takes life seriously enough to ensure that it does not bite her strong because it is life after all, not anything else that would seriously need to be thought upon... living it up that is life and that is what she has come to exemplify best in her life......

She is willing and that is cause celebre, here children are paving their paths in the deep dark roads of Mumbai, both dimpi and golu doing their best not to be overwhelmed by their circumstances they have found themselves to be in.

Two days and then I moved on to Girish's wedding which was a great feeling revisiting old friends and talking just about everything with them... days passed and culminated with a visit to my sisters' and a great lunch.... Bye Bombay

January 11, 2008

At Trang - Final day

After the trip to Kradang, which was suitably topped up by the nicier surprise of the organisers, the world seemed to float by.

The surprise was nice, for after the trip - they asked us to join in the evening and discuss what are the future courses of action that can be taken up after the workshop and most people declined as they were too tired or probably delirious after the trip. Some 8 of us went and we were treated to a super dinner....

Next day was the finale and again the presentations came in a deluge. But most were relevant and were very useful for me... My own presentation went off well and my old theory of - when more 6 people coem up to say that it is good, then it has touched a raw nerve somewhere - Ultimately, just about people did come and said that it was very interesting to hear about Keystone's work in the Nilgiris....

Therafter, the conference soon concluded and I said bye to the new friends and networks and walked up to the railway station with Jeffery from the Yale school of Forestry.

The station was a great way to complete my journey and I met an old Pathan from Peshawar who looked the part and told me stories of the past and why India and Pakistan are so same same yet different...

Beyond that, the train was there to be done and I am glad that I did it for it was a tiny box from another world that is good enough for the present.

Sleeping, I awaited Bangkok the next morning..

January 10, 2008

Reporting from Ko Krabang – Day II

Day I was a somber reminder that conferences are meant to be serious affairs and we were unleashed upon a barrage of presentations from all and sundry. A number of interesting people have come from FAO, from Wetlands international, from Yale school of Forestry, from several research institutes in Thailand and Malaysia and also Japan. I have met some of these interesting people and have realized that the level of their understanding of issues is high as well as that appreciation of all things from an age perspective. This age and experience of working, whether on the field or I research institutes leads to considerable increase in what I call world view, though I am not sure that this is the best way to excel…. Age or enthusiasm…. Well, those who thrive on both always look like the best of the lot.

Anyways, after the first day of presentations, I was exhausted and looked forward to the dinner which was an exquisite Thai affair… though did not really take part in the celebrations

Next morning, after waking up with pain…. The change of heart which led me to visit Trang province instead of the Songhkla Lake was to prove the best decision I have taken in the near past.

Reaching a mangrove village and taking a small walk inside mangroves on bamboo strung together, I got in the boat with a host of other participants.

A long boat ride on the long tail boat that is common ton the west coast of Thailand in near direct sun rays was memorable, for the mangroves and also for the first view while we entered the sea.

Whew... the view and all that was yesterday vaporized in a jiffy…. Today was well and truly- the day of real good travel and I was right in the centre of it. The river meeting the sea, sand banks at every turn, birds all around, Casuarina equisetifolia growing high, mangroves looking rich and the distance the Loh Muk Island – I was struck with the age old disease – wanderlust…. Before I could take in the view, we reached the zone of sea grass – grass growing underwater- wavy to sight, same as grass to the touch…. And tones of it everywhere…. Looking around, somebody told me that the Dugongs which are huge sea animals come to the grass lands to feed….

And then to the large boats and the trip was beginning to look more like a vacation than a study tour….. The boat had a first floor, there was good food all around, the hostess took care that we were content, someone started singing, orange juice flowing around and a eye popping, awe inspiring boat ride through the Andaman sea…. Looking at the Loh Muk island first and then to numerous sheer limestone cliffs, it was a day I may well not forget in a hurry…. Finally, the clear skies beckoned us to the Koh Kradang Island which was STUNNING…. Been to several beaches but none so white ad so clean… glass would not show so many levels of transparency as we were witness to.

Lunch and I wandered off, nowhere and to someplace…. Just walking till the end and then walking a bit more…. The cleanest, clearest, discovery channel labelled water and I was walking beside it…… just about beginning to believe that I was here – very close to where the each was shot and on those very sands… whew…

At the end of the road… sitting for a long time and looking around at pretty scenes, I went snorkeling – once, twice, many times and on an on… when they say that swimming underwater is a great experience, they say the truth and I stand for it too. I don’t remember how many times, I went inside maybe 7 or 8 times but each one was a great feeling… watching fish swim by, sometimes a big one…. Watching sand roll like a drunkard…..and watching myself feel lighter… sometimes just a snorkel and I felt like a swimmer, sometimes, the current made me realize that this a sea, so better wear a life jacket…. And when I wore them, it felt even better. I could go far and away. Amazing experience… this island and yesterday seems far away.

Staying for around 2 hours, I left after all had settled back into the ship, never wanting to lift my foot away from the island….. Soothes and cleanses a lot many things in the human body – these white sands.

Back in the boat, saw the Emerald cave where people are towed on a rope and taken to the cave which sparkles like emerald due to a mixture of sun’s rays and some natural events.

Huge landscapes – what a vision and then we were back to the Pak Meng pier which is close to the Rajamangala University where saw what they say is a small aquarium but to me, at least- was a huge and superbly maintained piece of well thought out infrastructure – looked around and then went for a final trip to the sea. Walked for a kilometer and reached my last limestone karst which was standing at the end of the beach. Huge it was and then said bye to it.

Back to the bus, satiated to say the least, we reached Trang and had an evening session with a good dinner and a lot of talk….

Day II came to an end – a memorable day in the life of a confirmed landscape addict

January 9, 2008

Reporting from Thailand

At Thailand and with real scarcity for any meaningful net connection, not because they are not but the costs are too prohibitive. I am staying at Wattana park and the conference is at Thurmrin.

Busy day today and lots of impressions... but none too special to write about... I guess that will not be able to see the famed beaches and limestone karsts in great detail because of the time limit....

Tomorrow, am going out for a field trip to the Andaman coast of trang and will expect to write more on my experience there.. As of now, we Indians just can t digest any other food than Indian and Thai, I couldnt eat - not because of the taste which is great but because of the stuff in it.... theory that aman operates best within 100 sq km of his home is really true whatever globalization may have done to it.....

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