Sunday, December 27, 2015

Practicing Nature!

Just living is not enough... one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower...Hans Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, Andersen is best remembered for his fairy tales & who could forget, "The Emperor's New Clothes", "The Little Mermaid", "The Nightingale", "The Snow Queen", "The Ugly Duckling", and many more. With his stories he has made millions of kid’s dreams more colorful & yes his above words do tell us in exact words about what is living in actual! And yes in today’s life what we have forgotten is to understand what it calls living! Here is where writers like Anderson help us in getting our lost charm by taking us once again in the world where everything is amazingly alive, even the trees & flowers!

Why I felt to use this quote is a recent outing trip with my friends in Tamhini Ghat, a hidden treasure of nature very close to our city life. That way I am used to have long trips in forests once in awhile but most of us can’t have luxury of long forest trips & every week on Monday morning when we woke up thinking, arrr so fast the week has ended that we hardly realized! And worst part is its gone just like the earlier week & another, with no change in our routine work oriented life which conveniently we call as carrieristic approach of ours! Have we ever thought that what the nature god has gifted us & how ignorant we are about it by not realizing & getting our self locked in our concrete routine! And this is happening with many of us right from our childhood, where aliveness was only in books.  That way my childhood in a town place was such a wonderful gift to me that I don’t remember that I have ever had to purchase things like jamun, chinch or peru or ber (I beg a pardon but calling guava to peru is something I can’t imagine & so is with other fruits so uses their Marathi names); all we have to do is in season of respective fruits take out our bicycles after the school & go on wandering in nearby fields where the roads are lined up with all such fruit baring trees & either climb over them or use stone pallets to get these fruits down & eat till our stomach is full & tongue lost the taste, life was such a fun! And I am sure each of us has so many similar memories of childhood, especially those who have come from smaller towns as well are in age of thirty five plus now. After year 2000 suddenly scene changed a lot & even town boys have lost their childhood along with the entry of internet & smart phones! I don’t blame technology as it’s just a tool, the tool holding hand & mind behind those hands is the real culprit; because it doesn’t allow you to get out of technology shackles & feel the nature surrounding you.

On such background a day in nearby wilderness is such a boon as in city like Pune where jamuns & peru are getting rare even on fruit stalls; so where one can get the trees to chess such fruits? But then all one has to do is if no bicycle take our four wheelers & reach out to those trees. One such spot is on west side of Pune popularly known as Tamhini Ghat; it’s a gate way to Konkan, a stretch of some eighty kilometers passing through green hills. Just forty kilometers from Pune one can’t ever imagine such natures treat exists as once you cross paud road & western suburbs of city, suddenly you leave behind urban signs. Here the hills are green again & the breeze is lot cooler caressing your face & you can breathe the freshness of air as you no more need AC of the car which in city we use as a shield from the exhausts of millions of vehicles! Here still the villages exists & so does the famous Devraai’s with unbelievable biodiversity. Devraai is a protected forest of the village which is usually around the temple of local god. For generations these forests have been considered as sacred & protected from cutting for any purpose by the villagers. It’s a wonderful gesture of nature conservation under the shield of religious protocols. Its wisdom of our earlier generations that they had realized the greed of human being one day will destroy every good thing in nature around so they must have come up conservations means like Devraai. In exploring the Tamhini ghat you can still come across few such devraais & every shade of green as well birds chirping which has become so rare in our city life. While walking through one of the trails (there are hundreds of trails here through the vast greens) we could actually hear sound of barking dear’s calls. Here many villagers have seen leopard & sure the barking dear wasn’t calling for fun, it must have sensed presence of some wandering leopard. Then we spotted a tiger print butterfly which is largest of the specie, its violet stripes were shining in the morning sun. It was at a time quite & yet happening all around, the feeling itself was so great that you are in surrounding of such biodiversity; that it made me forget my cell phone isn’t having network & even after realizing this I wasn’t irritated!

The very same thing i.e. no network to the cell phone would have pissed me of in my city life or daily routine, but here I didn’t mind it at all! We all are so used to our gadgets that we hardly have time to feel the breeze or stop & look at flight of a butterfly or look at blossom on Amaltaash tree on the road you are driving along; even if we come across any such sight in our concrete jungle, we have no time to stop & admire such scene.  The only thing that makes us stop now is red signal & that also we keep cursing or jump over if there is no policeman standing at the signal! I think this is the biggest loss of our city life that we have forget to enjoy the stops & worst is we haven’t even realized what we have lost! This is something we need to experience as its said the bad habits comes to you naturally but it’s the good ones which you have to practice! Opening up to nature or the surrounding is something which doesn’t happens to us automatically, we have to try for it. If you ask any of your friends or colleagues about what different you have done yesterday than the routine, the usual answer is in form of a question “where is the time yaar?” followed by “you know my routine na!” Each of us has our own reasons & which we believe are genuine for not changing our routine or finding out time to reach out the nature & end result is we end up in our week end waiting schedule which never ends actually.

I think answer to all such things lies right around us, many a times you get it in a trip like Tamhini, provided we go with open mind. In accepting nature as your teacher, best thing is you don’t know what it will teach you as there is no syllabus for this course. It will keep throwing lessons at you in the form of trees, birds, insects even the wind carries many fragrances, all you have to do is keep grasping. And you not only get charged with this learning but in a way you reinvent yourself. As we have forgotten what we like to do from within & that’s the biggest problem of today’s modern world. We have everything for our entertainment but we don’t know what really makes us happy & at peace. Like Tamhini ghat, there are thousands of trails to explore but which trail leads to your destination unless you try them you will never know. That is why it’s good to get lost in nature as unless you don’t get lost you don’t really start thinking where you wanted to go in first place!

And there are many such places where nature still exists in its pure form, free from our city adulteration's like mobile network or our two wheelers. It exists right where we live or work provided we practice nature to feel it. Here many will ask what I meant practicing nature, well its nothing but give some time to our self to be with nature, to feel it, to understand it, that’s all, nothing more! And you don’t need any special occasion for practicing nature as any time is a good time for meeting nature. I am diehard fan of advertises & always watch keenly many of them. In one such ad of toothpaste the tag line says “aaj close-up kiya kya?” means have you brushed your teeth with that particular brand of the toothpaste; on the same line if not every day we should ask our self every week, “aaj Nature Practice kiya kya?”

Sad part is, all such places like Tamhini ghats which naturalists’ calls habitats of many species of flora & fauna are fast getting surrendered to human greed. Best example was in our Tamhini outing, our friend who was acting as a guide & who used to visit the place quite often, took us to a spot which used to be a grass land & habitat of many species right from snakes to wild cats to jackals & many birds. To his horror we found the entire place has been fenced & work of some resort was going on, driving out even remote possibility of any animal or bird sighting, even the vegetation in form of the grass land has been removed from that piece of land! And as I mentioned above it’s not only at Tamhini but across the country everywhere places of natural habitats are getting encroached for every other use than nature. We need to work out a plan by which a balance can be strike for e.g. reserve some part of land surrounding such places for only residential or commercial purpose & acquire all lands of habitat potential & relocate the land owners at one place which has been reserved. So they won’t be driven out of the place keeping value for their investments at the same time nature conservation will also be achieved as importance of any such private land is only because its amidst or in surrounding of such natural treasure or else what value it has? Agreed that each such piece of land in Tamhini ghat belongs to some private owner & every owner has right to protect & develop property what he owns. But the challenge is how we conserve nature with all such ownership's as if everybody owns some piece of land & has a right of protecting & developing it, then finally the question arises who owns the nature then & who will be protecting it, leave apart developing it? Again the answer lays in practicing nature as unless each of us starts doing it, we won’t realize what value this treasure contains & so finally passing of responsibility buck stops at me, is what each of us has to accept & agree. Once we accept this responsibility then we can not only save places like Tamhini but can conserve nature right in the heart of even the concrete jungle we live in! And what better time than start of a New Year to not just read but live the words of the great fairy tell story teller; so let’s welcome the New Year with a promise to practice the nature & understand the meaning of living the life than just counting the days of week & waiting for week end! That will be real start of not just a New Year but start of a New Life & isn’t that more important than celebrating just a calendar date?

With this note saying good-bye to the year 2015 & wishing you all a Happy & Green New Year for Practicing Nature!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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