Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

I walk slowly while moving the prayer wheels, large metal-plated cylinders containing sacred mantras,  clockwise. Behind me, shuffling feet. An old Tibetan man barefoot, muttering prayers, a rosary running through his fingers. Soon he is past me. With every turn of the prayer wheel, karma is meant to be burned and good karma created, someone had said. I don’t know if that is true but why miss the chance?

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

My friend, the Buddhist, has brought me here, what is my second visit. Her happiness to be in a place she considers home is contagious. The first time that I was here, I was battling choices made, good and bad, and what in retrospect I see as a spiritual wake-me-up which was none too pretty, no halos, no hallelujahs. The second time, I am wary of what losses the visit will bring, forgetting the gains that are on the other side of every loss.

I stop to take in the open fields with occasional trees held together by strings of colorful prayer flags. It is a different world. Just four hours out of Bangalore. It is a world of the displaced. I am here in Bylakuppe, en route to Mysore and Coorg, the largest Tibetan settlement in India after Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama has found a home after the Chinese occupation of Tibet. A country uprooted that has laid roots here, made a home. Only the old perhaps still remember a home of another name, of mountains, of leopards, of snow, of earth where they may have scraped a knee.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

At another turn, there is the window of a monk’s room. On the sill, a pot of money plant with lush heart-shaped leaves creeping up the grills. One more turn, monks are playing football. There is a smattering of tourists. Seekers of sights or spirituality, who knows. The path has taken me around the Namdroling Monastery. It ends and we enter a surreal silence. Unlike the main areas of the monastery, here it is quiet. A row of white stupas and one that stands apart.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

My friend, the Buddhist, tells me that the stupa possesses healing energy. Dainty tea cups are placed around it and bottles of pills. I rest at the gazebo. Large black bowls that are placed in the hand of the Buddha are drying in the sun. An old Tibetan woman gives me a toothless smile. Some monks are teasing a kitten, purring and rubbing itself against ankles beneath maroon robes. Their laughter is easy.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

I walk past the Tara temple, the replica of the Palyul Monastery in Tibet, the turkey strutting on the lawns, monks debating, and the Dharma Wheel and the portrait of His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche. I walk past the highlight of the monastery, the Golden Temple. Where three Buddha avatars – Buddha Amitayus, Sakyamuni Buddha, and Guru Padmasambhava – rise up to sixty feet. Where they stand resplendent in copper with gold plating, from within them emanating, the energy of relics and scriptures. Where snow lions stand guard. Where deities of peace and wrath war. Where dragons twine around pillars. I walk past the temple that rung with the vibrations of gongs and chants, now in silence in the late afternoon of a high sun and a wheeling hawk.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

There is a strange kind of feeling in my heart. The past and future are hushed. The heart is still, still but aware, still but alive. I realize it could be peace. On the other side lies wrath.

As we drive away, past a nunnery, past slender trees arranged uniformly and cutting space into narrow bars of sky, I turn back. Up in the green canopy, I see a white crane, hunched, in contemplation.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

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Somewhere past Magadi, there’s Uttari Betta. Shrubs heavy with yellow blooms appear as the road, its tar peeling like old scabs, winds up the hill to a village. Goats scamper. Sheep walk in herds.

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Old fort walls stand upright in places. The trail moves through seven gateways, narrow paths of uneven stones squeezed between huge boulders, narrower paths hidden by tall wild grass.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

The summit is all boulders – some covered with pale green lichen resembling peeling wallpaper, grass, and shrubs.

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And there is the view of swathes of green, only a fraction of which was visible on the way here that was paved with the stench of fumes, sewer, and cow dung.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

Clusters of shade are few. Flies hover and buzz over the grass that bends to the breeze, nearly grazing earth but not quite.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

Nrityagram is a banquet of monsoon-moist earth, rain-washed greenery, and the raucous cries of wild and hidden peacocks.

The dance village/gurukul is silent without its dancers who would ordinarily be practicing Odissi till early afternoon.

At the entrance is an old Beetle, a relic from the past, and a terracotta temple dedicated to the elements. The temple blooms out, encircled by standing stone slabs, Stonehenge-style.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

Paths weave between yurt-inspired cottages – homes of residential and visiting dancers, sculptures, thatch-roofed sitting areas, dance halls, and an amphitheater. A pair of dogs lounges in one of the verandahs, silent spectators.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

A stray dancer walks by briskly, a backpack slung over her erect spine, her eyes dancing, her lips smiling.

In its early days, the dance village which is the vision-turned-reality of model and danseuse Protima Gauri taught different Indian dances. Today, it is just Odissi that is taught here.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

Close to the gated dance village is the grasslands, now closed to the public and once the venue of illegal but ecstatic activities.

If so inclined, there are many opportunities to trespass – it isn’t completely fenced. Mostly it is a large expanse of land with young and short trees, wooly grass, and slender granite pillars boring into the earth making a zig and zag of boundaries. Tampered by these markers of human activity, it isn’t as natural as i had expected.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

Nearby is the lake with a walkway whose length is punctuated at one end by a temple. The lake is completely dry now. A line of women stoop, their brown backs making commas, as they pick something off the grassy bed. Teenagers ride in on their motor bikes.

A strong breeze blows over the walkway. We bite into sourdough bread topped with chopped tomatoes tossed in olive oil and cheese slices. Under a bench close by, a stray dog. He rasps, what little life is left in him, clings to him, not letting go just yet.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2019

The tranquil and slow pace of Hesarghatta is hypnotic, lulling me into a state of somnolence which the city shakes off with indifference and without apology when we return into the reach of its ever-extending tentacles.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

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talacauvery, coorg © Anuradha Prasad 2019

a faucet drooled:
slivers of water
circled and halted
at the edge of the
mouth, blooming
a fat drop, that sat
like an old man
pondering before
falling into a rusty
bucket with a soft
thump

thump
thump
thump

in pace with the heart
beating on the monitor
jagged green life
flattening, drowning
the fugitive droplets
with a rattle:
of breath
of heart
of being
strangled.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

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gopuram © Anuradha Prasad 2018

The greyness of stone at the kanchi kamakshi temple was heavy with occasional contrasts of gleaming brass and pastel.

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lotus offerings © Anuradha Prasad 2018

The granite was inscribed with hymns to the goddess in sanskrit and tamil. There was the surprise of chinese lions, and the jarring of scaffolds and modern inclusions.

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mantap and the holy basil © Anuradha Prasad 2018

The devi was enthroned in the inner sanctum. Unadorned, her energy was potent, intact from intrusions.

© Anuradha Prasad 2018

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image: via pinterest

Bone thin, the madame,
purple-draped, spared the sweat
of summer, her stride and jasmine,
fresh. A ladder of vermilion climbed
her forehead – a morse code of
dot. dot. dash. drop.
holding her up, the madame
but a marionette.

© Anuradha Prasad 2018

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walking a trail through a coffee plantation at the break of dawn © Anuradha Prasad 2018

nothing quite like a holiday in pondichéry – good company, the sea, writing, flaneusing, photography, art, food, books, and conversations.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2018

the sea, my muse, glitters and roars.

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© Anuradha Prasad 2018

dinner in the open courtyards at villa shanti and coromandel café. coffee and barth at the bohemian café des arts. breakfast at bakers street – ms subbalaxmi singing the suprabatham; baguettes, croissants, and easter treats; paintings of the geisha. it can’t get more pondichéry than this.

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the town is very photogenic. the architecture, the exuberant spilling of bougainvillea, the harmony, details – quaint and quirky.

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a quiet moment in the church. at the altar palm strips, fanned out, rose from the orb of a vase. it was palm sunday.

© Anuradha Prasad 2018

mood

Posted: March 23, 2018 in mixed bag, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,
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image: pinterest

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the golden temple, namdroling monastery, byleguppe © Anuradha Prasad, 2017

“The eagle perched above her empty nest
can go now. Because settling in and listening
to what remains of her fading sorrow
is becoming less important
than surfacing elsewhere,
breathing in new air
of a nurturing current
as she regally soars.”

  – Susan Frybort via My VividLife