Monday, August 11, 2008

Trucker Tranquility

This weekend found me in the portion of ghats between Mangalore and Hassan. Had normalcy ordained, that stretch would have passed ignored while I uncomfortably curled up to live some dream punctuated by blaring horns from the real (?) world. As you might have guessed, nothing is quite so normal in my life! :-)
For reasons insufficient but nevertheless offered repeatedly, we were stranded for about 6 hours in the ghats. This meant two things: unwobbly sleep and changing plans (which could follow the unwobbly sleep). I tried to achieve the first of them (as the second didn't really need efforts from my side) and must have managed some unshaped fragments of sleep as I kept waking to a watch which had jumped haphazardly in leaps of 10-45 minutes. At length, I decided that staying awake was bound to be more rewarding than these misbehaving naps. There wasn't a single dream that could complete or make itself available for recollection.
It was amazingly dark outside and occasionally a passing bike or car (somehow the vehicles were moving fine in the opposite direction) slowly dissolved a portion of the black in the yellow of the headlights. I was told that we were in the ghats and the blackness suddenly had a meaning, though of least worth.
Being stranded in the ghats at this hour is an irony. The ghats are (to me) of aesthetic worth alone. The punches of green amidst tired browns of ancient trees, a whispering secret of water trickling over impassioned rocks, a garrulous stream gathering reluctant silt and wood debris in its wake, the sigh at a hill's jaw overlooking the quilt of farmlands over some seemingly unreachable valley below; it is this that comes to my mind when I think of the ghats. None of this pierced sharp enough to penetrate the nocturnal blanket outside. All of this was there, but I was simply not allowed to see it. I was teased with some sounds which were immediately tossed out by drowning it in the loud grunting of some truck trying to climb the roads. A whole world out there alive and happening but not available, a world whose existence can only be ascertained at daybreak. Like a child, promised a world full of excitement but only available to the adult, I waited for my youth to arrive. The tragedy of life laughed in my face at that very moment. Breathe InWe always look forward or backward (depending on our capacity) but rarely ever see with the fullness of our senses and inner being.
I decided to meditate (that everyone around me was busy sleeping encouraged me further) on the pure sounds of the ghats. It didn't take me long to note that the ghats (or maybe all of Nature) don't raise their "voice" and it is the work of man that is louder and in loudness derives security and a sense of (misplaced) rightness. The distant rub of wind against moistened branches and of branch against fellow branch was pure and had a quality of this Earth. The lowered chirps of winged creatures dotted the black air with a blip of yellow alertness which flicked my ear and inner being. Such suddenness brought me to perk up with an intention of missing nothing that this infinite blackness had to provide. The brittle rush of streams far away in the darkness filled the air like the hum of a mother's breast to a new born child. The breathing quietness ensconced me in a cocoon of worldlessness where my sole companion was life's inevitables without.
I must have spent quite some time like this, for when I opened my eyes, the sun roof revealed a lighter canvas for the dark swaying leaves above. Rain beat unheard (and hence, uniquely beautiful) tunes on the metal above creating fugues with the clear tones of the wet world around. My mother stirred beside me and I heard the noise of a horn far away. Does it mean we'll move? My mother was annoyed at having lost so much time.
I watched the driver keep an eye on the road for any movement. He must have gone through this several times, for he appeared calm and aware. Over sleeping heads I craned my neck to observe other drivers on the road. All the vehicles within my range of sight were heavy vehicles and all their drivers were calmly looking ahead (or so I thought), waiting for the road to clear. I could see very little in the dark but what I say is not romantic imagination. Nothing in their mannerism revealed the stereotype rashness that one associates with highway truck drivers. They were nearly smiling as if they were too familiar with this trick of the mountain and were waiting for time to pass. Isn't it an amazing quality in human beings when they have the humility to let Time take its course without resisting or demanding favourable minutes? Not everyone can manage that and restlessness creeps in. To just watch and not wish, to just breathe and not become tense at the nape of your neck, to just accept and not resist; qualities which make a finer man and makes him more of a beast. I have watched cats (the whole family), and they reveal this state of being several times of the day. They must have all been Zen masters in their previous birth!
But truckers being calm was new to me. I couldn't prove their calmness, but could feel it. Maybe it was just today, maybe it was just these drivers, maybe it was the weather - whatever, be the reasoning that a foolishly rational mind searches, they were calm and even scared me at times with their cheer. Merriment in times of difficulty was not a human quality. I thought that existed only with animals and sometimes with children (if they are not hungry). But truckers! While all the passengers grew restless, our driver behind the wheel calmly answered their questions and shrugged his shoulders often. I shut my eyes again and effortlessly I was able to imbibe their calm. I spent a lot of time in that state of stillness when our driver turned the ignition. The bus refused to start! My mother nearly panicked and exclaimed, "Don't tell me!" I couldn't help it and burst out laughing, for which my mother chided me: "How can you laugh in such grave moments?"
That was when I recalled this blog. I remember writing extremely happy posts when I was sad and conversely. Not every post would follow that pattern, but those who know me, know enough. I smiled and watched the landscape move about me as we ambled our way through the ghats. Thereafter I obtained evidence to quieten my rational mind. Several drivers I got to observe, and they all bore no trace of irritation or frustration. They let the faster vehicle overtake them without a frown or snort. They carefully handled the bends and slopes and treacherously rocking potholes. It seemed as if, their journey through the ghats had slowly and without stating so, changed them to be people who could accept. As they say of a good teacher: wisdom imparted without consciously doing so. I find such human beings fantastic. They simply go about their life and without intending to, they transform people around them. Such men are few and I might have met just one or two such individuals. Here, Nature as the guru and the truckers as the sishya had achieved what a hundred self-motivation speakers could not.
The mountains have always been regarded with a lot of romance amongst spiritual seekers. I for one never understood that and felt that spirituality can be attained just about anywhere. I had the Azhwars as proof for immeasurable devotion and several wise men as evidence too. But the ghats did have an element unique to them, and wordlessly the drivers seemed to be aware of it. There was nothing that could be done against the might of the ghats. Control as many machinery as we might want, the ghats ruled their space. No driver seemed to hold an attitude of overpowering the ghats. They were yielding and proceeding and breathing the same oneness where none was essentially superior but all were vital. Would that explain why Nature was so pleasantly sweet then? When the inner and outer meet, Purusha and Prakriti cease to exist.

4 comments:

  1. Parvati6:52 PM

    Pensive...and
    Simply beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  2. ...or maybe all of Nature) don't raise their "voice" and it is the work of man that is louder and in loudness derives security and a sense of (misplaced) rightness.

    Beautiful.
    In the void lies the completeness.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear P,
    Glad you found it so! :-)

    Dear A,
    Glad you found it so! :-)

    Dear S,
    Been a while. Glad you found the post to your liking. Nice way of introducing the completeness in your blog ("In the void...").. :-D

    ReplyDelete