Schrödinger’s milestone

8000 km on the Giant. Many moods, many terrains, many moments.

Posting something online feels a bit strange these days, looking at how tragic the corona situation around us is.

But I’m still going to be sharing this, not only as a personal milestone, but also to highlight the mighty power of this simple machine which has helped me loads in staying in decent physical, mental and emotional health.

As times around us become tougher, not only is the bicycle a brilliant tool to help ourselves remain sane, it’s also a significant solution to our already ~developed~ degraded cities and the fast lifestyles we’ve been sold.

Get on your bike. You loved it as a kid, you’ll love it again.

Power to the pedal, it’s time for a velorution.

Forests

To hear the leaves thudding down on the forest floor,

And seeing them pushed up on resilient support,

To see the freshest nascent greens and purples,

And the old peeling browns.

To hear the symphony of birds,

The rustling and wheezing of the breeze,

To see stillness,

To be in it,

To be it,

To hear drops plopping onto the ground,

To feel the snow melt and drip down,

To welcome the shade of a canopy,

And to the magic and marvel of massive trees.

Beautiful, majestic and puzzling superorganisms,

To hear them creaking as they gently dance,

To see them bare – a bare tree, bare forest, and soon, later, a thick canopy, a majestic green crown blooming.

To see seasons change.

To breathe the air,

To feel the humidity,

To feel the humus on the wooden floor,

To see light dancing through,

To be scared,

And reinvigorated.

To move through the woods and forests,

And to be moved by them.

To bathe in the forest,

And its memory.

~~~

Reading the fantastic, insightful book “The hidden life of trees” by Peter Wohlleben and am transferred into the magical places that forests are.

Old man and the sea, and ..me.

~~~

Old Man Ocean, how do you pound

Smooth glass, rough stones round?

Time and the tide and the wild waves rolling

Night and the wind and the long grey dawn.

Old Man Ocean, what do you tell,

What do you sing in the empty shell?

Fog and the storm and the long bell tolling,

Bones in the deep and the brave men gone.

– Russell Hoban

~~~

This time, that year:

Wave after wave, questions after questions, answers to questions, answers in questions, questions in answer, wave after wave.

This time, this year, this place:

There has been a lot of time and mindspace to observe this churning,
This dark gray-mattered sea which stretches far and deep inside me.

~~~

Churning

This time, that year,
same place.

Wave after wave rising, swelling, crashing. Question after question flowed out, flowed in, went on..and along with the questions, a few answers surfaced, rose like the waves.

Within many questions lay answers, or hints to them. And within many answers, especially the ones which I now feel were short-sighted, lay hidden many more questions.

The cliff stood firm, though, watching this play, back and forth, wave after wave, question after answer, answer after question.

This time, this year, this place.

~~~

This is the longest we’ve stayed at a beach, and with barely any ‘distractions’ , there has been a lot of time and mindspace to observe the churning of the sea, this dark grey matter which stretches so far and deep.

Rain.

Feel the rain.

The magic that is monsoon, after the months of waiting, the looking up at empty skies, the beating of the cruel sun, the long days of summer, the dry landscape, helplessly watching the weakening rivers and lakes, the cracking up of the soil, the slow roasting of leaves on plants, awaiting the cooler breeze of the evening, waiting..

And magically, cyclically, slowly, sometimes suddenly and scarily fast, there is a cloud formation like this. Pregnant with hope.

Flash! Boom! Crack! Boom! Rumble! The breeze picks up, the mercury cuddles up and shrinks and cowers down, trees open up – sway and dance, birds seem to surf the skies in the strong gusts and our hearts soar as the first tiny or the first HUGE drops splatter down.

Feel the rain, don’t get ‘just’ wet.

Magic..

We are here to understand the subtle science and exact art of potion-making. Many of us will hardly believe that this is magic. I don’t expect we will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses…

SSSHHHH

As the morning sun struggled to rise up,

fighting to break free from the clouds,

to unwrap itself from the heavy blanket of cold wind,

struggling up from the valley floor,

the clouds pulled the wind up with them,

the wind pulled the clouds up with it,

ssshh. It hissed. And Roared. SSSHHHH

Windy Day (image taken via a Google search)

Windy Day (image taken via a Google search)

The star of the morning

Many moons ago,

I saw a stunning star,

The star of the morning,

I starred the memory as a favorite.

Woke up to stunning weather today. Crisp, fresh air. Cold breeze. Racing clouds and a layer of mist. And the sun peeping out. Most of the times, the sun looked like the moon: tiny, white and cold, except when the clouds moved enough for the sun to shine bright. It felt so amazing to feel the slightest of the warmth reach down, and see the lightest of the shadows fleeting by. I went back to the last time when I was so rooted and staring in awe at this celestial spectacle.
 
The day is made. I repeat, the day is made. 🙂
Happy ‘Sun’day!

પાણા અને પાણી

ચમકતી ધારા ની ચળકતી ધાર
ધીમે થી અંદર ઉત્રી જાય,
મારી સાથે એક બનીને
મને ઘમી જાય..

ક્યારેક શાંત સર્કી મારી બની જાય
પૂર બની ને વહી ને મારી જાય..
ક્યારેક હસ્તી નાચ્તી કૂદતી જાય
સાંપ ની જેમ ડસી જાય,
થીજી ને જામી જાય
પ્રકાશ માં ફરી જીવિત થાય..

એના અતૂટ અખૂટ ચક્ર મને કહે
મારામાં પલળી ને અસીમ વહે

ઘણાં પાણા, ઘણું પાણી
મારામાં રેહવાના, ઓગળવાના..

And below, a quick, basic and rough translation (Realized how difficult it is to translate even something that is your own work. I can imagine the effort needed, the struggle required, the depth one would have to go to to understand someone else’s work to translate, and finally the reward of having done it satisfactorily.

Title: Water and Rocks

The glistening edge of a glittering stream

slowly slides into me,

becomes one with me.

I feel good about it.

Sometimes, it slides past me silently, becoming mine,

Sometimes, it becomes a flood and kills me,

sometimes it playfully dances and jumps around,

while sometimes, serpentine, it bites me.

It freezes, and stays frozen,

In the light it becomes alive again

Its unbroken, unending cycles tell me

Come, get drenched in me and flow, flow limitless.

A lot of stones, a lot of water,

Will stay in me, and melt away.

 

Grüß Gott!

After the long entry on the Har Ki Dun trek (https://gabbartrip.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/valley-of-god/), my  thoughts were still in the mountains, and I was transported back to Berchtesgadener Land in Germany. We were lucky that we could visit the area twice and could spend some time hiking, seeing, experiencing the local culture and practices.

The first time we’d visited the area, we were on a longer trip which had a lot of places thrown in – reason being this was our first big vacation in Europe and we didn’t know if we would be there again the following year. As a result, there was lesser time per place, but nevertheless we loved the place so much that we returned six months later to South Germany and spent a full week there.

Here are some memories from both the trips:

Arriving in Munich in the morning, we had a few hours which we used to hop over to the Oktoberfest.

Happy chugging from the 1-litre Maß 🙂

Emptyish hall when we clicked this. Started filling up soon as the music, beer, conversations and laughs started flowing

Friendly lady selling Pretzels

Just before the train pulled into Freilassing, there was an announcement saying that one of the staff was celebrating 30+ years of service with Deutsche Bahn and this was going to be his last day. I think he was from this part of Germany, which is why the staff seemed to have arranged a quick celebration for him at this station. There were friends, family and well-wishers cheering on and a lot of patting on the back, hugging and clapping. Such a nice gesture!

Heading on towards Berchtesgaden Hbf now, we saw glimpses of peaks from the train itself. Being our first year at such a northerly latitude, we were extra keen in checking out if autumn had yet graced us with its colours or not.

We reached in the late afternoon / evening, and called it a day at the campsite.

The following morning had started off cloudy, but the sun was rising somewhere behind the peaks and would soon clear matters.

We rushed to the stream nearby, the Königsseer Ache, which was flowing fast and steady. Beautiful companion to have..

We wanted to see the lakes and go on a hike, so grabbing a tiny bit of breakfast we started off. The lake was reflecting a bit too much light for our liking, especially after us having seen some photographs of how incredibly beautiful it could be – we were a bit disappointed and decided to come back later when the sun had moved in the sky.

We headed off, no particular place in mind, and saw a trail board pointing and leading to “Grünstein Klettersteig” and headed off. At that point, we didn’t really know that much German, and we thought it would be an easy trail. We were right, it was easy, but only because there was a trail all the way as an option. Klettersteig basically means a ‘Via Ferrata’ (Iron road) and we had neither the experience nor the equipment in that bit. Having said that, I’m really looking forward to climbing it that way now, sometime!

The ‘non-Klettersteig’ trail was level and broad, and easy, but where it lacked in making us really work out, it awarded beautiful views – dense forests, views of the lakes, trees in different shades, views of higher peaks across the valley and so on..

This was also one of our first hikes together, as in where both of us were not only hiking together physically, but we were much closer mentally and emotionally as well.

treetops on Fire! Autumn was on its way!

Along the way, we saw several elderly people hiking and found that very impressive. It was a recurring theme, how sport and fitness was such a lifestyle there, and how even the elderly are in such good physical condition! It also led to the sightings of a white mop of hair hurrying down the trail, catching the sunlight and reflecting it, a quick smile exchanged. Loved it!

Scenes from a memory..

As we came out of the thicker woods, we saw the Watzmann massif, and it looked daunting even from far off. We didn’t have the time on this trip to try and hike there, and in our next visit to this area, we couldn’t climb it since it was ‘nicht Schneefrei’ (not snow-free). However, it still left a mark and we still think about it a lot.

Here’s a popular and lovely imagination of the Watzmann family.

“”Watz” means rough, hard, stony and “Mann” means Man. An old legend explains the unusual formation of the Watzmann massif. Long, long ago, the area was ruled over by a cruel king called Watzmann, along with his queen and their seven children. The whole family was merciless and unfair, trampling down the crops on their wild hunting trips and taxing the people to starvation. Every Sunday the inhabitants prayed that they would be rid of these tyrannical rulers. One day, their prayers were heard at last. While in the hills on a hunting expedition, the entire family perished in a great storm and was turned to stone. And there they still sit today: the main peak is the king towering over the land, his queen sits to the left and the seven royal brats huddle between them.” – from ‘Your complete guide to Berchtesgaden” by David Harper.

By this time we were really hungry, having had a tiny breakfast and a light dinner the previous night. A Bavarian Weißwurst helped push us on.

The views were pretty, the trees seemed to be framing a landscape photograph!

Soon we were at the summit.

There was a board or two which shared details of the trail.

Back home, or rather back at the camping place, we saw the sun set on the peaks, a beautiful sight.

It was getting chilly, and we zipped ourselves in the tent once dinner was done and slept off, content.

The next day was foggy again, and an early rise and visit to the lake was rewarding.

The sun soon shooed the mist away, although both got trapped in a spider’s web

We went back to the lake later on and did a short hike till the Malerwinkel Aussichtspunkt (literal translation – Painter’s corner viewpoint), which as the name suggests is a view point from where a lot of painters painted the beautiful landscape. Personal note: I’m thoroughly enjoying pronouncing all the German words right now, after a gap of a year . People say the language sounds angry / harsh / unfriendly, but I really like the sound of it.

The next time we came to Berchtesgaden was in Spring, around the middle of April, and it poured for 5 days out of the 8 days that we were there!

However ,there were some delightful scenes to be seen right outside the tent, as overnight rain had left a carpet of water on the ground. Wildflowers had just started to bloom and along with the cool water, the whole place looked so fresh green, and fertile.

It was not breakfast time for us alone.

The lake was mysterious and intriguing green – different from what we had seen a few months back. Time and the seasons had woven a completely different shade into the surroundings.

We went off towards Obersee and saw some incredible reflections and shapes

Here’s the ‘normal’ view and the rotated photograph of the same view

There was another hike of about an hour and a half, which we took basically the entire day to complete(!) since the views were just too pretty. The clouds and the light kept changing, the sun went westwards as the day progressed and somehow the lake started getting stiller and seemingly clearer, and this is what we were offered a vision of:

‘mit Spiegelung der Berge’ – with a reflection of the mountains. I always see an ink pen with a green nib and a black body when I see this photo – almost as if the Supreme artist has taken a pause while drawing this out and left his brush here. Do you see it?

Farther on, the views just got even more stunning.

After 4 days of non-stop rain, gray skies and hardly any color, these views were a reward.

At a certain point of time in life, the mind / heart wants more and more, never satisfied with what it already has.

Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.
Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.

– Rabindranath Tagore

But that day was not one such day. We didn’t want any more / less of sunlight or clouds or wind or still waters or anything else. It was the most comfortable place to be in, the most ideal condition of everything in the Universe, and those five hours flew by in a second, and yet lasted for almost at eternity.

As I sit here typing this a little more than two years later, I feel the same state of mind returning.

Reluctant to leave, and yet leaving without regret, almost as if designed to rub it in, we stumbled onto this board near one of the villages.

”Die Welt hat genug für jedermanns Bedürfnisse, aber nicht für jedermanns Gier” – Mahatma Gandhi, meaning that the World has enough for everyone’s needs, but not for everyone’s Greed.

Powerful. Appropriate. Urgent.

We again went off to Hintersee, now that it was sunny. The magic of this place and the incredible profound powerful beauty of nature just kept surprising us. If this is not wealth, what is?

Here’s something that I had felt when we were here –> https://gabbartrip.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/the-third-eye/

The next day started off bright, but cloudy, and we immediately headed off for another hike (easy to identify the pattern, isn’t it? 🙂 )

We decided to take some photos of the lovely flowers local to this region – we’d picked up a book which mentioned their names and we were trying to absorb the local plants as well.

Driveways were lined like this:

You go left, I’ll go right.

that's how we go underwater

That’s how we go underwater!

This is how the entire hillside looked like:

This tree in its convoluted shape and multiple shades looked like an abstract piece of art.

Little splashes of colors along the way, like tiny medals after completing a few sections of the trail.

Even though it was drizzling and was chilly, the water splashing down on us from the trees felt welcome and like a small prank played between us.

Fresh from a bath

That’s the summit, maybe there was a bit left to climb, but based on the time since the last milestone, we estimated that it wouldn’t be far from here. As such visibility was poor. That’s looking down into the valley, with the trail on the right of the photograph. We soaked in this view, and headed down.

The next day was bright and the river was pretty!!!!  Check out the shade of the water!

We’re all close knit, aren’t we?

spot the evergreens vs the new leaves? 🙂 loved the shades, with the clouds lifting up and revealing higher slopes behind

Saw a giant squirrel going about it’s business, foraging for food, making a forest in the process.

Adjust the brightness, contrast and settings in your brain, then in your camera and you can spot butterflies in the canopy overhead!

Saw more than a few couples hand in hand – a warming sight.

 

Home for a week! 🙂 (the black tent, I mean!)

This style of housing where a small house was built just outside the bigger one, was where the parents stayed once they grew older. We found it to be an interesting, if slightly unusual, idea.

We met a very nice person on this trip, someone with whom we spent a good amount of time, some of it drinking a lot of wine in his caravan, and then going out for a couple of drives and walks. We spoke about a lot of things, and have some very good memories of him. He had taken us to Cafe Reber – home to the delicious Mozartkugeln and several cakes.

He also took us to the Gradierhaus which “is the world´s biggest open-air AlpsBrine Inhalatoriuman, located in Bad Reichenhall´s Kurpark. About 400,000 litres of AlpenSole (AlpsBrine) trickle down the 13 meter high walls, which are covered with hawthorn and blackthorn twigs. Take a walk around the Gradierhaus and breathe in the fresh air enriched with small salt water particles. This ‘sea-breeze’ air has proven to be highly beneficial to the respiratory passages.”

Insert original and translation of what is written in the board here

Walking around these walls is considered to be healthy, and we could not help but compare it mentally with how regions near a sea shore leave you relaxed and fresh.

If you didn’t like to walk inside, you could walk around the area, which, on a sunny day, would be radiating some wonderful colors thanks to the beautiful flowers.

A closer look at the ‘grid’ – the wall holds moisture as it trickles down, and gives a cooling effect as well.

Below is a stunning, thought provoking sculpture called ‘Die Pietà’ by Anna Chromy, situated outside the Salzburg Cathedral.

The plaque had the following words:

“Und aus der atmenden Brust.. fühl’ ich die Seele entfliehen
Die leere Hülle als Symbol dessen was uns überlebt:
die Liebe, die wir gaben.
die Werke, die wir schufen.
das Leid, das wir erduldeten.”

English translation to the best of my abilities:

“And from the breathing chest I feel the soul flee,
The hollow covering as a symbol of what survives us:
the love, we gave,
the works, we created,
the pain, we endured.”

Back at the campsite by night, and off to bed, having spent a wonderful day in very good company.

The next day was a sunny day after a lot of days of rain – quick, dry everything, breakfast can wait!

This is the little order book where we could place orders for fresh bread for the following day. Loved the system, and loved the breads, too – Mehrkorn, Kornspitz, Croissants, semmelbrot – most of them were very tasty, especially when we added some dips / jams and tea / soup into the equation!

Back to the routine of wandering outside 🙂

This would however be the last hike of the trip, and we would return back to ‘civilization’ the next day, with enough memories for many years to come.

I am reminded of what I read somewhere, about how ‘He whom God loves, is dropped into the Berchtesgadener Land’, a quote by Ludwig Ganghofer.

~~~

Fractals of Life

A rose bud awaited bloom
in excitement of Life itself,
To stretch her petals
and play with the wind,
to exchange scents with her fellows
and kisses with the rain.

A tumbler of water
was all that stood
between spring and winter,
between Life and Death.

They came and spilt it.
She gasped in shock

They laughed.

Their joyful laughter
numbed her pain
And she waited, silent.
Awaiting not her death,
But her Life.

You see ,
the thing about Seasons is ,
like Karma,
they work in cycles.
And the thing about evil is,
it’s Foolish
Foolish to think Silence is weak.

She knew her Seasons
She knew her Freedom
They were her Friends.
And so her roots she kept working,
stretching and holding,
till they reached all the water
they’d so joyously spilt.

Her source of life
SHE has become,
Be it drought , flood or malice,
She will never succumb.

SHE BLOOMS.

Acrylic color on paper – Thread art

Seasonal trophies

Raindrops

showering down

tiny explosions

as they hit the ground.

 

Kamikaze Rain drops,

dive bombing,

plummet onto land

bouncing back homewards.

 

The first few rows of soldiers

are chopped down,

No mercy.

The solar army hot

in its months-long momentum,

an angry shield of potent heat.

 

The battles continue

like they have since seasons many.

Now the Trees join in, an uprising,

and lakes begin swelling with energy,

the wind picks up and blows the heat away.

 

I’ll come back stronger, says the Sun,

to burn the trees, pull the water back,

strangle the breeze,

and reclaim my transparent, watery trophy.

 

Advantage, Rain.

Advantage, Rain.

The rise and fall

The Leaf fell from the sky,

maybe a little abandoned,

sinking down gracefully;

Another floated up from the shiny lake below,

soaring up serenely,

till they were both One.

A steady lake-like smooth mind,

no ripples in focus,

Nerves taut, yet relaxed,

like an un-jangling stringed musical instrument,

Breath – unhurried and analog,

merging like birds with air,

Peace all around,

tranquil like a natural painting,

With the patience of the seasons,

I realize

that every fall

is also a Rise.

~~~

 

Blissful monotony

The trees were still,

like meditating Rishis,

seemingly motionless and lifeless,

but as alive as can be.

We bowed to them.

The trees, in so many shades,

raining leaves as Time expanded,

Its canopies, looking like a carpet on the mountainside,

and a decades-old stubble on the mountain top.

We were rooted in the woods.

Accompanied by a chattering stream,

Pebbles, like Jewels in the clear water,

reflecting the golden light,

the transparent paint of His palette,

a festival of colors painted out now.

We were eroded by the stream.

The clouds raced above,

like floating speech balloons,

Their shadows gave us a pleasant chill,

and ever so often, warmed our hearts.

Our feelings danced with them.

A lake came along,

its ripples communicating in binary,

something hidden but majestic.

As if listening to our queries,

its stillness revealed our thoughts.

We spoke with each other.

A few hundred footsteps on,

a roar met us,

a pretty waterfall tumbled down with force,

and sent the spray skywards.

We were drenched in joy.

Autumn wielded its brush,

the forest was a collage,

the creatures in the forest,

singing like wind chimes.

We were in a painting.

Seasons may be repetitive,

Nature’s sights may get familiar,

Life may be uniform,

the weather may be wearying,

We didn’t miss any monotony.

 

~~~

Invisible company

On a lonely day,

the breeze met me;

head on, it hugged me,

asked me to slow down and not leave.

Suddenly, it left, as if playing a game,

and then crept up from behind.

I felt its arms around my shoulders.

It was convincing me to spend more time

as we walked together.

Now, I could also hear other footsteps,

leaves rustling on the same path I walked on.

A lonely day had turned lovely.

The invisible presence

Springing back

Soon, millions of leaves,

will flutter like flags,

signalling the arrival of Spring.

 

The photograph was taken last year, around May. Certain memories and feelings are so strong. We can’t remember a lot of things about our jobs, about mundane activities, about things we did because we just had to. But, on one of our walks outdoors, the breeze, the freshness of the leaves, the sight of pollination, the warmth of the sun – left us revitalized.

Looking forward very eagerly to Spring now!