Aug 27, 2014

River in the city...

Water has always been a part of my life. Being born on a semi-island city, I am tied to water since birth. (What's a semi-island city, you ask... Mumbai was a bunch of tiny island that they joined to the mainland with, it was an island, now its not)

no matter where I go, I always find some way to be closer to the water. Be it sea, or a lake or a river...sometimes even a pond works. So, when I was told that I have to travel to a part of the world that is landlocked, I was more than sad. The idea of not being able to see the ocean was hard to make peace with. But the choice was already made for me.. I had to come here.

When I learned that there is a river in the city, I was more than happy to brave the cold winds that were blowing that day and head towards the water. After a brief walk that was filled with nervous anticipation. When I finally reached the shore... the view wasn't what I had expected it to be. Neither was it beyond all imagination. It was.... if I have to use a word... I would say.... different.

Rituals by the river bank
I've seen my fair share of rivers... In my motherland, and otherwise. Each river, I saw was different than the other. Some were sad, some were interesting, some were mere awesome and some really puzzling. Rivers that are in India... are, for the lack of a better word...sacred. Not coz I believe they are goddesses like most of my countrymen do. But because every river in India, has a story that somehow ties the river to the civilization that sits on its banks. And for the life that the river brought to the piece of land she cuts through...the river becomes a deity. Most rivers in India will have some or the other story attached to it. Some rituals will always be performed by her banks only.

Evening Aarti
The holiest of them all, Ganga....has a daily aarti done on her banks. Its a 'beautiful' experience. To see big diyas being held high and swayed to the rhythms of prayer bells and hymns chants... it makes even a non-religious person like to sway. I've always found the rivers in India to be fascinating. I love the way they originate in high mountains, Himalaya and flow through to the planes. Ganga flows through Kumau Himachal and comes to the planes...and during this journey she changes with every tributary that comes and meets her. Ganga in high Himalaya is called Alaknanda. She is a bubbly river. Filled with noise. with frothy waters that seems to call out to they want you to come play with ... with each Prayag... she changes to become a more stable, silent river of the planes.

The young and bubbly.... Alaknanda
Its like the Alaknanda of Himalaya, is a child filled with life, youth and innocence. As she passes towards planes, she grows up. She sees and experiences so many things that she looses her innocence to be the mature, silent and learned...Ganga of the planes. Who is wiser, the mother of Indian culture.

Mother of Indian Culture... Ganga

I love every mood of that river. Not because she is considered holier than holy... because she is teaches you how to grow up. From the bubbly Alaknanda to Ganges.... She is epitome of the life. She has many moods and many shades. And I can sit by her banks for hours together....just to look at her. I have sat by her banks in Hrishikesh. Witness the spectacle that is the evening Aarti. Touched her water and seen her silent journey. She is mesmerising and she is mysterious.

As soul who grew up with memories of Ganga, when I reached Vltava... It felt like I was at home. Vltava is as different from Ganga as chalk is from cheese. But somehow, she is similar to Ganga than more than one way. There is a living thriving city on both sides of her banks. There are people who sit by her side and worship her in their own ways. Where Ganga is worshipped by an evening aarti... Vltava's worship is done by the myriad lives that flock to her banks for evening walks, to take photos, to feed the ducks and swans on the river, to fish, to have food and listen to music and ride bikes.  There are so many ways one can worship....  there are so many ways one can celebrate... there are so many ways a river brings 'life' to those who reach out to her.

Vltava @ sunset

Coz no matter where you go... there always one place ...which makes you feel like reaching home.

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