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  • Writer's pictureSamir Dhond

Reflections inspired by the Sunderban

BBC’s famous documentary on Sunderban had caught my attention. A 3 hour long drive and a 2 hour boat ride saw us at the Sajanekhali Tiger Camp. As the sun began to go down, we saw wild life on the banks. The mangrove roots were bare showcasing a way in which they supported trees on the banks. The occasional boat that passed us by; as we got farther and farther from the villages, had people who looked poor and malnourished. Sunderban began to appear mysterious right after we stepped out of the civilization zone. The mangroves on both sides of the canals appeared as if they held secrets inside of them.

At 545 in the morning, the air was still and humid. I walked with my camera bag to the entrance of the resort to board our boat. The steps were full of slush. As we began sailing, we saw many birds. We saw various types of kingfishers. There were times, when we would cross a path where several rivers seemed to have had their confluence. The water around that area seemed as if someone was stirring it up- Just like my mind, many thoughts, emotions and feelings were being stirred in my mind. I saw a lone tree standing there shaking uncontrollably as the high tide reached its peak. The water currents were shaking it but the tree seemed to stand there solid and firm. I wondered if I had that trait in me. Could I live in as challenging an environment?

The sky was full of heavy pregnant black clouds. It brought out the mysticism of Sunderban. It was going to rain, thought I. I sat on the front deck and kept looking at the vast expanse of the forest, the largest Mangrove in the world, the truly mystical Sunderban! It began to drizzle. To my thirsty heart, those droplets provided much needed relaxation. I did not worry about getting wet in the rain. One of the reasons, I loved Sunderban is because it gave me the space and freedom to look within myself. It gave me a different perspective on life. It was close to 6 pm, we had no luck with a tiger sighting. We returned to our resort and called it a night.

It was the second day of our photo tour. Soon after lunch, we began to enter an area which was quite famous for tiger sightings. These were narrow canals and they seemed even more mystical. As I stared at the quiet forest, a Salt Water Crocodile jumped out of the water on the banks of the canal. It sat there basking. All of us were busy clicking pictures. Before we could realize, the head of the boat (where I was seated) had moved incredibly close to the crocodile. I was not even 3 feet away from the croc. My heart was pounding. S/he was looking at me. Eyes set perfectly on me. And in a split second it went into the water by splashing the slush all over me. On reflecting on it, I realized that my power and my intelligence had no significance in front this force of nature. Would it not be nice if people understood that? It would direct their behavior in a more constructive manner, I pondered.

I looked at the sheltering sky. It almost looked like it had held an umbrella on my head. It was blue, and cloudy. It resembled a human mind, at times it’s cloudy and at times it remains clear! Nevertheless, at that moment, I could only smell the green of the mangroves. I could sense the air touching my body, tickling my toes and surfing my thoughts. I stayed there for few minutes. The calm, and the tranquility was too seductive to march on.

As we got back to the resort in the evening, I felt I had experienced a unique phenomenon in my life that day. Magnanimity! The vast expanse of the mangroves and its stunning beauty, the mysticism! I could sense that it held secrets that were not known to anyone. For some reason, I resonated with the thought that the mangrove was as complex and as unexplored as a Human Mind. I took stock of my life and my feelings. Feelings that I had nurtured for many years. Feelings which I had never shared with anyone. I felt I came a full circle with those feelings. I let go off many of those feelings. I immersed them in the waters of Sunderban. I knew for sure that I would never want to revisit those thoughts and feelings.

As I flew back to Bangalore I reflected on different environments I had visited; each comfortable in its own way. However, I know that the real skill was to be at one’s comfortable best in any environment. Not allow oneself to get used to the luxuries alone but to keep one’s feet grounded. I returned thinking that if Sunderban was mystical, then life was equally mystical too. Just as I enjoyed being surrounded by mystical Sunderban for four days, I am happy to be surrounded by life’s mysterious ways.



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