An impromptu trip to Rasmai is perhaps the best way I know to unwind. And that too with my favourite people? Could life get any better? Exhausted from my recent month of literally mapping Uttaranchal and it's gentle slopes [chanced upon this must visit place in Pithoragarh district, a 20 km drive from Gangolihaat called Patal Bhuvaneshwar], I allowed the plains yawning on either side of the highway soothe my senses. The golden stumps of harvested wheat covered the fields, somewhere bajra and chari were sprouting forth providing green relief. The sky was a dusty haze of speckled sunlight, the birds were croaking in thirst, a summer was underway. At the toll gate the ticket man gave us a Rs. 5/- discount and didn't give us a bill. Later comprehension dawned, he'd pocket the Rs. 20/-. We paid less, he made pocket money on the sly. A symbiotic relationship at its ugly best.
This time, I went to Rasmai with an inquisitive mind, my ears and eyes receptive not only to its brown beauty but also to the little details alongside. I enjoyed the brown goats as they pranced around the tube well to whet their parched throats. They bent their knobbly little knees on the grass and sipped the water with their tiny mouths, noses grazing the surface. Once done, they sprang about, delightfully rejuvenated. The old man herding them was gnarled and browned by his years in the sun. He wore a white dhoti turned yellowish brown. His head had a large white turban on it, an unwiedly protection from the unforgiving sun. His face had lines 'running from everywhere to everywhere'. And seeing his goats jump about in glee, he seemed content, a job well done.
We carried onto the mango orchard, laden with tiny green mangoes, amiyaas, still untouched by the several dust storms that would ravage the crop, reducing the bounty by almost a third. Collecting a few, we munched at them, mouths puckering in their tangy sourness. The gool or water channel was full of sweet water, now pumped from 180 feet below instead of the 80 feet it used to be available at just a decade ago. Pumping charges had gone up, wells were being dug deeper, water was a lot scarcer. For an economy dependent on agriculture, this sounded like a death knell to me. One of the two village pokars or ponds had dried up long ago, now serving as a place for people to scrape out mud to plaster their houses.
The bajra fields were being watered. Egrets or bagula were walking around in the water on their stilt-like legs, picking on insects, munching at a tasty grub. They looked regal, white in this dusty landscape, unperturbed and cool. I saw the sun set, an orange orb, glowing fiercely as it set. It's light, reflected in the water in the fields, seemed to fill us all with its peace. Only nature can, so beautifully, make us fee so humble and beautiful. If only we could constantly live it this state of awareness.