On the highway
Farms, with hills in the distance
Flowers of spring
Flowers of spring
Beauty of nature
Smoke in the distance-1
Smoke in the distance-2
Traffic on the highway-1
Traffic on the highway-2
Traffic on the highway-3
Traffic on the highway-4
Colours of nature
The broad, four-laned, tarred road leads out from Ranchi, towards Hazaribagh, through undulating hills and small villages on either side. You catch the sunrise behind the hills. Flowers are in bloom on the neighbouring trees, in red and blue colours (it’s still spring- time), cattle graze on the fields. Butterflies play in the fields. And behind huge boulders, the trees play “peek a boo” with you.
The road is wide and well-maintained. You can see the far valleys from the heights. Smoke rising in the distance, the curling fumes slowly stretching out towards the sky. You are on the way to Hazaribagh, the land of the “thousand gardens”. These are the Chhotanagpur Hills, of which I have heard since my childhood days. The favourite summertime retreat of many Bengalis in the olden days (they called it going “West” or “Paschim” in those days, before foreign tours became affordable and fashionable).
Even at this early morning hour, there is a quite a considerable bit of traffic on the road. You see tractors, trailers, trucks, cars, going either way. Some of the trucks belch thick black smoke, which engulf the highway. What a pity in such tranquil surroundings! On one of the walls, I see advertisements for a “hakim” (traditional healer) who attends to “sex “ patients at the nearby town of Ramgarh. Well, matters of the carnal nature seem to find a voice even in these natural surroundings. “Sex is the only universal language”, did some famous author say?
The road leads out through the fields, hills in the distance, then through outbreaks of rocks on either side, as the car ascends the hills. And slowly, I reach the summit of a hillside, from where I get a look of the valleys on the far side and the plains in the distance. I park my car and get down to have a look. I see smoke ascending slowly, curling up towards the sky, from the valleys, creating a sort of connect between the wooded valleys and the sky. Some nameless bird is chirping, and in this far outpost, removed from the sounds of the city, it sounds very soothing indeed.
I descend the hills, as the road continues towards Hazaribagh, through flat fields and hills in the distance. Smoke rises from the kilns, I pass by numerous small hamlets and villages. The fields are kind of dry at this time of late winter.
Robert M Pirsig wrote in his iconic book, “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance”, that “Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive”. Quite true for my journey today on the Ranchi- Hazaribagh highway, which I have travelled without any particular destination in my mind. As I turned my car back towards the city, I found me asking myself about the meaning of urban grime, stress and strife, when such beauty can be found just on the fringes of the city. Actually, many people do not acknowledge the beauty that lies at just a stone’s throw away from their abode. As they say, “As you set out on the road, the road appears. “ True for physical journeys. Equally true for journeys of the self.