Sunday, October 14, 2007

Makaibari, 1970

My intention to return to the family plantation was for a short holiday. Touch base with my folk, soak up the tranquility of the mystical Himalayas, and return with renewed vigour to pursue my frenetic life. Man proposes and God disposes.

My father (the patriarch with the hat and britches with a Sam Browne belt), adroitly gifted me a thoroughbred and a gun, saying "Son, you look weary, ride, shoot and relax now. Have a long holiday."

I accepted the horse with delight, and careened around the precipitous bridle paths, without a care in the world. It was unbridled pleasure to race around the non-existent mountain slopes, the wind sweeping the hat away, guiding the magnificent charger, over terrain that none would dare to ride on. I paid the price a few days later, when I was flung off. That fall altered my life irrevocably.

The split second between the saddle and crash to the ground was a spellbinding one. I was in a timeless, spaceless zone. A tunnel of light with an incredible intensity and clarity. The woods orchestrated a melancholic yet powerful symphony that bewitched me with a soulful "save us, save us," chant. It was eternal. I felt the impact of hitting the ground, and watched the nearby pluckers rushing to me, picking me up, asking soliticiously of my well being. I was in a stupor--completely disconnected--with the intensity of the visage I had experienced. It was real, yet it was not. I smiled wanly at the concerned ladies, assured them that my bones were intact, remounted my stallion, and trotted him back in a state of contemplative confusion. I just couldn't fathom my experience.

The extraordinary revelation pursued me constantly, and towards dusk I realized that I had to remain at Makaibari to crack the riddle.

My parents were delighted when I announced my intentions to extend my sojourn that night over dinner. Doubly delighted that I would try my hand at planting tea. Of course they had not the faintest clue why. Thus began the greatest voyage of my life-- a life that led me to unravel the three critical questions that assail all of us. Three questions that all of us quietly sweep under the table and hope it would remain dormant. Where do we come from? What are we Doing Here? Where do we go?

Next week my run in with a Pied Hornbill-- the King of Birds.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Makaibari library press

The Calcutta Telegraph recently published an article on Makaibari's new library.

It says, "From The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai to Timi Bhayako Nabhayako Bhela by Nepali author Satish Rasaily — the new library at Makaibari Tea Estate has it all."

Read the rest here.