The Advisory Boar
Late in December 2009, as a birthday present to myself, I went on a
solo trek to Dayara Bugyal, a high-altitude alpine meadow in Garhwal.
I meant to write about the week I spent in the mountains, but upon my
return, I found the experience too overwhelming to try to describe all
Some six months after the trek, I posted a
a photograph from my first campsite.
Nearly a year later, I wrote about my decision to
forego a field guide
on the trek; that's where the paragraph quoted above comes from. It's
been nearly five years since then, and I've typed that first sentence a
dozen more times, but I never got much further.
One of my most enduring memories of the trip is of a small grey bird
crawling up the face of a rock cliff just below Barsu village. I was
driving back to Uttarkashi in the late afternoon after the trek, and I
caught a flicker of movement on the cliff from the corner of my eye. I
knew instantly what it was—a Wallcreeper, a bird I had been hoping to
find for the past five years. I had barely a minute to admire it, but
I'll never forget the sudden flash of scarlet when it flew away.
It's almost Wallcreeper season where I live now. They're a familiar
sight in passage to lower altitudes in early winter, but that first
sighting will always be the most precious.
Hassath and I scraped a few days off from a busy month to visit Orchha
with Ammu over a long weekend. We had a surprising and refreshing
getaway that helped us to recover from the disappointment of having to
cancel a visit to Munsiari in early June.
Update 2015-11-08: I started writing this in August 2008. Seven
years later, I can no longer remember what happened on the rest of the
trip well enough to complete the account, but I'm posting what I wrote
In January 2005, inspired by
confluence.org, Gaurav Rai and I
decided to look for three degree confluences North of Delhi:
(not attempted, but subsequently visited by someone else)
(visit abandoned due to snow)
These are my recollections of this long-overdue trip to the mountains.
Rai has written his own account
of our travels.
This chapter was commissioned by SAMS Publishing for "Red Hat Linux
7.2 Unleashed" in 2001. They graciously allowed me to reproduce the
text here (with minor changes to the original).
I think of myself in a mirror,
thinking about thinking of me.
I laugh at scary reflections,
not recognising the things I see.
On Mondays, I'm brightly coloured:
the week gives me time to fade.
By Friday, I'm a dirty gray,
and on Saturday, a paler shade.
Which leaves a single day to clean
a muddied palette left to dry.
to prepare for the week ahead,
to wonder who I am, and why.
I had a favourite shade of blue,
and suddenly, it's no longer there.
a vanishing hue,
leaving my canvas strangely bare.
It might not be a special blue,
or one that you've never seen.
it defies accurate description,
and it beats the hell out of green.
I have a favourite shade of blue:
memories of you.
inside a cheerfully lit,
tastefully decorated bubble
and I call it my home.
non-toxic fumes; filtered
through my bubble
I'm swimming through concrete
which has appeared,
unnoticed, from somewhere.
I think about this
while eating my mock turtle-stew.
and it's really quite good:
the stew, I mean.
The sheep are numbered,
in distracting patterns
on the brink of wakefulness.
My mind unravels after them;
threads of the wrong colour,
too interesting to be ignored.
to wake me as I float
towards a darkness
which eludes me.
The flesh is willing,
but the spirit
dissolves into consciousness
I want my money back.
standing by a waterfall
and watching water
from a height,
aim for me... miss,
hit the ground,
and fail to escape from
the seething cauldron
at the bottom.
A cold, deep pool
amidst the rocks
and a little mumbling stream
twisting hurriedly away.
I remember the sea
in peaceful slumber,
breathing slowly in my ear
as I stood beside it.
I look at the green plastic bucket
full of water
in front of me
and enjoy my bath immensely.
A short while ago, in a forgotten land, lived a fairy. She was, contrary
to popular supposition, not young beautiful and kind, but fat, short,
ugly and severe. Her land was a beautiful land, where everyone worked
together for the good of the land and each other. This poor fairy
protected her people from the charms of the evil, rich witch. The fact
that the witch was evil should tell you all about her. She was a
capitalist witch trying to destroy the economy of the land. Quite unlike
her fiercely communist counterpart, the witch was slim, tall and
beautiful. Several of the more impressionable workers fell under her
spell and gave up their socialist ideals for more worldly ones. Since
only the hard-headed party workers stuck to their ideals, the usually
hard-working nation began to show signs of discord.
The fairy noticed something was amiss when her leprechauns began to show
signs of disobedience and inefficiency, both of which the fairy hated.
Unbeknownst to her, they were falling for the witch and her ideas. The
usually docile leprechauns were fast being transformed into evil little
entrepreneurs, ready to start production of capitalist propaganda
booklets. After certain discreet enquiries, she came to the conclusion
that someone was infringing on her territory. The poor fairy was,
understandably, a member of the fairies' union. What this association
lacked in funds, they made up for in goodwill and organisation. The
fairy appealed to them for help against the rich witch. After lengthy
deliberations, they decided to wage war. A nationwide emergency was
declared and the process of liquidating the witch was begun. Several
enthusiastic young members were overheard by the press saying that
things would soon become too hot for the witch to handle. Of course,
because of the emergency, they could not print this information.
This was not easy. The witch, after such an encouraging response from
this land, had no intention of leaving. She had grown eviller and richer
than ever, and commanded a large army. When she heard rumours about the
attack, she flew in a whole contingent of junior capitalists (Shelved
elves, limp imps, chrome gnomes, evil weevils and gobbling goblins).
The war, like many other wars, was very boring to watch. Though the
fairies' union succeeded in sowing the seeds of discontent among the
workers whose hearts the witch had so insidiously won over, the witch
was strong enough to resist any uprisings. However, when the witch
became old and fat from her profits, the workers drummed her out of the
land. Her refusal to allow them to produce for anyone but herself
shattered their dreams of a free market economy and gave them the
courage to act against her.
After a brief session of massive restructuring, everyone breathed a sigh
of relief at the once more orderly state of the land. The fairy returned
triumphantly to her club, The Antibodies Association, while the witch
and her cohorts plotted revenge at their club, Viruses and Bacilli