Allegiance & Acceptance

Allegiance is a loaded word.  It carries with it the connotation of loyalty, and should that loyalty be frail, then the responsibility to affirm it back to its place.  Could there be an allegiance to a place?  Two landscapes of Chhotanagpur have stirred my heart. First is of Hazaribagh and its surroundings, which is both home and workplace, and the second is of the western paats (places like Netarhat, Rajadera, Mahuadanr), which inspires awe and is magnetic.  You would notice, as I do while writing this, that my adjectives for Hazaribagh seem to have paled against those for the latter. It is not so.  Please understand how language plays with us.  What has happened is that I have been accepted into Hazaribagh's skin ― there is plenty of newness here, but its appreciation no longer requires labour that needs to be articulated. For a poet, this labour is called poetry. For a lover who has matured, this poetry retreats inwards into a place of peace. It doesn't require petrarchan so

Risk Assessment

Jan 30, 2018 We are party to the inequalities in the world. Every day one report or the other slams this truth upon us. Sometimes we widen these inequalities, sometimes we bear it, and sometimes, in moments of desperation, saturation, we are wont to look away. To blame privilege that we inherit through birth, and through birth as homo sapiens, and by no choosing of ours, is an easier, all-luring escape. To edit the privilege after being endowed by it, like any other editing of what is personal and ingrained is terrifying. Kant’s enlightenment is aware of the forces that make a man a person, but to our dismay, it returns firmly to the actions of the self. Emergence from the self-imposed ignorance . The cloud of privilege encompasses us, looks us in the eyes, and puts to us a simple question: what are you doing about it?   The system of a landscape contains not just the physicality of the earth, but also lives that this physicality creates and sustains. The flora, the fauna, and both in

The Friendship of Addiction

06 Dec, 2017 perhaps the most beautiful kind. Now I don’t necessarily mean addiction to drugs or alcohol (though I know from experience that it too yields memorable friendships). I think the strongest resonance of what I mean by addiction in this context can inadequately be found in what the management gurus call “passion”. But “passion” is still tame for a word for the addiction I am talking about. This kind is immaterial, it is mental, it is all-consuming, it is idealistic, and when it is shared, it is phenomenal, it is incestuous. Stretch it further and it is the most blissful violation of the self. The inability of its articulation lends it strength. I am fortunate to have come across people who, for the lack of a better word, understand my addiction. They get me. They recognise the dreaminess and contribute to it. They enhance it by the very fact of their existence. They pull me back into the normalcy of addiction, reaffirming with every contact that if this is crazy, then

An almost-capital, salubrity, & the thing with reputation

03 Nov, 2017 Sometime in 1863-64, Captain G Hunter Thompson, Revenue Surveyor with the British Raj, proposed Hazaribagh to be the new capital of India. Thompson enjoyed the “salubrity of the station of Hazaribagh” and reasoned that the plateau’s proximity to coal mines and the sea, along with its connectivity with Kolkata and Mumbai (should a short branch railway be constructed through Hazaribagh town - which eventually was, more than a century later, in 2016) made it an ideal place for the new seat of “the Supreme Government of India”. For Thompson, access to the sea was of utmost importance, which, when considered in terms of trade and economy, makes sense. I think it must have surprised him when a year after the publication of his survey of Hazaribagh plateau, Shimla became the summer capital, and in 1911, the landlocked Delhi with no pleasant elevation or salubrity was made the capital of India. Looking at the infrastructural challenges which Shimla faces today and the environment


05 Sep, 2017 I have only recently learned that clouds too have names. Or rather, types. I am excited at this because if I am able to identify the clouds correctly, then I will have at least ten more and precise words for clouds. These are: Cumulus Altocumulus Cumulonimbus Cirrus Cirrostratus Cirrocumulus Altostratus Nimbostratus Stratus Stratocumulus It happened at Chharwa Dam, a small reservoir about 8 km from Hazaribagh town. This dam was built by the DVC to supply water to the town, and though the demand for water has increased exponentially due to the growing urban population, the reservoir in itself has been a preferred destination for birders, photographers, and workers returning on cycles who pee with much satisfaction into the surrounding bushes. I was with my cousin and it was about sunset. Since tourism hasn’t yet reached Hazaribagh, there is no infrastructure to enjoy the view. No gazebos, no benches. You sit where you want to. We decided to remain on foot. In front of us l

Hazaribagh: Prehistory to Independence

23 Aug, 2017 BCE 9500-7500: The prehistoric man draws on a long rock face at Isko village 1500-900: The megalith-raising man erects an astronomical observatory at Pankri Barwadih village to observe equinox sunrise. 600-400: Gautam Buddha walks along river Mohana and Nilanjan to reach Bodhgaya. Edwin Arnold writes of this journey in his book The Light of Asia: Thou, who wouldst see where dawned the light at last, North-westwards from the “Thousand Gardens” go By Gunga’s valley till thy steps be set On the green hills where those twin streamlets spring, Nilàjan and Mohàna; follow them, Winding beneath broad-leaved mahúa-trees, ’Mid thickets of the sansár and the bir, Till on the plain the shining sisters meet In Phalgú’s bed, flowing by rocky banks To Gàya and the red Barabar hills. ACE 400-600: Four rock-cut caves are carved by Buddhist monks at Mahudi Hill Range. 1360-70: Baldeo Singh and Singdeo Singh break away from the Raja of Chotanagpur and establish their own estate. 1640:

Watching Waters - Summer

04 Jul, 2017 In the absence of a glacial source, the waters of Hazaribagh are prone to mood-swings. In the summer, the rivers lose much of their flow, the lake shrinks, and smaller streams disappear. This puts you in a fix. On the plus side, the landscapes created by two prominent rivers of Hazaribagh - Siwane and Muhane - become accessible. The former flows in the direction of north-east-south while the latter in south-west-north. The forests they travel through and the rocks they reveal are also different. The Daru Forest of Siwane is more trees and less bushes, while the Harhad Forest of Muhane is more bushes and less trees. The rocks of Siwane are sharp & grey, while those of Muhane are smooth & black. The water of Siwane in summer is an appealing blue, while that of Muhane is a dull yellow. The atmosphere of Siwane is of dry heat while that of Muhane is of humid heat. The visuals of Siwane calm, while those of Muhane agitate. The flow of Siwane continues, while that of Muh