Friday 23 October 2015

Paradise Regained

Paradise Regained

Aryan and I aren’t really that much into hockey unless we are at our home in Matheran.  But once there, things change.

There are no paved roads in Matheran and people use walking sticks to safely traverse the trails.  The narrow wooded trails full of undergrowth and layered with leaves are a source of danger to most people who gladly buy the beautifully handcrafted walking sticks sold in the small village market.

But for Aryan and me, a walking stick held upside down becomes a perfect hockey stick.  All we need is a ball and then the massive 60-feet long empty veranda in our house becomes an ideal ground for a pitched one–on-one hockey battle.  And what a battle it is!

There are no rules.  There is pushing and shoving, holding and pulling involved.  The ball is occasionally kicked away from the goal with the leg and sometimes one uses ones hand to stop the ball from rolling towards the goal.

And all through the battle, there is laughter and happiness.  At every tackle, I laugh and hug my boy. He thinks I am obstructing him from reaching for the ball but this is my greatest joy, to hug my boy again and again.

The game ends when the walking stick shatters or when a misdirected swing of the stick finds a shin instead of the ball.

The end of the hockey game then leads us to the next sport.

Our house is surrounded by a dense forest with lots and lots of monkeys.  The locals often use hand catapults to drive away the hordes of monkeys.  But for Aryan and myself, the hand catapult is not a weapon.  It is a toy and we find all sorts of non-living targets to test our skills.
Our favourite target being the light pole.

And twice a day, it is time to take long lazy walks in the secluded quite woods.  The game played at such time is to spot insects or snakes in the dense woods and on the leaf covered forest floor.

I watch my boy with love and affection and I see his innocence and playfulness and I think, “Please buddy, don’t grow up and lose your sense of wonder and joy, don’t be filled with tension and anxiety and stress.”

I remember Tagore’s poem, “Playthings”

“Child, how happy you are sitting in the dust, playing with a broken twig all the morning.

I smile at your play with that little bit of a broken twin.

I am busy with my accounts, adding up figures by the hour.

Perhaps you glance at me and think, “What a stupid game to spoil your morning with!”

Child, I have forgotten the art of being absorbed in sticks and mud-pies.

I seek out costly playthings and gather lumps of gold and silver.

With whatever you find you create you glad games, I spend both my times and my strength over things I   never can obtain.

In my frail canoe I struggle to cross the sea of desire, and forget that I too am playing a game.”      

I remember Tagore’s poem but I am filled with joy because I know that I am truly blessed.

I am not burdened with age because I have learnt the secret of happiness.

Every morning, I wear my running shoes and I am out on a journey to rediscover my childhood.

And there is nothing compared to running in matheran In the Rains.

The rain pours down on me.  I am drenched to the bone.  There is a deafening sound of rain drops on the forest canopy.

All around me I hear a cacophony of songs. The birds and the insects are singing.  

My raindrop cleared eyes are focused on the trail, I notice the myriad colours of the leaves carpeting the floor, I keep a look out for the rocks sticking out from under them,

I keep a lookout for roots sticking out of the ground, I am focused on gauging the depth of the puddles on the trail. I am mindful of the moss-coated rocks which lie amongst the leaves. I run over the leaves and through the puddles.  The water splashes all the way up to my knees.

I run with faith that my feet will find solid ground.  I run with faith that the floor will not shift beneath my feet.

I am silent, I am peaceful, I am meditative and I am in love with my life.

I am once again, a child at play. I am as fresh as every rain drop falling from the sky.  I am filled with joy, I am filled with wonder. I have no tension, no worry, no stress.

I am enjoying a second childhood and this one is even better than the first.

It is better because I now value it more. I attach more significance to it.  I understand life a little more now than before.    

The first childhood disappeared without my appreciating it.  

But now I have seen the world, I have seen the darkness and the light.  I am now filled with a certain amount of wisdom. And so when I run, I am filled with love and innocence, with gratitude and with light.  I appreciate what I have.

I have regained and rediscovered my childhood.    

I need not die or be reborn to enter paradise.    

All I have to do every morning, is lace up my shoes and step out. . . and sometimes, I have to pick up a walking stick and go into battle with Aryan.

Paradise is always near !! 


  1. Wonderful! I have fallen in love with the land that is Hawaii due to trail running and I can sense that same feeling with your description of running along the trails in the rain in Matheran. Endorphins accompanied by a feeling of gratitude that we have been afforded this opportunity to experience this life always leads to the feeling of "paradise gained".

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