Movement or motion is normally associated with life and stillness with lifelessness. I was in this misconception until I saw something totally out of the world. Let me tell you how I actually overcame this misconception.
I decided to be one of the first to welcome 2009 and decided to do this in a big way. With this in mind, Deepa and I headed around 10,000 Km east to Australia. It is one of the most beautiful places I have been to. The cities of Melbourne, Sydney, and Canberra, the 12 apostles, the MCG, the F1 race track, the penguins on penguin parade, etc, etc, etc. Everything was so full of life, so full of enthusiastic people and unfortunately full of photo opportunities. If there is any one of man’s inventions I despise more than anything, it has to be the camera. And this became more evident and strong after this trip of mine to Australia.
There were a couple of things I did which was probably a lifetimes dream. Driving on the Great Ocean Road and witnessing the Sydney council burn 6 million dollars to usher in the New Year. And believe me; both are worth the distance we travelled. But the myth about motion and life was broken on the 28th of December, and this was worth more than anything else I saw and experienced in Australia. We were driving from Melbourne to Sydney along the Hume highway. The people at the back of the Toyota Prado we were driving in were in Sleepsville. I just got off the wheel and sat next to the driver’s seat. The road from Canberra to Sydney arrived at a spot where there was a dried up lake on the right side and the hills on the left. I noticed that there were 5 different types of vegetation that caught my attention. The Christmas pine trees, a silvery green tree that grew in groups and had white flowers at the tips, a bushy droopy tree which had long flowing leaves touching the ground, the all encompassing grassland and finally the huge omnipresent eucalyptus. The main colors that came across were the country’s national colors; green and yellow. I had noticed the same a week ago on the Great Ocean Drive, but there was something different today. I was finding it difficult to pinpoint the difference. I looked hard, tried hard and slowly as the hillocks to the left went farther and farther away I had a strange feeling come over me. The sun was going down rapidly and the eucalyptus’ were getting farther and sparser. The giant meadows, the grazing horses, sheep and cattle and the eucalyptus was all that was in front of me. Occasionally the Christmas pine trees, silvery green trees and bushy droopy tree would make their presence felt as these lined the fences close to the roads. Suddenly I realized that none of the grazing animals actually stood beneath the long shadows that the eucalyptus cast. I started observing the eucalyptus and then I realized that there were more colors than the green and yellow. Looking closely I detected red, grey and white. The eucalyptus trees here have to be seen to be believed, they are huger than I could imagine they would grow. But that was not what was different from the ones I saw on the Great Ocean Drive.
I was constantly looking at the trees and then it struck me. Earlier, there was the ocean wind which made the vegetation move around. They looked like a bunch of plastic plants a kid was rapidly shaking. But today, there was absolutely no wind at all and the giant trees did not appear to move a leaf. Suddenly an eerie sensation overcame me. The trees though stationary, looked like they would rest the lower branches to the ground, pull themselves out and start walking. They all appeared to have been doing so a little bit every day. They were moving away from something, leaning away from something. It was actually the dead trees of their own clan. The dead trees had dropped on the floor and it looked like they had stretched their anemic hands and long slender fingers with long nails towards the sky asking for help. The others were pulling way ever so slowly everyday whilst the same fate befell them too. The trees are starved due to the near drought like situation for 12 years and the intervention of man has made them each others enemies. The livestock were witness to all this and were staying away from their shadows as well. The droopy trees were moaning the fall of another giant next to them where as the white tipped fellas were cheering at the fresh red leaves that the other eucalyptus were growing. The Christmas pine stood there reminding that this was the holiday season and that there was hope for better times.
I pulled out both the cameras to capture the images I had seen, but then the photographs wouldn’t show me the trees almost coming to life, nor would they show me the anguish on the white barked trees that had fallen of hunger and thirst, the sorrow the droopy trees expressed was not evident at all, nor was the cheer of the white tipped trees. The only thing that I could make out was the arrangement of colors; green and yellow. That’s how short sighted the creations of man are. I kept these thoughts to myself unless the others thought that I was actually drinking a lot. And then I kept looking at each of the giants in the distance. Each appeared to have lived a long life and had a story to tell, which I would probably never come to know. The secret remains ~10,000 Km from the place I call home. I promised myself I will seek answers the next time I am here.
The myth stands broken, but there are unanswered questions!!!