Mountain Gazing – II
Full moon again. Seems like day-before-yesterday since the last one. Maybe the cosmos is in fast-forward mode. This morning the road around the Mountain was already busy with pilgrims on their walk around Arunachala. We were on a moped, dodging speeding buses and trucks for whom lesser creatures appear not to exist, en route to the inner path for our regular walk along the flanks of this old familiar hill.
Arriving at the pond, we see five water lilies in bloom. Large and deep purple, far enough from the banks to discourage the casual collector, so more the likely to display their beauty for passersby who aren’t intent upon their toes.
The tamarind trees are laden with seed pods, as yet untouched. Newspaper reports say the wholesale price of tamarind has risen significantly because of the decline in crop harvest as a result of all the tree felling along highways to make way for road widening and expansion. Score one more for our relentless race into the future, where billboards substitute for trees, urging us to buy things man made, in that ever shortening interval between point A and point B, when a speed-induced state of euphoria needs nothing more than fossil fuel to sustain itself.
In the silence of the tamarind tree by the pond it takes a little while for us to become aware that we are not alone. There, upon the upper branches, sits a solitary langur monkey. Big, male, apparently doing nothing. Not sleeping, not picking at the leaves or fruit. A deep resonant “whoop,” the characteristic call of the langur, reaches us from somewhere upon the Mountain. This guy answers. Then all is quiet again.
Eventually, I lift the camera. A crow flies into the frame. I shoot.
When we leave, the langur is still there.