Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tolerating Progress......

I never thought I would see such a photograph. Not that I move around amidst monkeys, (or maybe I do and don't know it.... ),  but I have been to the island where this was clicked by my friend Deepak Amembal.

The Elephanta Island , is nine nautical miles east of Appllo Bunder, the boarding place on the Arabian sea in South Mumbai, from where launches and catamarans travel there.  A hill with old 7th century rock sculptures , this is a tourist destination. There is also a population of 1200 residents on the island, but sadly, there has hardly been any development ,  and even electricity is non existent. No tourists are allowed overnight on the island. During the day, hawkers with touristy items, and food stalls pervade, making this a mecca for monkeys, who enjoy snatching stuff.

It is possibly a sign of the times, that a monkey must now sit on an old tree in the island, and take sips of bottled water, instead of cupping his hands and sipping from a stream.

The dowager tree
gnarled and wrinkled,

well ensconced
by the steps of the Elephanta hill,
gulping up
the rapidly diminishing
sweet waters
through its roots.

Simian visitors,
sheltering within its house
no longer cup their palms
to drink
streams from the hills
but must quench
their thirst
with polycarbonate sips
with sharp chemical edges.

The dowager tree
lets it be
with great effort,
raises its eyes
towards the
crashing against
the island rocks.

life storms
and monsoon gifts,
she agonizes
about the future
and wonders
if there is
at all
to be
drinking water
in the future
of her kids.....