Posted in Personal Stories

The Lone Cypress


17_mile_drive_cypress

It was a cloudy Saturday morning, with the overcast skies threatening to rain any moment. Rain and cold is not a very reassuring combination, hence we decided that a drive through the California waterfront in the protected confines of our car would be a good way to spend the 2nd day on our trip to Monterey.

So after a hearty breakfast , we packed into our six seater and started on the 17 mile drive from Carmel-at-Sea. The 17 mile drive snakes through a picture postcard vignette of the West Coast.  You can drive through the Del Monte forest, glassy green golf courses, and breathtaking views of the Pacific ocean kissing precariously perched rocks on the coastline.

Along the drive we stopped to observe landmarks of tourist interest.  Bird rock was a boulder with a mysterious attraction to birds – you could see a swathe of them swooning in and enveloping it on the foaming ocean. Ghost trees were a collection of dried out trees which have been smitten by some kind of affliction and stand out as stark reminders of their glorious past.

And among all these sights we came across this legendary landmark on Pebble Beach, the Lone Cypress tree.

So when you get down and stand at the farthest corner of land, you see this single Cypress tree standing out on a shelf separated from the mainland. Strong gusts of wind brush your face, reminding you of the harsh conditions here. A tour guide standing next to us in the crowd  observes that this tree is more than 250 years old.

We are transfixed in this powerful moment, and the symbolism of what we see.

You can see the silhouette of the Cypress leaves across the endless backdrop of brilliant blue beyond.  If you peer closer, you would be able to see a faint curvature of the earth as the ocean engulfs you on all three sides. It feels like you’ve reached a cliff – go beyond into the ocean and you’d fall off the edge of the earth.

And amongst all this is the Lone Cypress that stands out starkly,  almost with an invitation which says – “Look at me, I am still here!” . Like a Howard Roark laughing at the edge of a cliff.

What you do not see is that a few hundred years ago – a bird that plucked the cypress seed and innocently dropped it out on the rock. You do not see a tiny seedling emerging out, unaware of the  glory it would be destined to – just by refusing to give up.

What you do not observe is the furious storm that almost ripped this cypress tree away from its roots.  Lashed by a hurricane and stricken by lightning flashes, the tree has been downed once but was never out.

You also cannot see the thin transparent wires that hold it upright now.

In one picture  you observe individualism. heroism and empathy entwined together.

This is indeed a powerful moment for us!

Posted in Fiction Experiments, Personal Stories

The Window Seat


man-and-woman-looking-out-the-window-at-the-sunset-over-the-sea-couple-embracing-and-watching-sunrise-indoors-in-rainy-day-boyfriend-brings-a-cardigan-to-his-girl-romantic-evening-after-the-rain_sxvlpeycx_thumbnail-full01.png

I am gearing up for a lonely three hours, bracing myself for the impact of this all too familiar feeling – a sinking sensation in the stomach, ears popping gently, a faint smell of invading gasoline and the gentle whirring of engines that morphs into an angry roar. Yes, my flight is about to take off. And as it is with all kinds of travel, an agonizing movement from point A to point B – I am hoping that this journey ends sooner than later!

Up.. up .. and away! We are in the air, and I can sense that tiny tilt as the wheels disengage from the runway. On journeys like this – tied to the claustrophobic confines of an ever-dwindling airplane economy seat, I always prefer the aisle. It gives you a decent (but mostly false) sense of space and control.  But today is one of those days when I haven’t been able to grab one despite futile attempts, furiously checking the American Airlines app hoping that an aisle seat opens up. So… a window it is!

Settling in – I peer out of the glass porthole that separates me from the cold, harsh yet spectacular expanse outside – and that sight almost takes my breath away.  It has been just around five minutes after takeoff, and all I can see is this mingled rush of blues, and a vast expanse of the horizon tearing the colors apart. Squinting my eyes, I try to decipher if the lighter blue is perhaps our atmosphere or the cold inhospitable outer space, trying to recollect the long-forgotten geography lessons of past. The darker shades of blue, with a garland of tiny Christmas lights, is a rapidly disappearing San Francisco Bay.  I imagine my family somewhere down there – having a quieter dinner tonight with a distant glow of the TV humming in the background. I sigh, then noticing a dozen boats circling the harbor like tiny glowworms attracted to the brilliant display of lights – each on a purposeful journey of its own.

I smile.

This thin layer of glass, delicately woven with tiny stitches along the seams and precariously placed thousands of miles up in the air takes my loneliness away for a brief moment. Ah, I hear myself saying – the Window seat is not so bad after all!