Whitewashed, stone walls stand stoically, as my train passes them. I have left Mumbai behind me and am heading towards the interiors of Maharashtra. I recognise the large stone blocks that jut out unevenly from the surface as the same ones that made up the houses in my hometown, Ambajogai, until recently. They hearken to old times, before fashionable red bricks and cement were discovered. These walls have stood for a long time, and they tell me that they will do so for many more years, because that is who they are, walls that stand watch on the world, even as the world forgets about them.
On a parallel road, a dilapidated State Transport (ST) bus chugs along, climbing the ghats slowly. It is a grey, overcast day at the end of the monsoon season, and the iconic red bus stands out against the light green vegetation carpet covering the hillsides. In the monsoons, these parts of India transform into lushness, interweaving patterns of dark and soft green. The red bus detachedly cuts through, leaving it to its passengers look out the windows and drink in the wet landscape.
In the distance, I see a husband and wife walking earnestly, desirous of reaching their village before the clouds break and showers fall on them. He is in full traditional cotton white, a long sleeved, wide collared shirt hanging over loose pajama pants. He wears a Marathi topi, an upside down boat resting on his head respectfully. A few steps behind him, his wife is in a bottle green sari lined with a thin gold border, the traditional 9-yard dhoti style, her head too covered by the fall of one end of the cotton garment. I watch them stride, lean, unfussy bodies used to walking long distances. I wonder where they are coming from. Maybe they are farmers, who have been working in the fields all day, and now it is time to go home. And then my train passes them too.
I see full fields of paddy, lines and lines of rice stalks standing confident. Nearby, trees are in full bloom, green-leaved Afros crowning branches that reach towards the sky. Creepers climb lustfully on the trunks. Black buffalo herds graze in the open meadows, getting in the last many mouthfuls of sweet plump grass before the cowherd takes them home.
The rains’ blessings extend even to me, joining me into the landscape inseparably.