After climbing up a narrow track into the Indian jungle forest, so thick that barely lets any light pass through, I reach the Banian Tree. 2000 years old, the tree is made of several trunks together in one embrace and it covers and protects a wide surface under it. People come and hang by its roots, escaping noise and enjoying intoxicating moments in the smoky atmosphere.
Right now there’s nobody there but I can notice recent traces: at the entrance- all the necessary for a meal, in the middle- ashes from the previous fire, high on top- colorful banners. The protector of these surroundings is Shiva, the powerful god of destruction and of smoking as well. His statue is placed in the center and the statue of yet another saint, a Christian one (Constantine, most probably), does nothing but to complete the New Age atmosphere.
As I continue climbing up the narrow track I reach a bare plateau high above the forest, with nothing but patches of small shrubs. It all looks weird to my eyes, unaccustomed to such colors and shapes; it looks as though I was on another planet. Frail and breakable black and brown rocks, reddish soil.
I find man-made signs here also: mandalas, symbols, crosses or plain blocks of stone offered to any other divinity or event. On top of it all … the sun sets! I find it hard to retrieve my way back through the maze-like landscapes in the state I’m in: in awe in front of such beauty and mystery, in a continuous state of contemplation that stops the thoughts from wandering.
On my return I found new guest in the Banian tree house: a very nice couple of kind (my apologies for the pleonasm 🙂 ) French people, their eyes red and gazing far away. We talk about our trips and about Grandpa Banian. They stay and I continue my way through the jungle.
The darkness sets fast, the monkeys are very close and noisy like hell. Monkeys carry most diseases and a simple bite or scratch coming from them can become a problem. There are many unusual noises, many birds and animals I still don’t recognize … And I don’t really feel very Mowgli! I suddenly get scared and I briskly start running, to use the last moments of daylight. Lianas creeping on me could be anything … my eyes scan everything that moves around, every muscle in my body tenses to the maximum and seconds seem to last forever!
Forever finishes, eventually. All of a sudden, the jungle opens up and the sea appears, at last: wild and distant, its grace has balsamic properties on my tensions and quivers.
To the right, on a high rock reigning the beach I see the red and white representation of a tree …