by Shashwati Talukdar
The journey from Dehradun to Chandigarh was marked by an omen. We stopped to get tea outside Nahan in one of those modern eateries where the food is the same its always been, but the interiors are ‘Tired Modern,’ with air conditioning. A persistent Bulbul kept dive-bombing into the window, and urgently calling out to let it in. So were we the bird, or were we missing the bird song that would tell all?
Avian persistence aside, the road was the usual procession of trucks with a death wish. Sadly the truck art one sees in India is slowly shrinking. Gone are the elaborate landscapes, beautiful women, exotic fauna, and dense patterns, and romantic couplets. Some phrases, however survive. The ‘मेरा भारत महान’ (India is great) from a more innocent time lives on.
Yes, India is after all ‘Garet.’ And some images are slow to completely die out. There was this lone bird on the side of the truck (ah the bird again!), done in the style of yore.
An auspicious sign because it was a bird and its proud owner that started me off on this trip. This hawk was like a hawk I had seen elsewhere. Right here at home, on the arm of the patron saint of Dehradun, Shree Guru Ram Rai. Here seen in a popular picture postcard and on a mural from the Guru Ram Rai Durbar.
I had finished making a film about mural paintings in Dehradun, and the Durbar and Guru Ram Rai featured prominently in it. And this painting with the bird made an appearance in it. And so here we were, going to the place where it had all started. To Punjab.