Udhagamandalam , Tamilnadu June 29 , 2010 Tue 10 : 23 PM
Ever so often when we move away from the ‘hustle and bustle’ of life, we get that unique opportunity to hear our own breathing. Here, up in the Nilgiri mountains as the clouds descend upon the tops of the peaks and gently drift down towards the valley, the grey mist giving this little town an opaque disposition, I get to hear my breath ! Nothing else. A thin piercing tone that at times envelopes our ears when we come out after a sudden loud bang, persists around you. I think they have given it a name. But the much cliched phrase has been ‘the sound of silence’. In this volume of silence, and the greenish blue presence of the hills, the tapping of the key board is like a hammer pounding its heavy head on the wooden table that bears the burden of my laptop. Nothing moves, nothing dares to make sound. Far away in the distance a dog barks. Its gentle echo fades away as swiftly as the next word forms itself on the post .. and then quiet again.
Most of my stays in Ooty had always been confined to the Savoy Hotel, a quaint warm and cozy residence with an old world charm about it. But it is booked over and I am at a different locale now, closer to the shoot site for convenience. And yes, as you can well observe the connectivity for the net is thriving. In fact it is surprisingly good. BSNL zindabad !! Thats the Government Broadband service.
Ever since the opening up of the economy and the invitation to privatization in several spheres, we have been attracted to the ‘private’ and not the ‘establishment’. But there are still the public sector units of the country which function and flourish and with some degree of efficiency too. Today for example has been an exceptional experience. The flight in from Mumbai was IA, the domestic national carrier and now BSNL for telephony. Competition I guess augurs well for betterment in service.
Time passes by so rapidly. As I drove up the winding road up from Coimbatore on the plains where the flight lands, to the Hills, I could vividly remember all those wonderful moments spent with the family, when I would bring them all up for our summer shootings. It used to be Kashmir earlier, but as it succumbed to disturbances, productions started looking for alternatives and Ooty became a preferred destination. The Southern Film Industry was always here in large numbers – Ooty being almost central to the Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam film sectors. And then it got invaded by the Mumbai Film Industry.
When I think back on those days I can only remember Abhishek and Shweta as little kids, flushed pink in the tan of the bright sun, covered in woolies and striding happily on the pony rides in and around the city. There are lakes around and about and dense forests of all various kinds of trees. And then the soft rounded off hills, sandpapered almost to a smoothness, quite unlike most hill stations. The British were so good at discovering these sites and then building them into beautiful cities to come away to from the oppressive heat of the summer. The architecture of those times in official residences, schools, churches still remains, but sadly all the fresh constructions have no coordination with them in their aesthetics. Its becoming more cement than wood and tiles and sloping roofs and thats a pity. Some regions though, distant from the main town have maintained their heritage and they are always a joy and pleasure to see, but otherwise its getting sore at places.
One such location that has remained pristine is the town of Wellington, some kilometers from Ooty. Its where the Army College is based for the seniors in the Army and its culture and discipline and protocol is maintained with typical military efficiency. Close by it, is the town of Coonor, another pretty location for many a retired army officer or administrative head. Quiet and peaceful. Within these picturesque surroundings is based the story of my character in the film – a retired teacher, who’s son is with the Armed Forces. And my entire work shall be conducted here in this peaceful haven.
Silence around us in peaceful sublime,
Forgetting what remains in other clime.
Would it were so in perpetuity,
Life, work, would prosper ingenuity.
What is it about silence that invokes poetry ?? Another one that came just off the cuff ..!!
In quietude and peace ..