Nature and imagination

I am back in Banaras after a trip to Tibet, but my mind is still there trying to replay the moments, retasting fragrances, colours and sounds. There is a picture coming to my mind often these days, the moment when we were about to reach Nyalam (a Tibetan village near the Nepali border). From the endless plains of the rocky desert plateau the road descended into a deep gorge with a river at the bottom. And the dry air of the Tibetan highland suddenly changed into the moist air of the Indian subcontinent. 

And then I saw a tree, a sight completely absent for days. And then many more trees. I was overwhelmed by joy as if I was reaching home after a long journey. I was touched when I recalled the boy in Eric Valli’s Himalaya film, the little chieftain-to-be, when he saw the first tree in his life. Many thoughts rushed through my mind, about trees I have seen before, the sacred trees of India, banyan and pipal trees, tree worship. Then I thought I should catch this moment, I should be able to explain or describe it with words or pictures what that first tree near Nyalam meant to me when I looked at it, but I could not put it into words. And today in Benares, sitting in my room reading, found a piece of poetry by William Blake who I think somehow made it: ‘The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.’ (The photos show the landscape before and after Nyalam)

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