Its only serendipity that can bring such experiences into one’s life.

We (Pankaj, Siva and I) were on the grim task of evaluating some of the post-tsunami reconstruction projects in coastal Andhra Pradesh. Long, long journeys were punctuated by hot and dusty stops at featureless, monotonous, army-barrack like projects. Hearts were heavy and the limbs were tired. The soul, as usual, seemed to have a million questions …

What saved the trip was the wonderful, green, dotted-with-tanks landscape of the coast. The beauty was indescribable.

And then one tired afternoon Kolleru happened. Kolleru, I imagined, was a huge lake. And when the field team talked about boat rides, my ears perked up.

Never, never, never, in my dreams I would have imagined an experience like this. Kolleru was no simpering lake. It was a huge expanse of a wetlands … that swayed to the rhythm of flooding and receding waters – leaving behind a vast variety flora and fauna. The fishes thrived. And the place was a Birds Paradise. In half an hour, we must seen at least 30 varieties of birds – ranging from the tiny twittering ones to the silently, meditating 6 footers !

The boat-ride was through a forest of “kikisa”, tall reeds that grew giving a tunnel effect. The swirling, silent water seemed to hide myriad of secrets in its depths under a vast bird-filled sky.

The trip included a visit to a remote island village which was famous for its temple. But remote or not it boasted a bar. The hoarding seemed incongruous in the setting, sitting side by side the temple ! But then there’s a strange rightness in that – for, after-all, both promise Nirvana !

The trip that lasted a good 2-3 hours, ending only as fell, seemed like a reward, a compensation for the task we were doing.

The soul was replete. Filled with gratitude.


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