Tell me, was it one of those days?

I imagine you, somewhere out on the backwaters, unwilling to stir after a lunch of acharu, and a little fish.  Since lunch you’ve been lying on one of the woven balconies suspended just above the still, soupy, water, flicking occasional droplets into the air to attract dragonflies.

Too lazy to write, take photographs, you pluck at random images from what you’ve seen and heard since boarding the houseboat yesterday.  The texture, and sweet, grassy smell of the boat’s fantastical reed-woven canopy – how  thankful you are for its shady coolness.  Of the kids, scampering home from school along the spindly land paths;  or taking to the water – sculling themselves across the canals, or joining the older folk on the little ferry – standing, as in a Venetian traghetto –  ladies and old gents with umbrellas up against the sun, admonishing the boys not to unsettle the boat by fishing for minnows midstream.  Of the wild and boisterous games the boys played with inter tubes at the jetty before you left.  Or was it the wistful look of a young girl which captured your imagination, wondering about you floating through her world?

Yesterday evening, after you moored for the day – far out in a lagoon – I imagine the tide begin to turn.  Were you watching, as men slid silently across the water from out of the gloom, their tiny lamps flickering in the darkening distance?  Did you catch a glimpse of the scullers, out toward the spits of sand and tidal canal-sides, as they alighted and began hauling on the boulders that operate the ‘Chinese’ fishing nets?

Did you hear the sharp groans of those improbable, preying mantis-like machines growl above the surf on the other side of the spit?

Or did your gaze gravitate toward the land, where the sky – black and purple above the red – turned the palms, the trees, the little houses, the churches, into remnants of the inferno?   Did you have one of those days?

Afternoons.  I remember tiny flying fish skittering with impunity across the glassy surface of the water, making ripples like self-propelled skipping stones.  All is quiet, only the occasional chirp of a sparrow, the drone of a slow flying insect.  Faint, desultory conversations drift across the water from a handful of old men, sartorial in white dhotis, shirts and scarves, as they play a game with stones on the shady dock.

It’s a domestic time for the Garudas, the bright-tan winged vehicle of Vishnu.  In the lassitude of late afternoon, they glide the thermals, sweeping down on untended building supplies:  stealing fine strings of coir, slivers of bamboo – landing in a single swoosh into the heart of a Kora palm, to build their nest in the shade of its rustling fronds.

As the day draws to a close, top-heavy shadows from the encircling coconut trees will segue across the water, where the fishermen, having gathered up their nets, will be readying their boats.  Out past the village, in the protective elbow of salt-white dunes, the black-hulled kada wallam, the seagoing boats, will be bristling with activity;  their dark, lean chested crew, heads wrapped in faded head cloths against the incipient cold and their once-garish lungies folded at half-mast, will be working with their accustomed easy co-operation.

I imagine your day ending on a timeless landscape of rippling water, shot by the rays of the sinking sun.

Tell me, was it one of those days?

This is a re-worked version of one of my very earliest posts – viewed by three intrepid web-explorers – including Naomi Baltuck.  In thinking about Ailsa’s Liquid world, and Jake’s call for “Natural Resources”, places like the water world at Wasgamuwa National Park in Sri Lanka and the Backwaters of Kerala sprang immediately to mind.

I’m so nervous about a new nibble for the Girls that I can’t concentrate to tell you about the glorious wilderness resource of the lakes of Wasgamuwa, but I need to engage, so please, enjoy these grainy old snaps from the Backwaters, marvel at the ingenuity of the ‘Chinese’ fishing nets, and imagine yourself sprawled on that little balcony just above the water.  If you’ve been there, I hope you had one (preferably several) of those days;  if you haven’t, I hope you can imagine how it might feel.

67 thoughts on “Tell me, was it one of those days?

    • Golden sunsets on the backwaters – golden sunshine filtering through your late autumn trees – you’re having a very colourful day!

      Oh yes *crossed* – i’m finding it hard to remember to breathe as I wait for Ru to get back to me about her hubby’s mother’s friend …

  1. You just helped make it one of those days! Your beautiful photos, and your vivid description are transporting. Now, I must acclimate back to my own world. Instead of flying fish skittering across the surface of tropical waters, I will see squirrels leaping across my frosty lawn! Thank you for the mention!

    • it was nice to see your face there as one of the three who saw the original post – turns out you must be one of my ‘oldest’ surviving blog acquaintances 🙂

      Lawn’s all frosty, is it? Squirrels busy gathering up every last thing to eat before the snow comes … little blighters – I remember them watching as I planted spring bulbs ….

      • Oh, yes! One year I planted 100 fall blooming crocuses, and the squirrels got 97 of them before I knew what was happening!

        I do remember discovering your blog, and feeling very fortunate. I was new to blogging too, and it seemed to me that you must have been doing it forever, because your posts were so lovely and and exotic and spiffy and grownup! So glad our paths crossed!

  2. just sublime, you transported me too, the sparkling sunset water is still flashing in my peripheral vision, as the people melt into the shadows of the shore and the sea, thank you meredith, and fingers crossed for the Girls 🙂

  3. What excellent writing! You really transported me to the place, the moment, especially with the evocative pictures. I’ve never been to India or Sri Lanka but now I almost don’t have to – I can just read your work! 🙂

  4. This post did seem slightly familiar 🙂 The photographs are beautiful 🙂 – especially that of the Chinese net at sunset (has a little rhyme to it as well :D)

  5. Pingback: SUNDAY POST : Natural Resources | rfljenksy – Practicing Simplicity

  6. Beautiful pictures. It’s wonderful to see such clear pictures of places I’ve never been. thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you enjoyed it enough to come back. I’ll be following yours. 🙂

      • I’m sure you won’t be too late, unless you are a doomsdayer. then… hard to say. May be your underground home would be the safest place to be. Enjoyed reading all your fun comments here as well. I had to look up your blog again to remind myself of what sweet thing I might have said. So, have a carrot night cap, get some rest, and come back when you can. 🙂

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  8. Those “grainy old snaps” are magnificent photographs! Your description is worth of Joseph Conrad. I don’t know how I managed to wander off somewhere and miss your extraordinary adventures and photographs! I know you. I recognize the gravatar every time I see it. For some odd reason, you float in and out of my view. You write so very well, and your style delights me. Where is the book? The story of Sri Lanka? I am sorry that you are leaving this magical place. I remember having admired a photograph of lights or fireworks on the water once here when I first started to blog myself. Not many photographs get filed in my old brain, but that one is there. I have to read backwards here, I suppose. Thank you for reminding me to come back here.

    • Snap, George! It was just the other day I thought “where’s George been – I haven’t seen a post in a while”. So glad you’re back – look forward to seeing more of you 🙂

      Oh, and thank you dear for your supportive words – the book, if I can manage it, will start after i’m settled back in Oz. When that will be, seems a little hazy the last week or so – maybe after Easter?

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