Most mornings and afternoons, I go for a walk beside the river. I take along a cotton lungi (sarong) draped over my shoulder and use it to sit on or as a wrap if it’s windy. The river here is very wide and shallow. There is a dam upstream that releases enough water to keep it flowing year round. During monsoon, the level of the river is 10 metres above what it is now. You can see the plastic bags stuck in the trees on the cliffs. Our side of the river is somewhat level grassy area for about 10 metres wide to the foot of the cliffs. The other side of the river is slowly sloping sand that extends maybe 30 metres.
In the morning and evening there is a lot of bird life. I have become a bit of a bird watcher. First it was the ducks on the other side. Then, the cormorants that dive for long periods underwater. Sometimes they swim against the current with just the tops of their heads showing. When it is late, many birds swoop, reflected in the water, as they feed on the insects. There are many smaller birds the size of a sparrow. Some have bright yellow breasts. Others are an iridescent green with a dusting of red on their wing tips that you see as they swoop from their perch and back again. I can get within a couple metres of many of them.
Often a fish will jump out of the water. Once in a while I will happen to see it. Sometimes there a very loud splashing sound and ripples that I believe is a large fish catching a smaller fish near the surface. The young men (teenagers really) who work on the construction site use the river for bathing in the late afternoon. The fun in their voices as they play is carried to me.
I often walk about a kilometre along the river to a ghat. It’s a large concrete platform with steps leading down to the river. A few of the village women still gather water or wash their clothes there though it is rare these days as most people have access to a well.There are two young brothers who put out and gather in fishing nets along the shore in their small boat. The younger one poles and the older sets or takes in the nets. They’re maybe six and eight years old. We Namaste to each other. They have lovely smiles. Yesterday, I passed them walking on the bank and one of them held up one finger and said, “One.” They went up to five and I congratulated them.
You will often find me still on the bank til dark as the colours of the sun on the water are so beautiful that I have a hard time heading back. The slow movement of the river. A few ripples. The stillness in the air. I can understand why this river has so many ashrams and temples along its shores. This evening, I did my tai chi form on a flat section and it was dark by the time I returned. Stillness and movement.