The season for closed schools, rumours of monsoon and kids at play. As we begin our journey, balancing notions and curiosity, we find ourselves learning from the company of masterful children.
The initiator Ali, was unafraid. While other kids ran away, he walked up and spoke his mind, asked his questions. He spoke of the tide and of the everyday dance of water, the shape-shifting river and fluid land.
Long chins to hold up quick smiles that light up half-moon eyes.
Deepa came along bearing gifts of gandaraj. She skipped from pillar to broken pillar of a ruined temple of a rajwada. The legacy of an old zamindar, she said, whose expanse of land is now underwater. The water receded down the steps to revel more of their low tide playground. She and her friends carried on with their games knowing of the tide and wary of the ways of the river.
Then there was the composed one, diligently going about household chores. She spoke at length about the increased sedimentation, of dredging during the Ganga Sagar mela and possible repercussions of the same. There were the beginnings of cynicism that were glimpsed when she spoke of daftars and officers, maybe signs of an impending adulthood. She never said what her name was, but did bare an intimate sadness when she spoke of her old playground, the one that she lost to the river. She has questions for the river and those influencing her.
Moving Upstream is our homegrown project, a four-month walk along the Ganga from the sea to the source being undertaken by Siddharth Agarwal. He is accompanied by a team of researchers and and film-makers that is working to create a multifaceted experience revolving around the river. For more from the project visit: www.veditum.org/moving-upstream