Unforgettable Evening Memories
Dr. Sunil Deepak, 18 October 2019
What makes some memories so special, that we can't forget them, even after decades? I was thinking about my memories of my most unforgettable evenings and wondering about what had made them so special. I think that many factors contribute to making some memories special for us - Beauty or aesthetic pleasure is a part of it. The persons who are with me contribute to making it special. A dash of music or art can also contribute to it. In this post, I want to talk about 5 of my most unforgettable evenings and what made them special.
Before starting this post, let me tell you about the image above. During 2015-16, I was living in Guwahati in the north-east of India. In that period, I passed many evenings near the river Brahmaputra. I was often feeling lonely and melancholic. Yet, now when I think of those evenings, I can only remember the vivid sunsets. The image in the banner above is from one such evening, clicked near Kachari Ghat.
An Evening at the Taj Mahal, India
Talking about a beautiful evening at the Taj Mahal is a cliché, but since it was one the most incredible evenings that I had ever had, I decided to start with it. I had been to Taj in Agra a few times, the first time in 1967 on a school trip. This particular visit was in 2012, when I was in Agra for a conference. One afternoon, as I came out of a tiring meeting, I decided to walk and ended up at Taj Mahal. When I reached, the sky was already turning pink.
It was still crowded and I decided to sit down on a bench on one side, to wait for the evening. Slowly the crowd thinned and it became quieter. There was an azaan, I think from the mosque on the side of Taj or may be from outside. In that quiet, listening to that azaan and watching the silhouette of the familiar shape of the monument against the darkening sky, it was absolutely divine.
The Uvs lake in Mongolia
I have also been to Mongolia many times. This particular evening was in 2008. We had travelled in a jeep from Bayan Ulgii to Uvs in the extreme west of Mongolia. In Uvs, I had one incredible afternoon in the stadium in Ulaangom where a Buddhist lama had led a special session of prayers. One afternoon, after we finished our meetings, my friends accompanied me to Uvs lake, about 60 kms away from Ulaangom. On the other side of the lake is Russia.
It was cloudy and windy that day. The contrast between light and dark shades of the dry grass, land, lake water and the snow covered mountains was very striking. A row of white round gers (tents) for the tourists, stood out. There were noisy seagulls and black and white lapwings. There, a few of my Mongolian friends sang polyphonic songs, which is a special Mongolian skill. The singers can simultaneously make multiple sounds, some in a wonderful bass and others, more acute.
The colours of the nature, the wind and clouds, the cries of seagulls and the polyphonic sounds of the Mongolian songs, together created something unique, which made that evening unforgettable. Even now, when I listen to polyphonic music from Mongolia, I remember that evening along the lake. If you have never heard a Mongolian polyphonic song, take a few minutes to listen to one on Youtube.
Pasubio Mountain, Veneto, Italy
Pasubio is the dolomite mountain of Schio, the town where we now live. Its highest peak is at more than 2,200 metres. From our home, a 20 minutes drive takes us to the mountain pass known as Pian delle Fugazze, at a little less than 1,200 metres. This was the border between Italy and Austria before the first world war and the theatre of fights for more than three years. Hundreds of young men from different parts of Italy, but specially from all the towns of our region, had died here. At this mountain pass, visible from miles all around, is an Ossario, where bodily remains of those young men are kept.
We often go to the Ossario of Pasubio. There are may mountain paths marked by the Italian Alpine association, where you can go for trekking. There is a hanging bridge about 2 km away, which makes for a nice walk. The evening at Pasubio which I remember is from a visit in 2012 evening. It was December and very cold. There had been different snowfalls, but on that day the sky was clear.
Soon after we arrived, the sky turned pink and orange, lighting up the snow with a strange glow. The moon was already out, not yet a full moon, but still glowing nicely. There was no one else at Ossario, just I and my wife. We stood there admiring the beautiful views till it turned dark. I think that it was special because we were alone and surrounded by incredible beauty.
An Evening in Petrified Forest, New Mexico, USA
Last year, in 2018, I went on a road trip with my sister and one of her friends, in USA. We started from Santa Fe and finished our journey in Phoenix, visiting places like Grand Canyon and Sedona on the way. There is just a 2 years gap between I and my sister and I have a level of comfort with her, which is different from all other relationships. For much of our adult lives, we met once in a while, usually with our families. Only now, with our children grown up, we can meet without our families and spend our time talking, as we used to do in our childhood.
That road-trip gave some wonderful memories, one of which was an evening spent in the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. The beautiful shades of the earth, the amazing landscapes and our constant bickering (which sometimes irritated my sister's friend), made it a wonderful evening.
Baja beach on Tapajos river in Amazon region, Brazil
I have also been to Brazil many times and even recently, a few months ago, had a wonderful visit in Rio de Janeiro. However, my special evening memory is once again from 2012. I was with my friend and colleague Deo, and we were visiting a project in Abaetetuba town in Para in the north-east. One evening, we went to a shack on the Baja beach, a few kilometres away. We had some beer, and while Deo chatted with some friends, I wandered alone.
Tapejos is a huge river, its other shore was probably a few kilometres away. It changes with the sea tides of Atlantic ocean. The retreating high tide had left its marks on the sand. A group of children was playing football. Strips of land alternating with streams of water, created a wonderful background.
I walked to the water. A few families with children were there, including a man with a baby boy, who had parked his motorbike and was playing with the child in the water. Slowly the sun went down the sky turned yellow and orange. As I walked back to the beer shack, the man and the baby boy left on their motorbike. The river, the colours, the families chattering, it all created something magical.
I love writing posts like this, which give me an opportunity to revisit forgotten journeys and to remember places and persons, some of whom are no longer alive. I hope that you have also enjoyed this journey, and that it has made you remember some special moments from your own life.
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This is a trilingual blog, it also has some posts in Italian and Hindi. Each section is independent, which means that the majority of the posts in Italian and Hindi are not translations of the English language posts, they are on different subjects.