Of Blue Sky and Bare Trees

This is my third week in Worthing. There are two things here that I can’t take my eyes off.

The blue sky and bare trees.

I compared the photographs of sky that I have taken from my home town with that of here. There is a remarkable difference in their blueness. Or is it just that there are no towering buildings or skyscrapers here to steal the edges of the firmament ?

Then the bare trees.

People tell me I am here during the wrong season. I should be here during summer.
Now there are only trees that have given up their leaves. Naked and cold and depressing.
Strangely, that’s not what I see.
I see the soul of the trees. Every gnarled knot & scar revealed. Nothing to conceal under a pretentious foliage.
The branches like penitent lacerations of remorse & regrets extending further on and further on towards the sky, waiting for something.
Just like me.

They are imploring to look at them. To know them as they are.

Silent. Here everything is disrobed.

Highdown Hill , Worthing

My most favorite place to visit in Worthing is the Highdown Hill and Southdown National Park. Two weeks into my stay here and I find myself walking up the hill at least three times a week for obvious reasons.

Highdown Hill is a small hill 226 feet high that stands just north of Ferring.It overlooks Littlehampton, Angmering, Ferring and Worthing .

The plaque at the entrance tells you that, when you walk up the hill, you will be following the footsteps of pre- historic traders, Romans, Saxons, shepherds, farmers, jockeys, archaeologists, plant hunters and soldiers.

The Hill itself was an Iron- Age Fort and a Saxon cemetery.

The earliest permanent settlement here was an enclosure dating back to 1000BC. Around 600BV there used to be a hill fort consisting of an earthwork with a rampart and a ditch. This was used subsequently as an Anglo-Saxon Cemetery from AD 450. All the objects excavated is now displayed in Worthing Museum.

This landscape is chalk grasslands that were formed by ancient sea algae called cocoliths. Over millions of years they were transformed into calcium carbonate forming limestone chalk. There is still a chalk pit here as seen in the below picture.

The most distinguishing feature of the hill is a copse of trees at the summit, that can be seen from anywhere in Worthing, Cissbury, Angmering and Lancing.

Southdown National Park encircles the Hill. There are 40 different plant species growing here . Towards the far-end, I saw something that resembled the part of a mill, though I am not sure if it is connected to John Oliver, the famous miller whose tomb, you can find here.

There is another interesting story that is merged in the history of this hill. The Miller’s Tale.

In 18th century, a miller John Oliver built his tomb on Highdown Hill 27 years before his death in 1793. He is reputed to have stored contraband gained from illegal activities in his tomb. It is said that he set the sails of his wind mill in a particular angle as a signal to smugglers about the absence of customs officials.

John Olliver was famed as an eccentric and extraordinary individual. The story says that his coffin was painted white and was drawn to his tomb by 8 ladies dressed in white robes. Whatever people speak about his craziness, he is believed to have been a benefactor of poor in the neighborhood.

Highdown Hill is a beautiful place to be whether to explore the woods, to sit on the wooden benches with a book, or to lie on the meadow to watch the shape- shifting clouds or to just lean back on the trunk of a tree and dream away.

The information for the blog is taken from the plaques found on the Hill.

Live and Let Live

Why cannot people live by this simple principle?

The reason I am putting my thoughts in print is because of the explanations people are expecting from my husband. They want to know why has he ALLOWED me to travel alone and stay alone for five months in a foreign land!!!

How could she leave her grown up son and husband to look after themselves and have her own good time ?

My husband and I were brought up in a strictly patriarchal society where we observed our mothers’ and other female relatives’ purpose of life can be summarised into looking after their families.

Where women are brought to believe that before going to their office, they have to cook breakfast, make lunch tiffins for all and get their children ready for school. Once back from work, do the cleaning, mopping, washing and then cook dinner, all by themselves or maybe with the help of a maid.

Education didn’t change anything much for women and men of my generation. Reading about the horrifying details of dowry deaths in the next generation, I can see that nothing is better even for them. Woman is still made to feel guilty if she does something for herself, like what I am doing now ; travel solo, have dreams and make them come true.

Life is different only for people who have the courage to take risks and not care about what the society talks about them.

We moved away to Mumbai and decided not to follow the so called patriarchy. It was difficult and we are still learning. We are partners and best friends more than anything. We give each other space and freedom to live, without insecurities, because we know the power of the love between us. We raise our boys giving them values we believe in and not the ones that dictates different set of rules for men and women.

There are so many people in our generation who watch us breaking the boundaries that society has made for us. They themselves cannot even sway on the set path. Or they do not thave the courage to do so. This makes them resentful.

Rushing to the boundary they question us, how could you? They think that my husband is hen- pecked. They measure the length of my dress and say, ” The older she gets, the shorter her dress becomes” ( I didn’t make this up. My so called friend asked the same to my sister)

To those people, I am saying ” Just sod off”

It is my life. I live it the way, I find it fit.

I am happy. We are happy.

But are you? You will be, when you direct your time and energy in doing better things for yourself.

To all those who send negative thoughts our way, May your negativity bounce on the armour of our faith and love and fall back on you.

Just Live, and Let others Live.

Why Is She a Xanthippe?

Women become xanthippes. Why?

Imagine this.

I asked him, ” Did you get the milk and bread?”
He said ” Understanding the question is half the answer”
I said, “I will then serve philosophy as breakfast”
He called me ‘xanthippe’
That’s how the fight started.

I say, behind every Xanthippe, there is a man who always forgets what she asked him to do.