Date : May 2008
The journey time between my office guest house in Rourkela and the Steel Plant at Chadrihariharpur which is my office now is roughly 25-35mins. It stretches to 45-55mins if you are stuck behind long queues of heavy duty trucks. It is quite rare in the mornings but almost regular in the evenings. My colleagues and I have humorously divided the drive as shohor (city) Phase, nodi (river) phase, jungle (forest) phase, pahar (hill) phase. The jungle phase and the pahar phase overlap and coexist peacefully at places. It is the jungle phase that I have grown to like the most. Never before did I realise that trees are a treat to watch. I have been watching them for quite a while now and they never fail to amaze. I must confess I really do not know many trees. Hence can not really recognise many within the unorganised clutter. But the colours. Rather the variety of the colours that catches your attention. Even though it is summer and the sun is scorching down on us. Some of the trees still have young leaves with their beautiful hue of green : fresh and soothing. While some others lie barren. They have not quite forgotten the winter it seems. Then there is the shimul. It has flowers very similar to palash only much larger. Fiery orange, almost stretching to vermillion. They flowers form huge clusters and you hardly can see the leaves or the bark when the flowers are in bloom. Its like they are exhibiting their best shrouding the rest.
There is a stretch of road where the trees are lined in order. The krishnachura predominates here. They also have those red-orange flowers. In full blossom they effortlessly grab your attention. Then are thousands of others. Some slightly swaying in the breeze, some standing sturdily providing cool shade, some stooping down. Not quite ready it seems for the sweltering summer. Some smalls ones covering the hills. Rendering colour to the hills. Lush green mixed with the brown of the dust. Some sloping down from the road. In different shades. They are picturesque.
Some other place, some other time I probably would not even bother to look at the trees. But out here with limited entertainment you become observant.
The ride back in the evenings are boring. Scenic beauty cannot be grasped in the darkness. Sitting in the tightly packed Marshal. Hungry. People smelling of sweat and grime. The radio playing long forgotten melodies. The “BLOW HORN” endorsed at the back of the truck right in front of you stares back. Many “AWAZ DO” and “JAI HIND“s ,”TATA“s, “BYE BY“s, “DENGAR“s we finally reach the shohor phase. The Air conditioning of the guest house awaits us