National Highway: NH-48

Large tree-trunks lie uprooted on both sides of the highway for miles. Their giant roots, snapped, are covered in soil that drip red now in rain, so the trunks appear to be bleeding, and now and then, because there are so many of them, the vision of an ended epic-battle between Bheemas and Ghatodgajas flits across my mind. Here and there the contractors have set upon the trunks the machines that haul them into trucks. While the trunks wait to be taken, where no one is around, villager-couples saw off little branches to take them home for firewood—wispy women, hair loose and full of energy like Maramma, and withered men, both struggling with the saw, all in furtive hurry.

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It was overcast today, but the boulders on the hills caught the light and glowed while all around there hung a grey-green gloom that takes me to a dreamy plane. A hill came up which resembled a lion, crouched and in a fixed gaze—in its glow it appeared sacred. My vivid memory, though, is of the hill with, at its feet, row upon row of coconut palms whose branches strained skyward and seemed to pull the trees to their toe-tips; the lower branches stretched sideways, their tips dipping—trees like ten-thousand tall ballerinas, still and frozen on the plains between Hassan and Bangalore.