Love her wildly and leave her wild

A hill can be a babysitter,
rubbing eucalyptus oil
on our belly bruises as
the winter chill leaves her abloom.
A playful child, cupping
the rain off giant leaves,

calling to attention our tired gaze.
A mother, drawing us
closer to the floral stretch-marks
of the summer in her womb.
Or a prostitute, with parts of her
stolen by the rich and desperate,
who put their priorities
before hers in strange
and ugly ways.

Megamalai-Thekkady border

I used to think that trekking, as far as men were concerned, was either a display of machismo or a fetish for masochism. I could not fathom why people would want to conquer grueling terrains. Unless they were chased by zombies on amphetamines. Of course I could not have known since I had never tried it out at that point.

I was probably jealous that I lacked the physical structure to scale anything taller than a medium-sized anthill. Or that, back then, I never had the time to spend outside the four walls of offices and rented homes.


Over the past three years, I have done some trekking in southern India; the longest of which was an 8-hour border walk, with armed forest guards and a French couple, around the Thekkady forest. The most strenuous was a 5-hour uphill climb in Megamalai, with a kind local to ensure that I don’t die in a comical fashion – like I almost did during the Gaur incident in Kodaikanal.

I still think there is an inconspicuous element of machismo to men and trekking. I don’t subscribe to this, but I cannot explain the primal scream that escapes my lungs at times. Men can slip into this half-Mowgli half-Tarzan mode without their knowledge. We will ignore pain to appear more experienced and avoid asking for directions because we are men. But the hills, she will always be a tall and benevolent woman to me.


Every trek through her parts has been mesmeric, more so the solo ones when it was easier to be in awe of  the elements of nature. And celebrate the insignificance of man in relation to the inherent beauty of our planet. Maybe a moment of stillness I shared with a falling leaf. A wild animal or a bird that I locked eyes with, experiencing ecstasy or fear – both of which left a similar taste on my tongue. And the way the hills and mountains unfolded, nakedly and gently.


Machismo doesn’t stand a chance against even a blade of grass. Or a cobblestone in a drying stream. It’s not that the maternal side of nature is a vengeful force looking to put us in place. It’s just that things don’t end up well for any species that overplays the cards it has been dealt with in the evolutionary process.

In the words of Atticus Finch, “love her but leave her wild”.

(Photographs – Kodaikanal, Megamalai, Vaparai, Masinagudi, Thekkady,  & Chittoor)

81 thoughts on “Love her wildly and leave her wild

Add yours

  1. Incredible Experience! Amazed at the tacit agony and altruistic love of mother nature is brought forth so daintily. She is unimpeachably a tall and substantial woman. Must say…the poem is ramped up beautifully from head to toe. Thanks for sharing.
    Stay Grand! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow , wow , wow , wow for the pics… The hills are alive with the sound of ………..or may be just with the words of a super writer!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, come now… you don’t really mean to associate trekking with machismo, do you? I have enjoyed every one of my treks… as challenging as they are, the joy of conquering the hill… now matter how big or small, is great… or is it the joy of conquering oneself?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Machismo has unfortunately crept up sometimes, comrade. Conditioning is a helluva drug I suppose.

      As you said it, it has been the joy of conquering oneself. Size never really mattered, but rather the space available for quiet ecstasies.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it’s less of machismo and more of “trekker’s high”, something people of all sexes feel while trudging up a hill. Just my two cents. Lovely post except for the “trekking is a guy thing” insinuation. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was never my intention to associate trekking with male gender politics hehehe I merely spoke from my perspective in which, at moments, it felt like a “typical guy thing” when guys were involved.

        But yeah as you put it, “trekker’s high” sounds a lot more accurate, and it makes me sound less like a douche. Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. i will be happy if/when will stand in those stunning sceneries, myself (bymyself). However, this photo taken in Vattakanal, Kodaikanal, really took me to another level. i feel so connected with this one. thank you so much, its like i see myself through this figure..inter-connectivity!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woawsie. A decade? That’s amazing. I hope I too put in a decade in the hills. Valparai is a personal favourite of mine since the tourists never seem to leave their rooms, which works out wonderfully for the fauna, and those who fancy them!


  5. It seems you have awoken to the joys of conquering (or joining with depending on your frame of mind) nature! I have to agree with everyone else in saying the pictures were fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

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