Friday, July 22, 2005

Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix received more rain this spring than it usually does - which is not much at all. For the most part, the skies were gloomy and the rain wasn’t much more than a drizzle. And yet, it seemed excessive for the desert. Bushes with flat, many-lobed leaves that I had never seen before grew lush in places where water had accumulated: near fences, edges of roads, and signboards of plazas. The open space behind my apartment, fenced off possibly for new construction, was thick these bushes, weeds and grasses. On days that the sun shone brightly, the yellow and white flowers they spawned were resplendent.

Even the little hill next to the university that usually has a barren, brown look had a tinge of green to it. The trail to the top is winding and steep in places and ends at a rocky outcrop, just next to an assemblage of steel that serves as some sort of a receiving or transmitting station. On late afternoons, somewhat breathless from the strain of the ascent, I liked to rest at the summit and enjoy the view: the great suburban sprawl; the gloomy amber street lights that seemed to flicker; the harried rush of cars, toy-like from where I saw them on the tortuous freeways; the glimmer of the lake and the lighted bridge that arched over it; the mountain ranges and their jagged peaks that stretched in every direction. Sometimes I lingered to watch the approach of planes, now specks in the distance, now perilously close, banking this way and that, portholes clearly visible, as they aligned themselves to the parallel strips of blue light along the runway a few miles away.

A football stadium straddles the hill and a smaller adjacent butte. I like to think of it as saucer-shaped spaceship that has somehow forcefully wedged itself in the little space that there is between the hill and the butte. On many fall weekends, the sudden explosion of fireworks follows the roar of many thousands of fans at the stadium. Once, while walking up the hill, I stopped dead in my tracks, entranced by the fireworks that shot through the sky and burst in succession into plumes of smoke that, for the few seconds before they thinned into nothingness, matched convincingly the forms and shapes of the clouds scattered in the darkening sky.

Fire and trails of smoke have always had something about them: from my childhood, I remember being drawn to smoke curling from incense sticks, the crackle of matches, the glob of fire on the oil-dipped wicker of brass lamps, and long minutes on terraces observing the widening contrails of jet planes that sailed inaccessibly in the sky.


Senthil said...

Oye! Long time and all that... good to see you haven't lost your touch. :)

Keep 'em posts coming.

Brewtus said...

Lyrical! Well written.

Tom said...

Hello, Hari Balasubramanian
I am Tom who first left the real comment in here. ^^
What a nice writing!!
nice words and story telling is so good to me.
Making own footmarks here would be great experiences to everybody.
I appreciate mentioning your blog,
It is a great pleasure to me.
I hope you would keep going on.
Take care