Bullock Cart: A Poem

INTRODUCTION

I've had a fascination with India (and Sri Lanka / Ceylon) for over a decade. In 2004 I traveled to South India where I spent 21 days exploring the subcontinent (Orissa southward). There's something so mystical and ethereal about the place that it sticks in my mind as if I was there yesterday. I can still smell the incense and hear the wooden wheels creaking, the bells tinkling.

As soon as you set your foot down out of the plane you "feel" something different. Generally speaking, Indian culture, and Hindu culture, is very different from the West. Though India is the world's largest democracy, it seems like change comes very slowly not just in politics but in every other facet of life as well. There are cars and motorcycles, but there are also cycle rickshaws, bullock carts, and elephants.

Here I've attempted to recapture one of the most surreal initial moments upon arrival in India. I'd just gotten to the woman's house I was staying at, they'd given me huge brass jugs of heated water to bathe with, and afterward I went out on the balcony to watch the dusty foot traffic below. Suddenly this enormous cart with wooden wheels 8 feet high started rolling and creaking past. I was instantly transported back in time--to a place I knew, yet had never been before. I hope I've been able to capture the essence of what I felt and experienced in this poem.

Source

BULLOCK CART

Sweltering early morning haze

Patience saturates the breeze

Old music of dusty pathways

Echoes timeless through centuries

Huge wooden wheels creak their agéd bones

"Tink-chink" chime tiny brass bells

Horns painted red, green, blue, and gold

Sweep in slow, methodical swells

Patchouli smoke whirls through sunshine

Peacocks strut in old Ceylon

Saddhus tend the roadside shrine

As barefoot villagers look on


© Kate Parker / Faceless39

AFTERTHOUGHTS

More than any other culture I can think of (Note: I'm not a history major), India has bounced back and retained its identity through hundreds of years of foreign rule. First the Moghuls and then the British Raj took over, and yet when you visit you

Konark stone wheel (10 feet in diameter)
Konark stone wheel (10 feet in diameter) | Source

find a place peculiarly Indian. The people seem to have a knack for turning "outside" objects and forces into their very own. It's as if they assimilate everything into their own outlook. You see cars, but many are plastered with images of deities, are covered in garlands of flowers, are hanging braided Saddhu hair on the front grill for good luck, or have eyes painted on the front (to make sure the car can see).

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Indian subcontinent is that everything is just so old. There are hand-carved stone temples of an intricacy hard to imagine that have been sitting in the same spot for 5,000-10,000 years. Despite hundreds of years of foreign rule, everyone went on as normal doing what they've done since before time was even recorded. Walking along the dusty streets is, often, literally like taking a time machine back a few thousand years. It's difficult for me to describe the feelings that well up in a person when surrounded by this type of place, but more than anywhere else, the images stick and remain crystal clear forever.

Copyright © 2011 Faceless39. All rights reserved.



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Comments 10 comments

cherylone profile image

cherylone 5 years ago from Connecticut

It makes me feel like I'm sitting on the porch as the cart creaks by.


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago

Beautiful. Those huge wheels on the carts always seem like they are about to fall off any time.

Voted up Beautiful and interesting. Where were you in SA? I was in Cape Town mostly.


waxi 5 years ago

Hi Faceless

This is a wonderful HUB and sweet poem I absolutely agree with every thing you wrote I am persistent in my choice of Animal draw carriages more interesting than the automobile I am Pakistani but I was born in India after Partition which is very rare cos my dad was appointed in Pak ambessy I have a natural love for that land

Another thing I admire about Hindues is that they remain faithful to their culture and don't take on Western values and most impressive is the austere behaviour of most of their Parliamentarians arriving in Parliament on cabs, buses Ilove to visit India and today Pakistan has voted India its most preferred trading partner so it will improve my prospects of visiting that country

But not all is bright; inspite of major advancements on economic fronts, povery is still widespread and corruption a major problem

[Hope my grammer was correct :)]

Waqxi -your fan :)


Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 5 years ago from The North Woods, USA Author

@Cherylone, thanks so much for your multiple comments on my hubs. I really appreciate your feedback!

@Molometer, the wheels do seem to tilt randomly at 45-degree angles once every few turns. Thanks so much for your ratings! I lived in Jo'burg for two years, then Durban for three. I got to visit Cape Town once--stayed in Fishhoek. A wonderful experience! :)


Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 5 years ago from The North Woods, USA Author

@Waqxi, I always look forward to and appreciate your feedback. It's as it should be, I think, that Pakistan and India should be friends. After all, it was one country until 60 years ago (partition). All is not bright in the world, my friend--India, Pakistan, USA, or elsewhere. Yet I try to focus on the positive when I have a mind to! Your grammar is good--better than many whose first language is English. :)


waxi 5 years ago

Thank you faceless for the kind words and awarding my Grammer high marks.:)

Waqxi


carriethomson profile image

carriethomson 5 years ago from United Kingdom

hey faceless this is a great poem!! the way you desribe makes me want to visit the place!! it seems to be a nostalgic feeling being there.

cheers carrie


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida

I'm an armchair traveler , not by choice. India is one place I'd really like to see. I enjoyed reading your Hub about it, though.


Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 5 years ago from The North Woods, USA Author

Thanks all, I appreciate your feedback! :)

Mary, if there was just one place I could visit again in my lifetime it would be India. It's magical!


Lee Cloak 20 months ago

Engaging and wonderful, very nice writing, thanks!

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