The more we connect ourselves to nature the more we understand it. It is the single most dominant force that believe it or not impacts and to a great extent governs our day to day life.
To truly bask in it's glory one must constantly appreciate and thank the universe around us - respect it and try and connect with it. Simple act like sitting under a tree or listening to the sound of water or just soaking in the Sun's energy.
It is as simple as that. One other way to really understand the magic of it all is to experience nature's various "Magic Shows" -
Who would imagine to hide the Sun for a few seconds during the day. What are the odds of everything aligning in the perfect way for this to happen. Our daytime star’s diameter is approximately 400 times larger than that of the Moon. What a coincidence that it also lies roughly 400 times farther away. This means both disks appear to be the same size. And then for it to come in a such a position that the Moon completely block the Sun out right out of no where.
This is truly magic and you actually have to experience it to really feel the intensity of this magnanimous show. I happened to witness one of the longest Solar Eclipse of our lifetime in 2009 - and where - Varanasi of all the places.
Steeped in history - Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the World. It would be true if I said it is India's most religiously important cities and now it also finds itself in the threshold of India's politics.
I can only try and do justice to this enthralling experience. Writing about it literally gives me this sudden gush of excitement - imagine how intense it must have been. Let me say the turn of events was dramatic - totally edge of the seat.
3:30 AM - I was already on my way the ghat (river bank) hoping this would be the spot to witness the eclipse. Ghats in Varanasi are extremely important and pious. It is on these banks the oldest city in the World has thrived. Pilgrims from all over the sub-continent come to Varanasi to bathe in these magical water and many hope to get cremated here too. They say it is a straight road to heaven.
So keeping it's importance in mind I chose Dashashvamedh Ghat - the creme de la creme - the most spectacular of ghats in Varanasi. Naturally this would be the most crowded of all - and when I say crowd in India - it means a totally different level of CROWD - If not accurate they were easily 300,000 people on this one spot. At the peak of the eclipse - it was impossible to move.
Thankfully I was up early and quietly - before the crowd started to pour in - made my way to the top of this century old building right on the ghat. All the TV reporters were setting camp here - which assured me this would be the ideal spot. These reporter people tend to take the vantage points. Also this would give me access to amazing gadgets.
4:00 AM - The crowd starts to roll in - the Sun has also risen - it is right above the horizon - there is a nip in the air - which is comforting during war summer days - I think it was the anxiety too that added to all this. After all it is not everyday you witness an eclipse of this scale.
4:30 AM - By half past five the entire ghat is full of women, men and kids - wearing the brightest colors - and rapidly moving in all direction - it looked like a glass jar filled with colorful marbles. Vendors shouting and trying to sell flowers and incense sticks - and the oarsman cracking deals with those who want to be in the river during the eclipse.
5:00 AM - India is always overwhelming on the senses - larger than life - overload of color - sound - smell and yet this felt so much more intense than regular. Vivid colors randomly moving in all directions - priest chanting hymns - smell of the millions of incense sticks and flowers - and the star of the day - pun-uninteded - The Sun.
Thy hymns and chants just added to all of this - It was truly amazing - the sound would sway you into a trance - it was magical.
5:30 AM - By now the moon had already made first contact and with every passing second it was inching closer to totality. Excitement and anxiety were racing with each other - there was sensory overload anyway and to add to all of this - clouds appeared from nowhere - I mean seriously - clouds - on a summer morning - are you kidding me!?
6:00 AM - I did not come all the way to Varanasi to see the eclipse being eclipsed by clouds. Now basically excitement - anxiety - stress are competing with each other - and stress is clearly leading. Till now I have taken some lovely pictures of the various phases of the eclipse - as and when it reappears from within the clouds - it is started to feel like dusk - the mind and body sure do react to this - it was dawn 30 minutes ago and now it feels like dusk - how strange and magical is that right!?
6:30 AM - Minutes before totality the clouds start to dissolve in thin air - like smoke. Birds have started to make their way home - monkeys too have quiet and several stars and planets are now clearly visible.
And before you know it - poof!!! - the Sun totally disappears behind the moon and the crowd erupts in this serenading - magical - unnerving - I could balance a plan at the edge of your hair standing - energizing sound go hymns - chants - conch.
It is mesmerizing - hypnotizing - the glow of the Sun behind the Moon - it is like an eye in the sky - staring at you and you are immobilized - just looking at it - without blinking for even a second - just awed by the beauty - surprise - and magic of it all.
for almost 180 seconds I probably didn't blink and then suddenly there is a flash of light - that's when the diamond ring forms and you realize that the moon and earth move - the sun is rising again now - the sky is getting brighter - and you have just witnessed nature's biggest show up close and personal.
I don't know if words can do justice to this - so I am attaching a few videos and pictures I took - I had the most basic camera back then so this was the best I managed - However I would recommend everyone to at least once try and make the effort to go an experience a total eclipse -you would never mother nature in the same way again.
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