Experiencing nothingness, infinity, silence, insignificance & purposelessness.
The Rann, they say, can’t be captured; it can be only experienced. Nothing else said could have been truer about Rann. Wanting to experience something offbeat, we decided to spend some time on a full moon night at the Great White Salt desert also known as Greater Rann of Kutch. Helped by our local host at Chobari village, Ramji, and armed with blankets and mats, my husband & I walked a few kms into the Rann in time to catch the setting sun. We set up our tripods to capture the beauty of Rann under the moonlit night. Having embarked on the ‘purpose’ of the visit by snapping up a few hundred pictures and still feeling frustrated for not being able to capture what I saw, I gave up and laid back to admire the beauty of the Rann, basking & glowing in the warm white full moon’s light. I tried to capture the moment in my mind’s eye & heart. I paused to reflect & introspect.
Beauty in nothingness.
The first thing that hit me is the vast nothingness of the white desert. For as far as the eye travels, there is just dead white land covered by a thick swathe of caking salt, laying out a beautiful white carpet welcome. There are just a few rotting plants and dead fishes dotting the landscape and there is no other sign of any habitation by neither humans nor animals. The drying salt cracks under the feet exposing the marshy wet sand, forming small puddles. It made sure I walked carefully and nimble footed lest I sink right into a muddy wet patch, fully soiling my shoes. The caking salt is not uniform and is in various stages of crystalization forming myriads of interesting patterns across the expanse. It is a spectacular landscape, equaling nothing else on this earth, for the vast flatness of the earth can’t be experienced almost nowhere on this earth, be it the mountains, deserts or the sea. I could spends hours admiring the marvels of mother nature and the beauty that exists in small things, the ones we don’t even even bother to give a second look or a thought to.
Silence is actually deafening.
Far away from the bustling madness of the city amidst the nothingness of Rann, I expected to experience pure silence. But there is nothing called as pin drop silence. Silence, as I came to realize in my quiet introspective hours at Rann, is extremely noisy & deafening. The more I relaxed, feeling my heart rate dropping to feel the oneness with nature and the quieter I became amidst the quiet & the dead Rann, contrary to my expectation to experience pure silence, the silence became unbearably deafening. I felt my eardrums were about to burst with a weird buzzing sound in my ears. It would make me feel restless and uncomfortable and I would move around a bit till it settled down and then restarted the process of stilling my body & mind till the wave of deafening silence hit me again. And the cyclical process of restlessness, moving, settling, stilling, deafening wave and again restlessness continued for the rest of my time at Rann. Perhaps at such levels of quietude, one begins to perceive sounds outside the human spectrum. Or was it the sound of my soul harmonizing with nature?
Infinity can be perceived
In the massive landscape of Rann, infinity exists and can actually be seen and felt. I trained my eye to see the edge of the earth, the point where the edge of the earth meets the horizon. The edge kept shifting ahead as I could some more of the earth and again some more with enough focus. This is what is called infinity, just when I thought that I had seen the finite end, I saw some more. Much like knowledge, seek and you shall find more, but not find it all. Why do we stop seeking?
Significance in feeling insignificant
Amidst the sheer vastness of the landscape of Rann, one feels like an ant crawling on it. I don’t mean mentally small but physically small. I felt like a size of ant walking, rather trudging along with the burden of body & soul on that vast terrain. Such is the enormity of Rann that I felt so little, so small & so insignificant. The feeling was compounded when I laid back to watch the moonlit sky and sparkling stars and felt like an insignificant nano-micro-dot in the universe. It is here I felt the expanse of the universe, observing the millions of stars, millions of light years away, twinkling for billions of years and those which will continue to twinkle for another billion. Who was I then? Who are we?
The purposelessness of purpose
I walked for 2 kms alone into the Rann, all alone in the middle of nowhere. Twenty minutes later, I felt I was stationary and I hadn’t moved an inch. There is nowhere to go and it felt I had gone nowhere. When the reference point for indicating motion doesn’t change, one feels stationary. This is also what happens mid-air. The stagnancy started bothering me. I turned and walked back and still felt stationary. This was much like our lives. We feel that life has progressed only when we get external markers recognizing the progress. Peer jealousy, industry accolades, promotions etc. What was the purpose then? What was the journey? What is the destination?
The Real Truman Show.
It is at Rann, I experienced earth for the way it is, a huge sphere. I felt I was on earth’s diametric plane and was fully able to perceive the circular periphery. The sky felt as though it was a hemispherical dome on top. It reminded me, for some strange reason, about the movie – The Truman Show. I felt like we were all a part of some larger conspiracy or plot of the universe and its creator who, unknown to us, was the puppeteer of this show, happily pulling our strings. Who was ‘he’ then?
As I pondered and introspected for a few hours in the serene quietude of Rann, the wind started chilling us. With the unanswered questions, a stirred soul, a restless mind, a heavy heart and frantic last attempts to capture the beauty in my mind, we made our way back to our base.
Needless to say, neither the pictures and nor words can do justice to what I saw, felt and experienced at Rann.