Sunday, 17 April 2011

A Beekeeper and a Song

Takao San, less than an hour by train from Shinjuku, makes for a pleasant day hike away from the madness of Tokyo. If you are looking for a challenging climb, Takao San, at 599 m, is not the mountain for you. But it has ancient cedars, wildflowers, waterfalls, secluded shrines, a variety of wildlife and – legend has it – resident tengu (goblins from Japanese mythology).

Climbing always makes me think of a beekeeper and a song.

We met the beekeeper in Wales. Four of us – friends from university – were mountain-biking near the town of Machynlleth when we went off the trail and got lost. After going miles without seeing another human soul, we came upon a bee farm and next to it, a cottage.

The cottage was inhabited by a red-haired young man who ran the farm, commercially producing honey and at the same time studying bee biology and behaviour. Saha and I told him we were lost, and he explained how to find the bike trail. But before that, in a five-minute conversation, we told each other the story of our lives.

Saha and I are from similar backgrounds – we went to school and university in Calcutta, and joined law firms in London. The beekeeper grew up in Machynlleth, which has a population of just over 2,000. He went to university in Cardiff and now, in a beautiful and remote valley, he observes bees and harvests honey. And helps lost bikers find their way.

We told the beekeeper we were planning to climb Cadair Idris. It is not far from Machynlleth and quite a popular climb, so we were surprised when he said he had never climbed it himself. We asked him why, and he said, “I like being at the farm.”

And it made me think of a Kimya Dawson song, and that is why I will forever associate climbing, beekeepers, and these lines from Hadlock Padlock:
I wonder if this climbing that you city people do / Ever leads you to a place with such a pretty view.


The Reluctant Rebel said...

Sroyon, I want to thank you again for introducing me to Kimya Dawson and Belle and Sebastian. It is scary how the lyrics of these artists resonate with me.

Shrabasti Banerjee said...

That is a beautiful song. Beautiful story too. :)

Anonymous said...

I want to be that beekeeper. Except I'd live in Dublin, work at a bookstore (one of those quaint ones, not the giant conglomerates that sell glossy paperbacks and pretend to be bookstores) and help lost tourists find their way.

Pratiti said...

I approve! Literary post after long time. And I'd like to echo Saha's sentiments about Kimya Dawson and Belle and Sebastian.

Priyanka said...

This is such a lovely post. I don't think beekeeping's my thing, but I can see myself meditating on a rock somewhere and pointing people the right way. Sometimes. >:D

Ravis said...

Haha, literary post after long time?
This be my favourite post by you so far. I'm awed. I love it.

Sroyon said...

@Saha: The music finds us, yeah. :)

@Shrabasti and Raktima: Thanks!

@TnL: Fair enough.

@Pratiti: Implying the other posts were pulp fiction?

@Priyanka: I would trust to dumb luck rather than your pointing.

Priyanka said...

WHEN have I ever pointed people the wrong way? I'm a beacon of light compared to your brother, for instance.