The Dream of Life

The blog is inspired by and based on the documentary film "A Dream of Trees"

Full documentary attached at the end of the blog.


What stays when we are gone? Gone long enough for our memories to still be alive, gone long enough for the Himalayas to have grown much taller and gone long enough to have been wiped off the face of the planet? Take a moment, and think of it. But don't worry, expecting an answer this soon isn't the agenda.

We call this planet beautiful. Despite all the facets of hunger, poverty, famine, death and corruption. We call it beautiful. Because all of it is alive. It’s ticking, it’s evolving, it's full of life. And because, every form of life here has a dream. Not the kind humans have made it look like, but a dream more complex than any other. A little flower blooms, a honey-bee pollinates, flowering trees thrust their roots through the basalt of dead volcanoes, grassland ecosystems support elephants, a mother tiger tends to her cubs and a male lion kills infants during a pride take-over. All of them, every single one of them, are driven by a dream. A dream that each one of us inevitably becomes a part of. A dream to survive till the next sunrise, a dream to raise generations of young, dreams of utter insignificance piling up in an unending abundance, together shaping the greatest dream of all- the Dream of Life.

A winter morning in an Indian forest | Photograph by Upayan Chatterjee


The dreams continue to linger, even when the world forgets who dreamt it first and yet, a few amongst us somehow manage to create our own little dreams that resonate within the greater idea. This is when the extra-ordinary happens, and our little learnings of life come together to assimilate into something much greater than the individual inputs. A whole, much more complex, so much more alive that it survives long after its history has disappeared. A rain-forest, an impenetrable canopy, a floor covered with piles of decomposing leaf litter, an ecosystem thriving with life- can that be replicated? Can open areas amidst plantations be resurrected and transformed into rain forests, an intricate balance that was achieved over millions of years? But the bigger question is: are humans allowed to dream at this magnitude? And if dreamt, can that be a reality?

Dr. Divya Mudappa and Dr. TR Shankar Raman overcame all these doubts when they made their little discovery of how rain-forest trees could be grown in a nursery. What started off as study of civet scats, and whether they were more viable than seeds strewn on forest floors, became a reality much larger than want they initially dreamt of. All it took was two decades of dedicated efforts.

The magic of India's forested lands (Representative Image) | Photograph by Debangee Das


Valparai commercial plantations: dying patches of fragmented forests, a sparse canopy, open forest species dominating the flora and fauna- the struggling remains of what was once was a pristine stretch of unbroken rain-forest. And yet, there was a dream. A dream that one day, and a day not so far in future, the Great Indian Hornbills would make their nests at this very place, ratifying that the resurrection of a rain-forest was indeed possible. A dream that lived on, long after nobody remembers who birthed the idea. 

And things are forgotten pretty easily because remembering needs knowing, and most of us never know. The horn-bills shall never know who built the forest for them, just as the little sapling emerging from the leaf litter shall grow tall but never know its parents, and ultimately, remembering and knowing are all so very inessential in this grand scheme of things. That they, who came together to build an entire rain-forest ecosystem, shall be easily forgotten, doesn’t stop their eyes from watering when the first Hornbill pair does arrive, just as knowing that we don’t really contribute anything by watching a 50-minute documentation of their decades of work, doesn’t stop us from crying with them. That the fate of this blog of getting lost amidst the crowd, doesn’t stop us from voicing our feelings and constantly searching for meaning, knowing full well that we perhaps don’t matter, is what keeps the greater dream going. 

The blog is inspired and based on the documentary "A Dream of Trees" | NCF India |

(Video Content may not be accessible if you are viewing from outside India)


Living and breathing the dream of trees is just one extra-ordinary way of getting close enough to the dream of life, towards realizing its immense capacity and this is just one extra-ordinary story that inspires us to allow ourselves to chase our own little dreams. And one day, being threatened by the greater unknowns and constant worry, might lead to a world where dreams cease to exist. And that perhaps, is the single most important threat that faces the great dream of life.


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Blog by Upayan Chatterjee

Edited by Trisha Bhattacharyya

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