“The mountains were so wild and so stark and so very beautiful that I wanted to cry. I breathed in another wonderful moment to keep safe in my heart.”
This quotation from Goodreads is probably the closest I can get to expressing my love for the hills. As someone who is bad at putting emotions to words, Google saves the day often. Some time back was an extended weekend. And once you become a corporate rat, extended weekends are an opportunity to get out of town. To clear that head, explore new things, places or catch up with people. Like most Delhites, I chose to take a quick trip to Himachal Pradesh. The land of scenic valleys and resorts in the lap of the Himalayas. It is called the 'Land of Gods' - don't know about Gods, but surely it is very popular among the mortals of the plains. I was going back to the mountains after almost a year. I had been longing for it, like for a long-lost lover.
It is as if I am married to the mundane and every once in a while, there is a desire to revisit my days of carefree laughter with this other man. To escape from the humdrum of daily routine and run to the one who gives all but asks nothing in return. He listens, lets me be and lets me go when I am ready.
My travel companion was a buddy from school and riding around on a bike, we covered Mcleodganj - Dharamshala - Kangra Valley. In those three days, I could feel my senses heightened. I was seeing, hearing and smelling everything beautiful and better. Many reasons to fall in love with the hills and mountains. Firstly, the simplicity of things; people are not constantly rushing somewhere and usually happy to help. The air of contentment is contagious and unavoidable. I am not saying that there is no hardship. Just that we must appreciate how the local life is self-sustaining and in harmony with nature. Being a tribal girl myself, that's very appealing to me. It reminds me of the summer holidays spent in our family village back when I was a kid, when time was my best friend. Maybe the hardship itself drives this balance between men and the wilderness. They are grateful for the beauty of the gigantic mountains and the immensity of the lands on which they look down. Next on the list: the womenfolk. To put some context, twice we had our meals at a restaurant which was owned and ran by this boss lady of a woman. Since it was the time of the Tibetan New Year, the place was full house. She did have help; even her cute little daughters were helping out. But when need be, I could see she did not hesitate from bringing in the orders, clearing the tables herself. She was in charge. Want another example? While checking into the Pema Thang Guesthouse on our second day, I believe we were attended by Pema herself. In her regal Tibetan robe, she looked every bit of the business woman she was. I have come across many such women from the hills. Many such households where women bring home the bacon and men take a backseat. I draw inspiration from them. So strong and enduring. I love these ladies!
Each time I come back with a special memory to keep with me. We visited the Dalai Lama temple and I could not believe it when I found myself standing in front of the compound where he now lives. Tranquility descended me there. I had only heard of 'Free Tibet' and Mcleodganj is full of Tibetans fleeing home, from the Chinese occupation. It hardly feels like a part of India, if you choose to ignore the loud, stupid tourists. Spending those three days amidst them, I wanted to know more. Probably, shall start with understanding Buddhism. After all in today's time, spirituality and politics often cross paths.
One might want to ask: if I love and enjoy the hills so much, do I want to live in one of the Himalayan hamlets someday? The answer would be a no. Because, eventually monotony would catch up and kill the charm it holds on me right now. The current arrangement suits me right.
In order to preserve the pleasure of this love affair, I must return to the plains, my home. With that thought, we exchanged our good byes for now.
(This article was originally for my personal blog page)