Once you have smelt the smell of the mountains, you will return to that smell. Again. And again.
This summer too, like every other, I will return to the mountains.
And return to it’s rivers, its streams, it’s lakes. And it’s Sun.
The cold Himalayan mountain is a paradigm in itself. Life takes on a new meaning. And people attain new perspectives.
These higher and finer aspects apart, hot water becomes worth its weight in gold. The soul thinks of the Sahara desert with a wistful yearning.
And it is a paradigm where shadows are dreaded and sunshine becomes part of our prayers.
The cold Himalayan mountain is a very powerful context.
As I gain altitude, little by little every day, I will get closer and closer to the sun and watch the fascinating interplay between the Sun and the rest of us on earth – water, mountains, snow, air, trees and people and their dwellings.
I will glide along India’s longest and highest ropeway, 4 kilometres long, from Joshimath to Auli, peering from the window of a cable car down at the tops of fir and oak trees. Heart in my mouth, I shall look down at the valley below, lit by the Sun, and its little multicoloured miniature like dwellings. I shall reach the winter ski resort with it’s powdery snow and watch for the first time, how people ski.
As I trek uphill, the entire valley will be covered in green. But the few leaves that fall along the trail of the Sun’s journey on Earth will be more privileged than entire forests that lie in shadows. For those leaves will have a halo around them, each one of them will turn into filigree, and glitter as if a computer graphics designer worked on them to create ‘special effects’.
Heard of Hanuman who, when he was a child had set out to reach the sun, taking it to be a fruit? They say he never reached the Sun and was sent back with a curse upon him that made him forget his prowess.
I say, that was a lie.
What actually happened was, he caught it and then, upon seeing it wasn’t a fruit, tossed it away and the Sun fell into a lake on the mountain below. It dissolved in the water. That’s how, the lake is full of a million suns, scattered on the million wavelets – one sun upon each wavelet.
Have you ever seen a shaft of sunlight snapping into two in mid air?
It’s the mountains. Their peaks are so sharp, they can even break sunlight.
Snow. Sprinkled on this mountain top. Smeared on that peak. Powdered snow. Paste like at times. Narrow streaks of white here. But liberal patches there.
Layers of cream on brown earth. Like vanilla and chocolate.
Coarse like powdered sugar. Fine like talcum.
Glistening sparkling. Playing hide and seek. As the sun and the clouds battle to lay claim.
And then, on a certain peak, snow, milk white all day will turn into peach as the setting sun shines it’s last rays on it.
The clouds all around will soak in honey, milk, rose water, sandal, silver, gold, saffron and lilac as the sun sinks lower.
Some will be sprinkled with turmeric, others, lavender and yet others, vermillion.
Ever elusive, but once in my reach, I will know snow. Soft as feather from far, heavy as a stone when near. So cold, like a thousand needles, when a ball of snow will hurt my hands, I will crave the Sun so my fingers may feel like my own.
In the battle between the Sun and the clouds, once in a way, clouds will claim the Sun and more clouds will claim the rest of the sky. It will begin to rain. When the weather begins to clear I will remember to look at the sky for that magical mix of sunlight and water in the sky that is called rainbow.
One of the trails, 20 or 30 kilometers long will require that I turn on my torch to guide me in the dark.
As I walk I will suddenly stop now and then, switch off my torch and go blind.
If you want to be enveloped by absolute velvety darkness, you have to go to the mountains.
I will then look up at the sky and see what I haven’t seen in one whole year.
A clear sky packed, sprinkled, smeared, sprayed and painted with stars. I will see in one single night sky what it is not possible to see in all days of the year put together, from a city.
When I see the moon, consummate or crescent, I will know and yet not know that it is the sun’s light that the beautiful moon reflects.
As I drive up and down the mountain roads, its bends and curves, I will see stone cutters bringing down their jack hammers on boulders, to borrow from the mountain, another narrow strip of road, in return for that strip on the outer edge it had eroded, the monsoon of last year.
When I see their wives and little children, brought here to haul gravel on their heads, taking their afternoon nap on the edge of the road, lying on a thin sari spread on the earth, sometimes, not even that, oblivious to the dust, sound, heat and light that’s beating down on them, when I see them sleeping like babies, I shall wish I could sleep like them.
Standing by the ghat of the great river, I shall see people standing waist deep in Ganga, facing the sun, offering prayers to him.
I shall step in to the river, slowly, one shivering breath at a time, braving it’s cold glacial waters.
I shall turn to face the sun and thank him for this life, for this beautiful world, which would not have been, if not for him. I shall pray that he may shine and never die.
And I shall plead with him not to be too harsh, not to take lives, but to be kind and to slip behind clouds when the homeless and the shelter-less walk and toil outdoors.
This post has been written for the The Lakmé Diva Blogger Contest, , hosted by Indiblogger: