During one fateful monsoon, I visited Dharamshala in a song like weather. Everything in this little Himachal town was picturesque- the rustic winds, the quality atmosphere and the calm of the hills. The view was warmly accommodating, almost like a welcome with open arms. It was the perfect mood for the cuddles, to stay bundled in cushioned beds and yet so appropriate for the wanderers to get lost. The Tibetan ensemble of the town gave it a foreign land feel and the weather was the right amount of soothing.
A group of three, we were well spread on the general tourist behaviour continuum. There are the kind who are just so over-joyed with the spirit of vacation that they can’t sit still for long. These are the ones who will have a checklist for the trip and will try to cut down on sleep just for that little extra. Then there are the ones who like to soak in all the energy they spend on a regular basis; the ones that just snuggle in and sleep to their heart’s content and rejuvenate through resting, if not hibernating. And then there are the ones who do a little of both and fall right in the middle of this continuum.
Ma- the one on snooze; decided to stay cooped up with an old book that I’ve seen her read multiple times and some masala chai. In awe with the place, Baba- the one in the middle of the continuum, and I- the hyper active checklist holder; tightened our trainers and started to explore the hills. No destination in mind and no plans at hand, we decided to see where the mixture of hills, greens and clouds would lead us.
To my utter satisfaction, I was ticking off many things on my informal list on a single stroll- walking on clouds, watching the far mountain snow glow lava as the first rays of morning sun hit it, hearing water flow as we sat listening to birds chirping, walk in the deserted lanes before they got crowded, clicked a gazillion pictures so I remember how beautiful the place is, made a bunch of wild flowers and growths to press into my book, heard the silent music of the town, observed the houses with their colour schemes and the setting of the place, filled my lungs with the uniqueness and tried to memorise the collective feeling of it all.
After a while of aimless walking and wandering about, feeling like characters of an improv, in a setting drastically different from our regular, on a lazy Sunday morning, we started to head back to our hotel room with the idea of some comforting tea and breakfast enticing us, as we desperately covered our ears from the surprise wind and the constant drizzle.
The uphill climb was a lung burner. We stopped by the very rocks where I has fascinatedly looked at the moss and baba thought I was crazy. Suddenly, I heard him say to himself, ‘There is no better teacher than a walk in the nature. Every time we walk down the hill we are ramrod straight with arrogant broad shoulders, head held high with no appreciation of our lungs. Its only when we walk up, well, we bend, look humble and ask each breath to take it easy on you. And its only the uphill walk, the one that all of us dread, that gives us the best view there is. It’s such a beautifully detailed graph’.
I’m not sure if he was talking to me or just thinking out loud. We never spoke of it. But from time to time, I revisit that moment, when my lungs start to burn and I don’t yet see the view that the hill climb holds for me.
… because when a thought first occurs, it is organised into ideas and plans, and then transformed into reality. But the beginning really is in your imagination…