The Monsoons have come and gone. Autumn, this year, has been shorter than usual. Cold winds are already here. The forests are abuzz with a new life force. The air is crisp, clean, and invigorating. Mountains in the distance are whiter by the day. The sun is sharper, the days shorter, evenings cozier, and nights linger on for a dream or two more. Winter is almost here. It is now, that the Kumaon mountains are at their truest. And we… its smitten lovers, can’t help but fall in love, all over again.
The Wild Cherry blossoms have started early, signalling the change in weather. It has snowed in the higher reaches the past few days; soon, the trees will host new feathery friends. The resident birds are already feasting on the pink bounty while the seasonal migrants are fast catching up. Perfect time for birding; I am reminded. How does one leave the cosy bed in the morning though? Ambika, in her love filled wisdom, planted a few trees near the house over the years. This is the first year that they have good blossoms. Time to make use of her foresight, I resolve, with a smile.
There is another very good reason to get up early – the sunlight ambers on the Himalayas! Its a light and sound show for the soul! The deepest of dreariness can be washed away with the touch of the golden sun on the Himalayas and the song of the birds. I recommend this soul cleansing at least once every year for everyone!
Early winter, almost every morn, stray clouds in the sky turn red and orange. The sky metamorphoses from a shimmering dark blanket to a watercolor painting. An imminent sunrise from behind Api and Nampha is announced by a Blue Whistling Thrush’s first song of the day. Other birds join in and the sky changes from black to dark blue to a bold blue in a matter of minutes. As the sun sneaks up, the silver white invert-silhouettes breaking the dark of the night, light up. Nanda Devi is the first to glow on its eastern side, towering above the rest of the world. One by one others catch up – Trishul, Nanda East, Nanda Kot, Mrigthugni, Maiktoli, Panchuli. By and by, the peaks change from a pale white to a golden yellow to a snow white, and tens of shades in between. It is as good a start to the day as one can hope for. This year, I am back at Misty after a month and a half of the “world-down-there”, away from all this, away from myself. A few sunrises like these is all I would need for finding myself again though.
Maybe its the time we live in or maybe its the grey in my hair, nostalgia almost always follows beautiful moments like these. Invariably, beginning of the season and the change in the air brings childhood scurrying back. Back over mounds, and hillocks, and forest trails, and days in the sun. Back then, school timings would change, and the weather would mandate another layer over our green and yellow pullovers. Our favourite teachers would sometimes take classes outdoors, away from the cold class rooms. I still see that happen here at the local school. The innocent faces beaming and shining back at the sun. Each face a window to the past. It is easy to project faces of friends from school onto them. But, not so surprisingly, it is the most difficult to find yourself!
“To find yourself” – must be the oldest occupation of mankind. Everything we choose to do, everything we choose not to, is nothing but travelling on this Eternal quest. No wonder then, that when we travel, we end up getting glimpses of our hidden selves, our lives, and our reason-to-be.
The Eternal Quest
I was the stone,
I, the sculptor,
And I, the chips you see;
The all that is,
The all that’s not,
In all, is naught, but me.
The simple act of getting out of the routine, spending time with ourselves and our loves ones, becomes a small trail on this journey to self discovery. Often times I see guests sitting out in the gardens and just gazing at the snow white peaks. Who is to say what journeys they are on? The Himalayas have a curious affect of calming you down and challenging you to a higher self at the same time. I digress though. Must be the view from my window; this live painting – green, white, blue with a blush of pink from the Wild Cherry blossoms.
I must get back to this ode to early winters in the Himalayas. This is the season for long walks, lazing in the sun, and bonfire evenings. This is the season to pause and see the destinations we seek. This is the season to cleanse our souls of all dreariness. This is the season of the Himalayas at their truest. And this is the season to be true to ourselves; to just be.