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The Floating Mountains

It was not a good idea to wear shorts. The brambles and the prickly thicket did not care much for preteen fashion. We were climbing up a random hill in Renuka, Himachal Pradesh around ten years ago and thorns were making themselves comfortable with my skin. When we had left the guest house(the only one in that area at that time), I felt quite dapper in my navy blue t-shirt and khaki shorts. I felt like an explorer. Indiana Jones probably smiling under his Fedora. But then as we set out towards the trail that we were supposed to be taking, we noticed a village lad climbing up a path. We took this road less traveled.

Ten minutes into this expedition and the slippery sheath and prickly bushes made me lose the Indiana Jones in me and turn into Fredo Corleone from Godfather II. The trail was steep and difficult especially if you are often associated with a cow, pig or any such being not known to lithe. Soon we reached this young lad who had stopped at a clearing, turned out he was as young as the mountain. The life of a hillbilly can do wonders for your waist and skin (as long as you learn to avoid the thorns).

I kept whining as we moved further up against the recommendations of the not so young lad. The closest interpretation of what he said in Pahari would be, “You are too fat for this trail.” I didn’t even need this discouragement. The heat and the thorns had done their business.

We did reach the top but I felt that I had no energy to enjoy the view which was indeed amazing. So I sat there with a grumpy face. All I could think was about the way back. I took a deep breath as we started our climb down.

We came across a village school which had just been let out. A young school teacher came out and was leaving for home. He looked like he was in his 20’s. But looks can be deceiving in the hills. He was wearing a crisp white shirt with navy blue checks and ink blue trousers. His hair oiled and set to perfection. He had kind eyes and a kind smile to match underneath his thin neat mustache. These features are quite common in Himachal. He asked us if we were headed to the town and if so if he may join us.  We gladly obliged. I have a feeling my parents themselves had no clue of the way back.

I don’t remember how Mr. Prim Mustache ( what I decided to call him) made me feel absolutely at ease and extremely chatty. It seemed like a blink of an eye and we had reached at the foothills. I wasn’t tired. Instead I felt charged up. I saw my parents were still huffing and puffing their way down ( the first and only time I beat them in a trek). We parted ways with Mr. Prim and went to Renuka lake after which the town has been named. As I dipped my feet in the mystic waters of the lake, tens of fish came teeming to my feet. It was as if they were kissing a welcome to my feet.

Strangers are always advised against but this tiny hamlet was all about the Indian phrase – “Athithhi Devo Bhavva” ( Guests are God). From the village school teacher to the fish, Renuka is all about hospitality.
Renuka also made me ponder on negativity and positivism. Was there any? Is there a depletion of resources or just a transformation? Maybe it is not about yin and yang, but the void in between. Maybe utopia need not be created as it already exists shrouded by the yin and yang of our perception. There is no end to capabilities, it is merely veiled by the limits of our motivation. The veil may be made of iron or lace depending on the level of motivation, perseverance and dedication one has. The mystical connotation to luck boils down to the permutation of certain hard to measure parameters.

The villagers say that the hills of Renuka are actually floating on the lake and not encircling it. Maybe we should just keep the magic alive. Let the illusion find its reality.

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Image from the web

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Home of the Nomads

There is no place like home. A phrase used quite often. The United Nations Human Rights Commission stated that around 100 million people in the world have been classified as homeless. This homelessness is based on the parameter of having a roof over one’s head. For all those children and adults suffering from abuse and domestic violence home is not where they live either.

There is no place like home indeed. But what is home is left to one’e own personal definition. It cannot be restricted to walls and roofs or any other tangible structure. Then what is home?

For me its a manifestation of utmost comfort. Some don’t realise they were home until they leave it. Others don’t realise they were never home until they leave it. Home is a state of mind then. The shade of a lonesome tree becomes home and the safety of a fortress ceases to be one. What is worse is when the home you had once loses its homeliness.

In that context I think I would rather be a nomad or a gypsy who live as they go. The road is their home . It doesn’t matter if things don’t turn out that good, they can always find another home. Are they escapists? No. They are just adaptive. They might not let their roots grow deep, neither do they let setbacks stop them.

Maybe we should all be nomadic. Harness the camels of our imagination and set out and find that elusive peace of mind. If nothing else we will always have the road.

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Rain me not

Its raining. Toopie and I are looking gloomily at the day outside. It’s all dark and we don’t like dark. We are lovers of the sun and this gloomy wetness does not fare well with us. A naughty burning sun sending heat waves to irritate us or a warm hug from a romantic ray is our idea of a day.

Why does it have to rain? Other than the obvious, precipitation. As a kid, I used to think that rain meant that God is crying because of all the sadness he sees. Thus rain made me very awkward. Soon enough I learnt about the sun and the clouds. However the rain always fell in the awk.

Sigh

Well here we are staring out of the window, hoping the rain would wash away the old. That the sun would beacon a new day. Not that what we have now is bad. But we have grown out of it. Familiarity is unfamiliar to us. We can’t make a home at these shores. But the rain has made us park here more than we intended to. We feel like sunflowers today.

So God, we hope you get better of your sadness.

Babes will die,

Helpless we’ll lie,

The rain washes away no sin,

Just the stupor we have been in.

Cannot stop,

The road is all we got,

Have to go, have to go, have to go,

With our grief on tow.

Have to go, have to go, have to go,

The sun, we follow.

Have to go, have to go, have to go

Away from these wet blows.

Have to go, have to go, have to go

Now.

“I went to bed and woke in the middle of the night thinking I heard someone cry, thinking I myself was weeping, and I felt my face and it was dry.

Then I looked at the window and thought: Why, yes, it’s just the rain, the rain, always the rain, and turned over, sadder still, and fumbled about for my dripping sleep and tried to slip it back on.”
― Ray BradburyGreen Shadows, White Whale: A Novel of Ray Bradbury’s Adventures Making Moby Dick with John Huston in Ireland

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Preface

Pets. Most of us have them. It might be a regular cat or a dog or it might be chattel of a dangerous kind like a reptile. Given the regular functions of a pet, even some humans are known to carry out the same. Some of these humans are called spouses. This does not imply that all spouses are pets neither are pets, spouses.  But it is a practice all the same.  A friend once told me she would gladly swap places with the pet of the house. Oddly love thy animal said no religious text ever.  Take care, yes. But love. Nope. Then what is this strange bond that binds interspecies?

My first pet, a dog named Remo, was gifted to me on my 3rd birthday. I don’t have any memory of him. Pictures suggest that we were close. My mother states to the contrary. Apparently Remo was often spotted hiding under the dining table to evade my tyranny. Remo didn’t stay my pet long. He gladly shifted to another home soon enough. He changed two households after that. I wonder whether he missed my benevolent monarchy then. My feelings at that point are unrecorded.

My second pet was a kitten we named Bilquis – An utterly boring feline in comparison to those owned by my friends. Maybe the fact that she was a few days old was the reason. Her mother left her in our balcony and we took her in from there. I was just beginning to get a sense of pet-ownership when her mother claimed her.  My brother scares me by saying that the cat who took her was probably going to eat her. Not a consoling thought. I had nightmares for some time.

Staney was my aunt’s dog. He stayed with us for a month. But in that one month I probably made the strongest connection with any animal I had come across including my brother. From the annoying bully at school to my best friends and our fights, I told him everything. He was the most patient listener I have ever come across with woofs in appropriate places. I wish I could keep him forever. He had to go back home eventually. But I am never going to forget him and I know neither will he.

So I had never had a pet successfully for over a month. I doubt any human would want to take up the opportunity either. So Toopie was born in a Bistro in Koramangala, Bangalore. I would name the bistro to those who ask me personally. He is purple, yellow, green and orange. He is the easiest pet. Only scary thought is if he breaks. He is made of clay you see. But I carry him with me wherever I go. He seems like a new chapter in my life.  He loves to travel, eat, listen to music and he thinks he needs to lose weight. I was recently asked whether he is a personification of me. All coloured on the outside and hollow inside. Maybe. But then aren’t we all glazed colourful turtles. Painted in colours of the visualiser and born with hollows which we fill with our experiences. Toopie isn’t hollow either. He has adventures and he might just share.