“It is always the same with mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them. There is no escape.”
Ruskin Bond, Rain in the Mountains: Notes from the Himalayas
I have adjusted to city life quite well I must say. Living through scorching hot sun, day long honking traffic, frenetically paced lives and an uninteresting night sky that lacks view of cosmos outside our planet, I am doing great. It was far from beautiful to me when I first landed here to pursue a professional career. Living in the mountains had something subtle, something peculiar about it. The surreal setting possessed a calmness, a serenity amidst a slow-paced life. The simplicity of the beauty would just catch you. You were part of an aesthetics. In cities, it has been more about being able to get that job done comfortably, forget the views, the serenity, the aesthetics.
Having grown up as a child in various towns in Garhwal and Kumaon Himalayas, walking a few kilometers up and down the hilly tracks was quite common for us. The walks were refreshing and the runs thrilling. It would always be fun to jog through tree laden narrow hilly trails always trying to be more quick and skilled over the last time. There would hardly be anyone around you. While running down a hill “thinking at your feet” took its meaning literally. Jumping from one rock growing out of ground to another, landing your step correctly to prevent from slipping and hurting yourself was required. Getting the balance right as you paced through the quiet forest was the key to avoid any twisted heels or a roll down the hill. To be able to harness that balance for longer periods gave a certain high and sometimes you felt a sort of wholeness in yourself, as if you were part of that forest, that setting. The balance was a discovery. Slowly that balance would start appearing in other acts and it would set in an ability to do anything with joy.
The city life is quite chaotic for you to find a comforting balance. It’s difficult to stay focused if you choose to maintain the same enthusiasm all day long, for the struggle is too much. Weekend parties are required to get the load off your head. Amongst mountains partying has a different meaning altogether. Lacking any struggle, the connect with the hills that has developed over the years just grows without any effort, all days of the week. It is home. Doing nothing but just hiking the hills for no reason is enough. Finding yourself in a forest with nothing but a sound of river gushing down a valleys and winds blowing through pine trees is mystique. You would become still with your surroundings as if in total harmony.
The contrast of lives in cities and Himalayan hills has added to the thrill of maintaining this stillness. Living through a fast and competitive space gets to your nerves at times. The remembrance of times spent at hills automatically dials a call to that was forgotten. In maintaining that balance down the hill there was no ambition in the act, no competition with anyone, no desire to be looked upon at.
Untouched by praise or punishment, maintaining the balance was the sole purpose and joy, despite what went around. As did all the rivers, floating clouds, rising and setting sun and innocuous little flowering vegetation. Maintaining the balance behind their work, remembering it year after year, season after season. Just sitting with them for a few days the forgotten comes to remembrance again. The stillness is restored.
Bustling city life is a challenge worth taking for here lies the beauty of the human creation. To be able to display your personality through your creations has a joy of its own. Howsoever difficult a playground the test is a measure of your balance. And when the balance rocks off, I turn back home. Trekking to various places. Just walking, sitting and sleeping amongst Himalayas. The balance rocks back. I walk back to my playground to fill the places with some calmness, there serenity and grace of my home. And as I walk in the cities, I walk with a stillness in me. A little bit of Himalayas always stays with me!