Friday, August 10, 2012

Dancing Amidst White Snow

This is awhile back, but its as fresh as anything that ever is in my head.
I travel to the hills, starting with a pit stop in chandigarh; where I pick up my friend and we await another who is traveling up north india for business. We spend some time in peace and catching up; and I personally spend these precious moments re-visiting my once peaceful home in panchkula where I stayed for more than a year. We start up early in the morning from the sector - 40 bus stop where inter state buses align continously for himachal. Our destination is a distant place called Rampur - the last stop in the shimla district (or so I remember). This is the last village also bordering with the manali district of humachal. We have a common friend up there who we are to catch up with; who will show us some nice places. The travel up is as usual, slow yet exciting; as the weather cools and the scenery beckons, we all lose our sense of tiredness and catch up less sleep and more sights and before we know it- we are in shimla. We get off and take some time off roaming the empty streets at six in the morning and refresh with some hearty hill breakfast.
We get on the next bus towards narkhanda - the highest point in the shimla region. Its a quiet destination for many a honeymooners and travelers, I personally have been there more times that I care to remember. We get off at narkhanda and head of for the HP guesthouses; where we have some light lunch and sip on mountain wine. This is where the unthinkable happens, after drinking a couple of bottles my friends and I take a walk on literally the edge of the mountain and before I know it, I fall some 10 feet down on a pile of dung. Am drunk at my stupidity and laugh uncontrollably. So do my friends, and the sense of numb pain in my left leg starts shooting up one neuron at a time in my head. It hurts real bad. I cannot put my weight on it and I have ruined my trip for myself. My friends help me get some pain killers and I rest my weight on their shoulder and we catch the next bus as we move off to our destination - some 3 hours away, the small town of rampur. Little to say, I could do nothing, I could neither go this way or that. Going back home to delhi was a distant option and I was anyway not in a mood for it. So I take my friends advice and sleep in the bus with the help of some strong painkiller in the hope that the pain and hurt would subside. It wouldnt, my leg is swollen up and it is a bad sprain - which would take atleast a month to heal/ I could tell just by looking at it. But that was not my worry; it was what I could do as a vestigial person on the trip which killed me from inside. I keep hope none the less and we reach as I open my eyes, my friends tell me that I drooled like a kid and fell over all my fellow passengers on the way, not that I care to remember.
We are greeted by our friend who has booked us a moderate hotel in the vicinity. The view is amazing, there is a small river which seperates the village of rampur from the starting of Manali district. The river is small in breadth and great in respect of the ferociousness it shows. It is clearly impossible to cross, and the locals have built a beautiful little wooden bridge to cross it. The dextirity and simple inginuity of village folks especially on hills never seems to stop amazing me. I spend the night with my friends as well as our common friend who in his best efforts tries to do hot and cold compress on my leg, all i need is some shut eye time and a lot of healing. But that is very difficult to do when you are with friends on a trip. And I am not one to crib or cringe cause of pain (atleast not all that much). My friends take a midnight stroll on the river side and the bridge as I sit on my beautiful little balcony in silent meditation looking at the fast moving body of water. There is a sense of peace in the pain none the less.

The next morning, we decide to head back, the trip has been shortened due to my condition and I am not really one to complain, the pain has not subsided and the swelling has just increased, it is impossible to put any weight on it, and I have to take my friends help or the help of some sort of support to make the simplest of steps happen - on a hill this is never a good thing. We take the bus and head back to narkhanda - the place where I got my swollen foot due to my callousness.
There is a very famous temple at the top most point of narkhanda - known as hatu devi. I have been to this temple once before and I must say, the scenery and serenity from the height is simply out of this world. There is no feeling to describe it. It is sheer delight. And we all were in deep wanting to see it once again. This was winters falling and the truck drivers who generally ply people up and down in summers were all huddled up not in any sort of inclination to take us up, they told us that the road was snowed in more than 10 feet in height not far away, but the sheer thought of mountain of snow made us want to see it even more! idiotic city folk is something that would have struck these village folk at the earliest. One of them did oblige ofcourse for a handsome price, and took us up through the narrow winding roads - made mostly for people to walk ( and not cars to drive). He stopped at a place, where there was a little lake formed besides and a thick tall mountain of snow on the road and everywhere in front. We were breathtaken; in sheer awe at the beauty and serenity of nature's pure white. It was out of the world. Simply brilliant. We all got out of the car, and took some time to sit in freezing temps. My leg was far beyond numb and I had to frequently come inside the car to refresh it a little, yet I would walk out and walk in the snow, time soon came where existence would have no meaning but snow falling on our heads and all around. And so it did! I started dancing little by little at the delight I felt in my heart, so did my dear friends. We were taken back at the beauty of this event. We had no words to ever descibe it even to each other, and only the satisfaction on our faces was the clue that something had been fulfilled. We stayed in the snow fall for over an hour and then made our way down to catch the last bus from narkhanda - which would take us all the way down to chandigarh.
I was in incredible pain throughout the journey, yet the simple dance in snow made me realize I am not the body, just the attachment to it and its sensations makes me feel that I am only the body. The pain and indeed the sensory otherworldy pleasure is enough to make me realize that true clarity and beauty was outside the realm of sense belonging. Maybe just a simple hint through the delight of senses was enough to make me see that.
The journey back was painful to say the least, i had developed a very bad stomach ache and with the pain in my leg - it was impossible to sit 8 hours in the himachal roadways bus - which drove at crazy speeds meandering down the hills. By the time I reached back to chandigarh and crashed at my friends place - I had been done over and re-made. I can still probably never forget this bus journey (like many others), I just could not sit through this one. Stomach trying to make push me into some other realms and the leg keeping me here with the pain!
The trip was not at all a success, we could not spend any time in peace and mostly because of my injury, yet the small stopover at the high point of that area had beckoned us to dance like sufi maniacs. Rejuvenated and rested our souls indeed!
Peace and dance forever~

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