On a five day break amongst the magnificent mountain ranges of Uttarakhand, I had the opportunity to relook the mad pace of my life back in the chaos of our urban jungle. Away from the distractions of Whatsapp, the incessant ring of my mobile phone and the seductive appeal of Facebook, I paused and pondered about my life and the promise it holds.
Sitting on the terrace of the home stay in the tiny hamlet of Kanatal in the Garwal ranges, I learnt some precious lessons by simply observing simple mountain folk.
Your life can be as easy or hard as you want it to be.
You can either cram your days full of activity and be constantly stressed out and exhausted or you can set a pace that will allow you to fully enjoy the life you have been given.
When the local boy who was supposed to cook our meal at the home stay said he would arrive at 12 noon to give us simple, Garwali meals, he had every intention of doing that. Only, the mountain folk do not have watches to control their life. Maybe they have their own inner clock. Or maybe they just look at the sun and decide what time of the day it is. Our meals were inevitably at 2pm because that was when he got off his perch on a beaten up wooden bench by the roadside and ambled over to cook for us.
Even the dogs in the village lead a leisurely life. No frantic chasing after strangers or barking away to impress the owner. Both parties are content to lie on the grass and snooze in the sun.
We can live our life with very little. Ramprasad, the ancient caretaker at our home stay and his wife Gogoibai, live in a tiny hut at the bottom of the garden of the bungalow which he has been taking care of for 25 years. From watching him for 4 days, I realised that they possess just 2 pairs of clothes, a tattered shawl each to keep them warm.
His footwear has more holes than a sieve and she has none. She walks down the mountain each day to collect twigs for the fire which will cook their fare of roti and dal. But their poverty or the lack of material comfort has not embittered them. The smiles on the faces of mountain people could well light up their villages. Nothing makes them angry –not the lack of water in their villages- women have to walk kilometres to access hand pumps that will give them the water to run their households nor the fact that their little children have to brave the severe weather to get to their schools.
They are happy, in fact, that their kids can go to school and get an education.
Made me pause a bit and think a bit about our urban way; the endless trips to the mall, the cupboards at home bursting with clothes, shoes and stuff that we think we “need’ but that remain with the tags intact, forgotten in various corners of our homes.
Our kids go to schools that cost lakhs of rupees in fees and give them little in terms of value addition. When they come home from school they latch onto their gadgets and forget to go play in the outdoors and toughen themselves up. The mountain kids, I thought to myself, have their best teacher in Mother Nature and just the daily interaction with the elements gives them all the toughness and hardiness that will ready them for the tough life that lies ahead for them.
No tuitions, no personality development or public speaking classes. Just everyday dialogue with nature.
My stay in the mountains taught me the virtue of patience. No one in the mountains is in a hurry to get anywhere. There is nowhere to go and little much to do.
And so, I settled down on a rickety chair on the terrace which offered breathtaking views of the Garwal ranges and watched the birds and the bees and the play of the clouds in the sky which looked like somebody had given it a good scrub.
Away from the hustle and bustle of my city life, I watched in amazement one evening when the mist enveloping the mountains started clearing slowly and silently, as if by magic, and the snow-capped peaks of the Gangotri and the Yamunotri emerged from the layers of clouds behind which they hid. Not many things that I have done in life can compare to the joy and the exhilaration that I felt coursing through me in the few minutes that the majestic mountains proudly stood basking in the setting sun’s golden red rays.
Any number of small miracles happen around us every day; Only, we have to pause and take the time off to enjoy the theatre of nature.
I head back to the city in 24 hours, but this time I promise myself that I will be less involved in the daily habit of rushing around like a headless chicken and will be more involved in the act of living life to the fullest, each day.
We are on this earth for such a short time and the onus is on us to enjoy our moments here to the fullest.
You can reach her on firstname.lastname@example.org or her twitter handle@sudhamenon2006
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