Prescript: Due to the loss of connectivity about 10 days ago, was unable to publish this post before setting off for my retreat. So here it is, about 10 days late but not worse for wear. I’ve just returned from an 8-day retreat and am slowly getting used to communicating normally. More will be posted in due course, in the meantime, enjoy this!
One returns to familiar surroundings with a sigh of relief and a hint of regret – that the long tiring journeying is done but also that one’s little journey is over for the time being. This post is a tad late for a couple of reasons – was a little journeyed out to write, had to attend to some urgent scheduling and planning matters with regards to the programmes that I’m helping to run here and the internet connection was a little spotty most of the day. In order for this post to do justice to the past 14 days of travelling, it’d have to be a little too long to be palatable and my fingers would not be able to take the beating either. What I’ll do here is to try to give a gist of the trip through a couple of things that struck me along the way.
Travelling through the monsoon is like trying to talk to a temperamental friend on an off day. At times one gets brilliant sunshine that gets a little too brilliant (read: hot) for comfort while at other times one gets morose incessant rain that threatens to seep right into one’s pores and dampen one’s spirit to the core. Not one to dwell on weather, I’d say that we were fairly lucky to have had a couple of really good weather days that allowed us to see the Himalayas in all its grandeur and to feel the Northern summers in all its heat and humidity.
I remember a poem by Cavafy (you remember him from here) where he mentioned that we should ‘pray that the way be long’ always and that we all have journeys like Odysseus had towards his Ithaca and that the longer the journeys are the more we learn from our experiences. I’ve not reached my Ithaca but the past two weeks have shown me much about the land that I’ve chosen to come to and a little about myself too. Through the many hours on road and rail, I’ve had time to think about the nature of our existence (somewhat) and I do feel much richer from what I’ve gained along the way.
Standing by the side of the Himalayas, with mountains towering on either side of you and looking upon the side of the sometimes craggy and sometimes mossy faces, one cannot help but get a sense of perspective. These mountains are millions of years old, shaped by raging rivers, silent glaciers and countless blankets of snow and frost and there they stand, silent and majestic, reminding us of how puny we are in comparison. All our troubles and struggles seem quite insignificant in the face of such majesty – though we share the same earth, what we do or try to do can’t quite compare to all that the mountains are. I was glad that I could come to the Himalayas once again, just being among the mountains reminded me of the wonders of what our world has to offer.
Travelling through India is definitely not for the faint hearted – the crowds, heat and traffic can all come together to make one fairly uncomfortable if one’s not prepared. My time in Bangalore and its mild weather and made the trip north during the height of summer a bit of a shock and the same happened when I apprehended the sea of humanity that is the capital, Delhi. The other thing that struck me was the difference between the north and south. It’s not just the people and places that are different – the whole feel of the north is quite different from Bangalore and the south that I’ve grown to know and love. The vastness of the country does contribute to this – cultures and traditions can develop quite different across the different geographical locations and develop they have. I think I’ll write more about this at a later date.
And so one is back and one is going again. Today I leave for a week-long spiritual retreat. Seems quite appropriate that the journey segues into a week of quiet prayer and reflection and that’s one thing that I’m very much looking forward to. Will return to the more regular posting come August.