Thursday, January 21, 2010


The drive down from Dalhousie in the Chamba district of Himachal towards Pathankot in Punjab is through sleepy hamlets with small patches of bright yellow sarson flowers in full bloom. It is a descent that takes you through the hills of the Dhauldhar range, a memory for which I have no exact photograph, because I wanted to view it from my own eyes instead of a camera's viewfinder. (this does not mean I am lazy when it comes to clicking the shutter. Just a sensual state of languor)

It is in this state of semi-hypnosis that life feels clear often. Though what is that clarity, I cannot describe. Round and round, around you go, up and down over those curves, looking at crop circles of pahadi aloos (mountain potatoes). They are ingenious - these step farms. You can see the crop patterns from afar. They feel singularly alien. And as the mountain draws closer, you can see them pop up close with a lone farmer woman working by herself at the edges. Then a single house perched somewhere in the middle of the mountain. I next imagine a house for myself perched precariously somewhere at the heart of a mountain.

I burst out of that fantasy, for a clear view of the Ravi river. The light of the setting sun has painted a strange spectrum of red over it. The water glows basked in a bloody glory. And you leave it behind, craning your neck for another glimpse, another angle. The mountains surrounding it leave you. They come into view, and they go away again as your car spirals on downwards. You're watching them, they're watching you. And then they're no more.

Then there are villages, with cow dung cakes and wisened old sardars on charpoys. There is a sweet scent in the air and the sun escapes into the trees to the music on my ipod (Led Zeppelin are crooning Over the hills and far away). A finely cut-music video - where the view in front of my eyes intermingles with my day-dreams. In those moments, I want to hold on to the experience, knowing very well that it is only passing away. In another hour I'll be eating aloo paranthas in Pathankot. In three hours I'll be in a train reading a book. In ten hours I'll be crossing Kashmere gate. In a day I'll be posting my pictures on facebook. In weeks, I'll be writing about it. And there I've written it.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you about a beautiful descent lying in my memory as fresh as those bright yellow buds of sarson.

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