Bun tikkies and Kwality toffees

IMG_5515Next year we will have known each other for 50 years. We joined school as little girls with pigtails, today even our daughters are out of pigtails, yet we are still able to revert to that childhood and share the same laughter – it is the spa of friendship – which we revisit every year.

We shared the growing years, then grew apart to work, to nurture families and all the stuff that life involves. Some 6 years ago we all connected again to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the old school. Some of us had been in touch in bits and starts, some had been very far away, but that meeting probably came right at the time that it was meant to, we needed the reconnection and we needed that crazy bond that keeps us soaring.

We have spent the last few days together doing nothing in our very own spa full of healthy, home grown food, healthy oils and unguents – red henna and black henna experiments, mad stories and madder laughter. The old trees and gardens of a wholly quirky home allow for wallowing in the sunshine, the whole package allows for a rejuvenation of the soul with the sharing of every bitty, silly story and the whole hearted support of friends that will never judge.

Just how lucky were we that the parents left us at those grey gates to form these relationships that so importantly carry us happily through life.

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An encounter in the Dhauladhars

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Many years ago I did an amazing trek up across the Dhauladhar range, crossing the Indrahar pass above Dharamsala, down into the valley of the Chenab and the ancient temple town of Barhmour. But feeling intrepid, we had decided to keep going and cross the crazy Kugti Pass aswell bringing us into the Lahaul valley and on again across the Rohtang into Manali and roads, baths etc. That this was a fabulous trek with many adventures is true, but I tell this story because during that trek we were travelling with the Gaddis, (Shepherds of the Himalaya) who take their flocks to the high pastures perched below these passes. We met one family while crossing the Indrahar, and they introduced us to another that was going upto Kugti.

259bd908e21fcd0d842a3d606e4c0e63Now a few weeks back I was on a short walk in the very same mountains with an amazing group of people who had come all the way from Ecuador to visit the Himalaya and also touch base with the spirituality of these mountains. We were doing a comfortable trek from Macleodganj, via Baal village upto the meadows of Triund, up beyond to the Lahesh caves and back. The age group varied from 30 to 78, all wonderfully positive and full of vim and vigour.

We had lovely clear mornings, but after the first day every afternoon would bring the clouds and rain. Every evening we would sit around the fire and recount what were the pearls of our day. It was a lovely ritual, but I can’t tell you how many times I heard that the pearl of the day had been ‘walking in the rain.’ This was just how positive the mood in this group was.IMG_5399

On our third day, while climbing up to the Lahesh caves and or the temple at the top of the hill, one of the ladies felt under the weather and so I walked back to camp with her, while the others carried on. Back in camp after she was comfortable, I decided to go find a likely rock and write, gaze, medititate in this suddenly found free time. The mist was swirling, I went and sat comfortably in the embrace of a likely boulder and the dreaming came easy. Shortly I heard the familiar bells of goats and sheep and sure enough they were all around me in minutes, appearing out of the swirly clouds like ghostly shapes. Along with them came the shepheard. He perched himself on a rock when he saw me sitting there and we started chatting, I asked him when he would head down and where his home was. Somewhere during that chat I asked where their high grazing grounds were – he said below the Kugti. That is when I told him that I too had crossed that pass with the help of some shepheards many years ago. He said, ‘I know, I was a young man then and I remember taking you and your friends to the top. You have not recognized me, but I do you.’

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It was the most surreal moment – sitting on top of a mountain in this misty haze surrounded by the tinkle of sheep bells and meeting a stranger who was an old friend. What a perfect afternoon that added another touch of magic to my many magic moments in these mountains.

The written and the read.

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I received the most touching mail wishing me well with my new found love.
However, my little anecdote is not about a one love, but the discovery that I still have the capacity to throw my heart over a windmill and perhaps not worry about whether it lands in the right place. Just experience the emotion and the euphoria of doing it, without counting the cost – and most importantly the discovery that the cost is not what matters at all. It is the enjoyment of the feeling; whether it is fleeting or lasting must be left in the hands of the Gods.
I say that quite deliberately, because the moment you start to anticipate the where, what, how, what if ? It’s finished, it’s lost, the euphoria is gone. All those human things will creep in, the doubt, the uncertainty, the wanting, the needing, to have, to hold. With that dissapears the essence of that pure, soaring flight. Why would you want to do that? Also that is what prevents you from throwing that heart over in the first place. Caught for a moment, caught forever, who knows?  If one does it often enough maybe it will entwine with another such floating feeling and fly forever.
Also the learning that no matter what the age, love feels very much the same, there may not be as much angst to it with experience, because perhaps you, like me, can discover it to be a many splendoured thing, but it can be as silly, as electrifying, as embarrasing and as euphoric at 18 and at perhaps 80.
So in short, no my friend, I still have not found the man who will walk beside me and I wasn’t even looking. But now I think, if I can risk it then perhaps there is somewhere out there ‘The Passionate Shephard’ type of man who will risk saying those magic words too.

It’s raining men!

IMG_4251Nice one’s too. I decided a time ago that the male energy does not fit in my space as a constant, it was a lovely, comfortable feeling; I would not be looking for the sharing and caring, just enjoying the fun of it. It’s been wonderful so far. Other than that decision, I also figured that after living a certain number of years one perhaps does not fall in love – or atleast not ‘fall’ like at 18. I once asked my mother, ‘so when does love and sex cease to be important?’ She said, ‘never.’ I thought, ‘sweet Mommy, what a romantic!’

So here am I, following my well laid plans and another delight rains down on me, or rather creeps up on me. We met and wandered up the mountain, delightful. So many intrinsic similarities, so much to talk about, great companionship – total support (remember we take people up mountains and that’s what we were doing) much laughter. The first wariness should have warned me, we were avoiding each other. But this awareness is coming in hindsight. Atleast I was avoiding him, I don’t know if I imagined him avoiding me. But we were still together in strategic places because it was necessary to share those things, we had a connection, it couldn’t be helped – I would wait to show him the best angle for the sunset (eeks) Did I even know I was doing it? This remembrance is wholly embarrassing. Has it started sounding like that 18 year old yet? It keeps getting better. So be together, bond and then feign indifference. Pretending that one is not feeling all the things one is actually feeling ( so comfortable and happy to be together) – know that one? Straight out of trashy romance.

Then it’s over, trip over, large goodbye party, tears and speeches all around – pour the heart out, because there is an excuse for it and you can in public forum – ‘you are like my alter ego – and – I will never forget you’ – cheese and all in the spirit of the moment and you believe it too. That’s all it is another trip, another lot of great people sharing a great time.

Go away, immersed in something completely different. Come back and realize we have a few more days together, just us. Amazing fun and those two days fly and so do I, and now all my preconceived notions have flown away.

The damn heart has a feeling in it, I don’t even want to call it a yearning or a pain, that means it gets a definition. How incomplete one is, when one is conceptualizing this wholly wise being, and you don’t want to admit that Mommy was right, you are an idiot and romance exists and no matter how long that heart has lived it still knows how to go pitter patter. Isn’t that completely exciting, just the discovery that this feeling can still happen – not just the bubbles and glee – but the angst too. Gracias mi amigo for rejuvenating a lost part of me.

IMG_4247Sorry for flawed photographs, but I only try to capture moments and know nothing about composition and the fact that an insect sat on the lens.