A treat of a Retreat

A treat of a Retreat

10th of July found me driving out of Ranikhet. Through the familiar winding roads till Khairna, and then  turning left onto this polished black road winding up along the river till Quareb.  retreatnotes04

15 kms of actual village road along a noisy river, besides rough hewn rocks, through green forests and glades and yes, past the now-familiar construction sites of “dream houses” of the rich and bored—I drove past all this and more.  Village people waiting patiently for a taxi to labor up the dusty road, women trudging down from the forest with their grass loads and old men sitting at the tea-shops… some hill pictures remain the same, regardless of the town or district!

My Himalayan hermit friend was waiting for me at Aarohi….the labor of love of a team of dedicated dreamers and hard workers, who had spent more than 20 years to build up this institution. retreatnotes3

A spick and span hospital, a vibrant and noisy school and a fragrant factory..3 diverse dreams of medicine, education and livelihood had come together here.  Green bushes, flowering trees, stone-paved lanes—it was all there, as were staff, patients, volunteers and interns. I got a quick tour, a working lunch and some time to exchange views and news with my friend. As always, we talk about our lives in the slow and satisfying lane, and the joys of nature and solitude. At 2 pm, with the sun beating down mercilessly, I trudged up steep slopes and narrow forest lanes to reach the resort.

High levels of humidity cannot take away the charm of the Sonapani Resort….perched on top of a hill.retreatnotes2

 

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Quiet little cottages with stone floors, bare walls, comfortable beds and clean linen, surrounded by a garden which whispers Love and Care in every blade of grass, every bush and tree, and in every clever arrangement of recycled stuff. Bird song and buzzing bees complete the experience. Add to that some bits of human conversation drifting down from the dining hut and you know that you can always tap into human company when you want.

The two resident dogs have that supreme self-confidence which only mountain dogs display. retreatnotes5

Their amber eyes follow every move of mine. No reaction (positive tail wagging, or negative fierce staring) whatsoever, but the attention never wavers. All my petting and patting is accepted quietly but then its time to chase monkeys and I don’t matter.

What mattered was the restful envelope of silence giving me space and time to think of the future, mull over the past, and then realize that it’s only the present which has to be savored and be thankful for!

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I had planned on two days of brain-storming with my mind, of slicing a future path of action through the thick undergrowth of doubts and pessimism, of finally choosing one path at the cross-roads (to knit or to write….if knit, to knit lots or knit small and superb…if write, to continue this blog or write a novel) looming in front of me.

 

None of my lofty plans happened..…I did figure out some of the knobs of my camera, chatted with some delightful young Americans doing a summer internship, ate prodigious amounts of good food, watched a forest sunset and heard the cricket choir rise to their sunset crescendo…..and I slept. How I slept!!

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And how I marveled at the equanimity with which I packed my big plans into the car, followed the doggies and their friend down the mountain, and drove back home feeling rested, refreshed and grateful for being able to live life, moment by moment!

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