Why not the seaside? Why not a small town on the banks of the humid Cauvery? Why not a penthouse in Bangalore with excellent Wi Fi facilities and no actual requirement to descend to the pavement to buy bread and eggs? How important are the mountains for simple living and solitude and some quiet strengthening times?
Summer afternoons are spent with a few good friends… over a leisurely, interesting, delicious lunch…in a shady cool room or a breezy, open verandah. These questions are thrown at each other and responses given from the heart. These friends are those people who have taken the decision to leave the city, the corporate job and lifestyle, the shopping malls and the crowded streets. They enjoy the quiet life punctuated by rare visits of neighbours, a simple meal with lots of laughter and eccentric proclamations. These friends of mine, whom I meet infrequently, but who can hear the same distant drumbeat which I march to, are people who are there for me, but who leave me alone…One of the best blessings of life.
And then, that question…why mountains?!
Mountains represent the permanent, unchanging magnificence of life…Like the kinetic permanence of ocean waves, I am given to understand that life has been going on long before I came into existence, and my departure will not pause life for an instant. Winter morning walks with the Himalayas remind me that the peaks have been watching generations of morning walkers…and hence, being a tiny cog in the wheels of Life, becomes an acceptable truth.
The winding mountain roads, valleys and detours impose a physical distance between neighbours and friends. Caring people are just a phone call away, but the actual solitude of long evenings and glowing mornings can be savoured best in solitude. I see people on the road and I hear trucks and tourist cars breaking at the speed rumbles, but inside the house its Pepper and my thoughts ( and the TV remote) which keep me company. One’s own company can either make you grow, or make you mad…the mad ones rush down to the plains at every pretext. The growing ones go the other way.
And then, for avid knitters like yours truly, living in the plains of the subcontinent make one question the mechanics of karma and re-birth. How can one knit at equatorial temperatures…how can one cram one’s hobby and passion into the shrinking cold season? Though global warming, forest fires, hungry land sharks and developers heat up the hills, there are cool spots in every month. At the height of summer, I can keep the doors open and settle down on that one marble tile where the breeze from all four directions collide. I have to thank the dogs for finding that tile and for sharing that space with the knitting needles and wool.
Add to this some ripe peaches, plums and apricots….some fresh seasonal vegetables….sacks of rice from the valleys of Gagas river…wheat and potatoes and peas from friendly farms….you get the drift?! Eating is a sublime and satisfying chore of the day. Food tastes good. Gourds, pumpkins and greens make my visitors sing praises galore…
Four years of being an “adopted Pahadi” have flown past. Now, I have ceased trying to find the disadvantages of living in the mountains…. the entire lot seem to be hiding from me, and that suits me just fine.
Next time, when anyone asks me “why mountains?”, I have my answer ready…”Why not the mountains?”