"If there is one thing you can learn from the mystic hills, is patience"
^Those lines weren't said by some great philosopher who sat at some plateau and wrote about a place where he had not lived. It was written in a rather random chat with a friend of mine who lives in the hills and where I had gone for a week, for a brief holiday. And my, I did not know some random relief feature could teach you something.
The problem with me is I do not want to be taught, and I used to consider nature rather boring. What is in it? Some random greenery, creatures around and you are just a part of it. The last part, was important and I never knew. We are a part of such a huge world, and sometimes we forget this, and live in the small microcosm we have created for ourselves, which we think is the limited world. We don't know, that the world is unlimited. That is the first thing, the hills taught me. The wavering roads, leading you to one disparate location to another, where one turn of the road and people change, languages change, heck, the whole culture changes ( fact that this is India so it won't come as a surprise), but as you go high in the altitude, even though you don't cover a lot of distance (150 kms only, maybe?) from the nearest plains, you find how the nature around you can make your life different altogether. Life itself, is limitless.
Then the highs and lows of the roads, the undifferentiated way of living- all talk about something. Highs and lows of roads talk of the hardwork which has gone into the building of a human habitat out of a natural one, how the rocks of mountains were cut, how many lives were taken, to make the roads you walk on so easily, and complain if you have to pant a bit because well, this is the hill-road, not so straight. Walking is climbing here, for people like us. Makes you think, who built these roads? Walking is so hard, how about making it?
Undifferentiated way of living- there is no difference between a "rihayshi/residence locality" and a commerical once, both intermingle together. It is funny, I think they might have not even thought about this, it is something unconscious- the no division phenomena. Everyone is with everyone, every "type". I think we are the ones who create the type once we go there, we, the onlookers, divide their world according to ours, and gauge them. If you stop doing it, you will see that the hill is the place where you will find the most indigenous form of living.
Life here, commercial one, is seasonal- you get job for a point of time, and after that you don't. Here people have taken it as a way of living, and don't find anything distorted in it. They have immense pleasure in their lifestyle, and as whatever work they do involves high risk and hard work, they kind of deserve the break they get. You get to know that life is not about work, at least not only about it. There is more to it. The work they do, they do it with full commitment, in Urdu there is a word called "shiddat" and no other word describes their manner in a better way. I also saw one peculiar thing, I think it is culture specific to this region ( Darjeeling-and-the-areas-around)- the habit of holding the extended arm in the middle with the another arm while giving something, not something special but anything, the way you do it in the temples. Such simplicity and enormous amount of heritage, with a tinge of culture-specific manners, you have a beautiful array of experiences lying ahead for you.
Finally, the quotation I started with. And I also said you do not cover a lot of distance. Funny thing, small distances in the hill take more time to be covered than the long distances in the plains. It is because of the sheer relief feature, the meandering roads, the weather, the dangers that lurk around when you go high, so high that you feel that soon you will touch the sky. You will feel, boy, that was NOT 35 kms! It actually is, but you cover it at a longer duration of time, and you understand that if you rush, and not care about the blind turns of the road, you will not end in the destination you are heading to. You need to give all the consequences equal amount of space, all the mishaps you have to avoid and how will you avoid. You need to give time to your life. You become patient, you actually want the driver to go slow, because you fear dying. A sudden surge of thanatophobia floods your mind, and the sheer beauty of the place around makes the feeling even more profound--- with such beauty around, who will want to die? You learn patience through the slow pace of life here, the hard work to even go to the nearby store ( or search for it, for the tourists). You clearly have a difference of way of living, the speed-time graph in your mind differentiates and you have two worlds in your mind,the one you live in the plains and the one you are temporarily are in, and are seeing people who are there for permanence.
You can do nothing but lay awestruck. In the hills you look at the sky, take sudden interest in a shooting star, which might have passed when at home, you lay in the bed of your room, writing a post on the internet. Not regretful, this. Because I feel, if there are no plains, you won't have any appreciation for the hills.
Because once you get back to the plains, without a doubt your bed, your room, the straight roads stimulate the primal being in you, you feel charged up, you feel like an animal in its zone. You feel you are back where you belong, after coming from a place which now seems like a distant dream.
|Credits: Friend's dad :)|