This was the day I was leaving Macleodganj and getting back to the grind..
I would stopover in Delhi to visit an old friend from my college days.
I woke up extra early that day and I didn’t want to miss a single minute of whatever little time I had.
I visited the temple, felt and rotated each and every prayer wheel that was around the temple and walked around the premises 7 times. Yes, the ritual of going around the temple is a part of Tibetan Buddhism too. 3 or 7 times always clockwise.
For me, it was like taking part in a beautiful process with the others. One was chanting Om Mani Padme Hum, One was softly rotating their prayer beads, some of them were slowly limping and walking around, some were talking to each other. I was a part of them.
As I sat in front of the shrine for the last time in this trip, looking at Buddha and his benign face and thinking of the benign calm Dalai Lama, it hit me very slowly.. Most of the unhappiness, the incompleteness, the frustration that I go through in life time and again is largely mine.
I thought of myself, a year ago and how I felt at that time. I was really feeling down in the pits not satisfied with anything. Unhappy was the word. Today it looked so shallow. One has to think beyond oneself and look at the big picture. How can we be so selfish in today’s world?
Selfishness is often mistaken for Self love. Such a difference..
I got out of the temple and I had to have one last breakfast at my favorite Joint.
There he was, smiling as usual, Vishal would be there by 6.30 am and start making fresh samosas. It was becoming a habit. As I would approach his joint, he would say Good Morning Didi, sab teek taak? (All fine?).
My samosas indulgence every day would result in him telling me about Mcleodganj. He was working here for the past 10 years and he was happy, content and had no intention of moving out of this place and find something ‘better’.
After I told him I am leaving in a couple of hours, he insisted on packing some samosas for the trip back 🙂 He asked me, aap aaoge na? (You will come again?) I beamed and said Yes, a million times yes, I cannot think of not coming to this place again and again.
I had just about time to take a short walk, maybe a little longer and the only path was the way to the Church, yup the same haunting Gothic St.John’s Church that had a cemetery.
Silence, peace, fresh air as I walked smiling at the school kids going to school. Some of them walking alone, some walking with their parents as I waved at them.
I stopped in front of the church and saw a bench on the opposite side. I sat there feeling every moment of it. This was bliss. Mountains were something else. Enigmatic, mystical and you don’t try to understand it, just be it. That’s all you need to do.
I was savoring each and every moment as I walked back to the hostel. I called Ankush the staff member who had become a good acquaintance and gifted him something small. I felt just saying Thank You wasn’t enough. I was welling up.
When I walked in here, my antennae was high up seeing so many guys managing the hostel. The question of, is it safe for me? as a woman? Coming from South India and having the gross misconception of keeping Delhi as a parameter for North India, I assumed the same for the whole region.
I felt so safe and protected. Even at late night when I wanted water, I would call and the boys would come with water and ask if all was fine. I thanked him profusely and he was such a dear he carried my back pack all the way up the steps and beyond to where my taxi was.
I would not think of staying anywhere else other than this place. Ankush smiled and said, Do come in February next year if you can. Yes it’s cold but it is something else altogether. No tourists and the beauty of this place is something else.
As I drove back to the airport with the same taxi guy Anil, I was sobbing, my heart was pounding. Oh why did I have to go back? Why? There were people I loved back there, my two girls, my life was back there..
As I got into the airport and started the usual routine of checking in and waiting at the security line, I got to talking with a gentleman who was from the army. A high ranking one at that. He was taking a different flight to Delhi. Cool, calm, rational and such a gentleman, I didn’t think people like that existed anymore.
As we got talking, the current issues, what’s happening in the country, his stance, his devotion and duty to his country, the pride he took in his job, his land. To see that was something else.
What we spoke in detail is something I will reserve when I talk of the Army I saw throughout this journey. It becomes even more relevant with the kind of muck that’s thrown at them on media and by people. Yes, people like you and me…
We bade each other goodbye and exchanged our contacts. I was happy to have made another good acquaintance whom I could meet up next time I was here. Someone who could tell me more about this place as a local, someone who has been in this place for 19 years.
As the plane took off, I sobbed keeping my head on the window and looking at this paradise.. This place opened up the barriers I had in my heart… I was going back and I was definitely not the same person anymore..
Delhi, here I come..