Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Happy Place


I have traveled quite a bit around this country of ours, but whenever people ask me my favourite place, my reply is always the same- Himachal Pradesh. Perhaps it was because that was the first posting of Appa's I was old enough to remember clearly, perhaps the wild, cold beauty of the mountains appealed to something in my impressionable ten-year-old soul, but I have always known that some day I will return there.

We lived in a house on the side of a mountain. A road wound in lazy spirals around the entire girth of that mountain, hedged by wild honeysuckle that bloomed in giant sprays of pink and yellow. The valley was almost a sheer drop from the side our house was on, with only one steep gravel path leading down. A stream flowed in that valley- icy cold in the winters and angry red in the monsoons. The sound of that stream was a constant in our lives, I came to associate the sound of running water with silence. The view from our terrace was breathtaking. There were giant mountains all around. the nearest one was just across the valley- terraced mustard fields dotted with yellow farmhouses. Behind it were dark green mountains covered with fuzzy pine trees. And further behind was a giant, craggy peak always covered in white, even in the summer.

One winter Appa, Ken and I set off in quest of snow that we could see on that faraway peak. But the further we trudged, the more distant that elusive snow capped peak seemed. We walked through the pine forest and discovered a forgotten pool in its heart. We imagined leopard treads and collected pine cones to take home for Amma to exclaim over. We kept expecting snow, just after that next peak we'd cross. We stood in the middle of a cloud on a mountain peak and looked at the mountains around us, in the winter sunshine.

We never did find that snow- the fog rolled over and we had to turn back.

When I was writing that article on life in the Army, Appa hunted out a few photos of the Kangra valley for me. They reassure me that the valley is indeed as beautiful as I remember it.






8 comments:

Antariksh Bothale said...

Hmm, the mountains have a disarming charm, an unnerving quality that seems to sweep you off your feet...

My favourite line:
The sound of the stream was a constant in our lives, I came to associate the sound of running water with silence.

Reminds me of last year's Creative Writing GC, the one in which we had to explain 5 of our favourite sounds to a person who has been born deaf. The sound of running water featured in my top 5 list...

Ravali said...

i wish i cud stay in sum place like tht...though i didnt have mountains arnd me...as i kid i had my own share of scenic beauty arnd me :D

wish i cud go back to tht place...or the least be as descriptive as u cud b so tht i can keep readin my post to reminisce the beauty

Mohan said...

Its amazing how you, while writing your own experiences, touch a chord in someone else's heart... i have also spent a very small, but memorable, part of life in himachal, and nothing i could write about it could better ur post...

Prashant Juluri said...

try listening to Pilgrim by Eric Clapton when you read "My happy Place"..

Its the perfect song for this article..

lakshmi said...

Amazing! How could the memory be so fresh even after a decade after the stay?
The child's mind is a fresh mind wherein the things that affect comes up all the time whenever triggered. It is a blessing indeed!
With the memory and such a flourishing language, you have really took me to Ruskin Bond and the Secret Garden.
An avid admirer, lakshmi

Nithya said...

@Antariksh, the sound of running water... I wish I'd thought of that when I was writing my entry.

@Rava, I need my descriptions because my memory sucks. Yours is still fresh and always will be :)
@Mohan, thank you :)

@Pappu, umm, ok :)

@Ma, thanks and likewise.

waitingforsomewords said...

This is just beautiful! I love what you say about equating the sound of running water to silence. You paint a lovely picture. EBH :)

Nithya said...

Thanks Ellie. :) When we go there, you'll see it for yourself. Can't wait!