On getting and staying away

My last post was unnecessarily pessimistic. Unnecessary because in just a few hours, the reason for this trip was right in front of me.

Earthy, raw nature, steep uphill drives, steaming momos and soup beside an upbeat Teesta. And then there was Kanchenjunga and Himalayas in all their glory.

What do you say about Sikkim that hasn’t already been said? Mystical, raw, gorgeous. There’s a sigh in every breath in Sikkim.

The first time I came to Sikkim was at the turn of the century, a school trip full of wild experimentation. Which pretty much translates to some bloody mary at 10 am and the Old Monk awesomeness. We felt pretty awesome about ourselves, telling ourselves over and over again that that freedom was a sign of things to come.

That trip was to Gangtok and the gorgeous frozen lake whose name I now forget. I remember my aunt seeing pictures of the trip back home and that was the first time my “Yahooo! streak” was recognised. The theme song on that trip a decade and a half ago (exactly) was old favourite Boyzone, newly discovered Air Supply, and a lot of Seasons in the Sun.

15 years later, the theme song was the silence I have started to enjoy these last few years. And easy conversation. The easy, easy smiles. The iPod remained untouched, the Sachin Tendulkar autobiography two-thirds done, a lot of adrak chai and momos, precious moments of camaraderie, some sights that no camera could capture, and a general feeling of peace.

Simple pleasures.. Like returning to a warm room after hours out in the cold, the feeling of hot water on your back or the hot sun in your face on a cold, cold day. The simplicity. The chai tapris along hilly roads, the Kanchenjunga dawn and hill settlement dusks. The cup of chai when your fingers freeze next to the window.

And there was an odd kind of acceptance.

The week before I got to Sikkim was a rather tough one. I was jaded by unimportant things, the games of adulthood, of being a working adult. Right here, in this moment of incredible calm, I realise as I did many times over in the last week or so, that that jadedness and games of adulthood allow for these moments of inspiration, of serendipity. For that alone, I can deal with them.

Opening up your heart to some adventure, those unlikely hikes of the non-appraisal kind, the gasp before a sharp turn on a very unlikely “national highway”, just getting away – there is nothing more therapeutic. Your perspectives come rushing back and the steely eyed resolve to just chill gets stronger.

It is not every day that I am inspired enough during a vacation to write even before it’s over. But this longer than usual getaway where the sights were as raw as I needed them to be has been such a blessing. I have realised these last few weeks is that I don’t show enough gratitude. I should. I have a lot to thank life for. Even if it doesn’t feel like it every minute of every day. But life’s a zero sum game. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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