I have thoroughly enjoyed my time up in the mountains where I spent my formative years from 8 to 18 years old. Today I went to visit the school and then afterwards found some less-traveled paths to take. Despite my bad knees and poorer sense of balance I managed my way up the hill. It reminded me of how I use to wander those hills when I was young. It also reminded me of how often in life I take the paths less travelled.
I've been been taking this time to do some writing. Perhaps not as much as I had planned. I think about the long hard task ahead of me. Most of the time it is daunting. How will I ever manage? But just like these roads I just plod on forward. Yes, there are times, quite challenging, when it takes a while to gain a sure footing. I nearly fell off the side when I stopped to take a picture of Rhodadendrens high overhead. But I made it to the top. I reached the destination.
And while it may be a lonely road and less traveled -- in the sense that I utilize my organic intuitive processes to express in story historical, economic, political, and religious themes -- I have full confidence that somehow I will get to the top, to the end. My way less traveled is strewn with the foliage of openess, reflection, attentiveness, and vision.
The fact is that these paths through the mountains have been forged by others that have gone before. It may be less travelled, but if there is a road or path, even ever so primitive, someone has taken it before you, and likely with alarming regularity. And this is what makes me sure-footed, having the evidence that the way is possible.
May you find freedom in those rugged paths of you life. Enjoy the scenery and don't fear. Once in a while look up to the skies and see what lies ahead.
So I have arrived to that one place hid in my heart as home and, yes, it feels like home. The plan is to spend at least a good solid week writing. My room with a view is idylic.
The plan also is to walk around. I arrived at the Ivy Bank guest house mid day, unpacked, and then headed out for a walk. The back path up to Chaar Dhukhaan is very steep, and I realized it would take a while to get my lung capacity up to the 7000+ feet altitude. You just plug along at a steady plod and eventually you arrive at one of the oldest crossroads of town in front of St Paul's church. Every time I come there are more cafes. So no longer four (chaar) stores (dhukhaan). I sit down at Tip Top and its good to see a familiar face.
After chai and fried momo I got my second wind and walked on. The steepness of a path is always relative. As a youth here I never realised how steep the road was between St Paul and Kellogs. But not anywhere as steep as to Char Dukhaan. The weather was very comfortable for walking. I walked the path that ribbons the top of the mountain ridge in the secluded "suburb" called Landaur. Due to the government taking over most of the hill, and strict building restrictions, this part of town is pretty much the same. I don't know how many times I walked this road when I was young. To walk it again, after all these years, did feel like a homecoming.
Arriving at Prakash's I just went in and ordered some basic survival supplies, as if I had been shopping there last week. I couldn't remember if it was Anil or Sunil who had taken over the shop. I asked. He told me he was Sunil and then he instantly remembered that I use to live just up the hill in Buena Vista. He asked about my parents.
Now to head back home, This time around the back of the mountain, where few live. The path goes under what use to be our house, but that was torn down long ago and taken over by All India Radio. Its a quiet. path with pines that must be twice the size as 40 years ago.
The walk down any gradient proved to be very difficult on my knees. Just before the guest house where I am staying is possibly the very steepest road. I did my best to criss cross down or go sideways, as people rushed pass me with no problem. There is another road I can take that is a little more gradual, though three times longer.
So tomorrow I wanted to see the snows early in the morning, before smog and clouds come in. It may be that the best way to treat myself on my birthday is to stay home and rest my knees. Or I will go down Mullingar early in the day, and get the tension on my knees over with early, and see the snows from the Camels back road.
I am so grateful that wind has blown the smog away. Delhi is the most polluted city in the world, but not while I was here. And rather than being the predicted 90° it is cool and lovely! I only hope that all the smog didn't blow up to the mountains where I am headed now.
I had to try to get on line before leaving Delhi. Theoretically the WiFi should be better here, but who knows what factors are preventing my connectivity today. For those who think that technology will revolutionize societies around the world by providing easy information and education, the infrastructure still needs to be built. In a country where infrastructure for roads, water, and housing is lagging behind, putting emphasis on technical infrastructure may only reinforce the disparities of opportunity.
That is the extent of my assessment of this country. I might only add that it is unfortunate that in the present political environment the wealth of diversity is being undermined, not recognizing the multiple minorities that make this such a vibrant country. My hope has been that I have opened some eyes in America to the fact that the face of India and its cultures are very diverse. A minority may still equal a higher population than in other countries. More Muslims in India than in Pakistan, for instance. Over 2 million Christians constitutes a minority. The other wonder of India is that this diversity typically lives in harmony, side by side. It is only politics that divides people, using religion as a divisive tool to destroy the peaceful coexistence. But this evil is pervasive all around the world. This is why I am inspired by grassroots movements that help build community and collaboration. We do not have to succumb to the powers and principalities in the air.
So in Delhi I said farewell to my fellow travelers, my Dad, Kay and Wolfram. The next 4 weeks and 4 days I will travel alone. Not really alone; staying with friends who live in India. Five days in Dehra Dun, 2 weeks in Mussoorie, 5 days in Ranchi again, and a final week in Mumbai. Much of that time will be to process and write about the information gathered.
Last night I had a wonderful visit with Leyla, a distant relative. She is the great great grand daughter of Doris'cousin. The branch of the family that went to St Petersburg, Russia. She came with an Indian friend who is also researchIng his great great grandparents, Sikhs from pre-partition Pakistan. It was interesting sharing our common heritage journeys. It is facinating to me how wonderful it is to meet and hug a distant relative for the first time, and feel like we have known each other a long time.
I will be traveling and visiting India, with my Father. Our primary destination in India is Ranchi, Jharkhand. We will also visit other towns and cities in that north-eastern region as well as other places in India.