The starfilled sky blankets my thoughts tonight. And the images return. The silhouettes of trees are striking in the dark. The edges of pine blur the lines of these moments. At times like this it’s all just so peaceful. The empty roads during late night walks, it almost seems that I have these hills all to myself, at least in these moments. There is nothing more but here, there is nothing else necessary right now. The rest is for tomorrow. The music in my head, accompanies the silence, the soundtrack to the reflection. I brush my teeth, head titled upward, inhaling starlight .With that canopy above how many times have I stared up at the sky from different hills, from different villages, across Kumaon? Having established the setting, once more we engage in the reflection, while the lights of Almora remain directly ahead in the distance.
This place has become my world. Nowadays, I find myself so familiar with my environment that often I am unaware of the world outside of this everyday reality. It makes sense I suppose. I have spent the majority of the last year in these villages, amongst these hills and forests. I have spent much more than time however. It’s been the energy, the effort, the frustrations and excitement, and certainly, most certainly the incredible people. The amount of love I have gotten here from people, in the villages I have been working with for the past ten months is something that brings an immediate smile to my face, and warmth to my being. This affection from neighbors, villagers, strangers – one does not easily find anywhere, encompasses me in the spirit of these hills.
When I embarked on the journey that brought me here I left behind relationships, a certain lifestyle, and the domineering culture that, to be honest, had been part of my life for the past many years. To go from that to this, to such a radically different place and state of mind, to struggle, and accept, and eventually embrace. In all of this, there is perspective worth searching for. From all the things I’ve seen and done and learned here, about this work, about this place, about myself. At some point to go from here to there, to the other side of the globe is a jump that at times I wonder, what will it yield? In trying to understand what this year has truly been, I reckon that that perspective I am seeking will hit me on the other side. When I am back in the world of suburbia, of strip malls, and parkball, and late night freestyle sessions, it may be like, “Holy shit. I just did that.” And it’s not that I am not conscious of all that has happened here, though incapable of putting it all into words. The efforts I have put in to understand and work alongside rural communities have already been much more than meaningful. As have the challenges I have dealt with and the ways I have had to get to know myself, ways that have not always been the most pleasant. It’s just a whole lot to try and interpret all at once, especially when you feel unconsciously so connected to your surroundings. The question of perspective is what awaits in that world that had been default, up until recently. Then maybe the people, the struggle, and the grassroots will take on meanings that I cannot even see from my current Himalayan vantage point.
But right now it all remains in my head. Each step is comfortably placed on this ground. We shall save the inevitably continuous speculation, the late night reflection for other nights. Tomorrow will come with new stories and new challenges. And with time further attempts will be made to ponder the meanings of perspective. Tonight these hills are mine.