Notes of a First-time Pilgrim: the Beginning

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The Himalayas as I saw it

What is it that drives a person to attempt the seemingly impossible? To step over the boundaries of their small world and venture into what can only be described as a previously unthinkable course of action?

What made me gather my non-existent time and resources, pack my bags, leave my family behind and head to the Himalayas with a group of strangers…? 

There is no answer, really. Or if there is one, it is complex. So complex that I can’t begin to comprehend it myself. 

Let’s just say that there were ghosts that needed to be laid to rest.

this earth, this beautiful earth...
This earth, this beautiful earth…

Maybe it was time, as they say?

Or perhaps the Himalayas decided to be merciful to someone who urgently needed to quieten the chaos in her head, before it swallowed her whole…

The latter, most definitely… Yes. For without that mercy, one could not have made it there and back. I know. 

Plus the support of some amazing friends, not to mention my forever tolerant family. I’m sure not many families would listen to a declaration of ‘I’m going to Badrinath’ without batting an eye-lid. And then proceed to do what it takes to make it happen. Not where I come from. Maybe these are what they call blessings… 

“Go. Go experience the Himalayas. Badrinath…they call it Moksh-dham, you see. For the simple reason that there’s nothing beyond it, there’s nothing more to seek. Go, pray. It will give you peace!” he said, my doctor who had long ago adopted me as his family. Having had to deal with the physical manifestations of my restless spirit for years now, he understands my needs only too well. 

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Leaving Sharjah behind

October 4, 2015:

The moment my flight takes off has always been a sublime one for me. This time, it bordered on the surreal. There was the familiar sense of thrill – perhaps a residue of what drove Icarus to fly towards the sun, the primal human urge to conquer the skies. Laced with a tinge of fear. Then the sense of liberation that always comes with leaving behind one’s dailyness and heading towards the different. An exhilaration that bubbles upward from the gut, making one smile for no reason at receding earth outside the window.

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…to fly o’er hills and vales…

For one strange moment I felt as if I was watching myself in third person. Watching a confused, multi-tasking, middle-aged wife and mother of two attempting what had thus far seemed impossible – at least in her particular context. I watched her respond to the lure of the unknown as if hypnotised, and marvelled at it. 

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…and lands unknown…

Looking out of the window that afternoon, all the usual sights of a day flight seemed doubly precious to me – the way the land curved around the sea, the glint of the sun on water, the rock formations, the clouds… the earth itself. As if I was seeing it all for the first time. As if I wanted to etch every little detail of the trip in my consciousness so I won’t forget it, ever. 

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…to reach Delhi skies…

The sky over Delhi was different from the one over Dubai – in places. In the sense that it looked down on river Yamuna. From that altitude, the pollution was not visible, thankfully. 

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…and down I went to start my journey…

It was dusk when I landed at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi. A dusk that seemed like a duplicate of Dubai dusks, maybe a perfect setting to start off my Himalayan quest. 

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…as the sun set the stage.

I was on my way. To Badrinath… in search of peace. 

  

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