A Marmalade, called ‘Harmony’: McLeodganj, Dharamshala

A Marmalade, called ‘Harmony’  


I woke up early this morning,
to a soft light on my face -
it wrapped me smugly
in a warmth - my blanket didn’t have.
I turned to my right, and looked up outside -
the light was coming from the forests
of pine across the road from my window,
on the highway to the village of Dharamkot
over a steep climb from McLeodganj.

I pushed back the cashmere blanket,
then on my bed I sat up, upright -
to trace the source of light outside.
It was the big soft sun struggling to rise
from the valley of red and green roofs -
shining past freshly painted walls
that told you this was a thriving town,
of hardworking meticulous souls.

The sun emerged past hills, deodar woods
that were teasing it with their perfume -
diffusing its light in their crevices
and swathing its warmth on their leaves -
still shivering, dripping with the nights rain
that makes mountains cold and stiff
even in the peak of summer - mid June,
but pleasantly warm and cosy the day round.

I sat for a while, opened up the net screen -
so, I may reach out to light unrestrained,
and feel the cool fragrant hill air touch my skin,
carrying with it the warmth of the sun
no longer timid – swathing me in bed.

The round teakwood coffee table, both chairs,
in my view by the windows, were moist -
from which a shimmering sunlight bounced off
as I got up, turned the electric kettle on.
A teabag, creamer, sugar, went into a cup
on the mantelpiece with a brass Buddha atop -
in front of a red brick-shaped, cemented wall.

I sat with my teacup, viewing the landscape -
in it, stylish local men, women strolled uphill
carrying jackets, stoles, satchels on upright hips;
as furry dogs strutted up behind or downhill
after maroon-robed, shaven-headed monks
stopping to climb only to cajole their moody child -
so what if like them he’s also a monk already
who of innocent curiosity hasn’t yet had his fill,
as he wilfully peers at the steep valley below,
discerning if life is worth denouncing already.

‘What time you’d like breakfast?’ I get a call -
the young man runs the bed and breakfast
along with his parents - he wants to know
of the pancakes and honey, I’ve ordered,
as potato or egg parathas they serve I’ll forgo.

I rush out for a brief stroll up the hill road
to get the local essence of man and the winds,
as I’m not a tourist who relies on trails
or Guides who take you from point to point
that you can tick off on your to-do-list -
with photos of all the famed spots you’re in.

Climbing higher and higher, short of breath -
on roads overlooking valleys past tall pines,
I reach the intersection with a few local cafés,
also, a signboard that reads, Dharamkot.
I gaze around, stroll up each narrow road
but not to the end of Hyatt resort’s door
even if I’ve roomed at few, got married at one -
my sister and I had Kolkata’s Hyatt as venue
for our weddings - as it’s so near our home.

I’m not curious of luxurious spaces anymore,
even if old friends swear by their comfort -
as on the creative, spiritual path I’ve chosen,
I seek intimacy to God in nature that’s raw —
searching for it behind the visible front.

On my way downhill I almost break into a run,
as it’s faster and easier to balance, than catwalk -
so, in an hour, by ten I’m at our stay’s garden cafe
amidst a nursery of local plants, varied flowers,
all of it presided by a blue Shiva in Lotus pose -
who directs his blessings with a palm, held up -
that projects his destiny lines etched on it
out to passers-by, tourists or Buddhist monks,
who abound this stretch solo or in groups
from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.

Old, pleasant Hindi songs on Akashvani radio
float into my joyfully heightened hearing now -
as I recall the tour yesterday of Dharamshala,
including Chinmayananda ji’s Tapovan;
also Dalai Lama’s temple, Norbulinka monastery;
with Shiva temples at Baijnath and Bhagsunath;
after series of visits to the St. John’s church.

I think of last night’s dinner - momos, thukpa,
in tiny Kalimpong Restaurant at Central Square,
after cappuccinos, croissants at chic Juniper Café -
missing a planned visit to Jimmy’s Café in front.

Over my bites of pancake dribbled with honey -
the swigs of a cup of strong homemade coffee:
uplifts my exercised heart – as mind is refreshed
from a week’s drenching in cross-cultural gales -
I’ll take home today - a marmalade, named ‘Harmony’.

PS: in continuation of the previous post…The photo album of a weeks’s travel is here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10160547812904974&type=3

# mcleodganj #mcleodganjdiaries

#crosscultural #crossculturalcommunication #spirituality #dharamshala #himachaltourism #poetry #poetryislife #poetrycommunityofig #poetryporn #travelogue #visualpoetry #naturephotography #poetsociety

7th July, 22

“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.”
— Claude Monet

Adding to my previous posts on Dharamshala/Mc Leodganj…
The thoughts that inspired this painting from my visit to the Baijnath Shiva temple…the older I get, the smaller I feel in the presence of the power that defines my identity, but makes me more curious of its source.
I no longer find the need to establish my presence at his door or ring bells to awaken him to take notice of me. I seek god in everything I do, and in my creativity I feel closest to seeking his purpose for my life.
Yet, religious disrespect, or anything that hurts others sentiments is not creativity, but rather the complete lack of it.

#painting #paintingoftheday #palampurvalley #visualpoetry #himachalpradesh #inspiration #creativity #creativeindependence #creativeliberty #religiousrespect

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