“It is always the same with mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them. There is no escape.”
- Ruskin Bond
Nature has a strange way of calling out. We sometimes hear it in the soft lull of the breeze, in the fresh smell of the rain, and sometimes just a walk in the sun to tell you that there are things far greater and more sublime than watching Coldplay live. There are some places that stay with you for all that they have to offer, and then there are places that have no parties to offer, but you come back with so much more than you ever anticipated.
Some places stay for the tranquility it offered at a time when life chose to walk all over you and not give two shits about it. This is why I always look back to my life in the mountains and wonder how people wake up to a view like theirs and not thank divine providence every day. Because I am going back the first chance I get.
It's the place where you'll never worry about not fitting in.
Because you won't. The mountains have an air of its own and so do the ones breathing it. You won't be in any dearth of cheap places to eat, or cheap places to stay. When I thought women could never travel alone, Himachal surprised me. In the one month that I stayed, the people, be it the owner of your little room or the shopkeeper you buy groceries from, or even the people who pass you by, were as helpful as a set of people could be to a newcomer.
I received kind smiles, telling me the way every time I went off the grid, people lighting up their torches for the benefit of others at night, and a sense of community that city dwellers might just never know.
It's hard to hate walking long distances when there's so much beauty on offer.
The mountains demand that you walk by while enjoying the bounty that nature has bestowed. The roads are tricky on the inside, hence having a car to take you anywhere you want is not an option that can always come to your aid.
You will have to walk every day you step out of the house. No matter where I had to go, the little NGO where I taught kids, or the little cafe where I grabbed lunch, there was no auto I could hire. Which means I came back home 3 kilos less and a lot more fit and a little less clumsy and lazy. And you don't mind it, and never get tired of walking.
Time and tide might just wait for you here.
Time in the mountains has a pace of its own. The statement 'Time flies' loses meaning because time does not seem to pass here. The place, I think has the power to make you a morning person. You can spend your weekend mornings wrapped in a blanket and sip chai while wistfully looking at the view, and breathing in the freshest air that the earth has to offer now. Or you could engage yourself by walking, and in the process discovering cooped up little places you can boast about, and by the end of it have ample time to sit by the river and count the stars.
The place has magic, and the people will tell you how.
...among other things. I have a friend who still hopes he finds the dwarves a shopkeeper told him about, the mythical set of beings pervading the night. They cannot be found easily and it's said if you win their favour, they grant whatever riches it is that your heart desires. These and many other such stories are one of the few things you'll be in possession of if you've stayed long enough. There's a wealth of folklore and mystery to be found in the crevices of these places that inhabit people. And if you believe in magic, the mountains will be your charm of choice.
You can dreamily count the umpteen number of stars like never before.
One of the major reasons why I'll always want to go back. Winters in the mountains can surprise you. You will never know when you open the window to find everything outside covered in a pall of snow. Or when you might be blessed with a slight drizzle. Or when you might open your door to a pawed little stranger who wants to share your porch for a while.
This is the place where you can go sit on the roof and admire the stars in the clear night sky in an actual clear sky. You won't mind the chill so much because a lung full of fresh air, and so close to the things that actually make you, you can never hold a grunt.
There's something about the mountains that's sublime and beautiful, and yet it manages to shock you with how vast it is. Just like the ocean, the mountains show you just how small you are in this big, wonderful world. And that there's too much to see to stay cooped up. You need to experience it, you need to breathe that air, smell those flowers and drink that pristine water. And once you do, you will leave a part of you there. You would want to keep coming back to it.