I trudged along behind them
Unable to walk anymore;
I groaned and grumbled as I went along
My legs felt terribly sore.
Up in the Garwal Himalayas
About thirteen thousand feet high;
I wasn’t enjoying this journey much
Of this I cannot lie.
Every cheerful traveller
Was inspiration to go on;
Every little dhaba serving steaming hot chai
Came as a welcome recharge coupon.
It was becoming difficult to breathe up there
As oxygen levels sharply fell;
Knowing of the headaches and nausea these heights bring
I was certain of being unwell.
The cold entered my skin that night
Well past the thick five layers I wore;
Yet, what I witnessed the next morning
Compelled me to all these discomforts ignore.
Snow capped mountains all around us
Above them only clear blue sky;
Bright sun, wild flowers, mountain deer,
And the sound of the Bhagirati babbling by.
And as these sights held us captive
Before us the mighty Goumukh glacier did appear;
I was lost to the earth below me
Heavens – they must indeed be here.
I know not much about God and his ways
Yet if he must exist and choose a place to reside;
It must be here in these magical mountains
Where one’s soul and Nature so joyously abide.
As I closed my eyes to soak it all in
I am overpowered by an emotion so intense;
There’s not a word I know to describe
this overwhelming experience.
The cold, it does not bother me any longer
In fact there’s snow followed by the rains
as we descend from the lofty mountains
along the river toward the plains.
It’s a unique inexplicable feeling
This oneness with all around;
I know this moment will live with me always
And in my soul reverberate and resound.
But the glacier they say is melting alarmingly fast
Receding by several metres a year;
Even for this colossal creature of nature
The end may be frightfully near.
I promise myself to do all I can
To keep such an end at bay;
For beauty so pristine and waters so pure
For our children and theirs must stay.
The Himalayas they’ve taught me a thing or two
Of my needlessly consumptive lifestyle;
The futility of this urban chaos that surrounds me
I realise is just not worth the while.
So while I search for my answer
On how I must from my mindless ways refrain;
A strong impelling urge inside me
Wants only to go back to the mountains again.
(Written on the train from Haridwar to Delhi, May 2007)
The Big Game
When the Big Game it is over and done,
And the final whistle blows;
How will I know if I’ve lost or won
when the match draws to a close?
Will it matter how many goals I scored?
Or how many were made against me?
Is someone keeping score on the board?
And is there an Umpire and Referee?
By the standard rules must I play?
Or must I make rules of my own?
Can I not on the field continue to stay?
Even after the red card I am shown?
Must I always play for the team?
Does it have to be in uniform?
May I play just as I please?
Or must I play to conform?
Must I play for honour and pride,
or just for the joy that the game does bring
If I can’t play must I stand by the side,
And cheer the others still in the ring?
When the Big Game it is over and done
And the time has come to go;
Whether I have drawn, lost or won
I wonder how I will ever know!
15th May 2010
At Home on a lazy Saturday morning