6.20 am I open my eyes and see that the light has arrived in this day. It is the early fragile light, but it is there, opening up for a new day. I close my eyes and listen. I hear the birds singing and have so for the past two weeks. Where were they, did they actually mígrate to here or were they just cold and their songs were frozen previously to that. Their songs are so full of life and vitality.
In contrast to the tuck tucks on the road, struggling to descend the tiny hilly road. A tractor is going full power up killing any other sound around it. The howling dogs, near and far. The happy puppy in the courtyard just next to my balcony who is constantly being bullied by his sibling and therefore always screaming. The Cow. Crying out now and then. Someone opening a squeaking gate. Closing it. The mules putting one hoof in front of the other on the asphalt while on their way to work. The falcon crying.
The wind is moving faster and faster, in circles, between the houses, catching the leaves in the trees, playing with them so that they make sounds, grabbing a piece of the metal roof playing with it, making it sound like thunder.
In between, there is some sort of silence but the silent moments get shorter and fewer.
It is early yet, the honking is still yet to start. But soon someone will play music, Om Shanti Om, the kids will arrive at the school next door. Their happy voices will fill the air before the prerecorded melody played on drums starts playing and they sing the national song.
Rishikesh International Film Festival started a couple of days ago and considering the odd hour’s films would be screened I decided I would rent a scooter to get back and forth. It’s a distance of approximately three kilometres but wow, these three kilometres are an experience to remember.
The road is narrow but still there are at least four to five lanes. All invisible and made up when needed in the instance, in the now, as vehicles travel at two directions. The left-hand side traffic is mostly on the left-hand side. Mostly. The road is crowded with everyone and everything. Trucks, tuck tucks, motorbikes, scooters, bicycles, pedestrians, dogs, cows and everyone are in a total extreme hurry or they don’t give a f***k about that there are others on that road. These amazing extremes of India. Driving in daylight is crazy but driving on this road when dark, that is when one can really see how crazy it is.
When the lights from the vehicles try to probe the mix of dust and fumes, and the feeling when that same air hits my face leaving layers of particles almost making it difficult to make facial expressions. And the honking. And every one overtaking any vehicle possible and any possible side of the road. It is a surreal movie being played in front of my eyes and the most surreal thing is when I realise that I am a part of the movie.
Yesterday was the second evening at the film festival and I watched the movie Monk with a camera. I touched me. Just like the one I saw yesterday, The highest pass. They both moved me for different reasons. The first one because it showed the roads I travelled last year going to Leh, the Himalayas. That movie was not about doing an inner journey through the outer. About facing our fears instead of nourishing them inside of us and the consequences of that. I liked that movie but I also know that one doesn’t have to conquer the highest passes on the highest mountains to face one’s fears. The highest passes are within ourselves. I got emotional when watching those roads, the mountains, the scenery. Perhaps because I never thought I would ever get there but I did, and it was as spectacular as I have heard people saying. It was spectacular and it probed my being in a way I can not describe.
Monk with a camera is an amazing portrait of a westerner and his journey to becoming a Tibetan Buddhist Monk but also about his struggle with the detachment to his passion for photography. If for nothing else, I would recommend this movie for the simple reason that he could, in such a simple and beautiful way, explain the importance of not focusing on oneself but on others. In a good way that is. When we don’t feed our egos or diminish ourselves. This humble man’s words touched me and once again I realise that it is not about how many yoga courses or retreats one attends that matters. It is about what we bring and how we incorporate that knowledge into our everyday lives from them that matters.
I am touched and emotional and once again feel so privileged and humbled and it is 10 pm when I put the key into the slot, press the button, hear when the motor starts and the scooter and I are on our way back through the surreal movie of traffic in Rishikesh.
How dare I drive here, I remember thinking when I rented the scooter a few days ago. This is one fear which I am addressing. The fear of driving a scooter in India. Being afraid while driving will make me question every decision and movement I am to make on the road. Staying aware and present at the moment helps me stay focused on what is happening around me and I find myself and my vehicle in the same flow as the others.
I am emotional and high on the experience when I park the scooter, open the heavy gate and open the padlock before entering my room. It takes me a while to wash off the dirt and the fumes before going to bed and closing my eyes.
It’s 8.30 am and the kids in the school next door are singing. What a beautiful way to start my day. Today I will meet with two of three beautiful friends, Pooja and Ishaan, for lunch and a trip to the Neer waterfall. We all wish Sourav could have joined us. The three musketeers, these amazing youngsters, taking me in, giving me so much love, and knowledge and perspective on life. Grateful.