Morning in Vashisht. A new day is beginning. I see people equipped with a towel and a mug heading to the hot spring for their morning bath. Women coming back from the cowshed carrying small containers filled with milk. Birds singing. Bells ringing when neighbors perform their pooja. Some ritual is performed by the temple accompanied to the sound of horns. Children passing on their way to school.
It is a still life. Shanti Shanti as the Indians say. I enjoy being here.
Nowadays peoples livelihood rely on two things; the apple harvest and tourism. Some have become rich on the latter. Still most continue living the simple life.
The hot spring is the centre of the village. People either go there for baths, to wash their clothes or to carry water to their homes in containers. It’s also where they have their chats. The old way of communicating. People talk about everyday events at length and in detail. Storytelling at its best. By the cold springs mostly women gather to wash the dishes and clothes. And talk.
For an outsider, a spectator, life in the village can be perceived as idyllic. And in some way it is. The flip side to this idyllic scenery is that life here is also very hard. Beyond the square by the hot spring and the temple, there are only narrow and steep paths. One has to carry everything to and from; water, greens for the cows, construction materials, apple harvest, big gas containers, groceries and the garbage. The older generation of locals are weathered and their bodies are worn out. Still the young generation chooses to stay in the village. Even though they make good money on tourism.
This is my second time visiting Vashisht and the purpose of both was to escape the heat in Rishikesh. The weather has been a bit moody for the last week but I don’t mind. It gives me the calm and coolness I so much needed. I’ll stay here for a while.