Atypical Mountain Road

Destination: McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh

I’ve always found some places like paint palettes. Contrasting hues of vivid lives, stories, memories and symbolisms blending together to create a uniquely beautiful something. Something that I’m unable to precisely define, is there any word for a living, breathing place? But we are all human in the end, for the intricacies of the place start falling away as the clock carries on. We go back, unpack, get back to work, pay the bills, and as we start losing track of sleep and time, the place starts fading away little by little. Until an insignificant weekend, when you stumble across the forgotten pictures and try remembering the bits that stayed. More often than not, these bits sing a single hue. And these hues are the ones that will define the place for you, in all the coming years.

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Palaces that Speak

Do you know that some stories can make your memories come alive? The enchanting rhymes of the low and high bricked walls of a faded old city, do they not mesmerize? These walls, and those homes, towers and lakes, they all live and breathe inside that magnanimous stone palace. You stroll inside it as if moving through a maze – hushed, your breath held. For you do not know what awaits at the next turn, for you do not want the sound of your breath to shadow what its walls are trying to tell so softly. The intricate alleyways keep turning and twisting, like water seeping through the roots of a banyan tree, only making it stronger. The rich contrast of the lush palace and the unassuming alleyways makes you believe that they hold forgotten secrets. Tales of lives, love, wars, and time slipping by. And once you hear this, it is not about what the paths lead to – the picturesque courtyards, the lavish rooms or the sacred temples – but the journey, it itself becomes your home.

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A Letter to History

Dear History,

When I allude to you, I do not only mean the alluring tales of love, wars and lives lived and lost.  You are also the pervasive story behind my carved musical box. The bluestone that I picked from a Kashmiri antiquity shop, it sings of a forgotten raindrop. The little dairy I saw him weave in painted streets of Rajasthan, did it speak of a tradition not yet lost? And those sands of the worn hourglass, I fancy them to be of the ocean where I spend so many days, both blissful and lost.

I see you, I see you in the engraved wood of a certain Deodar. I wonder, how many tales will you tell of travelers who passed. In things that fade and in things that do not, I see you in that shop selling Turkish crafts behind the largest mosque. You are the forgotten time and stories of a place that I do not know exist, you are the mystery of an unnamed crypt. In the crude drawings with marvelous colors, in murals and porcelain glass, they sell you. For you are rumored to get better with age. But what about the place? Or the setting? And the gripping story that staled? I want to know it all. Dear history, I write to tell you that you have me charmed.

Yours truly,

(Picture Credits: Varun Rustagi )