The Great Himalayan Smile

Seeing mountains from the plains down below they rise up in their vastness, tall and majestic but seemingly out of reach; it feels like they are aloof, the arrogant good looker saying ‘yes, you can look but you can’t touch’. Once engulfed in the Himalayan range the mountains feel welcoming; no longer am I merely a spectator from afar but allowed to relax and feel cozy in their strong encompassing embrace.

Mountains have long awakened my imagination but I have never had the opportunity or perhaps just never taken the time and made the effort to take myself deep into the heart of a mountain range. I don’t feel like I’ve made any special effort now, but the time, opportunity and the flow of life has brought me here. The rise and fall of numerous peaks and valleys now surround me, mesmerising, awakening my imagination as they always have done but this time as an insider, a friend.

At this altitude the last of the winter snow fell a month back, higher up white still highlights the peaks. Awakening from winter the trees are ready to explode with new life, blossom starting to adorn the branches. In every groove and valley the water gushes vibrant and clean, new with life after the frozen hibernation. The river, one of the wisest teachers there is when it comes to the flow of life, weaves in seemingly random paths, navigating hard boulders and jagged rocks like an assault course, “what to the crow looks like meandering, to the river is the most efficient route”.

Pausing on a mountainside climb to catch my breath, soaking in the energy and prayers on the Himalayan wind, a local man trots by. I can see he’s old, but how old, he himself quite possibly doesn’t even know. Despite his age his light frame moves with the agility of a youth. He turns his face to greet me as he passes, hands pressed together in a deep reverent Namaste. He has deep clear cut grooves in his dark golden brown skin, grooves carved in his face by a lifetime of simple hard work, unquestioning contentment. Sculpted by the artist of life so sure of himself that there was not a doubt when he engraved this smile permanently in every line on this mans face.

Jibhi, Himarchal Pradesh, India

 

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