A few years ago, I was at crossroads, had been for a while in fact. I had been contemplating exchanging my chaotic life in Delhi for the quieter realms of my home in Himachal, but, wasn’t sure if I had it in me to do what it takes for such a move. The need to move out of Delhi was at its peak as I felt that my life there, was no longer adding any value to my life. But, having spent over 18 years in Delhi, I had become used to a life and facilities, that are a part of a metropolitan. And now, the thought of stepping into something that was no longer within my comfort zone brought along certain fears. Misgivings arose, what if this was just some sort of romance with the mountains and quiet life that lay only in my head? What if I didn’t really like it all that much. I felt, if it didn’t work out, it would be a failure for me at many different levels.
I decided to leave anyway.
A few days before I was to leave, my boss decided to take the whole team for a trip to Kumaon. I, welcome any chance to head to mountains. So, on an overcast July morning, we started for Binsar. After a dodgy start, wherein a colleague just wouldn’t wake up and we had to leave him, we boarded a train to Kathgodam (the colleague, thankfully, made it to train). From Kathgodam, a car drove us to Binsar. As we gained altitude and temperatures dropped, mountainous landscape in that misty monsoon got increasingly pleasant, and my spirit started soaring. I experience this every time I head up to the mountains and each time, I relive this feeling of perfect being. On top of that, mountains have a different charm during monsoons. They come alive, teeming with life everywhere. I thought to myself, why am I doubting this, moving back home is just what I want.
Once back in Delhi, it was time to pack-up. There was so much “stuff’ acquired over decades and it was a daunting task to pack it all, so, I called packers and movers, which turned out to be an excellent decision. Their team came next morning and within 3 hrs, packed and loaded everything and soon the truck was on way home. A day after, on Rakshabandhan, carrying all my hopes and dreams, I also drove back home. Apart from one tyre puncture, the journey was uneventful. As I entered my hometown late in the afternoon, I noticed, a little before the only traffic light in the town, 4-5 cars lined up. I joined in. After a minute or so, the people inside those vehicles started looking a little harried and there was some honking, some hand gesticulation, some shouting. Initially, I was a little confused why this was happening, until it dawned on me that that I was stuck in my small town version of a traffic jam. Right there in the middle of that tiny street was, ‘should be ashamed to call itself jam’ Jam. I started laughing. It felt like a good omen somehow, a weird welcome of sorts and I thought to myself, everything will be alright.
Soon, I got busy with unpacking, cleaning, getting rid of whatever ‘stuff’ I deemed unnecessary and well, basically making spaces livable for myself. On one of these ‘strangely warm’ early winter evenings, power went out. I stepped out in the lawn. It was pitch dark outside but much cooler than inside. Standing in the lawn, the skies caught my eye. I looked up and was transfixed. I hadn’t seen a night sky more brilliant and more full of stars. I could see the milky- way. Never before had I realized how clear and beautiful the night sky looked, from my own home. How is it that sometimes, it takes you a long long time to appreciate the beauty that has always been around you. I stood there looking at the sky for a long time. It reaffirmed my faith in my decision of moving back.
After new year, I decided to visit a friend in Uttarakhand and called him. Thankfully, he invited me to stay the whole summer. I promptly agreed and as soon as winter started thawing and the Rhododendrons started blooming, I made my way to Madhur and Ambika’s home in Jhaltola estate in Kumaon. It was the second best decision I had made within a span of one year. Clear views of my favourite mountain, Nanda Devi, apple blossoms and pathways carpeted with Rhododendron flowers, greeted me on arrival. Next few days were filled with working a little, reading a lot and walking in the jungle. On a cold and misty morning, I found myself sitting in the living room, holding a Mills n Boon in hand. There was hot tea on the side table, Brownie slept peacefully in my lap and Kundan Lal Saigal crooned in the background. In the middle of it all, I thought to myself, how did I get to this space. Lazy mornings, mountains, books and music. Isn’t this just what I wanted. Yet, another day, I woke up in the morning with a song in my head. I started singing. The song stuck with me for more than half a day and I continued singing. A restful mind is happy, and happy people sing. It is the natural state of being.
One evening, just as I was about to turn in for the day, a work related call came at 10 pm. I took it and chatted on gaily for next 15 minutes. After that, I took out my laptop to send an email to the gentleman who had called. And of course, yet again, came the realization, that I am actually in this easy space. Mentally and physically relaxed, rested and calm enough to not get irritated if I have to work at an hour close to midnight.
It has now been over 4 years since I moved back home. I am yet to settle further up in the mountains, but there hasn’t been a single time when I regretted my decision.
Moving back home………..is working.