Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mull Foon Chronicles

I don't travel much, generally, in life. The last month, however, was one in which I hardly stuck around in Delhi. I touched the beaches of Kerala, the locals of Mumbai, the dunes of Jaisalmer, and finally, the hills of Kumaon. All in a month - different terrains, different people, different motivations and different takeaways.

Each time I am back in Delhi, I have a standard homecoming ritual. Proud as I might be of my eccentric nomadic nerves, coming back home always brings with it an air of relief. The body eases off, the mind gets reflective and heart prepares itself to get wrapped in the comfort of that familiar blanket. But I was talking of my homecoming ritual, which includes two things. First, eating a 12-inch Subway sandwich. I've never been able to understand why, but I HAVE to do this. Must have something to do with subs being my original comfort food through college life. And the second is gathering at CP with a few familiar faces to hog in McDonald's and digest later with a roadside chai at Barakhamba.

Only this time, I felt compelled for neither of these. Homecoming did not happen because I never felt I left my dwelling in the first place. And this has to do a lot with both, the people and the place I went over to.

Faraway Renz, a resort close to the remote village of Falsaun, up in the Kumaon Hills, is idyllic. Secluded, calm and aglow with comfort, I have come to love this place post my first visit there last September, upon the invitation of Dipankar Mukherjee, a dear friend and the co-owner of the Renz. At that time, we had gathered to share and discuss poetry. This time, we gathered to share and discuss some bit of life. And the experience was, strangely enough, calming and overwhelming at the same time.

Among the most magical moments these hills present to you are the surreal spectacles of sunrise and moonrise. Since rising early is a chronic inability, gazing at the emerging moon is what I had to make peace with. From deep darkness, the sky turns the mildest shade of orange from the place the moon is planning to surface. It then peeks out, first looking like a distant glowing bulb with orange filament, till it captivates you with its steady ascent and enlarging beauty. It devours the stars in its vicinity as it announces it proud arrival. And for the two minutes it takes to become a whole, it keeps you intensely hypnotised. There, up in the hills, we become quiet, still, to breathe in this surreal sight, even as intensely cold winds tickle.

And then, as a post-ode to the lunar delight, we display our lunacy by singing all moon-songs we can think of! Old, new and innovated/improvised, our repertoire of music is fascinating. Throughout such moments of togetherness, I've been glad to notice and absorb, what a wonderful role music plays in cementing moments and memories. Be it impromptu singing around the bonfire, or a planned and curated cheap-gaanon-ki-list in the car - memories tend to have background music in my head. Do they, in yours?

Drives on semi-dangerous roads to playing cricket in the room; foolishly exposing yourself to the cold winds to getting lost in eskimo jackets; devouring plates-full of pakoras to swooning over local momos; and finding courageous moments to share intensely personal thoughts to crossing over into night-time shenanigans which are best left up there, in the hills - I had the most perfect time, which the most loving bunch of people I have met in life.

I do not know what stroke of fortune had perched itself on my shoulder when I decided to call the first poetry gathering, but two years later, I know how rich poetry has made my life not just the with magic of literature, but also with the glow of genuinely good people.

Each of my four trips had specific crescendos I will remember them by. This last one, however, was a continuous hum of relaxed happiness; and so that it doesn't fade away into some complacent corner of the brain, I thought it best to write it down.

Nimisha, Smriti, Utkarsh, Sakshi, Aniket, Prateek and Solanki - thanks a bunch!

PS - Let's do this again, soon!


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