“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name sake.” ~ Psalm 23: 2, 3
Have you ever felt so weary, that in the evenings you only have the energy to moan in your journal, and in the mornings your heart anxiously races when it is reminded of the long day ahead? If yes, this is a sign that you need a break – the way I did a few weeks ago.
The 12-hour bus ride couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm for a weekend up in the hills. “We’re going on a Do-Nothing holiday. It’s going to be beautiful!” We excitedly told each other as we imagined dark purple mountains and clean air.
The next morning, we were thrilled to find that we were the only two people getting off the bus at Palampur. The fewer people, the better. Quiet, quiet weekend.
So quiet, we couldn’t find any transport to the hotel we’d booked. Nevertheless, they sent us down a cab. And then, when the cab came to a stop, the caretaker was there to welcome us and guide us through the half kilometer walk down the valley, where our cottage lay on the far side of a meadow, with cows lazily munching nearby. The nicest part of this picture, though, was the earthen walls of our cottage, the picket fence around the tiny vegetable garden, the friendly caretaker, and the quiet old cook. This place was a testament that simplicity can sometimes be overwhelming.
After our breakfast of aloo parathas, curd, and bamboo shoot pickle, we set out exploring, beginning with the house. I was delighted to discover Jim Corbett’s ‘Tigers of Kumaon’ among their collection of books. Whoever selected the books for this charming library knew exactly which books are perfect to read in the mountains. So although I’ve read Tigers of Kumaon three times, I still took it with me when we walked down to the stream. The large boulders, the surprisingly loud chant of the water, and no people in sight, apart from us, set the scene perfectly for a story time of man-eating tigers and leopards. Not exactly the most ideal way to unwind, I suppose 🙂
The first day we spent in exploring, reading, and wallowing in the gorgeousness we were so starved for. ‘It’s like a ‘scenery’ drawing from when we were little – tall mountains, blue water, an expansive meadow, and a charming cottage, complete with white curtains and a cozy attic with an extra bed!’ we remarked with amazement. The mountain birds were a lovely addition to the real picture.
The next morning we booked ourselves a cab to Andretta – the pottery village a few kilometers off Chandpur (where we were staying). The drive through the pine forests, then the bamboo groves, to the adorable market place had us exclaiming how interesting everything was. The Andretta Pottery workspace was fun too. We admired the glaze-work and listened to Shubham, the person in-charge, explained what went into creating quality pottery. It was especially cute when he took a minute off to tell his younger brother to go buy vegetables at the market and that he’d be home in a bit to cook their lunch. I wish I could say that we helped make pottery, but all we really did was make awkwardly shaped jars while saying excitedly, “I’m a potter!”
We got back to our meadow in time for our lunch. After which, my friend went for a walk and I sat on the porch with my book and journal. In between, I visited the kitchen to make myself coffee, and ended up chatting with the cook and the caretaker’s son, who were curious to know what I did for a living. In turn, I had questions for them about the best time to plan my next visit.
At 7:30, the next morning, we unlocked the front door to our home back in the city. We had been on the bus all night, and should have been queasy and washed out from the twisty roads. Yet, we were both smiling as we began getting ready for the day’s work, ‘So this is what it feels like to be rejuvenated by calm!’