One afternoon, hiked to Mana, more commonly known as India's last village. I say commonly cause there are signs everywhere making such a proclamation. India's Last Store. India's Last Restaurant. India's Last Tea Shop. Last cause just up the mountainside is China. The line of demarcation looks like a mini Great Wall of China. And like the big one, this one has gaps. Which obviously begs the question what's stopping an industrious, nimble person from wandering an extra 100 meters to the right to walk through the aforementioned gap?
Alas I was not industrious nor nimble enough to walk through said gap into China. Mainly cause I didn't want to use my one phone call to inform my father in Jersey that I left my mother behind in India & now needed him to bail me out of a Chinese jail.
The star attraction in India's last village is also at its highest point, aka closest to China. A 5000+ year old cave where the Mahabharata + the Bhagavad Gita, sacred Hindu texts, were written 5000+ years ago. Ho hum.
My yatra is complete with 3 more mountaintop temple visits. One honoring the Goddess Ganga, with a riverside prayer ceremony honoring the River Ganga. One honoring Lord Vishnu & his wife Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, with a prayer ceremony for my deceased ancestors. And one for Shiva, who I consider in layman's terms my patron saint, but in reality is so much more.
My time in my favorite place in the world is almost at an end. But I have 3 lovely memories to pack in my suitcase & bring back to NYC with me.
_napping under a tree on the side of the road with a cool mountain breeze breezing about
_feeding bananas to a pregnant cow that wandered by
_after discovering the trail of a planned 4 hour trek washed away by mudslides, took a helicopter ride that swirled & curled through clouds that kissed snowy mountains to land at my favorite temple
Ho hum again.
Sanskrit word of the day...shila, which is a giant stone or boulder. The Himalayas are by far the most mind boggling sight I've ever mind boggled about. They tower over all they surround, poke up above the clouds & have powerful rivers that hug the mountains as they flow by. And everywhere are these giant boulders – in the middle of river beds, standing in green pastures, stuck to the mountainsides. And by giant I mean NYC skyscraper giant.
I'm sure physical science or a geologist (shout out to my friend Andy!) can tell the story of their size & how they came to be where they are. But looking up at them really does seem like giant divine fingers decided there should be a giant boulder in that exact location in the universe & placed the most perfectly formed giant boulder to complete the landscape. All so someone from the other side of the world can come & marvel at its giant beauty.