“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy”
– A Movable Feast, Earnest Hemmingway
Mountains are permanent. Old earthy solid and ever present. All you have to do is understand the slopes and learn to appreciate the silence. The mountains have always been my muse. I am yet to experience the deciduous embrace of the Siwaliks and Himachals but my imagination has nurtured the words of Ruskin Bond, Rudyard Kipling, Jim Corbett and many others who have had the luxury to soak in the place. Mist, Clouds and rain have been constant companions in my journey through various hill stations in the south. Like a shadow they follow and one can only enjoy their cold embrace.
My better half has never really appreciated the stoic calm of the hills. The woman in her prefers the ever changing mistress – the sea.
The sea is probably something that the creator commissioned when he was really angry. Whitecaps and surging waves that make your bloodless knuckles clutch at the railing while your eyes burn through the distance and anchor onto the shore. But then his wife must have politely twisted his hands and ensured that he makes it a little more bearable for everyone. Gentle waves that caress your body as you float along, enjoying the warmth of the sun on your face and the relative cold of the salt spray.
Duality – as a concept is as old as old can be. Hence it’s not surprising that something as old as the sea is not just a random series of transient waves born in this moment of wind and tide and surging ahead without a destination. But the big question is what is it all about? I don’t have an answer to that question as the sea has only just become a friend. It’s like an acquired taste that you first tentatively test, then slowly consume a little more and then finally accept as a close second.
The mesmerizing blue and green of the sea lulls you into a false sense of calm. She conspires with the universe to hold everything still. The deceptive calm entices you into her soft embrace. The gentle rocking of the boat and the soft swish of the waves makes one forget the harsh mistress. She calls to the feral nature hidden deep inside a human being. That burning desire to conquer, to brave all odds and return with riches stolen from her depths.
Sunrise in the hills is magical. You walk out into the cold and feel silver tendrils of mist caress your skin. With goose pimples on your arms you hope for a glimpse of the golden orb rising above the peaks and casting about its orange hue. Sunsets on the beach can never match the magic of sunrise in the hills. It’s like watching a solemn ceremony with heavy breath and silent expectation. Chaos of the waves quietens down and you almost feel that the sun will plunge into the water with infinite force and the sea will turn red and swallow up the shores. Meanwhile the sun, like a corpulent king of an erstwhile princely state, slowly disappears from the horizon, leaving behind the golden hues of a bygone era.
In my dreams she calls, promising me a silent tide where I can stare into her depths and watch the day go by. But as I wake up my eyes are drawn to the majestic hills that offer nothing but a chance to stand still and watch time go by.
Like a thirsty man drawn to the mirage of water, the waves now draw me to the shores. Sun Sand & Sea create a chaotic harmony that is seldom matched by the silent vigilance of snow covered peaks. Having said that, my heart still aches for the solitude of the mountains.