November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
Random header image... Refresh for more!

From Kumaon, With Love

Kumaoni bridge

THE KUMAON IS DEAD;

LONG LIVE THE KUMAON

 by Jonathan Evans

From the very start, the trip is tinged with death. I am in India with my wife Beth and my oldest friend Charles to tie up all the loose ends of my twenty-year life in the Himalayan foothills of the Kumaon. The Kumaon is one of the two regions of Uttarakhand, a mountainous state in Northern India.  It is bordered on the north by Tibet, on the east by Nepal, on the south by the state of Uttar Pradesh and on the west by the Garhwal region. This state includes the highest mountains in India and the local language is Kumaoni. The local people are famed for their strong independence and bravery.

On the day that we all arrive in Delhi, I receive an email from my sister Kate in England that my younger brother Philip has been found dead at his flat in Hastings. I have been expecting such a call for years; he is an alcoholic and has abused his body terribly for years. We have had very little contact lately but a brother is always a brother and it is nevertheless a shock. Far from the UK or from my home in America, it is news that is hard to really understand or process.

Furthermore, when we arrive two days later at Tara’s Guesthouse above Almora, the Kumaoni hill station, we find the whole family in heavy mourning as Tara’s aunt has just died.  The three Tewari brothers have shaved their heads; Tara, the eldest son, is dressed in white dhotis, the whole family is fasting and going to the temple every day for mourning poojas.  Death involves an elaborate ritual in these parts and inevitably causes me to dwell on my own loss which I still have not got my head around.

I first came to India in the mid-‘80s and twenty years ago paid for a seventy-year lease on a traditional Kumaoni stone house in a tiny rural village called Ayarpani on the side of Binsar Mountain. For the most part, it has been a happy and magical experience but after meeting Beth and then rediscovering America and relocating to Colorado, I have spent less and less time at the house, our last visit being five years ago. I have had continual troubles with my landlord Than Singh, an old soldier with a great love of rum, and to cap it all, there was a particularly heavy monsoon three years ago when the land above the village, long deforested by the locals in search of firewood, was washed away and much of the village was engulfed in mud slides. My house was damaged and as a precaution, I arranged for my friend Tara to move everything out of the house and into storage at his guesthouse. All my possessions have sat there ever since and the main task of this visit is to sort through them all and to save and ship back anything irreplaceable.  It is a sad and rather daunting task and feels like the end of an important chapter in my life. But I have moved on and, in any case, rarely look backwards and have been through this process many times before in a life of constant travel.  It is a job that has to be done and I shall feel freer and more complete when it is finished.

So we are staying at Tara’s Guesthouse on Crank’s Ridge, a hill just above Almora. There is a temple at the top and the place got its name in the Sixties when the area became a stop-off point on the Hippie Trail. From Kasar Devi, there is an astounding view of Trishul, Nanda Devi and NandaKotMountains delineating the Tibetan border, some fifty miles up the road and there is a story that there is a hole in the Van Allen Belt above the ridge so that cosmic rays bombard the area. I don’t know about that but Kasar Devi has long been a drug culture destination due to the large amounts of ganja that are cultivated up there. The ridge was a regular haunt for artists, writers and spiritual seekers in the Twenties and Thirties when Tibetan Buddhists like Evans-Wentz (who translated the Tibetan Book of the Dead up there) and Lama Govinda lived on the ridge. Later, the Danish mystic Alfred Sorenson came up to visit the Nehru estate, Kali, on BinsarMountain and then settled on Kasar Devi. Other famous visitors were Bob Dylan and Cat Stephens as well as Allen Ginsberg and his entourage in search of spiritual enlightenment, followed by luminaries like Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert and the psychiatrist RD Laing, whose daughter Natascha I have known for years and who came with her father as a child.  Backpackers followed and in the past twenty or thirty years, hordes of travelers of all kinds came to visit or live up here as well as party-loving Israelis eager to let off steam after their military service. Water is an acute problem and the community there has long threatened to outgrow the resources of the area so that the area probably could never rival Manali in its popularity. Nevertheless, there has been a string of chai shops and small guesthouses catering to these visitors for decades. This was the first place I ever came to in India and a place that I kept coming back to over the years. The view of the Tibetan snow peaks has always exerted some strange power over me; they float like immense icy white sailing boats in an unearthly sky-blue void. Once seen, the mountains are never forgotten.

 

KUMAON

Jonathan & Beth Evans revisit their former home in the Himalayas

[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_first-view-of-the-himalayas.jpg]150Jonathan Evans Photo
First view of the Himalayas
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_kumaoni-bridge.jpg]170Jonathan Evans Photo
Kumaoni bridge
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_chota-bazaar_0.jpg]200Jonathan Evans Photo
Chota bazaar
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_jonathan.jpg]200Jonathan Evans Photo
Jonathan Evans
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_beth-on-binsar-mountain.jpg]180Jonathan Evans Photo
Beth on Binsar Mountain
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_alan.jpg]140Jonathan Evans Photo
Alan
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_danu_0.jpg]70Jonathan Evans Photo
Danu
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_tara.jpg]90Jonathan Evans Photo
Tara
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_simtola-eco-park.jpg]80Jonathan Evans Photo
Simtola eco park
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_beth-and-charles-in-shimtola-eco-park.jpg]50Jonathan Evans Photo
Beth Evans and Charles in Simtola Eco Park
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_jonathan-and-charles-at-simtola_0.jpg]110Jonathan Evans Photo
Jonathan and Charles at Simtola
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_himalayan-magpie_0.jpg]100Jonathan Evans Photo
Himalayan magpie
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_danu-and-his-memsahib-on-their-cell-phones.jpg]110Jonathan Evans Photo
Danu and his memsahib on their cell phones
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_holi-celebrations.jpg]120Jonathan Evans Photo
Holi celebrations
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_holi.jpg]120Jonathan Evans Photo
Holi celebration
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_ayarpani-lady.jpg]90Jonathan Evans Photo
Ayarpani woman
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_in-front-of-my-old-art-studio.jpg]80Jonathan Evans Photo
Jonathan in front of the old studio
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_indian-truck.jpg]70Jonathan Evans Photo
Indian truck
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_jonathan-and-tara-at-lalis-guesthouse.jpg]100Jonathan Evans Photo
Jonathan and Tara at Ialis guesthouse
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_khims-guesthouse.jpg]80Jonathan Evans Photo
Khims guesthouse
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_mohans-binsar-retreat.jpg]90Jonathan Evans Photo
Mohans Binsar retreat
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_view-from-taras-2.jpg]80Jonathan Evans Photo
View from Taras guesthouse
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_view-from-taras-guesthouse-1.jpg]110Jonathan Evans Photo
View from Taras guesthouse
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_my-old-house-2.jpg]140Jonathan Evans Photo
Evanses' old house
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_langour-on-our-roof.jpg]110Jonathan Evans Photo
Langour on our roof
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_local-folk.jpg]100Jonathan Evans Photo
Local villagers
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_my-old-house.jpg]80Jonathan Evans Photo
Another view of the house
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_path-up-the-mountain-ayarpani.jpg]50Jonathan Evans Photo
Path up the mountain at Ayarpani
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_nanda-devi-highest-mountain-in-india.jpg]60Jonathan Evans Photo
Nanda Devi, highest mountain in India
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_nanda-devi-2_0.jpg]60Jonathan Evans Photo
Nanda Devi
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_trishul-2.jpg]70Jonathan Evans Photo
Trishul
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_traditional-kumaoni-house.jpg]100Jonathan Evans Photo
Traditional Kumaoni house
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_pintoo-the-dog.jpg]60Jonathan Evans Photo
Pintoo
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_red-temple.jpg]70Jonathan Evans Photo
Red temple
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_shiva-temple.jpg]70Jonathan Evans Photo
Shiva temple
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_shivashankar-temple.jpg]60Jonathan Evans Photo
Shivashankar temple
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_yoni-and-lingam.jpg]60Jonathan Evans Photo
Yoni and Lingam
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_walking-by-the-water.jpg]80Jonathan Evans Photo
Villager walking by the water
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/kumaon/thumbs/thumbs_the-last-sunset.jpg]70Jonathan Evans Photo
The last sunset

It is spring in the Kumaon and the weather is still unsettled. It rains for two days and we are stuck in our rooms, waiting for it to stop. We are happy to rest up a little after our long trip from Colorado and an uncomfortable car ride up from Delhi. Charles has a bad back and it is good for him to lie around and read. Each night we play Scrabble and each night he loses but, I have to say, takes it with very good grace.  But then the rain stops and the sun comes out and it becomes a beautiful hot day.  We decide to go out and visit our old friend, Alan.  He lives well off the road in a house that he has spent the last twenty years building. We walk up the hill towards the Ridge and then take the short and sharp scramble down to his house. And we are surprised to see that there is a brand new road all the way down to his house now.  We find Alan at his house; he is older, thinner and a little frail these days. A Brit who first came here in 1978, he is my age but looks older. We admire his fantastic, still unfinished, house, the great aesthetics of every single detail and its lush surroundings and garden.  We sit outside on a rug and look at the mountains, drink chai and, as old friends do, talk of the old times, of people who are still around or dead or gone, of the changing face of the Kumaon that we have known so long.  The times have changed, the economy has changed and we have changed.  Alan, who is married to an Indian, has a long term resident PIO visa but struggles to get a new British passport.  He brings the conversation around to health and aging often and seems lonely and perhaps more morose than he used to be.  He lives in Paradise but I feel sorry for him in some ways. The world is moving on around him and it is driving him into isolation.  He complains, as he has complained for years, about the standard of work from the Indians and the lack of love and care they put into the details of his house construction.  It has been a long uphill struggle to build his house just as he wants it.       Perhaps the experience has made him an embittered man.

We decide to take him for lunch and walk up the new road slowly to the main road and then jump on a passing bus to Mohan’s café, now “Mohan’s Binsar Retreat, an off-beat Himalayan Destination”, the sign reads. Mohan is there, welcoming, positive and a lot heavier than the last time that I saw him. The last time I was here, his café was full of dreadlocked Israelis smoking big joints and chillums and although he had built a fine new spotless kitchen, his vision for the future was still a tiny gleam in his eye. The infamous and ubiquitous banana pancakes were still on the menu although his cook had already started to bake chocolate cakes, as if anticipating the next trend. Today, his menu is enormous, we are the only customers and his new veranda is beautifully laid out with exotic plants of all kinds and there is even a small pool. Below are two new houses, solar-powered and with luxury rooms to rent. They cost around 5000 rupees a night while we are used to paying less than a tenth of that price.  It is peaceful here with nobody around and we eat good food and drink excellent coffee and look at the endless view.  I comment on the hypnotic Tibetan music that he is playing and he burns me a copy of it.  The bill is high but well worth it.  Alan has trouble walking very far or fast and we take a taxi back down to Tara’s. I feel that Alan, with his old style values, is being left behind but also realize that this is what he has chosen. The times they are a’changin’ on Cranks Ridge and Alan has become an anomaly, a dying breed.  In another ten years, there will probably be no one like him — or indeed like me — left. It is the way of the world, a constant cycle of change; one generation is passing on and another starting to make waves.

In stark contrast, Amrita, another old friend, arrives when we are back at Tara’s, sitting out on the balcony and looking at the view.  She doesn’t stay long but is wildly enthusiastic about her factory where she grows, processes and sells tulsi tea and various creams and soaps.  A rich, high echelon soldier’s daughter, she has never worked in her life until four years ago.  I fondly remember her telling me years ago that she wanted to write a book about the area’s natural beauty. I would take photos of views and things that she would point out and dictate to me the text that I would write down.  This was a book that obviously never got written!  But Amrita is glowing as she talks about the tulsi tea business and how much her sense of self-worth and happiness has grown since she has actually started to work. Of course the Kumaon is changing but that is the nature of life, isn’t it, she says and that is so wonderful.  We both agree that the endless crazy traffic is ruining life on the ridge and that the only place to live is well off the main road these days.  Amrita laughs and smiles continuously and is happier than I have ever seen her. She invites us to see the factory and to eat with her next week. We walk over Simtola to Chittai one day the following week and see her factory and have a great lunch with her.

Above our room at Tara’s, Binks and Cathy are staying.  They are an old English couple who have visited the area for years and are constantly complaining about the changes. The good people are gone, the prices are becoming exorbitant and worst of all, the BBC World Service has stopped its broadcasts and they cannot use their shortwave radio. I agree that it is sad but that the Internet can always provide good impartial world news coverage.  But they are luddites and proud of it and refuse to touch any computer. I feel that they are strongly limiting themselves and must feel very isolated from the rest of the human race.  They are currently unable to renew their passports in person at any British embassy and are only able to renew on-line. Unwilling or unable to do this, they are forced to go back to the UK to do the renewal. I see that they are losing out at all ends.  The Kumaon is changing rapidly and leaving them excluded, whether they like it or not. And outside in the real world, they are always going to feel a sense of disconnection as technology plays a bigger and bigger part in our lives.  They are like someone who refuses to put a letter into a letterbox, afraid that it will be swallowed or lost and stand there, letter in hand, waiting for a carrier pigeon or a Pony Express rider or even a native runner with a forked stick to come along and deliver the letter for them. It may be a long wait.

I get news too of our old friends, Don and Helena, a Canadian and an Australian respectively, who have been coming to the Ridge for years. Their world has changed far less than for some of us. They bounce between their two native countries but spend as much time as possible up high  in the mountains, in a tiny village called Kati where they live part of every year quietly, going out for treks and keeping themselves to themselves. They are a tough pair, live a very simple lifestyle and will stay up in the mountains until Monsoon. I envy their unwavering faith in nature and their uncompromising attitude towards the world.

All you can carry

Finally, we spend a day dealing with a room stacked high with metal trunks filled with our possessions.  It is less traumatic than I expected but still leaves me physically drained and exhausted.  We are obviously limited in what we can take and so the house’s three wood stoves are to be abandoned and will no doubt be put to good use by Tara and his family. No problems there. All the kitchen stuff — we had had a well-appointed kitchen — likewise is donated to Tara with the request that he spread around what he couldn’t use.   Beth and I go through several boxes of clothes and take anything that we were especially fond of, an old beloved leather jacket, some shoes and boots and our backpacks. I choose ten irreplaceable CDs from a huge collection of music and a few books that I am attached to. We take a round Indian brass table top, an antique kerosene lamp, a few small rugs, some paintings and papers — and that is it. Soon, the few salvageable contents of a large house are piled up against the wall of our hotel room and will be packed up to go down to Delhi with us and shipped to Colorado at the end of the trip. It really feels like a chapter in my life is ended but I am happy that it is done. I have a sense of final closure with my Indian past and it is time to really move on. Things change and that is about the only thing you can count on.  And anyway I tell myself, as soon as you let go of stuff, it all comes back to you in some mysterious way.

Holi, the Hindu spring festival, also known as the festival of colours and love, comes and goes. On the final day, when people dress up in white and throw dyes and water at each other, we sit safely up on the roof terrace at Tara’s and watch a crowd of drunken men play like children together in the road below.  It is a time for conformism to be put aside and for Indians to dance, drink and let off steam.  In India, some things never change.

One morning, down in Tara’s internet room, sitting in near darkness, I read my dead brother Philip’s obituary on Facebook.  An old journalist friend and ex-colleague is posting announcements about Philip on his page and is getting a good response from friends who knew him from the old days when he still lived and worked in London.  For many years, he was at the centre of the working class struggle in Britain and it was only in the last twenty years when he moved down to Hastings and lost the plot that he stopped being an effective journalist and cartoonist.  I add my two cents worth and say that Phil had continued to fight the good fight in the cause of the Socialist Left when the battle was lost and everyone else had given up. His cause was magnificently suicidal, terribly inflexible and probably doomed from the start.  My brother was fabulously old school with an enormous sense of humour.  When he was young, I remember him laughing all the time.  He drew for or wrote sixteen books, he once told me, and his Seventies’ comic strip “Our Norman” in the Socialist Worker newspaper was much loved.  But now he is gone and his ilk is dying out.  His generation of activists, one of the best, has moved on, compromised or sold out; those that did not were mostly left stranded on the beach of the times after the advent of Thatcherism.  A few adapted and are still out there running, knowing what they are running from but perhaps not where they are going.  I don’t believe that the current youth has as much integrity, energy or vision as young Phillip always had.  RIP Philip, brother of mine.

One morning, we climb up Simtola Hill in front of Tara’s Guesthouse. Simtola used to be a leisurely steep climb with, at the top, an unfinished temple and the remains of what must have been once a splendid bungalow and spectacular gardens, long abandoned and left to almost disappear into the pine tree forest.  It was always a slightly nostalgic walk for me and a reminder that all things must pass in the end.  But today, walking up the hill with Tara, we see that the whole hill has been closed off with barbed wire and round a corner to be confronted by a high gate and signs that we are entering Simtola Eco-Park and must pay ten rupees to enter.  We do so and follow a path further up the hill, pass a small concession booth and chai shop and benches. There are cute signs everywhere like “Hug a Tree” and “Love is the Answer” and the park does not escape a slightly institutionalized air.  At the top, the old football field has been turned into a kids’ playground with swings and beyond that, the Shiva temple has been finished finally. It is a sparsely furbished eight-sided building with a couple of small Shiva sculptures and a rather more impressive walkway in.

There are more pleasantly wooded paths to follow and we walk around for an hour before going back down.  I cannot escape the feeling that a bit more of the Kumaon has gone — or rather changed forever.  And there is no doubt now that this is the way forward for the Kumaon of the future. The old days of the budget backpackers are gone and they will move onto new scenes. Soon they will find the Ridge too expensive for a long stay and the walks and treks too organized for them. As the Indian middle class grows, more and more city dwellers will escape to the mountains and they are not generally looking for a real adventure or primitive conditions at their guesthouses.  They are going to come up to look at the incredible views and to take car rides to look at the ancient temples of Jageshwar or the honeymoon lake at Nainital.  Almora will soon lose its spiritual connotations and its permanently stoned inhabitants.  Services will become more institutionalized and expensive — and with a sense of regret, I have to say “Good luck to the Kumaonis”.  Some of the increased middle class wealth will start to trickle down to the very poor locals.  And in the end, it will destroy their ancient lifestyles and they will be faced with the 21st century issues and problems like pollution and poor lifestyle that we are facing and dealing with so badly in the west.  By that time, I shall be dead and gone so that I shall not care. But for now, there is a certain poignancy about the changes taking place.  In the end, all that will be left of this magical corner of the world will be memories and when we all pass on, even they will die.

Visit to the Old House

We save our last day in the Kumaon, before we head back down to Delhi, for a trip out to Ayarpani to see the old house and our friends and neighbours in the little village.  Arriving there and getting out of our taxi, I find it all terribly familiar and also strange. My house is taken over by Virinder, Than Singh’s wastrel son, and his family. It looks run down already and has a blotchy paint job.  Than Singh is off in Almora for the day, picking up his monthly old soldier’s rum ration and Virinder, who had broken into the house and stolen anything that he could lay his hands on years before, stays out of sight which I am happy about. I am too tired and old for confrontation of any sort.  Memsahib Than Singh, our great ally in the household, has died the year before, we are told.

We follow the ancient stone path that runs down to the village from the main road and are soon at our old friend Danu’s tiny house.  He is startled to see us but incredibly welcoming and happy to see us and we are soon drinking chais and smoking his awful bidhi cigarettes.  Charles gives him a real cigar which he loves. He and his family are the poorest of the poor around here; his house still has no electricity, the rest of the village having recently been connected to the grid, and his wife and he have nothing. They sleep on a bare mud floor and there is no furniture at all in the house.  Danu worked for me for years and is the sweetest of human beings with not a bad bone in his body.  I slip him some money and make arrangements for him to come down to Tara’s the next day and get bedding, carpets and anything else that he can use in his house.  It is not much to offer but the best I can do.

We have collected a gang of children at this point and we all wind our way back up the path to the road.  There we run into Rani, Virinder’s lovely wife, and her children, now all grown up. A dog starts to bark and for me, the most magical moment of the whole trip happens.  It is Pintoo, Than Singh’s black dog.  Seven years before, when Beth and I spent a whole year at the house, Pintoo had been a neglected, wretched, starving puppy, somehow existing on the occasional chapatti thrown his way and we had taken him in, fed him properly and given him love and attention.  By the time that we had left, Pintoo was in great shape, strong, gleaming and happy. Beth had lectured the family on dog care and had begged them to treat him well and when we had passed through two years after, he was still doing well. And there he is again, five years later, still alive although a weathered old dog now.  He stops barking, curls his mouth back and grins at us! He throws himself on us, absolutely thrilled to see us again after so long.  It is a wonderful moment that I will never forget and will always carry with me. He has never forgotten us and will not leave us alone. I am so moved that I choke up and just hold him in my arms.  Life doesn’t get any more poignant than this.

We drink more chai with Rani and say fond goodbyes, promising to come back before too long.  My last image is of Danu and his wife, standing side by side but faced away from each other, looking at their cell phones.  We take the winding path across the road up BinsarMountain and get a good walk in before we go back down and catch a taxi to Tara’s. The experience leaves me sad and emotional and perhaps I am finally realizing that my old life here is forever over. And at the same time, I feel that I am as well known and well loved here as I am anywhere else in the world. I have had an experience that few others from the West will ever have. I have spent almost a third of my life up here in the Kumaon which is quite extraordinary when I think about it and a part of me will always be there whether we return or not.

The following morning, we are up at five am to drive down the long mountain road to Delhi, the Kumaoni part of our trip over.  I am too tired and emotionally drained to look back.  Beth takes my hand in the back of the car and we get ready for the next part of our Indian trip.  Whatever it is to be — and the future is unknowable — it will not be as sweet as the days we have spent in the mountains. But I know that you can never go home again.

 

About the author:

Jonathan Evans is a batik artist and writer. He and his wife Beth Evans live in Colorado. Previous contributions to Ragazine.CC include:

http://old.ragazine.cc/2012/06/jonathan-evansbatik-in-haiti/

http://old.ragazine.cc/archives/fic_09-1009.htm

http://old.ragazine.cc/2012/12/peter-one/