21 The Concept of Time

I’m not sure if time passes slowly or quickly here. It certainly passes easily, leisurely. I can see how people come here for a few weeks and stay for months or years. There are some nice walks in the hills above McLeod Ganj and Daramkot. A waterfall or 2 are within easy walking. Yoga places, guesthouses, temples, cling to the moutainside around the towns. The days form their own routine of chai and momos, volunteering at the refugee center, meeting and talking with different folks, conversations about philosophy and the meta-physical, reading books and meditating. Slowly reconnecting back to myself.

The taxi-wallah wanted 40 rs for the ride to the Goenka Vipassana center so I decided to walk. The view of the valley was spectacular even though you couldn’t see the valley floor for the haze. A group of macabe monkeys scavenged in the bushes. A couple of rickshaws pass by in clouds of sand and smoke. A shawl is handy for covering one’s nose and mouth. May be it’s just me, but these hills and mountains are spoiled by uncontrolled pollution and erosion. Even at 4 km above McLeod Ganj, the air is not quite fresh. Rubbish litter the shrubbery – evidence of global brands and a different kind of colonisation, of cultural erosion. This is so very different from the mountains of Switzerland where I’d lived. Even time passed differently. Everything was crisp, punctual. Here it was languid, loose, muddled.

The upcoming vipassana retreat is full, so I made plans to leave for Delhi. I’m still not sure if I should go to Nepal or call it a day. I haven’t had any epiphanies, realisations, or clarity about what I want to do with the rest of my life. I just know that I am done with the corporate world. It’s hard knowing what you don’t want, but not what you want. I had some vague idea that I want to do something meaningful, like the rest of the transient crowd in McLeod Ganj. I hope I don’t have to stay here for months and years to find out.

It had taken 40 years to realise that I have been on auto-pilot, just existing in vague, quiet desperation. But without those 40 years, I would never have had realised. I don’t want to just exist, I want to live. But what is freedom? What is life? As Thoreu said “to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life….” But I don’t have another 40 years, there’s an urgency to get the right answer. And the answer eludes me. I decide to check out the “Freedom Concert by the JJI Brothers” at 7pm to distract myself.

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