Two secrets of a dark night.
Past midnight, no moonlight.
I’m standing at my window in Kalpa, looking at the expansive dark of the night.
There is no way of knowing where the mountain upon which I’m standing ends, where the valley with the flowing Sutlej begins, and where the Kinnaur Kailash mountains stand on the other side. All of it exists as one into the darkness, all of it is as unknown as the night. Exists but not known, exists in obscure secrecy.
Suddenly, I see distant headlights of a car curling towards the village, and realize the night is too black.
Suddenly, I remember there is a road etched all over this mountain, all over the dark night.
Too bad you’re too intelligent.
Turning out to be excessively and unnecessarily intelligent as you grow, when your upbringing and circumstances were not for it, is an illness. An ugly curse that lays heavy on your head. It’s annoying, it’s so lame. It’s depressing, it is depression itself.
How far have I come?
How far have I strayed?
An unintended consequence of riding to the gym, from Kalpa to Reckong Peo, from Peo to Kalpa:
I’m mastering the curves of the serpentine mountain roads — even the difficult hairpin curves.
But I believe nothing in life is unintended, and consequences surely follow actions. If it was not intended by you, it was certainly intended by the one above who is making you dance.
Unintended consequences are like coincidences. There is always someone’s intent at play for life to happen and happen continuously. Doors open after one another leading you to different rooms, different views.
I put my dark glasses on.
Since July, I own four pairs of sunglasses for the first time in my life. Always had only one. All have different tints through which I see different worlds.
Sometimes I see a dull-yellow world like I’m in a Kieslowki film, living a double life like Veronique.
Sometimes I see a darkly world like I’m living in a Transtromer poem.
Every time I put my dark glasses on, I’m reminded of these breathtaking lines from Tomas Transtromer’s Morning Bird Songs:
What does not kill me makes me stronger.
After three to four years, I’m exercising again. It’s been a month of going to the gym, of, shockingly, waking up at 7 and biking1 to the gym 6km away, 500m down the high slopes of the mountain, from Kalpa to Reckong Peo, Peo to Kalpa.
—and in the evening, I go for a 50-minute walk up and down the lovely slopes.
It was hard initially, my entire existence was against it, but I’m enjoying it now — so much so that I hate when I miss it. My posture is becoming more firm and confident. There’s less self-disgust in my eyes (lol), in my gaze when I meet it in the mirror. I’m turning against myself, against the self that I had let myself become in recent years.
I remember these words by Friedrich Nietzsche from 1888:
From the military school of life. — What does not kill me makes me stronger.
Never knew lifting little things and pushing and pulling my body against the forces of gravity can be so powerful. I had forgotten.
Life is good but it will be better in a year, for I’ve fixed my claws to want to continue this not for a year but for life. The claws with which I will shred my old self every day, year after year.
I remember these words by Frank Herbert from 1985:
Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.
bike = motorcycle in India↩︎
The Kinnaur Kailash at twilight.
Some recent photographs: of the twilight beauty of the Kinnaur Kailash range of mountains in the Himalaya. Taken from my home in the Kalpa village.
In the second photograph, you can see the two famous peaks: Kinnaur Kailash on the left and Jorkanden on the right. Jorkanden is the tallest peak in the range.
Last night, I saw two trucks near midnight from my window, on the road at a small distance before my house in Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh. Carrying sand — perhaps the same sand of the bleeding mountains — and barely moving while going up the high slopes of the road to Kalpa. So slow and so careful that the second truck arrived ~10 minutes after the first truck had passed, to ensure no accidents.
They had to drive at the ungodly hour of the night, so that the road will be absolutely clear for them to pass. Considering it all, they looked in pain — the trucks and, I’m sure, the drivers too.
Today evening, I saw them again around 7:15. They were both going down swiftly, barely any distance between them — as if they were one not two trucks. With carriages empty, speeding along the downhill slope, they looked incredibly happy. And seeing them happy made me smile.
I give impractical and bold advice on everything under the sun, but no one wants it.
Tarkovsky’s Stalker playing in my pocket, in my head.
I’m walking about on the mountain slopes up and down with Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979) playing on the phone in my pocket.
The film plays in my pocket and my head, snychronised. Scenes run through my head soaked up in the otherworldly atmosphere of the film. Under my feet is uneven and rough soil, but I feel as though I’m walking on grass. Presence, such presence. Of dreams and memories, with reality in their gentle grasp.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
This reminded me a favourite scenes from the film, so let me share the dialogue from the scene. I love it because of the writing: what is being said and how well it is said, how beautifully. It’s a monologue by Stalker, the film’s protagonist.
Read it entirely, read it slowly, and remember the last line.
Let everything that’s been planned
Let them believe.
And let them have a laugh
at their passions.
Because what they call passion
actually is not some emotional energy,
but just the friction between
their souls and the outside world.
And most important,
let them believe in themselves
let them be helpless like children,
because weakness is a great thing,
and strength is nothing.
When a man is just born,
he is weak and flexible,
when he dies,
he is hard and insensitive.
When a tree is growing,
it’s tender and pliant,
but when it’s dry and hard,
Hardness and strength
are death’s companions.
Pliancy and weakness are
expressions of the freshness of being.
Because what has hardened
will never win.
You can watch it on YouTube here.