Saturday, 17 July 2010

Tarmac Burning Into Dust And Desolate Days

Ambling through the narrow twists of dirt between crumbling homes,

Surrounded by my wandering imagination.

I try to picture myself in the position of others,

Their lives and ambitions, their achievements and downfalls.

The contrast is vast, past life dreadlocked hippies searching for themselves,

A small score and a life beyond repair

Or maybe the decrepit leather skinned women

Bearing bundles of brushwood to ramshackle homes, overrun with warm bodies.

Each equal but opposite.

The trees cascade, roots clutching to the last remains of firm foundations.

Pathways wind beneath towering pine.

The sun scorches needles green to brown but I scramble, barefoot over cool earth.

Climbing step by step, to the top of the hill.

Sweat burning my eyes, sights obscured with the bright light from up high.

It was a beautiful walk through the dense forests which finally led us to the mass of flowing water falling from the cliffs above. It was huge, in every sense of the word, the water smashed on rock sending an enveloping mist into the hot air soaking us to the bone. A small path or maybe a track led behind the wall of water to a dank cave swathed in dark moss. Rainbows surrounded me as the sunlight was smashed into its elements by the impenetrable droplets, everywhere I looked the glowing bands of colour were ever present. It reminded me a lot of a certain waterfall on the road to Pai, in Thailand and the happy memories surrounding it. From the cave you could look through to the illuminated valley and the frosted mountains beyond.

Manali is a town either blanketed in clouds or in blazing sunshine. There is no middle ground, no compromise, I guess it is still India and India is at all times the extreme. A turquoise glacial river splits the valley in two with a basin of rough stone and bolder its protector on all sides. The town spreads itself on either side like the wings of a bird and the higher you go the more magnificent the spectacle becomes. Many days have been spent here swept up in ones thoughts, the vibe is so relaxed its hard to get anything done. but then maybe nothing has to be 'done' to enjoy what's around you, just look and listen.

I took the opportunity to be given wings and make dreams come true. What better way to see the Himalayas, soaring on invisible thermals rising steadily from the hills with a parachute holding you to the sky. I can't tell you what a buzz it is to jump from a cliff and be sent into a spiral of hot air, carrying you higher and higher beyond trees, clouds and sound. The only noise is the cold air rushing beneath the parachute, deafening but silent at the same moment. My legs hung suspended above hundreds of meters of nothingness, the ants below me utterly insignificant compared to the scale of what my eyes perceived. I couldn't say how long I was up there, maybe a lifetime maybe a moment, it certainly felt like both. Aerobatics are new to me. When the time came to descend back to reality I was sent into a horizontal spiral, my body was entirely paralysed with the almost free-fall speed. Muscles locked in chains and the sound of my voice lost far behind me. The air hit so hard my face felt distorted and flat. We hit the ground hard, the mass of adrenaline pumping through my body made any movement difficult, shaking but elated I got to my feet and stumbled off between the thronging crowds of people, unsure of what to do I just sat down and laughed.

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