You know how most people who go to visit a forest reserve are constantly on the look out for the big cat – the lion or the tiger. They can’t go back without a sighting of the king of the jungle. In the process they miss out on the little turtle nestled near the waterbody or the alarm call of the monkey and the peacock, the darkness of the night with the low hanging stars, in fact the entire forest world which is larger than the any one individual species.
In a similar manner, people who come to Darjeeling are seeking to get a glimpse of the snow-white Kanchenjunga. Huge efforts are made to rise early and go to Tiger Hill or to other points from where the utopian land can be viewed.
The Kanchenjunga has a secret life and schedule of it own. No one knows when and how it will reveal itself.
Call it sour grapes, I chose not to chase the regal but elusive Kanchenjunga. Instead, I concentrated on some simpler more affordable sights and sounds that are offered by the Darjeeling Hills.
As we wound up on the Hill Cart Road aboard our trusted Innova, I saw the pretty cosmos flowers blooming all around. Interestingly, they change their colour according to the height above sea level. At Selim Hill, they are bright orange, but as you go higher, they become pastel shades of pink and white. Their cheery nature reminds you of small mischievous tricks you may have played and you will definitely end up smiling.
Along the way, I saw a young girl sitting on her doorstep cuddling a kitten, rapt in conversation with her friend. I am not a cat lover. Yet there was something so comfortable about that entire scene. I was transported to childhood during Calcutta winters with blankets and a delicious book waiting to be devoured.
Far ahead I saw the pine trees. They were perfect isosceles triangles (funny, how that little bit of math remained in my head) just like little lego pieces and the way children are supposed to draw them in their drawing books. When they are nearer, they seem to stand huddled together and completely shut out the sun. On a cold evening, as the sun sets, it can get quite eerie.
And then there it was!!!!!
Suddenly it apparated in all its glory, shining pristine as if the world had just begun. To top it all, as if to mock me for my arrogance – It had taken on the hues of the setting sun. It laughed at me and said – “Not that I am in competition, but did you think the cosmos colours are beautiful? I AM the cosmos and can take on any colour I want.”
Floating amidst the clouds with no seeming ties with the world, deep inside me I felt a primeval resonance of belonging to this wondrous world. I forgot my cup of Dorje Kashmiri Kahwa as I stared rudely at the fierce harmony of the Kanchenjunga.
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