Are We Here Yet?

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Paragliding in Bir

Skies punctuated by floating people wherever I looked – a bizarrely common sight these days in Bir with the Paragliding World Cup around the corner. Even as I write these words, three gliders slow-dance with the winds outside my window and a fourth cartwheels her canopy, shouting her glee into the winds. To get closer to the action and to get our nature fix, we drove up to Billing and scampered like lab rats set loose on the mountain.

Watching all these gliders run into thin air and soar into the sky made me long for my own tryst with the elements. Climbing up the mountaintop, my eagerness grew for the bigger and broader views that kept unfolding and extending endlessly. The mountain was in no mood of ending either, enticing me with a higher rock here and a still higher cliff there. It can only get better the higher I go, I remember thinking. And up and up I kept dragging myself by the shoelaces, driven by an imagination tickled silly with the possibilities of what lay ahead.

Stopping for breath, my hungry eyes feasted on the tons of details filling every patch of the valley below and the mountain across. Details my eyes loved to fish out and be charmed by every time I let my glance run amok over the expanse. Speaking of details, a thorn had lodged itself into my palm at some point during the climb. And was now demanding all of my immediate attention the way only a thorn can. Reluctant, but forced by the pain, I took my eyes off the expanse ahead and narrowed my gaze down to the offending little intruder. Teasing it out of my flesh was going to take a while and a good deal of concentrated effort and patience. Setting aside the restless mountain goat in me, I sat down on a rock and got to work. So there I was, having huffed and puffed my way up for the broadest views the mountain had to offer, focussing all my attention on this few-millimetred trespasser – a stubborn old prick in every sense of the word. Coaxing it out with all the focus that the task demanded, the thorn and its fleshy new abode were all I knew in those few moments.

Out of somewhere, it struck me that I’d never really observed the skin on my palm this closely and intently. Not under this kind of no-holds-barred sunshine anyway and definitely not with such single-minded scrutiny and stillness. An astounding number of details lived right here in one little nook of my palm, and I’d only now begun to notice. The ridges and folds on the sunlit skin of my palm seemed like mountains and valleys in their own right, extending just as measurelessly and mysteriously. Perhaps no less significant than all the mountains and valleys I’ve ever dropped my jaw at. A wave of recognition washed over me as I saw myself as a part of all the nature around, not a separate witness or visitor. As ‘meant-to-be’ and full of unending, unexplored details as the valley below and the mountain across.

The thorn, meanwhile, had ceased to be an adversary. It had let itself out after doing its thing. Bringing me into the moment and making me delve into details I hadn’t met in decades. Giving me views I couldn’t have imagined. Making me see that ‘Are we here yet?’ is a far more important question than ‘Are we there yet?’

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