The arid desert just took a bath. The cold, wet, winter steam is a sign of new life. The Earth is celebrating, the birds are happy, the trees are awake, and the barren ground thirst is quenched. The winter wonderland is dancing today.
After months of beckoning, worship, and analysis, it finally snowed today. The internet is rambling with winter stories and posts, while people have left for their customary routines of the first snow. Himachal has come alive.
Three cars managed to reach the base of Maa Vindhyavasini Mandir, we were one of them. I never knew the soft first snow was an off-roader’s paradise. People are dancing, and drinking everywhere. Somehow, I have become a part of this age-old, primitive, masculine ritual.
Piyush Bhai and his beloved Gypsy, Maa Vindhyavasini Temple base
The errands of humanity aside, this time it feels very personal. This time I hold no obligations to participate in the rhetoric. This first snow is too private to share.
The sheer cold is the warm childhood winter. The vacations, the snow, and a couple of months of communal silence, winters hold a dear resemblance to a glorious past.
I am suddenly reminded of the wandering village kid. Shiny plastic red boots and the red winter nose, the ramshackle phiran, the rough messy hair, I would ramble around like a king. No quilts could ever hold me down.
This royalty was haunted by the school though. Dictated discipline, crippling fear, stupid competition, and the ridiculous uniform, the school was a nightmare. It still is. As a child, the relief of not having to go to school was profound and freeing.
The snowfall in Palampur is nostalgic. I am suddenly reminded of my home. The walnut desk that my nanu built for me, and the mismanaged fear of the dark room below the stairs. The childhood home is indeed a core part of my being. Being a remote location, the winters were truly hard. But at the same time, it was extremely easy.
The pure essence of solitude, the disconnect, and cozy little private pillow castles – maybe this snow reminds me of that absolute freedom and pristine ignorance.
The mumbling murmur of snowfall is as silent as it was back then. Snow, sun, and rain are still the same. It is me who changed.
I experienced a snowfall after ages today. I am reliving an old joy. After an eternity of seclusion, I met the 10-year-old me.
The kid wants to wander again, and I have to allow it. He needs to go meet his friends – the trees and the birds and the autumn decorations.
The brown grass is white now. Green is a novelty once again. The sky feels ripe. The torrential downpour of last night kept me on the edge of my sleep.
One of the most beautiful days of my life.
Despite the harsh cold breeze and wet socks, I cannot complain. The paradise we are searching for is right here. We live in one. Mother nature has everything that we can ever need – enough food for the body and ample food for the soul. The stark distinction of winters is on the specials today.
The days here feel very primitive. Living so close to nature, vulnerable and open to her ways, becomes an exercise of healing. Of course, at times it is beyond human understanding, but like permafrost, my belief in nature is eternal. If there is a God, it has to be nature.
Winter has introduced me to the fascinating world of landscape photography. You have to experience the story first before anyone else does; you have to be there, see it in all its glory and charisma, before you take out the camera to freeze it; as is true with any art form. The landscape was a very effective exercise to understand order in such great commotion.
The pictures indeed are oversaturated, but I seem to have my reasons.
I am a hardcore minimalist. It has taken me a decade to graduate from solid black tees to greys and off-whites. The monotone of designs fathoms me. The landscape of Himachal is tantalizing, however. Once you see, you want to see everything. All the tiny little details, the hidden bushes, the damp leaves, tinted flowers, the deep crevices, and the daring colorful earth.
Adding colors is my expression of profound joy, familiarity, and a sense of belonging. And this puny attempt at landscape is more expression than technique.
Euphoria; absolute pristine euphoria!
Neither happy nor sad, neither calm nor chaos, neither full nor empty; I feel sublimely okay. In this moment of post-snow stillness, peace has ensued once again. Amidst the dancing clouds and changing colors, chill winter breeze and warm cozy bonfires, soft cushioned footsteps, and mumble murmur of the falling snow, life has turned into a winter wonderland.
In the gentle drizzles, the tormenting hail, the cushion road, the cold steer, the colder stove; and the wet socks in muddy shoes, the Earth is a playground once again.
All pictures were taken in Palampur.
February 01 and February 02, 2024.
Gratitude – Radkaat Cafe