Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good Morning, India

Once, a long time ago when adventures involved a whole lot more than taking three young kids to the grocery store, I traveled to Darjeeling, India.  Early one morning (and I mean early, around 3:30 AM), my two traveling companions and I dressed warmly and hopped into a Jeep-like vehicle with four or five strangers.

In the darkness, in the silence, in the cold, we sat with our hats pulled down and our scarves wrapped around as the Jeep climbed up, up, up to the top of a very high hill.  When we arrived at our destination, which seemed fairly random and sure to be unknown, there were dozens of other cars and trucks.  The place was buzzing in activity though it was completely bathed in darkness.  I realized it was not random and it was pretty well known.  We got out and strolled around an abandoned fort--we and more than two hundred Indian tourists and one or two dozen foreign tourists, so "strolling" was really more like "squeezing past way too many people."  It was horribly crowded; I was getting the feeling that whatever my companions had in store for me was not going to be worth it.

After 30 minutes of un-fun shivering with all of these tourists, the skies began to get lighter.  The loud banter you'd expect to hear from this many people slowed quickly.  Silence fell as people's attention turned to the sky and their natural surroundings.  Slowly, very slowly, the black turned to dark blue, which slowly turned a little lighter.  We all waited, simultaneously knowing and not knowing what to expect.

And then, the man right next to me shouted loudly and emphatically a syllable or two in Hindi. I didn't know what he was saying, but I saw what he was pointing at with massive excitement: A sliver, a tiny slit of brilliant red, was peeking out over the mountains.  There it was!  The Sun!  Over the Himalayas!  There they were!  The biggest mountains in the world!

The Sun-spotting man next to me and I were not the only two people who were excited to see the Sun pop up in the distance over the most majestic mountains in the world.  The whole crowd erupted in cheers at the sight.  Silence turned to celebration at the start of this sunrise.

And we all witnessed together the entire red ball of the Sun rise up from behind the mountains.  Slowly at first, but with gathering momentum, the circle of red rose up from behind the mountains until it stood alone.  The mountains reflected the sunrise; they were a brilliant pink-yellowish color.

Good morning, India!


It is with this same excitement that I start the new year.  I'm grateful for 2013; though it was easily the most difficult year of my life, those emotional and mental struggles are mostly behind me.  But all that stuff I waded through and got muddied in surely left an impression on me, and I know I am stronger and wiser because of it.

13 comments:

  1. What beautiful imagery, and the anticipation of sunrise and those mountains -- those mountains! -- was wonderful. Thanks for the memory slice.
    Kevin

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  2. I love the idea of getting so excited for the sunrise! It's the definition of an everyday miracle. Thank you for sharing it! Your post will stay with me. I could see you in that darkness and I felt the excitement when the sun came up. LOVED this!

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  3. Wow! So beautiful! I almost cried when you wrote how imperceptibly the noise quieted down as people acknowledged the sacred beauty of the sunrise. Powerful. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. I kept wondering what the pay off might be for that early rise. Wow, was a morning...what's coming next for you?

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    1. No international travel is on the horizon for the next decade...! I have a 6 1/2, 5, and 2 1/2 year old. So, just stories for now. But that's okay.

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  5. What a wonderful image for the start of a new year. I love "catching the sun" rising out of the ocean at the beach. But India over the mountains- incredible! Thanks for sharing.

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  6. What a lovely way to greet the new year - an arresting memory, and one that is so perfectly captured. Happy New Year!

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  7. I'd love to be able to get up early enough to catch the sun. I never seem to be able to muster the desire to make it outside for a good sunrise.

    Happy New Year!

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  8. Sunrise is a wonderful way to remember the gift of a new day (and a new year)! I would not mind seeing the sunrise over the Himalayas in person either! Happy New Year!

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  9. Hooray for the sunrise, and the dawn of the new year! Have an excellent 2014!

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  10. Beautifully described moment and way to begin the New Year! Love how you captured the excitement of the dawn!

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  11. What a beautiful memory and you described it so vividly. We hosted a young lady from India a few years ago. She has become a member of our family and we hope to visit her next year. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to witness this beautiful sight myself. Happy 2014.

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    1. Thank you for your reply... I went to India to volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity and took a few short trips to get away from Calcutta and the emotional tough-ness of the work there, including this trip to Darjeeling. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment that I return to often!

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