The sun rose at around 5am on our last day in India. I know this because as the sun rose, it woke the birds, the birds that slept above our window, the birds that woke me up at just after five. But what better view to wake up to, than the view from our 3rd floor window. The monastery on the hill opposite, silhouetted in the early morning light and the mist on the lake rising to reveal a brand new day.
Having had to be up early everyday for a week, I was half tempted to stay in bed, but at the same time something deep inside me wanted to savour every last moment of the time left in India, and there was something i’d been wanting to do all week…i wanted go and play on the giant swings that i’d seen on the first day we were in mirik!
I got up and walked to the village, I followed the path around towards the temple, stopping to say Namaste to the women washing cloths under a stand pipe by the lake, walking until i reached the 30 foot bamboo swings. I’d seen the local kids on the swings days earlier, they made it look easy of course, standing on the tiny 6 inch by 4 inch wooden plate loosely balanced on top of the corse rope, propelling themselves forward with ease by simply shifting their weight up and down in graceful circular motions, getting higher and higher with each pass. I gave it ago and it was harder than it looked, much harder, but it was fun and i soon found that i wasn’t tied to back and forth, by shifting my weight sideways, i could fly in great arcs high above the ground. It was strangely relaxing and i spend a good half hour simply swinging around in crazy circle in the half light of early morning, laughing, playing, even singing as i swung.
After a while, i decided i just had time for one last run before heading back and packing for the long trip home, i wasn’t really dressed for it, wearing jeans and a t-shirt but i wasn’t going to let that put me off either. I headed off around the lake, following the track as it wound its way up toward the swiss cottages and on around a couple of hills behind, eventually i turned off the road taking one of the deep cut paths the locals used through the trees. A few minutes later I found myself back at the temple i’d started from, so i went once more around the lake and over the bridge, which brought me to the field at the centre of the festival. Being a saturday the local kids were playing some kind of football league, a couple of teams kicking a ball around in the centre of the field, while others ran around the pitch warming up. As i jogged passed, one of the teams motioned for me to join them, i fell in line behind the last of the runners and did a couple of circuits, each faster than the last, until i could manage no more and wished them Namaste, heading up the hill one last time for a shower and breakfast.
I hadn’t really left enough time for packing as it was, and was I in the midsts of throwing stuff into my rucksack, when i realized i’d forgotten something quite important in Mirik. I gathered up everything else in one giant bundle and dumped in the top of my bag and headed for the door without further delay. I bumped into Henda just outside, and I’d never been happier to see anyone, gaving her my bag and asking her to ensure sure it got on the bus and while i ran down to Mirik with only minutes to go before we were due to leave. When i got back, she’d not only got the bag sorted but saved me a seat on the bus. I hadn’t found what i was looking for in Mirik and needed to make some calls, but my mobile wasn’t working in the mountains, and although Paul was on another bus, i asked if i could borrow his, without hesitation or questions as to why i needed it, he simply handed it to me through the bus window… and we were off. What two better friends could a person ask for, than Henda and Paul? I hadn’t met them before the last week and yet it was like we’d know each other years, and this was typical of the kind of friendships that everyone had developed during the week.
On the ride back from Mirik to Bagdogra, we followed the same road that we’d travelled up the week before, but this time it seemed a lot less scary, and the sights of cows wandering across roads or people washing in the river seemed a lot less unusual.
I was sad to be leaving India, but these memories and the friendships that that i’d found would live on within my soul.