Twenty-One Months of Living in My Dream Place

I had longed and waited for a chance to come live in the hills for years and it was totally worth the yearning and the wait.

Twenty-One Months of Living in My Dream Place

Remember when you were four or five and used to paint and sketch?

I vividly do. I would usually draw mountains cascading and the sun rising behind one of those and one hut in front of the mountains and green grass and flowers all around the house and a stream of water originating from the footsteps of the mountains and flowing down.

At that time, I didn’t know that I would be so lucky to get a chance to live at such a place. But as luck would have it, there was a vacancy in my office for a position in Dharamshala, the abode of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in Himachal Pradesh, India.

And I snatched at the very first opportunity.

So, we (me and my wife) landed in Dharamshala on 21st February 2020. And as we stepped out of the flight in Dharamshala, we were met with the freshest air and spellbinding view of Dhauladhar Ranges greeting us.

This was an indication of things to come.

Greeted by Dhauladhar Ranges upon arrival. 

When I joined my office, one of the highest-ranking officials happened to visit our office and he asked me why I chose this office in Dharamshala. And I frankly replied because I feel at home in the hills and my soul belongs here.

Soon enough, the lockdown was imposed, and getting locked down in a heavenly place felt relatively better.

So, I started doing Yoga, Pranayama, and Meditation at home during the lockdown period by waking up early at around 5 AM, which had its own benefits. I also started to keep a journal to maintain my sanity. You can not take your mental health lightly, you know.

As soon as the lockdown opened, I joined a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) called Dhauladhar Cleaners and became a part of their weekly cleanup and tree plantation drives. I was grateful to meet such amazing people from different backgrounds working together for a noble cause.

Then I found a café named Tunnas Books Café that was like a mini heaven in a heaven. The ground floor had a big library where you could sit and read books and also borrow for free. And the view from the balcony of the café on the first floor was amazing!

View from the balcony of Tunnas Book Cafe. Picture by the author.

Later I bought a mountain bike and went on a biking expedition with a newfound friend on a local Facebook group. It was such an enriching experience — riding in the mountains with such clean air is a treat.

Bought an e-bike for leisure rides.

As the lockdown eased and famous attractions were opened up for the public. I underwent a trek to Kareri Lake which was arduous for me but the breath-taking views from the lake more than compensated for the body ache.

The icing on the cake was when I beheld the starry sky in utter disbelief with my mouth wide open like a child looking at a dinosaur in amazement.

What’s more is that I got to capture Jupiter, Saturn, and the Milky Way in one shot!

Picture by the author.

And what to say about the sunrises and sunsets, I would never get enough of it. Be it anywhere, I would try my best to capture it in my eyes and in the lens as well.

Sunset captured from my Office.
Post-sunset hues from Kharota view point.

Dharamshala is such a soothing place to live that even a person suffering from a mental affliction would get partially healed just because of the salubrious and cathartic environment.

In addition, I also chanced upon the Tibetan system of Medicines and started treatment for my mental affliction. It is said to allegedly work at the root cause and it might cure my illness, unlike the allopathy medications which just manage the symptoms.

While mentioning Dharamshala, I would be remiss if I forgot to talk about the thriving Tibetan community and monasteries and obviously the temple of the revered His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Many people from all over the world come to this quaint little hill station called Mcleodganj on a spiritual retreat.

Tibetan Prayer Wheels outside a monastery in Mcleodganj. Photo by the author.

It’s not just the picturesque mountains and valleys that make a place beautiful but also the lovely people that you meet on your journey.

I could not have imagined walking into people’s homes uninvited in Delhi, India’s capital city (my previous posting), but here in Dharamshala, while taking a leisurely stroll, we would come across houses without gates or doors and you could walk right in and people would welcome you with open arms.

After living in a place like this where you are content and you are getting soul satisfaction and your mind is getting nourished, why would you want to go on a foreign assignment where you might earn thrice as much but you will always feel something is lacking in your life?

It’s like asking yourself, “Why travel the world and roam outside when heaven is inside”?

Why travel the world and roam outside when heaven is inside?

I still remember the year 2017 when I was posted in Delhi. I traveled to 12 different places in 12 months. I felt so restless and itchy living in the crowded, polluted, urban jungle. And believe it or not, in the year 2020 in Dharamshala, I did not travel to a single place outside of Himachal Pradesh (state of Dharamshala city).

That is how much I have loved this place.

And I know this joyous song is not going to last forever, there will be ups and downs in life like different notes in a symphony. But I am so grateful to God or this existence or whatever ‘it’ is for giving me a chance to experience this paradise.

I had longed and waited for a chance to come live in the hills for years and it was totally worth the yearning and the wait.

Have you felt like this in your life? Which place evokes this much gratitude and love for a place for you?

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