The original title of the Zeppelin classic. “Kashmir” was supposedly inspired by a drive through the desert of Southern Morocco, and had nothing to do with the controversial region it shares a name with. The band’s explanation was that “Kashmir” was always about the journey and never the destination, and as the clock runs down on Bridge Year India 10.0 it will not be long before we are able to make that assessment for ourselves.
We will spend the last month of the program in Ladakh, a region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, trekking and visiting an alternative school and perhaps some Buddhist monasteries. Almost everyone we have met on Bridge Year who has visited Ladakh has said it is one of their favorite places in India, which has brought our excitement to see it for ourselves almost to fever pitch. Their talk of beautiful mountains, lakes and wildlife means it will surely be a natural beauty to behold.
However, somewhat of a ‘grand finale’ I find it hard to imagine that the experience will not be in some way derived from the path of all that came before it. So, as we begin to traverse the final few twists and turns of our own expedition on the road to J&K, it seems necessary to reflect on what we will leave behind, to make the best of what little time we have remaining in Rajasthan. When we arrive in Leh we will have already said goodbye to our homestay families and friends in Udaipur, the service projects we have worked on now for so long and any notion of “living in India.” So, it’s no doubt that the next 6 weeks will be filled with spontaneous bike rides, FOI practice, zesty bevs, family dinners, work deadlines, hikes and explosive dance routines to name but a few. At this point, our biggest problem feels like we simply have too much to do and enjoy before we leave, and that can certainly feel a little overwhelming!
So, I hope to instead focus on what I WILL be taking with me on that short flight to ‘the Land of High Passes.’ A lot of great memories and friends, a new mechanism of how to process and evaluate information and, to be quite frank, a vastly different approach to life. In some small way I hope this will make the days a little more relaxed as they seem to disappear before our very eyes, while allowing me to be a little more present in each of them.
“Talk of days for which they sit and wait
But, all will be revealed”