Tomer is on a bonding trip with his father. Young as he is, Tomer has questions, specifically for Indian women. He shoots some of them to us. First, “Do you tell your parents when you go out with your friends both male and female?” “Do you tell your parents when you go out alone with a guy? The conversation steers to the mention of sleepovers. “No No. I would put sleepovers as a question may fifth or sixth on my list for Indian women,” he says. Then what would be the third or fourth question? “May be asking a girl how old she is”, he says.
Tomer looks forward to bump into us some other time some other place in this lifetime and promises to then ask, “ Tum kitne saal ki ho?” We also added “Sahi hai” or too cool to his hindi dictionary. No, he already knew the choicest hindi abuses.
Himachal is filled with stories- stories of those workers who clear stones all day from some of the most difficult mountain roads. Stories of a village woman who thinks it absolutely fine and adorable to hug a stranger without permission and yes it is. Stories of a 24 year old delhi girl travelling solo, stories of the locals who shift base between Himachal and Goa to make a living. Stories of a small family that waits for hours on a vacant road for a car to pass so they can sell fossils to them. Stories of the youngest child of household who was sent to the Monastery to be a monk and stories of those who refused. Stories of a group of Israeli youngsters finding peace in Himachal after a rigorous warfare training back home.
Stories of a young merchant navy student who has travelled from Chennai to Delhi to Manali to Spiti and then waits patiently where the bus dropped him last, hopeful for a lift for the last leg to reach his village home.
As I sit at the desk of my new workplace, I wonder, what tears of joy would those be when the son was finally home. Does he miss the mountains when in Chennai as much as I do now here in this city of dreams?
I would never know.