07 July 2009

Badrinath pilgrim

PilgrimWe were among the last to leave Badrinath after the day's ceremonies. I waited with him and several others, hoping to find a place in a jeep back to Joshimath after all the buses had left. I ended up enduring a ride of several hours crushed into the back of a jeep with a collection of other travellers and enormous, blackened cooking pots. I couldn't sit, couldn't stand, couldn't even kneel properly, but somehow survived by crouching in a corner and attempting to let my thoughts drift elsewhere. It must have worked. But meeting people like this was ample recompense for the hardship.
The following day, Badrinath would have been deserted; everyone gone for the winter, the god from the temple transferred to Joshimath. Just the choughs — those beautiful alpine crows — and a few other birds, the wind and the silence left.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

7 comments:

Anne-Marie said...

What a wonderful face, full of humour. Full of life. Do you know the signficance of the ochre on his forehead?

the watercats said...

*heart aches for travel.......

pohanginapete said...

Anne-Marie, the tilaka or tilak (a.k.a. tikka or, mostly for
women, bindi) is a mark signifying certain aspects of the wearer's Hindu beliefs. Given the diversity of Hinduism it's best not to be dogmatic about the meaning, but the wikipedia entry is a good starting point. I also found the short article by Swami Shivananda informative.

Watercats, ache is the right word. But perhaps it's a good lesson and a challenge: to appreciate wherever one finds oneself. I remember the lama of Shey in Peter Matthiessen's marvellous book The Snow Leopard: when Matthiessen asked him if he was happy where he was (effectively trapped there by his crippled legs), he replied, "Of course I am happy here! It's wonderful! Especially when I have no choice!".

Peregrina said...

Pete,another of your wonderful portraits where I feel as if the subject is about to step out of the computer screen and speak to me.

I'm so sorry to hear about your camera. What a blow! I do hope it can be repaired without excessive expense.

pohanginapete said...

Peregrina, thanks. The camera's with Canon's service centre now. It should be back in a couple of weeks.

butuki said...

Such kind eyes and a genuine smile...

I hope the camera repair is not too expensive.

pohanginapete said...

I agree, Miguel. And thanks — the repair wasn't as expensive as I'd feared. Still money to stand still, but I'm confident the camera will last a few more years now.