Tag Archives: lonelyplanetindia

Ode to imperfection

I sit down every morning here in Kalimpong and look at this tree through the cracked window pane. I call it my tree.

Its leaves are gone, there’s a sickness on its bark, all over, yet it continues to stand there, welcoming birds looking for a place to sit and chat and ponder on life for a while.

Ode to imperfection

It must be old, this tree, I don’t know how many years, but it’s probably been through a lot, seen a lot. Some might see imperfection when they look at this old, sick and still stubbornly standing tree. I see beauty, life as it is.

Some might hear the music I’ve composed, inspired by this tree, and find my musical skills wanting. Imperfect. Amateurish even. But that’s okay. There’s no need to seek approval, and no need to reject disdain. 

Because, like this tree, like my music, my life is imperfect. Sometimes two steps forward and three steps back. Sometimes only forward, sometimes only backward. Sometimes in circles and sometimes, stationary. That’s life, right? Who said there has to be a schedule and a checklist for how life should evolve. 

My friend the tree stands there every morning, every day. Rain or shine, it’s there to welcome me. Whether I wake up early or whether I wake up late, I sit by the cracked window pane with a cup of warm water in my hand. Neither of us feels the need to say much out loud. This, too is life, no? Some days we bloom, some days we are quiet, some days we remain in relative stillness, standing on a hill, overlooking the ground below, looking up to the sky above.

I’ll be leaving Kalimpong soon, continuing on the journey of life. I’m sure there’ll be other trees, other creatures, other beings I’ll meet. I’ll take my friend’s energy with me…an ode to imperfection…what more could I ask of life, what more could I ask of life.

© 2021 Marlon de Souza

Making friends using words in new languages …

I saw them behind Dubdi Monastery in West Sikkim. I’d just visited the monastery, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Sikkim, built in the early 1700s. Dubdi is located around 7,000 feet, about 1,000 feet above the quiet Sikkimese village of Yuksom.

The Tibetan Bhutia laborers near Yaksum

They were doing some road work, digging a ditch or something. The first time I passed them, I was walking to a quiet, mountain spot further down the path and I didn’t want to disturb them.

Inside Dubdi Monastery
Another deity inside Dubdi monastery

On the way back, I was curious as to what they were working on.

“We’re building a rest area for the monks”, they tell me. These Tibetan laborers belong to the Bhutia tribe and live in the Tibetan colony down in Yaksum, a couple of miles below Dubdi monastery.

I ask if I can photograph them and they say, sure. And that’s how we get talking. One of them is more talkative than the others. You’ll have to guess who that is.

We all stand together and say our names – I think it’ll be more fun this way than a plain ol’ 2D photo. Of course, I give myself a Tibetan last name just so I can be part of their gang for just a moment.

The talkative one offers me a white fermented liquid – homegrown alcohol. I’ve been recovering from food poisoning (don’t eat funky-tasting eggs and daal at a roadside stop!) so I told him I’d pass. He tells me in Hindi, “This special drink will take away all the food poisoning, try it.”

Against my better judgment, I take a sip, a tiny sip. It’s STRONG! And bitter. And sharp. I can see why he says it’ll cure my food poisoning. But I decide to pass on swigging another sip – you know, I’d like to get back to my homestay in one piece.

As I leave, they teach me to say Thank You in Tibetan. The teachers are quite good but the student…

© 2021 Marlon de Souza