A memory drags me to itself. It's of me and my friend trekking years ago in the Shivalik range of mountains in Himachal Pradesh, a province of India nestled in the western Himalayas.
A dense forest of cedar trees girdles us. The canopy of leaves allows only a sliver of to sneak in, bathing a patch of ground in golden rhomboids here and there.
We walk slowly, almost baby steps, listening to birds chirping, wondering at the different shades of green, soothing ourselves in Mother Earth's free spa, till we hit this dirt road. We walk on, turn a corner and unexpectedly, like a lover's surprise gift, we see them: the mountains.
Big. Majestic. Unforgettable.
The sight is more delicious for us for we are from the hot dusty cities where temperature routinely touches 45 C in the summer.
We sit there drinking in this vista of beauty and I can recall, clear as a bird's whistle in silent woods, what I said to my friend.
"I wish I could live in a place surrounded by mountains," I said.
"Then you pray to them," he said, pointing to the mountains, "that they bring you close."
Three years ago, I moved to Canada for a degree in journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto. After short stints working at papers in Toronto and Vancouver Island, I moved to Squamish a week ago to take the reporter position at The Chief newspaper.
The first day in Squamish, I was reminded of that trek with my friend. I parked my car and just looked at the Stawamus Chief. The way its jagged surface spreads out and almost enfolds Squamish, it makes you believe any evil alien would have to fight the Chief before it got to us.
Looking at the Chief and Garibaldi Mountains, those North Indian Mountains also rose in my mind and an emotion they evoke in me came visiting. It's an emotion that all of us have felt when we are close to nature, but it's nameless.
It's neither joy nor pleasure. It's beyond them, perhaps indescribable, like a quick flutter in the body and spirit, like being let in on a secret, like a fourth dimension opened and closed quickly.
There is also, I find, a great ability in mountains to inspire in times of self-doubt. They stand tall and in doing so encourage us to do the same.
They also teach humility. Every time I'm in front of one, I am reminded of my own small place in nature. It's humbling and for someone who lived in Toronto for two years, an important lesson of life. I'm happy that life brought me here (who wouldn't be?).
Also, this weekend, I plan to call my friend in India and tell him that a prayer has been answered, years later, miles away, in Squamish.