Sonder

Sneha Christall
4 min readMay 17, 2023
When in Dharamkot…

Far from the din of the city she called home — with grey, smoke-choked skies, more people than permissible per square foot, where history, politics and commerce rubbed shoulders ever so simply,

Her mind had been called to Stillness, bewildering as it seemed.

Perhaps, it had something to do with— the fleeting view of snow-clad mountains (mist permitting), the sun’s decidedly capricious nature, the constant twitter of sparrows, the sheer effort it took to walk uphill, the tea that tasted so much more special (how?), or the lanky trees that greeted her at every bend?

No wonder then, visitors from near and far, found themselves extending their stay, some going so far as to call this village their home.

There was the long-haired, bearded, bespectacled man, his most differentiating feature being his uncanny height. In his lap, snuggled a diminutive girl with bright eyes and two nose rings. Her eyes darted across the room to the young man playing a guitar and the crowd surrounding him, but they always came back to rest, to gaze upon her lover, as they told each other sweet nothings —

The language that couples in the first flush of love find most suitable for shutting others out, much like a warm blanket on a chilly night.

And then there was the fast-speaking American woman with the tattoo of a phoenix all over her back, a suitcase that could have easily fit two small humans, toned arms and legs that gave away her fitness penchant,

Who in the middle of a divorce, had decided that she would backpack solo for the first time ever, and discovered — quite serendipitously, an old friend; learned that ‘hostels’ in India meant ‘dorms’ too, that she adored Kerala paratha, but despised the lachha variety,

And that she was far braver than she gave herself credit for.

At nighttime, as the hostel dog curled up against her door, shivering silently, she found an old jumper to shelter him in,

Soon after, she slept soundly.

The next morning appeared, grey and rainy, and in the space between night and day, walked a woman in a crumpled blue raincoat. With long, measured steps, she made her way to the meditation retreat. A doctoral student from Finland and a longtime student of…

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