A Christmas Close to Heart

He didn’t say..but I knew it.

Something in his voice told me he’s excited.

‘I told Maii that these bunk rooms would be ready within no time. But I couldn’t do it. It’s been three years. She still has to get a visa. She’ll come soon.’ He pointed towards the edge of the boundary where a broken piece of jungle gym was lying. ‘I want to build my crystal cave here. You know, Maddy told me it would look amazing. It was her idea after all. She couldn’t take all the crystals along. The airport authority didn’t allow.’ Shifting his gaze to the Hawa Mahal (as I named it), he gave various descriptions of the visitors he had from past six years.

Raju Negi, the owner of a camping property in Binsar Valley, was eagerly looking forward to Christmas. ‘There’ll be 20-25 guests arriving here on Christmas Eve. It’ll be really fun. I wanted to paint all these stones first, but there’s not much time left for Christmas.’ I rubbed my palms against the glass of hot herbal tea, steam splashing across my face felt pleasant while listening to his great adventures. He went on with his many plans to utilize the organic vegetables he’s been growing on this property.

Alex came jumping around and sniffing every piece of onion peel spilled on the ground.

‘Alleexxxx!!!! NOOOO!’ Raju dragged the five-year-old labrador and chained him down to a tree, next to the kitchen.

‘So, what do you guys do on Christmas?’ I looked up.

The tiny wrinkles near his eyes made way for a journey he had traveled. Smiling like a five-year-old, he said, ‘We’ll light a bonfire. Sing songs. I’ll play my guitar. It’s been long, to come to think of it. I think I’ll get that cake from the famous bakery near Kasar Devi temple. You guys should also try their apple crumble. It’s to die for!’

‘Maybe next time.’ I replied pushing a smile. My sister and I didn’t want to leave. It felt like home in just two days. The river stream flowing alongside the green lands of this property soothed our very soul. The sound of continuously flowing water echoed in our minds. It remained there. Even still.

‘Last Christmas, I told John. You know John, right? The guy with the glasses I just showed you the picture, right? So…where was I? Yeah! John. I told him to sing a few carols. He had a good voice, you know. Wow. Still gives me chills. I had lit the entire place. Even these cabins right here.’ He pointed towards our dorms. ‘John taught me how to make a pizza. We had a great meal that night. With the pasta, cheese bread and other things. You should try this rose tea we have. Specially extracted from my organic farm here.’

It may be a small gathering of four people, or might as well be 25, Raju knew how to set the mood. With his engrossing, never-ending stories, he made them all laugh. Just like we did. Set up almost in the middle of nowhere, the Binsar Valley river camp area, hosted by Raju with a little help from his friend, Abhishek, who joined him recently, offers a great deal of peace and relaxation.

Holidays are all about fun, excitement, and parties. Families go on vacations to several mountain regions. But, if one seeks to rejuvenate and calm their senses, this is one of the places where Water therapy is at its best. Christmas, as a festival also marks new beginnings. Spending some time with nature, can prove to be a good start. I went there not knowing what shall follow.

The Crimson, creamy sunrise painted in the sky, lush green grass, organic farms, Hawa Mehel for meditation and gathering, riverside treks, waterfall, bonfire, singing songs, Raju couldn’t think of anything more to offer for Christmas, and I could only visualize how their celebrations will take place.

As he waved goodbye to us, I saw the Clear Quartz crystal hanging around his neck, sparkle for one time.

‘See you soon Raju Bhai!’ I waved back. ‘Merry Christmas!’

‘Merry Christmas Arushi!’

As I walked on the track leading to the road, I could already see him sitting by the bonfire, smiling and singing songs with his mates.

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