Have you ever really tasted a glass of wine? It’s when you take one sip, swirl it in your mouth, feel its coolness on the tip of your tongue, let your mind sway to its high, and slowly imbibe its flavor.
In the blessedly quiet afternoons of Jibhi, I found that high in afternoon naps in the balcony of my homestay. Dark clouds hovered over a sunny day, and soon enough, a drizzle turned into a downpour. As we sat there looking at the raindrops caressing every leaf of the pine tree ahead, I was lulled to sleep by the constant pitter-patter.
I woke up in the evening to the sunlight filtering in through my blanket, and the hum of cheerful music from some distance. I rubbed my eyes open to colourful vistas of flowers in bloom, and decided to take a walk to the nearby river.
Walking a trail through tall pine trees, we followed the sound of the gurgling stream to reach our destination. As I traced my steps down a slope, a meadow came into sight and eventually, the river I had been waiting for. I ran towards it like a child, trying to find ways to splash my face with the clear water. When I finally managed to find a place atop a boulder, I just sat there and watched time flow past me in the frothing coolness.
We woke up the next day to the prospect of a slow and hearty breakfast. After feasting on a lavish spread of home-cooked sandwiches, we drove up a winding and treacherous road to Jalori Pass and started our day-long hike to Seylosar Lake.
We started our walk over a ridge overlooking bare mountaintops, and eventually entered an enchanting oak forest. After arriving at the clear waters of Seylosar, we sat down with no particular agenda and shared tales of the past, and hopes of a distant future. We walked around the lake a few times, and discovered different things in every round. And as we vegetated for a while, we watched the torn clouds drifting above in the blue canopy above our heads.
Our second hike to Chehni Kothi the next day was equally lazy. Walking through a thick coat of deodar trees on a mountain slope, we arrived at the fringes of a village and caught the first glimpse of the towering sentinel. The structure dwarfed the surrounding views and we succumbed to its charm. We found a spot in an open clearing, with a view of the Kullu valley, and sat in silence, eating Maggi and letting the rain soak our soul.
It took me countless trips to slip into this slow travel mode, but once I did, I felt content with life – appreciating long conversations over social media emojis, home-cooked food over online delivery, and gazing out at the wild beauty surrounding me over my smartphone screen.
This is what slow travel does to your senses. It is when you savour the destination, and let the romance of the place linger on in your senses, long after you have left. In the world of Snapchat, rushed itineraries and manic sightseeing spree, slow travel is like that wine tasting session.
Have you tasted it?