Part 32

They say when the migratory cranes come to the
Phobjika Valley, they circle the monastery three
times. They fly around it again when they leave
after winter. The places we go to sink deep into
our bones. I can still feel Jomolahri gleaming white
in the evening sun, Dochula Pass with its head
stuck in a cloud, Punakha Dzong at the confluence
of the male and female rivers. It was the spring

of 2007. The young guide wanted to turn back
about half-way up the mountain. All tourists don’t
climb to the top, he shrugged. Men with heavy loads
and women with babies on their backs overtook us
with ease. Eventually, we made it to the monastery
that clings to the edge of the cliff. Taktsang Lhakhang.
Tiger’s nest. They say the great guru flew to Paro
on the back of a tigress. Faith and folklore elevate

the seen and unseen into wonder. I can stay here
forever, I told the guide. I want to visit Bangalore,
he countered. I thought of traffic and crowds and
concrete. He smiled, as we entered the tiny airport.
I want to travel by train. I thought of butter tea
and incense and the wise eyes of the holy man in
Thimpu. Cranes and monks and rivers and guides —
and poets. We all have our own journeys to make.

(Paro/ Thimpu/ Gangtey, Bhutan)

35 thoughts on “Part 32

  1. { I want to travel by train }Travel by train is one of the most satisfying ways to travel, I enjoyed reading your post … after experiencing cross country flights recently, I can relate to some discomfort. However, when the end result of travel results in sublime warmth and relaxation, I handle it.


  2. You write with such ease. I love the butter tea, incense, monks and poetry scene. But I guess I am a tourist when it comes to the climb.


  3. Someone’s destination is always someone else’s starting ground. I think about my own personal journeys, and how sometimes they also involve circling back, if only to see the same thing a different way.


      1. Thanks Rajani – my journeys sometimes slip into my poems and writing but it’s been a while since I posted anything specific. The images I’m making now relate to my travels – for instance the background in the image I posted last week is a photo of a 2500 year old tomb of the crone goddess that I visited in Ireland. The background of the image I posted today is of a track to a mountain in Ireland where one of my daughters lived for many years. I stayed there for some time too and the mountain holds spiritual significance for both of us. It is there that we both felt a connection to our ancestral Celtic heritage.


  4. What did Heraclitus say – no one steps in the river twice – no weave either of cranes and monks and guides and poets. We only think we saw the same place.


    1. Thanks Brendan. I wrote a poem about that quote once, except it referred to the river of traffic in the city 🙂 Everyone does see a different version of the place and also if they see it at a different time. We still have our own miles to go before we sleep – whatever miles means and sleep means!!! 🙂


  5. A very wise poem, I too love the contrast between your longings and this of your guide. I’ve had similar conversations at times!

    But it is this that captures a truth for me: “The places we go to sink deep into our bones. “


  6. “Cranes and monks and rivers and guides —
    and poets. We all have our own journeys to make.”

    So very true my friend, and isn’t it all just wonderful. All woven together to make the tapestry of life. Fine writing Rajani. 🙂🕊❣️


  7. That is an amazing fact, that cranes circle the monastery on arrival and before leaving. Wow. I am in awe that you have been to the Tiger’s Nest. I wrote a poem about it once. An amazing place. As an armchair traveler, I love everything about this poem.


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