Go as quietly as possible

How far will you go to seek silence? People take to the hills, seclude themselves in caves or in cloisters with monks who have taken a vow of silence.

A few months ago, a friend attended a 10 -day Vipassana meditation course during which he was banned from, among other things, talking. It surprised us, as he is highly articulate and sociable. Attending the Vipassana session seems to have made him come to terms with a few unfortunate years in his life. All he needed to do was find the connection within himself, which he could only do when he shut out voices, including his own.

Suddenly the buzz is about silence; Pico Iyer, the world’s favourite travel writer who lives in a Japanese village for the freedom to be himself,  marvelled in a recent article that people are willing to pay top dollar to stay in hotels in remote areas without access to TV or the net.

I laughed too and thought, “How absurd! Why can’t they just switch off the telephone or TV ?” But apparently cutting yourself off from distractions is very hard for most people. You have got to be truly rich or very stubborn to allow yourself this luxury. It is not as laughable as it might seem.

Quietitude is the greatest gift that we can give ourselves at least once a year. The time away from the disturbing demands and dull drone of daily life heals us. We don’t need to make plans or resolutions; it’s a time to just be still and let our undisturbed selves find their way back from the jumble.

pix by Asha Thadani / Raintree Media Features

I don’t need to go to extreme places for my quiet place and time; I find that in Goa. I would suppose that most sensible people would though we seem to be outnumbered by the party animals. Luckily, these visitors are seasonal and restrict themselves to a small belt. There are others who have moved to Goa from big cities and seem to want to party through the year. Perhaps they go elsewhere for their quiet time.

I do not have a TV at home here, newspapers are not allowed, though special interest magazines are permissible. Books are the treasured companions. I do have my laptop that I use for my writing and editing work. I log in to the world only to send the finished pieces. As the mobile signals seem to connect only in certain parts of the house, I leave the phone there on silent and reply only to urgent messages. Most days it is only the poi guy or the man on the ferry that I talk to briefly.

So here it is, at least for a few days in a year – I don’t want to talk about the latest cricket disaster, I don’t want to know if Anna is fasting or breakfasting. I want to water the plants, pick fruit, inhale nature’s aroma, walk alongside the sea or the lake, feast my eyes of the clearest of skies and worship the Sun for its life-giving warmth. My definition of ASAP in Goa is ‘as quietly as possible’.

Author: sandhya mendonca

outpouring of occasional whimsies

One thought on “Go as quietly as possible”

  1. I live in the Kharghuli Hills of Guwahati. ‘ Khar ‘ means gunpowder. ‘ guli ‘ means bullet. 300 metres to my north is the ” Mighty armed [‘ maha bahu’]” Brahmaputra river ; on a clear morning I can see the snow capped peaks of the Bhutan Himalayas from my bedroom window – and the Katabatic wind from the Himalaya is such that my locality of Guwahati is like a Hill station. In summer it is like living in an air conditioned bungalow. In winter we freeze. Raj Bhavan is 400 metres away to the NW, on an opposing ridge and across a ravine. I am surrounded by trees on all sides ; we have about 40 different kinds of birds and every morning I am woken by birdsong at about 3.30 a.m. Even as I write this there about half a dozen monkeys on my rooftop, come to raid my garden, and my dog Buzo is going mad trying to get at them and my housekeeper’s two boys are trying to get them with catapaults.

    Downtown Guwahati is just 4 KM away, but in Kharghuli, it is like living inside a national Park. No pollution, no traffic noise … at night the sound of the wind in the trees is such that one of my friends from Delhi who was staying with me for a night – otherwise a very tough guy – got scared ! I kid you not

    For such reasons, I like your story ” Go as quietly as possible “.

    Most of my life I have been used to peace and quiet.

    Should you ever happen to travel this way, I should like to invite you to spend a couple of days in my home in the Kharghuli Hills. I live alone with my invalid mother [ I have a housekeeper and a couple of girls to look after my Mum ]. My wife is dead and my children have left the nest so I can offer you a choice of my daughter’s bedroom [ very nice ] or my son’s room [ not advisable ].

    You like to travel. Do come and see NE India.. I should like to show you around the place.

    I should like to show you the ” Dance of the Joyful Heart ” of the Khasi people ; ; the variations of Assam’s ‘ Bihu ‘ dance – described as the world’s most erotic folk dance ; the ” 100 Drums ” festival of the Garo people, the ” Hornbill ” festival in Nagaland ; to show you the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati and the Tawang Buddhist monastery in Arunachal Pradesh ; take you on a boat ride up the Brahmaputra river and let the Rhinos and the Tigers and the Wild Buffalo and the Elephants in Kaziranga National Park have a look at you … wanna stay in a tea garden for a couple of days … ?


    Otherwise I may do magic to bring you here.

    My home district is called Kamrup – derives from ” Kama – Rupa ” which I am sure needs no translation.

    Kamrup – also the medieval name for Assam – happens to be the main centre of Tantric practices – Tantric Hindu – and Tantric Buddhist – in the World.

    Very, very esoteric practices.

    Kamrup is also known as the land of magic ….

    here we do magic …

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