Sunday, October 10, 2010

There was a pass on the mule track from Kalimpong where someone at sometime had put up a sign asking "Is it nothing to ye who pass by?" How strange, how deeply moving those few puzzling words. For these muleteers and horse riding traders, who sat on beautifully worled saddles and rugs or rich brocades, what did the end of a long journey mean? Not that Christ died for them, as I learned was the answer to the conundrum, but that they had crossed river and barren plateau, climbed high passes and were about to arrive at their destination with its many attractions for those who normally enjoyed none. For me those words were an aching challenge. If only I could go the other way, over the dizzy Jelep La and Tsang Po to Lhasa. Gape at the Forbidden City, perhaps see the legendary Dalai Lama. Oh yes it meant much to me who came upon that gentle Christian enquiry. Praise the gods, praise the Lord, praise the heavens I was at so wondrous a spot, sitting by a forested trail with mist racing past and the tintinabulation of bells coming from somewhere down the trail muted by distance and trees. How glorious to be alive in so wonderful a world.

Desmond Doig, 'A Bus to Gangtok', Look Back in Wonder (New Delhi: HarperCollins, 1995), p.21.