Dusk descends on the village of Falmer by half-past four every evening. The sun slips into the horizon inconspicuously, making a brief appearance before it sets. It stays blissfully wrapped up in the clouds almost all day, peeping out occasionally like a celebrity who drives past in a car with tinted windows, offering the briefest of tantalising glimpses. The hills in the distance are rapidly enveloped in an all-encompassing blue shroud, inseparable from cloud or tree. A tinkle against the window-panes tells me that it is raining- again- and a sudden barrage of loud clicks on the glass indicates the first hailstorm of the season; tiny bits of ice, nothing dramatic, melting almost as soon as they fall on the window-ledge. The slanting lines on the clear glass disappear almost as soon as they fall, but I can rest assured I’ll never be deprived of rain here. The girl who eagerly sought opportunities back home to get drenched in the rain is easily pleased here.
It has been a little difficult to get used to the idea of little sunshine or daylight; but the romantic appeal of windy mornings, grey skies and clouds looming over rolling hills easily scores over the relentless, sticky heat of tropical coastal towns (atleast for the moment). Added to it is the possibility of snow. I look up at the sky hopefully, not knowing if the large, dismal cloud overhead will dissolve in a shower of softly-falling, ethereal flakes, or simply melt into nothingness. I scan the horizon, and any unusually-coloured cloud rouses my suspicion. Half the fun, as they say, lies in anticipating things.
The blue darkness often reminds me of the Himalayas in Sikkim, and our drive up through treacherous, narrow mountain roads into the tiny village of Lachung. The slight chill that crept over me as I saw the towering forms of the mountains press close upon us was dispelled by hot, milky tea and a simple, delicious meal; right amidst the hills that I considered intimidating, I was being treated to some of the best hospitality I’d ever experienced, by people whose smiling eyes belied the extremely hard lives they lived. Dawn put an end to any lingering doubts I might have had, as the sun rose in a riot of colour at five in the morning, lighting up the snow-capped peaks and making me realise that I was in one of the most beautiful corners of the planet. Little wonder then, a few hours later when we had to set off, I couldn’t bear to leave, and felt that I had some sort of inexplicable connection with the mountains- that I wasn‘t seeing the last of them yet. The Himalayas do that to you, bring you down on your knees in veneration, hypnotise and seduce you.
England, on the other hand, is winning me over slowly but surely (not that, of course, I had any doubts it would, thanks to the Bronte sisters). The trees at Falmer have now been stripped of every single leaf, bare arms reaching upwards, silhouetted starkly in the light cast by the streetlamps that are on almost all day. Past midnight, a single star climbs up into the sky and shines softly through the branches, sometimes accompanied by a thinly-veiled moon. It has become a ritual of sorts for me to look for them, make sure they are safely up there, before I snuggle into bed. Can I confess that I feel a little disappointed when they play truant? I still have the trees for company though, and that’s a comfort.
I‘m quite sure of what I‘ve been fearing and dreading: I’ve lost my heart to this little village, and I’m not relishing the prospect of leaving it. It is perhaps too early to worry about pangs of separation, but I sometimes hope that it’ll temper my ecstasy and make me level-headed; not that there is much hope of my being entirely practical, because you have to be born grown up not to appreciate the little delights that are thrown at you even when you’re in your most unsuspecting, indifferent state. That I live in an English village with pastures and brick houses, am buffeted by cold winds on rainy mornings when I walk to university, and am likely to have one of my wildest hopes turn into reality very soon, should be proof enough that dreams come true. It would be rather silly, then, to try and ruin my enjoyment of things with caution; I’ll only have to choose carefully what I want to wish for, and it’s a dilemma I can live with.