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Photo by Caleb Brooks

Majkhali or Magic?

“If this time last year you told me that I’d be [insert crazy once in a lifetime experience here], I wouldn’t believe you,” was the sentence that characterized last week.  From knitting, to cooking chapatti, to brushing our teeth, all seemingly commonplace things became rather unordinary in ways that I would never have believed one year ago.

On the first full afternoon in Majkhali, we learned how to knit and Sydney and I promptly put our new skills to use.  Armed with blue and red yarn, we sat on the wall of the courtyard of our homestay and accidentally added stitches, lost them, and yet still managed to squeeze out the beginnings of a scarf.  Watching the fog set in the mountains as the sun left for the day, we talked and worked our knitting needles, doing so with a view of the snow-topped Himalayas.  Sydney and I exchanged the sentiment of “If this time last year you told me that I’d be knitting while over-looking the Himalayas, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

We soon realized that our nightly routine for the week would consist of knitting until Kaki Ji, our homestay mother, summoned us to roll chapatti. Sydney and I would duck into the kitchen and try our hand, although each one we made had to be fixed by Kaki Ji. As the smoke rose to the already blackened ceiling, she would slap them onto the pan over the fire until she finally put them directly into the fire for a last char. If you told me one year ago that I’d be crouched over a fire rolling chapatti, I wouldn’t have believed you.

While brushing our teeth one night, Sydney and I looked up and were amazed by the star-freckled sky. With nearly more stars visible than the sky, the faint glow of the Milky Way streaked through the night. With toothpaste still full in our mouths, we mumbled exclamations and rubbed the cramps in our necks as we stared at the most stars we’d ever seen. This time last year I never would have thought I’d be brushing my teeth under the visible Milky Way.

However, these revelations come hand-in-hand with a striking reminder of privilege. As Ajay Ji emphasized during our time to sit and practice the Contemplation of Nature, we need to take time to be grateful. Just as it was a privilege to have the time to sit and observe the natural world, it is a privilege to be able to take a year and have weeks full of “once in a lifetime” experiences. But also as Ajay Ji taught, you need to be cognizant, but shouldn’t let it consume you. Enjoy the “unordinaries”.