Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)
No hourglass figure, just timeless beauty
On a bright Saturday morning, my husband and I decided to find some peace away from the hustle and bustle of our Mumbai life. Equipped with GPS, petrol and music, we drove off to the Mulshi valley, a quiet, breezy, agricultural part of Pune district. Soon, we were in the midst of the Sahyadri ranges that have extensive vegetable cultivation and absolutely delightful Gerbera flower plantations.
Excited to explore the natural environs, we were up at daybreak, ready to scale the ranges. We chose one of the tallest mountains and began our trek crossing a small village in its foothills. As we passed the habitation before ascending the mountain, I noticed the inquisitive expressions on the village folk. As we started trekking upwards, we realised that there was no real track to follow. Relying on our instincts and common sense, we carved out our own path. We braved through prickly shrubs and deep dry gorges formed by waterfalls that would soon flow during monsoon.
We were fortunate to spot a wild deer bounding across the mountain barely a few feet from us. Once we reached the top, what a spectacular beauty greeted us! Our descent to the foothills, however, was peppered with a couple of slips and falls and parched throats as we had run out of water. Finally, after a good five hours of trek, we reached the village we had started from. This time, to my surprise, we were greeted by smiles and a look of appreciation. That was when my eyes caught the most beautiful face I have ever seen.
The Maharashtrian woman in her late 70s stood against the blue door of her cottage, resting her back on it slightly. Her beaming smile went far beyond her crinkled skin. The immense kindness in her eyes would kill all the evil in the world. A crisp, floral sari draped her petite body, while a flaming orange flower adorned her bun. I took a minute to absorb the moment. As I began to walk away, a firm voice called out to me from behind. It was the woman with the beaming smile, saying something in Marathi to me and my husband, pointing to a pitcher placed next to the blue door.
We went up to her and extended our empty water bottle, in which she poured cool, fragrant water. Beyond quenching my thirst, I soaked my senses into its incomparable freshness and flavour, offered out of pure selflessness and care. We smiled and thanked her. She smiled again and patted my shoulder lightly. As we bid goodbye and crossed the habitation, moving closer to the main road, I realised why the woman looked so lovely — because her face reflected her inner beauty.
She had neither received any anti-ageing treatment nor applied any magic cosmetic product. Her heart’s sweetness and spirit’s liveliness twinkled in her eyes and glowed in her skin. No spa on earth can make you so stunning. Her simple action of offering us water cut through the barriers of language, age, caste, and class. To me, she was humanity personified, a true woman of substance, who with the chic of a runway model, flashed her beautiful soul.