52 weeks later, we’re back to where we started, amongst the engorged cows of the Rhone-Alpes, the manicured countryside of Helvetia. I can see the cows from where I sit, precariously perched on the hill about 200 metres above the house, with a view of the valley. But as Seetha and I look at each other with ‘what now’ looks, I can’t quite dislodge the pain of Liyaan not being here with us. It stains like a bruise, colouring everything – it dulls the sky, the apples in our trees, the warmth of the breeze.
London was a different matter. London and the Olympics were bathed in sunshine. It felt like a summer of love (no, not the film). Everyone we knew seemed to be around, many more came to town – it felt like a renewal of our ties, a gathering together of so many different lives we’ve led. We’ve all been our ways, ridden the treadmill, found ways in which to be happy, to cope, to live our lives. But the true ounce of self, naked and open, found the old ones come to us the way they had in the past, and felt drawn to them, as we had been when we first met. There were really too many people to list here and even more we simply did not manage to meet – Lani now back in her lovely Eng-er-land, had too many places to go to for her exeat weekends.
The whole Sarwal clan came together around Shyam Tayaji’s death bed. Mum was there and so was Karan uncle, the brothers and sisters and cousins prayed wherever they were. I felt Dad looking down. After years I felt the whole Sarwal clan, again, together as one.
London was when we were still moving, when we had some wind in our sails. Now, at home, it feels as if we have reached dead calm. The occasional gust of wind makes the sails flap, but there is no movement. I can only hope the momentum of the journey will continue on land. I am determined that it will, but it will take a different kind of energy I feel. People ask us for the high points, the low points, the lessons.
First of all it’s been unexpected, immense, a real gift – something that I’m so grateful for. So many times it felt as if there was some hidden hand just ensuring we had a great time. Apart from the people who we already knew and generously opened their homes to us, we were met by incredible people, our angels as I like to call them, who opened their worlds to us. It has always been better seeing places through the eyes of those who live there, and this year we saw even the most remote places through the eyes of those who seem to appear miraculously for us. Even in Outer Mongolia!
Then despite paying humungous insurance premiums to cover ourselves against every eventuality, diving in 3 different locations, sailing the Atlantic, climbing, skiing, swimming in shark-infested waters, collectively we didn’t even stub a toe! Only Liyaan (once) caught a cold in Buenos Aires. And despite my best efforts (leaving my iphone on buses and a wallet fallen in the street ) we didn’t lose anything of significance. Well, we did lose all Liyaan’s precious Galapagos photos thanks to a technology issue and some laundry in Shanghai that never came back…The lone truly rude person we met on the journey across the entire world was the lady who looked at our boarding pass as we boarded our last flight back to Geneva on Easyjet!
Sure, my entire wine collection is gone, we have depleted all our savings and re-mortgaged the house, but I think truly and forever, our eyes have changed. I’ll never forget the warm wind of the Ocean in my hair, or what it felt like to cuddle a Llama, or see Liyaan lie under the water in the hot springs in Chiang Mai. And that’s what both excites and frightens me now. I am Tarun again. We are as close as we have been as a family, ever. We’ve learned once again what makes us tick and why without the pressures, the compromises, the sedentary lifestyle. Our barn has over 120 boxes full of our essentials (!) – do we open them and gorge ourselves – or do we live as we are now – lightly, as clouds floating across the sky?
One final thing – we’ve had almost 14,000 views of the blog. This has made us feel so incredibly supported and cared for I cannot explain. Thanks to everyone who looked in and for all the comments you sent. We never ever felt lonely because of you.