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5. Himachali Woman.jpg

Summer snows of Apple blossoms white

Cool scented breeze of yonder distant dales

Strains set to the 'Tamaka' and 'Dholku'

Matched I my steps to which, a maiden young

To rhythms of 'Lahauli', 'Dhamaal' and 'Roopshu'

That play in my ears still, hold me in thrall...

Ripe apples a shade of crimson such

Did touch my cheeks and lent a rosy blush

Until falling snows softened it a mite

And sunshine dealt a timid golden touch

I am all of these and shall ever be

A daughter to the hills...a 'Himachali'...

by Sudha Madhavan

The Himachali Woman

Oil on Canvas
36” x 24”

What inspired me

Enroute to Sangla on the Himachal route, I stopover at Thanedar where Samuel Stokes, an American who later took on the name Satyananda Stokes, planted the first apple tree, married a Rajput girl, adopted Hinduism and the beautiful hillsides of Himachal. He taught the locals the intricacies of apple farming, which thence became the main horticultural crop and a predominant source of livelihood for the Himachalis. One can still find the old home he built himself atop the hills and the first Apple tree he planted now grown wrinkled and old outside the meditation centre...

There in Thanedar, walking up the slopes bordering the vast apple orchards, I meet this gentle, arrestingly beautiful 94 yr. old Himachali, Pushpa, in her traditional skirt gathered around her and the familiar head scarf; with skin the colour of mellow parchment of white gold, who on my asking for permission to take a photograph of her, wrinkles her nose and asks in her lilting voice, "photoo kab milega?"

I promise to take a printout and hand her the next day... For me she represents the hillsides and all that they stand for... And I know I have to paint her...

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