This week I discovered—quite late, yes—the work of Etel Adnan, the 96-year-old Lebanese-American visual artist, poet, writer, weaver and philosopher whose abstract art is on show at the Guggenheim museum in New York. The painting that started me on an exploration of her art and writing was one of a glowing sun and her signature red square, which seemed to exude energy. Adnan’s abiding muse, though, has been California’s Mount Tamalpais. She lived near it for many years and it is the subject of many of her paintings, taking on different shapes and colours that reflect her moods. When a television crew asked her, “Who is the most important person you ever met?”, she replied, “A mountain.” Contemplating that response years later, she wrote: “I thus discovered that Tamalpais was at the very center of my being.”
In an odd coincidence, our cover story this week is about the mountains that make people feel this way—the sense of reassurance and solace, energy and joy they endow. It’s written by trekkers who have been enchanted by a particular section of the Himalaya for decades, and have spent time there every year. The pandemic, of course, put a temporary stop to all sorts of wandering, but returning after close to two years, the writers find that mountains, like seas and rivers, are a favourite nature-metaphor for us to make sense of our lives.
Also read: Footloose in the Dhauladhar
This is an issue that could seem rather restrained, coming as it does a week after our luxury special, but there’s plenty to read and discover, and relax with after a week of festivities and gluttony. One of my favourite stories is on the wet grinder—that dependable workhorse of most south Indian kitchens—being used to make small-batch chocolate, and even large batches of pesto. The other is on stargazing, and the many startups that are finding opportunity in getting more Indians to look up at the sky.
Write to the Lounge editor firstname.lastname@example.org @shalinimb
Also read: How climbing a mountain is like meditation