Barry landed in New Delhi and took a connecting flight to arrive at Kullu, in the state of Himachal Pradesh. From the airport, he took the local transportation to arrive at picturesque village-turned-small town Kasol. From his online search, Barry learned about Kasol situated on the banks of the Parvathi River with flowing emerald-green to blue water, originated at the high mountains from ancient glaciers. As the bus was entering the town, Barry noticed almost all the billboard signs were in Hindi (local language), English and Hebrew. In fact, one of the billboards even announced (in English and Hebrew) the presence of a Chabad (a religious institution of Jewish faith) in the town. Dumbfounded, Barry got down from the bus at the town-centre, asked a local gentleman for the direction of his hotel and started moving. And that’s when he saw Ari Levi, a young Israelite again inside a cafe. Surrounded by his friends of both genders, Ari was enjoying a cup of evening coffee with some pita bread and hummus.
Just a few months ago, Barry was in Jerusalem on a business trip. In between meetings, he would take breaks to visit the city’s historic places. One day, he went to visit Mount Herzl, site of Israel’s national cemetery of Jewish faith. During his tour, Barry would notice several groups of young men and women in uniform and carrying their weapons spread throughout the complex. He was able to strike up a conversation with Ari and learned that they were all high-school graduates who had to join the armed forces under the country’s mandatory draft system of serving for a few years. They were there to pay respect to past heroes.
Barry stopped to say “Hello” to Ari. At Barry’s inquiry, Ari explained that the entire group had just completed their mandatory military service. Before heading back to normal life, they were allowed to “decompress” from the stress of military training as well as deployment. The past recruits found the serenity of this Himalayan village, the practices of yoga and meditative mindfulness, and availability of home cuisine (thanks to the Indian chefs) was a perfect combination to help them in their “re-entry” process.
New arrivals here then became normal.