Modern Lives, Sacred Hills

| November / December 2004

A scattered family reunites for the walk to a Hindu shrine

MY BROTHER, RAJ, my filmmaking partner, Tom, and I traverse a staircase that winds its way up seven hills, nine miles, and thousands of steps to the Tirupati Hill Shrine in the state of Andhra Pradesh, in southern India. The air thins and cools as we get higher and higher into the mountains. The stairs are lined with small tea stalls and soda vendors, spiced nuts at mile three. A sadhu is standing in the shade, steely-eyed, staring at us as we pass. His markings tell us his day began with prayer, and the stillness of his eyes tells me I have a lot to learn.

We keep climbing.