4.45 am. First light was already visible through the bedroom window. Dressing swiftly, I zipped my fleece right up to my chin and stepped outside into the cool morning air.
Even this early, the path around Observatory Hill was already busy: young and old, jogger and meditator, local and tourist. Clouds obscured the valley while overhead the tip of Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain, was just visible.
At the observation point I took a seat, huddling against the cold, and fixed my gaze on the mountain. It wasn't so much sitting there or standing there - it was just, there. Bold. Indifferent to observation.
I looked closely for those first pink/red/orange tones of the rising sun. No luck. You had to close you eyes for a minute and then re-examine the peak to detect the emerging hues of sunrise, so subtle was the change.
These mountains, however imposing and permanent they look, are only a work in progress, the result of tectonic plates moving north and forcing the Asian plates upward to form the Himalayas. Over millions of years. And continuing to do so at a rate of several inches each year (thus the seismic activity and recent earthquake in Darjeeling). The time scale for these mountains is so different to ours - we are but a single flash of a firefly in an eternity of darkness.
By now, the much-awaited sun beams have made themselves apparent. Some of the upper cloud has dispersed and the character of the peak begins to assert itself.
As the rays become stronger, the whole shape of the mountains metamorphises. As one face is illuminated by the rising sun, the others darken and disappear. The growing intensity of early sunlight at once reveals and conceals. And all this touching only the highest peaks while below the vast body of the mountain remains invisible behind the mist.
I shivered as I watched and reflected that it was perfect metaphor for how we choose to reveal and conceal ourselves to each other.