I, write this!

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I write, as the last bidi finds it’s way into the ashtray. I write this at 04.30 in the morning.

Writing, because the backpack resting at the corner of my room, stares at me, with a little dust settled on the un-promised adventures.

Next to it lies a pair of trekking boots, yearning to go out there.

Aching of restfulness, lies a rugged camouflage jacket on the chair.

Next to the chair is a table full of maps.

Maps of hamlets and towns, sleeping at the moment.

Thus, sweet sleeps the travel journal, dreaming of the blank pages to be bloomed by the awaited adventures.

So, wakes up the wandering soul!

P.S : This is dedicated to all you travellers out there, aching of wanderlust! To all the mountain beasts caught in the concrete jungle. I love you all, I really do! And soon, we shall all embark on a new adventure! Until then, I know my pep talk doesn’t help much!

 

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Auli, his childhood dream!

Quick downpour:

This story starts at an altitude of 10,000 ft.

498 km away from cabbage-head, Delhi

This is about the euphoria  of exploring a realm surrounded by the revered peaks of Nanda Devi, Chaukhamba, Panch Chuli, Mana and Kamet.

This story is about, the dreamland called Auli bugyal!

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Here’s what happened:

Windows rolled down. involuntary, I craned my neck out like a happy dog. We were about to reach Rishikesh. When about Uttarakhand, Rishikesh always announces the beginning of an adventure.

Auli was sleeping when we reached, late at night. Heavy breathed, we climbed 56 stairs to get to our room in the GMVN guesthouse. Such a labyrinth!

If you are there:

– Ignore the caretaker, wearing a strange monkey cap

Auli  rained its way through the morning, slowly and calmly. It wasn’t a rebellious one, it was one of those rains that sweeps all the sorrows away. Stepping an octave down this philosophical tone, it was raining cats and dogs, plain and simple!

It washed away all my time-lapse dreams, at once.

But as a photographer you are a, stubborn soul! You lurk in the ambush like Satan, waiting for Eve to step in the garden. It did and how…

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The Fated Shot!

I am an honest “John Snow” when it comes to monasteries, Bhuddhism, rather any “ism”! But I intimately cherish the calm they resonate. I usually never plan, but happen to cross paths with “God”, sometimes.

This time around when Chaddha ji and gang, were retreating from Nubra Valley to Leh, there was another chance meeting, fated, in two and a half hours.

Lopsang, our full swag driver,  who meditates almost all winter and works in summer, suggested that we stop at the Diskit monastery. Hey wait, isn’t that interesting, meditating your entire-way-through-winters? Cozy!

That’s when I happen to get this shot:

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Diskit Monastery

P.S: I still wont bother about the details of this “ism”. But I am sure Google can help!

The Sarchu Syndrome!

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If a place could be marked as “the edge of a realisation”, of how “achingly” beautiful Ladakh is, it would be Sarchu. This is where it started sinking in, the feeling called: This is Ladakh!

Technically, located in Himachal Pradesh, Sarchu is a gateway to Ladakh. It is at an altitude of 14,300 ft, making it a tab higher than Leh. And if you are guessing it right, this place is notorious for acute High Altitude Sickness. Hence, it is important that we acclimatize well.

Tip: It is advisable to halt at Jispa for a night and then head towards Sarchu, purely for acclimatisation.

Manali (6726 ft) —>> Jispa (10,500 ft) {distance: 138 km/drive: 4-5 hours}

Jispa—>> Sarchu (14,070 ft) {Distance: 113 km, drive: 3-4 hours}

Here’s what happened: 

In spite of knowing the pro tip, we couldn’t stop at Jispa. With a dizzy head and a possessed nape, I reached Sarchu. The winds were wild, wild enough to rip mountains apart (I know I am prone to, but this time, I am not exaggerating!)

Drinking gallons of water and garlic soup, helped. But the mild scatterbrained, Sarchu Syndrome, stayed!

Being from the mountains, I’d never experienced anything of this sort. I was in my cozy tent, trying to calm the fuck down, when the distant voice of Indranil da exclaimed, “You should get your camera outside”!

In no mood for movement, yet curious, I went outside.

That moment, everything else faded, but the fiery sky of Sarchu! I’ve bookmarked this split second, in the collage of my memories and flashbacks!

 

 

 

 

When the mountain, smiled!

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Quick Downpour:

Thousands of feet above the tree line. Less of oxygen and more of  enthusiasm. Difficult to gauge if it’s a travellers paradise or pilgrimage.They call it the land of high passes!

Where winds are wild,

and wilder is the desert.

The land of fluttering prayer flags, arid secrets, where sunsets and sunrises write on the mountains with a blue ink of clouds (care less, about my bizarre poetic expressions)!

It is beautiful. It is treacherous. Treacherous.

Ladakh, is what we are talking!

Here’s What Happened: 

As an instinct, it was going to be about “rampant photography”, on account of my first ever pilgrimage.

So,

whenever we stopped,

wherever we stopped,

however we stopped,

I would pounce with my camera and break into a thousand pictures.

A rubbernecker, who is an amazing, like

fucking-really-amazing cinematographer, was travelling with us. Eavesdrop on our conversation:

Him: Hey, would you take a picture of me?

Me : Sure.

Him: ***Grim face on***

Setting the camera aside, I look at him. Grim face on, still!

Me: Why that face? Wouldn’t you smile?

Him: Ask that to the mountains too. Even they should smile before a picture. Even they should be “ready” before the picture. The light, the clouds, the reflections, should make the mountain smile.

Why do you think, eccentrics, wait for hours, sitting in front of a mountain? The wait for the mountain to say, “NOW”!

Me: ***Smiled***

 

 

Behind the lens

Whenever I look at a photograph, I wonder about the moments exactly before it was captured.

What were the thoughts of the photographer? Was it shot by chance or did he hold his breath still? Did he lie flat on the burning marble or cold ice for long?

How fast did he run to take another shot at life? Did he smile when he pictured the shot in his head before pressing the click button?

A photograph becomes a moment, even before captured!

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Sehri (Deo Tibba), Himachal

©Ambika Bhardwaj