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!
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!
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…
The other day, Khardungla Pass looked like a college fest, with a certain sense of adventure. A bash where everyone was happy to meet everyone, for the sheer joy of what binds us more than blood-and-brotherhood,
The faces, I remember the faces,
they were happy! Their smiles, honest, without any knives.
If you’ve been there, close your eyes to imagine how centuries ago a caravan of hundreds and thousands of horses and camels, crossed this pass to reach kashgar in central Asia. I pictured all that in monochrome, for some weird reason, it has an old world charm.
We lived through the clichéd selfie next to the Khardungla board (which I am too conceited to confess or show, but we are mortals!), pouted exactly like Pummi aunty would have!
Next up, was Khardung gaon, our lunch stop, before we head to Nubra Valley (3 to 4 hours drive).
If you are there, don’t miss:
-Aunty’s “maa ki daal”
-Aunty’s honey lemon ginger tea.
Thank me later!
But you really don’t care about all that, you wish to know how I got Leh’d, and my radar is stuck on “Maa ki Dal”!
Okay, here’s what happened:
Across the dhaba, was Khardung gaon. Lush green valley surrounded by barren mountains with timeless expressions on their curves. Scroll to the end for the image, but read first! Utterly fascinating!
A picture perfect, quaint hamlet! I jumped off the dhaba stairs, crossed the busy road to face a wall between the village and my camera.
Damn the wall! You really don’t want a wall to spoil the frame. So, you climb!
Now apparently, all the Godforsaken walls in the world are not for Sunny Deol to break! Even I could break one or two. So I did! (If you took that literally, sarcasm is not your suit!)
What followed, now seems like a quick scene stolen from a Tollywood drama. Let’s go back to the scene.
The sky blazed blue with heroism when I stepped on the first stone of the wall. Hopes were high, and so were the stakes!
Next two steps were encouraging. Just like the girl-at-work, you thought never noticed you, but today morning, she smiled at you! Yes, that encouraging!
The fourth step was me running to kiss the ground and all the stones of the (then) wall, running to kiss me. I kid you not!
However, two endless days and night, lived between, when I got Leh’d and when I got plastered. But that’s a story for some other day, other time… my tea is cold now. Just for the sake of a trailer, I’ll let you know, the plaster story features:
An electrician turned doctor who was simultaneously attending an old Tibetan man with a paralysed hand, Leh Govt. Hospital, a noble Pathan who is a chemist, partial doctor, and also runs a camp in Zanskar valley, an uncertain nurse who asked me to visit again because she was unsure of the OPD doctor, last but not the least, me getting a dislocated bone fixed without being high on anesthesia or alcohol, not even love. Fun, eh?
Concluding, I don’t know if there’s a translation for the Hindi word “chull”, but for those who know it, will understand exactly why I got Leh’d!
It’s absolutely fine if after reading this, you feel that one of the stones also hit my head!
P.S: I took this picture on our way back! 🙂 #onehandphotography
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:
P.S: I still wont bother about the details of this “ism”. But I am sure Google can help!