I remember discreetly my pick when posed with a dilemma by another friend to pick one, the mountain or the sea, while I chuckled as I answered, “Over a mountain surrounded by the sea.” I know I was greedy there. I wanted everything at a single place yet longing secretly to visit them in pieces to know in real what I actually loved and why. I haven’t been able to figure out the reason though but however I seem to understand what exactly I might have loved in the enumerable trips I have been to, since I was a child.
Port Blair. Mangalore. Goa. Pondicherry.
I seemed to have strangely been in love with the beaches while being equally scared of the gushing water. So, I often used to stroll along the coast, gathering the wet evening breeze under my sobering breath before I found a spot to settle on to watch the dimming sun, set. Memory, you see, a mental picture which you would take along with us in the ever flowing journey called Life. I picked up the notion from a movie titled, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” but anyways it’s a story for another day. I believe some things are meant to be remembered through the naked eye rather than behind a camera lens. Be it the famous night street of Pondicherry or the sparsely visited Anjuna beach of Goa, I wouldn’t dare to forget how it felt to be there in those moments of awe.
Sea, in particular, is kind in its demeanour yet dominating in its presence and vastness. The rhythmic sound of the splashing waves brings out a kind of music which has a soothing effect, especially on me. It brings out romanticism in its truest sense, adding colours to the existing palate of our life. The calmness into which I could stare for eternity to come is the thing that I have found to savour with time, the thing I actually seem to love about the sea.
Kargil. Khardungla Pass. Shimla. Khasi Hills. Yercaud. Dodabetta. Yumesamdong.
My tryst with the mountains began way before I met the sea. It began from the place where people usually end, “The Great Himalayas”. The dried up mountains to the south of Ladakh to the snow covered ones to its north, it’s a befitting spectacle which one rarely could afford to forget. But I have come a long way, I was only ten back then.
This December, it was the clouded mountain and the windy valley that we happen to choose, making me understand the reason why I seem to love them so fiercely. It so happens with the hills that the time we spend to get to the scenic location is far more than the time we spend at the place. The topsy-turvy road curving upwards with every delicate turn thus remains the significant part of my travel memory, organically peppered with conversations. This part of memory somehow feels a lot important, feels right somehow. The arduous journey packed inside a Mahindra Xylo with an infinite road ahead and with scenic beauty covered all around while being gently graced with differing personalities carrying different opinions yet bonded together by long years of friendship and camaraderie. I now know for sure what I really love about the mountains. Sikkim, one of the most beautiful and one of the most underexplored places that we had recently visited made me realize this over and over again.
Paradise: When the two meet
Pangong-Tso Lake. Gurudongmar Lake.
I always loved the mountain breeze as much as I adored the gushing waves; they felt to me as pious and serene in their truest sense. I was too young to remember much about the time we had visited Pangong-Tso lake. Except the crystal clear bluish water and the deep blue sky at the fore with an abandoned boat at one corner, my memory about the travel is only in bits and pieces. This makes me ponder over the recent things that happened in our week long trip a few weeks ago, which by the way ended with us missing our destined flight, however it’s a story for another day. Gurudongmar Lake, 17500 feet above MSL, surrounded by snow-capped mountains was the paradise we had been lucky to witness. Partly frozen, partly liquid, the lake has been known for its religious reasons, an extremely pious lake, the locals had stressed. I wouldn’t deny their claim, even a bit. It’s God’s own paradise, he seem to have taken an extra effort while making this one. Stunningly breath-taking, applicable even in its literal sense.
The other place, my personal favourite of the trip and one of the best I have ever seen in my life, was the Sea of clouds. The one I had chuckled about; we were at the top of a mighty mountain and below us flowed the ‘clouded’ sea.
It’s never wrong to dream; sometimes they come to life in the most unexpected times and in most unexpected ways. Period.
P.S. Back home. Delhi and its beloved winter smog!