From the Land of Lamas

The trip is done. The bags are unpacked. I left something behind though and that was a good chunk of my heart.

Those twelve days managed to grasp a firm hold on my little pacing heart and insisted that just like I got a token of my travels back here, I leave a token of my presence in those mountains.

I was in Spiti – a cold desert mountain valley in the Trans Himalayan region. To put it in the words of Rudyard Kipling, “A world within a world”. The name “Spiti” means “The Middle Land”, i.e. the land between Tibet and India. While I was there, I used to think ofit as Middle Earth – the magical land from the mind of Tolkien. It is arguably one of the sparsely populated parts of the country with some of the villages having a total population of 27 people.

The minute you are in the valley, the altitude ranges from 13000 feet to 16500 feet (provided you are not attempting one of those mountain treks… which then touch even 20000 feet from what I recollect). The days are warm depending on the sun and clouds while the nights are cold depending on the winds and clouds.

It was a journey filled with trekking, volunteering and community living. I was travelling with strangers and interacting with people who I am probably never going to meet again. Yet there was something about the air that made us bond at levels that only travel can bring. Also the fact that we all had to struggle to get the basics like breathing and pooping made us a lot more inhibited. I mean, what role can worldly filters play when you need the human wall in order to pee properly in the wild.

Timing was something that went really went for me while soaking up the culture and traditions of Spiti. It did not work out so well when I stepped out in the night to catch the Milky Way. The floods in Himachal Pradesh ensured almost a consistent cloud cover through the night – it cleared up only a couple of nights. But it was more than enough.

The memories, the internal reflections and external realizations are something I will always cherish. It will probably take a few more posts to cover all the experiences. Right now, I will just leave you with a few photographs. I will catch up on posts and comments over this week🙂 Thank you so much for all the love and support!!

Balari Top
Balari Top: 16500 feet
Chandrataal
Chandrataal Lake: 14100 feet
Kaza
Kaza Riverbed: 13000 feet
Kee
Atop Key Monastery: 14000 feet
Komic
Sunset at Komic: 14900 feet
Langza
Buddha Statue at Langza: 14500 feet

Roots

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My blog turned two today. I think it is almost fitting that this day should come right before one of the most significant journeys I will ever take in my life. I go on a twelve-day solo trip starting Friday – a first for me. I will be going back to the Himalayas after so many long years, getting lost in the great mountains and finding a different part of my roots that introduced me to the love of travel!

To celebrate the two years, I penned a poem to dedicate my first visit to the Konkan – said to be the roots of my family. Truly breathtaking – a virgin beauty.


They call this land my roots. 

The crimson gold of the soil,

The rich saltiness of the wind,

The dusted blue of the sea,

The blinding yellow of the sunsets.

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They call this a homecoming.

In the lilt of the meandering streams,

In the sweet tang of the cashew fruits,

In the cooling shades of mango trees,

In the solemn nods of ripe jackfruits.

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This is also a freedom from myself.

Flying out of the past, present and future.

Every breath a catharsis for the soul

For the lost sense of identity.

A nomad I was not for those moments.

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With no pretenses or shields or inhibitions,

I found my color in the rainbow…

In the shower of blues and greens and whites and reds,

In the notes and tunes of hitherto strange sounds

In the shrine of my unknown yet welcoming ancestors.


Thank you everyone for all the support, the patience and the consistent motivation to keep finding myself through the medium of words – A different way to discover my inner self and their roots.

Second Chances

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I gave a second chance to this spaghetti. Tasted too tangy at first… And then.. YUMMY!!

A few hours back, I came upon a Facebook update from a schoolmate announcing her engagement to a guy with the weirdest name. I smirked, I laughed and I joked about it with a couple of friends of mine… I admit, I was being petty and mean.

The two of us never really managed to get along in spite of studying together for five years. Maybe it was the consistent rivalry over academics or attention from men folk (she totally used to get extra flirty and giggly with the boyfriend much to my resentment) or fashion… Maybe it was a clash of completely opposite personalities that never really warmed up to each other’s quirks. But here I was, seven years older and supposedly wiser, still giggling over the ridiculous name of her fiance. It left a bad taste in my mouth; I had still not forgiven her for all those taunts and paltry arguments.

A part of me still gives people the leeway of only one strike. Even if we patch up, there is a part of me that smarts unconsciously. It is difficult to give them a second chance – to forgive AND forget and simply move on. A little hypocritical as I am surprisingly lenient about forgiving myself for my misdeeds! I have handed myself not just a second chance but probably a billion ones with chocolate ice-cream!

I thought that I had finally learned to put my faith on the line even though it has been broken multiple due to circumstances often not in anyone’s control and well… Look at the smug feeling that gleefully roared when I saw she landed up with someone with such an absurd name while I ensnared a goldmine. Oh Seeeet!!!

I am still trying to get around sending her a private congratulatory message and let that awful rivalry behind me for once and for all. As I write this, I think of all other small things that hurt me (which I barely remember) and the perpetrators (whom I recollect to the last pore on their face). It is not a good feeling to hold on to such memories.

I am slowly starting to forgive those people mentally even if they are not really aware of it – chances are they don’t care either. Good news is, I established firm contact with one of them a year back and now she is one of my closest friends!

So let me help myself to a glass of wine. And then a second one. And send out a hearty congratulations message to her while maintaining a perfectly straight face as I type… “Wish you and ABC all the happiness in the world”

Sorry. I still couldn’t help but break into a laugh. God! His parents hate him I think😀😀

Sorry. Straight face.

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Brought to you by the good Linda Hill hosting the SOCS with the prompt “Second

Stage Fright

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If only I had walked back on that stage… 

I used to keep questioning myself for a long time on the above “If” of my life and I have no answers. This used to make an ugly entrance in my thoughts every time I was up for a presentation or public speaking (ironically supposed to my significant strength).

I was 20 and was in the final round of extempore. I was really confident as I had racked up quite a few winning certificates in the past couple of years. I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was the saying “Pride comes before the fall” coming to life? I got the topic and I started off really well! And Bang! Before I know it, I have come to a pregnant pause. I am looking at those hundreds of people and I forget everything. I fumble. I grasp. And I walk-off. I went into a corner backstage and had this minor panic attack. What had just happened? My friends and professors were gobsmacked! Later, the judges offered a second chance and without knowing or understanding why, I refused.

And I never discussed those seconds with anyone. I am not sure if my parents were even aware of it.

The aftermath was, I stayed clear of the stage for almost a year. In my final semester, my professors convinced me to try one more time for a smaller event. It was a different me on the stage. Quiet and earnest – it did end up giving me a second place and the much-needed confidence boost.

But every time I faced an audience, the inside me was a deer caught in headlights. I tighten ed up with that awful swallowing feeling. I had to work hard to mute the scared voice and hit straight, for the sake of my team members and grades. My two years in university ensured I had enough time to contain the panic germ into a small corner. And three years into the corporate I am back in my element, albeit quiet and restrained.

I was attending a stand-up comic show with the line-up being a mix of first-timers and upcoming comedians. Through the two hour show, there were some brilliant, some cringe-worthy and some truly awful jokes shared and bantered around. While some made our tummies ache, some did not even deserve the customary crack on the smile. But being so close to the stage, I saw all the standard signs. The sweat on the brow, the flickering of eyes, the slight tremble of the fingers.

For a moment, I was 20 again when I had depended on the support from my friends and professors in the audience to attempt the hard climb back up to the stage and thrive. Which is why every comedian yesterday got a huge round of applause from us – at times, it is not the content that carries you to the next level but just the encouraging audience.

And it also brought back my nagging question to which I STILL have no answer. What if I had taken the second chance?

What would have happened then?


Linda has come up with a thoughtful prompt of “if/then” on her Stream of Consciousness Saturday!

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Not Dead

I am alive and breathing and yawning. I have been AWOL for the last month – In fact not even opened WordPress for exactly two weeks.

It was not exactly planned, but I think the Inside me was busy being an oyster. The Outside me on the other hand was a social butterfly. I went home for almost a week and didn’t even carry my laptop. I traveled and visited a few friends after more than a year and had a most amazing time with them. All the while, I was technologically cut off except for the bare essentials. I did some running, I did a lot of baking (cookies and cakes and cheesecakes), I went bird-watching, I did tons of shopping for upcoming events.

All this while, my inside was a blank slate. It was not taking anything in. It was not throwing anything out. There were points where I experienced the concept of “Nothing”. I truly cleared my mind and I think it happened because I did not even try to do it. It was finally exhausted of the myriad maze of thoughts and anticipations and planning. Every day of the next few months is jam packed with a TO-DO list. I have deadlines piling over at work and it has been swamping about 50 hours a week. I also somehow managed to twist my ankle again randomly so I am reduced to hobbling.

Weirdly, I got a lot of inspiration to think and my drafts are full of scribbles. But I just have the sugar and the flour. I am still missing the rising and binding agents to put it together. And I am not able to look for it to find it. My mind just shuts off every time I take a pen to a paper. It rebels and I don’t know why. The overflow of thoughts that followed the drought refuse to burst out – instead they are just eating each other up. I have taken to inhaling books and

I am finally happy I sorted out enough to write this post! I have been unfair to many people whose work I adore but now have not even been able to pop up silently. Slowly I am getting back into the groove before I go on another break in three weeks – a break I have been planning for almost a year now but finally made it happen in the last few months.

Don’t give up yet. I have oatmeal mocha cookies as a bribe🙂