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 Lake: 14100 feet
Kaza Riverbed: 13000 feet
Atop Key Monastery: 14000 feet
Sunset at Komic: 14900 feet
Buddha Statue at Langza: 14500 feet

Invisible Vision(s)

A Spark like No Other | Image: Prateek Gupta
A Spark like No Other | Image: Prateek Gupta

Ever experienced that moment of clarity – that absolute moment of certainty? That this is it! You were born for this, you were meant for this, you’ve met your purpose in life! It is that one moment when everything in the world aligns meaningfully and you see this gorgeous play of stars taking you back and forth in time. Yet, the heightened awareness of the present is overwhelming!

Where am I coming from? What nonsense did I just spout? Well, this is with reference to that sense of knowing – that absolute conviction sans logic or reasoning. It is a hit that knocks your breath right out of you.

I still am not making much sense so let me state examples – and purely my own and completely unedited. Because this is important!

I experienced two such moments of complete lucidity. The first was when I went cliff-jumping a few years back. I was looking forward to the adrenaline rush, the out-of-body experience and the high-on-life feeling (okay – there was also a little bit of nervousness!)

But the moment my foot left the edge, the micro moments that followed were a stark contrast. No rush. No race. Just an irresistible silent calm inside me. I was totally in control of my body and tuned in to the wind rushing through my hair. It was beyond imagination, beyond any “rush” I had felt. It was almost like watching my life in third person – except I was at both places at once. It felt like for that tiny frame of time, I had traveled beyond life; unknowingly ventured onto a forbidden path meant for the higher spiritual realms. I knew the answers or rather the assurance of my life.

And then the ice-cold water enveloped me in a warm embrace after which a lot of spluttering happened.

The other time was not so profound; nevertheless a moment when every single line of destiny united to present me that one fact. I was astounded as I tearfully glanced at the purple lamp I had received as a surprise gift. There were tremors racing through my body at that unexpectedly intimate moment, all roaring out an answer. If only I had the courage to look into his eyes then… Apparently the unknown question was there.

I never found any reasoning behind such experiences. Some say it is spiritual; some say it is your imagination; while some brush it off as plain adrenaline rush. I don’t know. It can happen as you drive or when you take a dump; in the throes of an intense orgasm or while cramped over an excel sheet. Or like me, through a backward adrenaline rush or by sniffing someone.

The crash that happened later was bad! It felt like sinking into the deepest and coldest trench. The withdrawal symptoms hit hard. Life lost all color for a while. Yet, it was worth it – this glorious form of transcendence! Those illuminating answers needed no logic or derivation. They were just there – timeless.

I am sorry if this didn’t make any sense. Blame Linda and her prompt to use “VIS” in this order which made me come up with the thought of vision – those two visions that thoroughly unsettled and enraptured me. More Stream of Un-Consciousness anyone? 🙂

Have you ever had such moments of lucidity? Maybe when you saw your new home or went skinny dipping or said the words “I do”!  Tell tell!!