“The good shine from afar
Like the snowy Himalayas.
The bad don’t appear,
Even when near,
Like arrows shot into the night.”
– Siddharta Gautama
The Himalayan region has inspired many a man for millennia, including the illustrious Buddha. It was in a similar vein that 4 idiots, yearning for truth, purpose and salvation, headed there…
Four young, eager, strapping products of Rajasthan, reached Ladakh in early July 2010, determined to explore the lofty peaks nestling the magnificent Markha Valley. Bubbling with enthusiasm and the vigour of youth, they ignored the obvious omens, repeatedly trying to warn them of the impending perils. In the final run up to their trip, political tension gripped Jammu and Kashmir. Ominous shadows loomed. Their soaring spirits were subdued, but their determination refused to budge. Fortunately for them, the fields of friction were hundreds of kilometres away from the valley- all iz well, thus far, they thought. But then they missed their flight to Leh, Ladakh’s metropolis. Despite the imminent parental frenzy, they refused to give up hope. Their bequeathed Marwari bartering genes, found them on the following flight for a mere Rupees 500 per head.
The flight was both literally and lyrically, a transcendental experience. They soared over the heart of the Himalayas and were awed by the sheer magnitude of the arduous mountain terrain. The ethereal sights left them utterly overwhelmed; the eloquence of Cambridge Medic Mukund Kanoria instantly diagnosed, “This place is sick.”
They acclimatised in Leh for only two days, a fact which they later learned to regret. A range of activities including visits to local Buddhist Monasteries; networking with American Monks and extensive self-enquiry attuned them with the profound sanctity of the Himalayas. Unfortunately their sensual indulgence in Ladakhi cuisine marred their Spiritual prospects!
On the infamous third day, their trek commenced. Their guide, a small, wiry, effortlessly cool Ladakhi man with the attitude of a Ray Ban model, accompanied them.
Their trek was short-lived. They soon succumbed to the merciless heights. Never had they thought that air could betray. They were in the clutches of altitude sickness. Reeling heads and regurgitating insides had to make a decision as time was of crucial importance. Their determination wavered, their confidence plummeted but their intellect still made sense and they abided by it. With heavy hearts, they unanimously agreed that descend they must. Back in Leh they reminisced and recuperated. They visited the world-renowned Hemis Monastery. After climbing Hemis Hill they meditated atop the cove of the legendary Dorje, an enlightened monk said to have spent years in meditation.
Over the centuries, many a poet has derived inspiration, empowerment and emancipation from this Shangri La. And here is Dhrupad Karwa’s attempt at the same:
From the capital Delhi this saga takes flight,
We head to the airport at first light,
At once the omens point their fingers of fate,
Towards a direction, foreign till late,
But let’s not dwell on retrospections,
Here are the chronicles, the uncensored collections.
Kingfisher’s efficiency caved,
Hence the flight we missed, but we were saved,
For Rupees 500 per head ensured
The next morning flight; we returned inured.
We reached Ladakh, mouths ajar,
Inimitable beauty we had seen thus far,
The magnitude of the Himalayan range,
Left us beset, beguiled, strange,
Sentient of this ultimate scene,
We probed ruminations less supreme:
Whammy-Bars and misspelled words,
Aviators and local birds,
Bollywood prose and political schisms.
All in all two days of this,
Tibetan splendour; Momo-bliss,
But now it was time to trek,
Calcutta sensed imminent heck,
Nevertheless we began the ascent,
Quickly, Strongly but we couldn’t prevent
The Northerner’s headaches and chunder,
Calcutta, exhausted couldn’t help but wonder
Whether he was in over his head,
He missed the comforts of Bengal, he said,
Needless to say, we carried on,
But even our guide, Leh’s ‘Don Juan’,
Sensed our fears,
Of altitude sickness and letting down peers.
The Londoners lasted till that last meal,
Till then, some blisters but nothing of real
Concern or stress,
But that fateful night at thousands of feet,
We regurgitated and could not compete
With the thinning air and altitude
Headaches here, dizziness there,
The moonscape laughed, though fully aware.
Next morning we chose to desist and cease,
For to continue on would breach the peace
In both camp, body and mind,
Our footprints were to rewind
Back down the rocky mountain way,
To the place we started, the city of Leh.
En route we photographed many a scene,
To later revel in nostalgic dream
Of Monasteries and Buddhist groves,
Himalayan dawns and pious coves.
The tale’s complete,
This was but a tribute