“I stand upon a wind-swept ridge at night with the stars bright above and I am no longer alone but I waver and merge with all the shadows that surround me. I am a part of the whole and am content.” – Nanda Devi
After the Annapurna Base Camp trek, I decided no more trekking in the year 2014. Hence I was not preparing for any such high altitude trekking trip and I was living my normal city life. I was busy buying dresses, thinking about gaining or acquiring earthly possessions.
But the fact is once you have started enjoying yourself being in solitude and especially in the deep Himalayan region it’s hard not to accept the call of mountains. Especially when you are a different breed, and you no longer feel attracted towards the dazzling party life and you can simply turn your back towards modern internet obsessed life. You know, what I mean. Yes! This is the perfect sense of getting lost or escape from everything.
Well. I took the pride of escaping from everything and freed myself yet again in Himalayan region. It was such a beautiful experience to leave behind everything and headed for Himalayas.
“Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes.” Charles Dickens.
So I flew back to Kathmandu.
It was a beautiful sunny warm day in Kathmandu. When I landed at Tribhuvan International airport, I felt a positive vibes prevailing everywhere. The beautiful mountain country Nepal welcomed us with its lovely weather.
It was a bright sunny afternoon when we reached our hotel Marsiyandi Mandela and there I met my roommate. Wow! Such a lovely charming girl she is. After the first introductory chit chat and pleasing myself with a fresh cup of hot ginger lemon tea I headed for the colourful vibrant Thamel road.
This time I already made my mind that I will buy some good books from Pokhara book store but on the very first day I went to Thamel Pilgrimage book store. Oh my gosh!! Such huge collections of books. The book I wanted to buy since so long all were just in front of my eyes. I checked all the collections and I told the shop owner that coming back from the trekking I will come back to his book shop and will buy few books. I gave my list to him and shared my Nepali numbers so that if he get some newer interesting collections he would let me know. After the wonderful conversations I had with the bookshop owner, I bought some essential trekking gears from the nearby local adventure gear shop.
Once done, we all met at the restaurant Meetho at the street corner for our dinner. Day ends with sumptuous dishes.
Next day morning I woke up early took my shower and stood in front of the mirror watching myself. I then asked myself that what I was doing far from my city, my country and what the purpose of my visit to Himalayas. I looked at myself deeply, a woman with a whole in her heart. That was me. That was why I was here in front of a hotel’s mirror in Kathmandu. That was why I set myself free simply to find my true self.
Morning 7 am we started for Pokhara. All our sherpa friends – Shyam, Bhakta & Kancha already joined us. Kathmandu was offering us a beautiful sunny winter morning with blue clear sky and sun bathed snow capped mountains at its horizon. Inside the bus we were silent and deeply absorbed in our own thoughts. I can’t remember exactly what I was thinking but I can remember that this time I had decided to release all my pains that I had carried so long in my heart either in-front of mountains or inside woods or on top of some hills. I wanted to free myself from everything. Soon after we left Kathmandu valley and entered the deep down terai and the entire terai was completely blanketed under thick fog. Entire valley which we had crossed was dull & gloomy. We silently crossed almost 80% of the path till we reached a place Malekhu for our tea break and the store was Susmita store. We all were so happy to see a tea shop in Nepal with my name. Needless to say I posed in-front of that store to make the moment memorable and to capture our happiness.
After the small tea break we continued our journey to Pokhara and just approximately before two hours of reaching Pokhara little patches of blue sky started visible to us. Through the gaps of the clouds that gently blanketed the valley we could see the glimpses of the Annapurna mountain ranges. The moment we felt the warm sunlight we almost yelled with joy with a victorious mood. I gave a theoretical lecture about – ‘Serotonin’ which believed to have an association with depression. I also explained my trek mates that better exposure to sunlights helps boost serotonin level, hence diminishing the dullness of mind. So more sunlight means we will be in cheerful mood and we will enjoy our trip. We reached Pokhara sometime around 1.30 PM. We had our lunch and headed to stroll around the lakeside of Fewa lake. By the way, I forgot to mention that I was extra happy to see my roommate is also not so keen to have her shower. So we decided, it’s not a bad idea to keep our shower programme stalled for a week or so. Yahooo! Here we go! All set and done!
We roamed around the beautiful Fewa Lake. I was been to Pokhara two times before but I never went to the damp side. This was my first visit to the lake and what I saw was that the entire sky overhead was like a endless canvas and some live paintings which were drawn and redrawn several times with magnificent strokes by the supreme power with his own choices of colors. With darkness started falling we came back to our lodge Gurkha Heaven and started preparing for trekking expedition.
Next day we had been dropped to Kande by our micro-van. I was been to this trail once before and the trail was known to me. During this time I was just memorizing my previous trip and was checking the views which we were unable to see last time because of dense cloud. We heard that Austrian camp is a nice place for a day hike, holidaying and for spending leisure time with spectacular views. This time I was lucky to experience this. We spent a great time here and made the every moments memorable. See the pic and be jealous
That day we decided to halt at Tolka for night. We reached Tolka quite early sometime around 3 PM. At Tolka it was not that cold and the day was bright sunny and pleasantly warm. We spend the rest of the days having fun and taking photographs of each other. This time I was lucky and I got the opportunity to try the local attire. I wore a traditional Gurung dress and I must say I was looking nice as I had seen that in the eyes of everyone. Specially local Nepali guys had appreciated me a lot after seeing me in the local attire. Funnily one of them also asked me whether I am married or not. The day went extraordinarily great!
Our next day journey was a small one but a hard one. Because from Landruk to Ghandruk it was a steep climb. I was been to this route on 2012 Annapurna Foothills trek. This time it was to judge my improvement level in terms of trekking or dealing with Himalayan regions. I proudly can declare that yes I have improved a lot. I didn’t faced that much of problem climbing up to Ghandruk village. We were much before the scheduled time, hence we spend the entire afternoon gossiping, loitering here and there. This time at Ghandruk, I felt slightly sick, not sure for what reason. But night I was feeling extremely cold and I had lost my appetite.
Journey from Ghandruk to Tadapani was neither a long day nor it was a hard climb. We reached Tadapani at ease and well before our expected time. Though it was very cold at Tadapani but because of bright sun lights the entire environment was very pleasant and comfortable. I had my lunch with thick chicken soup and bread. It was delicious.
Once I had my lunch I started exploring the lodge area. Suddenly I found few red and yellow color birds are moving here and there. I got excited, I took my camera and went down inside the woods. It was semi dark inside the woods yet it was good enough to spot the birds. The time was perfect because birds were about to settle for the day. Not much time was spent suddenly I found one guy standing close to me and he was indicating towards a particular tree branch. Unable to understand anything and ignoring him I moved little forward and he stopped me from taking single step further. I got scared. Then he came further close to me hold my hand and whispered in my ears that there is an Asian Barred Owlet sitting in the tree branch and the bird is watching us. Hence, he ordered me – “don’t move, it will fly…” and he hold my hand tightly. Following his eyes I spotted the bird.
I whispered – “Oh! My Goshh! It’s so beautiful’
The guy whispered back in my ears – “yes, it is. It is completely camouflaged in the tree branch and it is watching our movement. That’s why I stopped you. Now you can take out your camera slowly and probably you may like to take one or two snaps of it. It will not fly anywhere as long as we two are here.”
I smiled and whispered back as if obeying his order and said okayy…
I took five/six shots and all were beautiful. He checked the photos in my camera and checked every details of the bird, raised his face, looked deep into my eyes, paused for a moment, gave a lovely shining smile and said – “Perfecto!”
Oh! Man! What a lovely smile you have! I am in love with you!! what else could be my feelings right that moment.
Soon after few other trekkers and sherpa guys spotted us and they came down with curiosity but the bird left us by then. Little after that everybody left including that guy. I left alone inside the woods. Little known to me about him, I continued searching for birds and I spotted few more beautiful birds. My heart was entirely filled up with satisfactions. I know it took years time for me to come to Himalayas and to spot one or two such rare species. I felt I was absolutely lucky. Yet again I felt I was never been so close to nature. Everytime I visit Himalayas, every time I walked down inside the woods it is always new and fresh to me. I sat down and kept on watching birds, tried to listen the whispering voices of woods.
Solitude is precious!
Then suddenly, a soft touch on my shoulder followed by a soft voice saying – ‘hey!! hello!! You still here!
I looked up. That guy with his lovely smile. He sat beside me and opened a old torned bird book.
I laughed noticing that he was a bird watcher and I met the right person at the right place.
Oh! Lord! How lovely you are and your plans are!!
I asked him to wait for a while. I ran for my lodge, climbed up the wooden ladder with lightspeed, opened the lock, opened my rucksack and pulled my bird book (Birds of Nepal) and a pen. I took long breath and with equal speed I went back to the woods. When I reached, it was very comforting to see him waiting and leafing through his bird book. I sat closely beside him and I tried to tell him to keep notes on my book. But I couldn’t utter a single word because I was breathless. At high altitude, specially in Himalayan region slightest running may left you breathless.
He asked me to sit and relax. He took my book and noted down the time, location and date in the respective bird photos whichever I had seen that day. I kept on looking at him. He was fluent in English, Nepali, French and in Italian. He is a handsome guy. Who is he? Where from he is? He had bright sun burnt copper complexion, unshaved brown beard with brown untidy hair which was adding that woo factor to his careless beauty. I was feeling great sitting beside him and watching him leafing through my bird book.
But you know every good story has it’s own end. Similarly, before a love story was written, I heard the voice of our sherpa sirdar.
He was coming towards us yelling my name and almost scolding me saying that, it’s dark and you shouldn’t be outside by now. Let’s go back to the lodge and take rest in the warm room.
The guy looked at me and smiled again and said very softly – “He is correct. You shouldn’t be outside now. You may catch cold. Go back and take rest. Long journey is still ahead of us”
Oh! Boy!! You took my heart away!!
We shook hands and departed. I went back to the lodge almost in a trans situation. Moment, I entered the dining room and heard the voices of many other people I came back to reality. Yet again, I felt that I made a mistake by not asking the guy his name and nothing about him.
With a faint hope of meeting him again in the morning, I kept myself silent.
“How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!” – John Muir
Day 6 early morning at Tadapani. I got up early. Because, I knew that the vast exposed eastern horizon would offer us a magnificent sunrise view. My expectation was more than 100% correct.
As night progressed towards its end, prevailing darkness surrounding the mountains started to fade and I witnessed that how first light of the day were piercing their way through. The entire skyline was absolutely clear and spotless and the color of the sky before daybreak was stunning.
… when the first light appeared the sky turns pinkish blue and slowly it becomes orange red and finally when we saw the golden ball coming out from the eastern horizon the entire sky illuminated with bright golden hues.
It was a lateral stripe of vermilion covering the entire mountain ridge in the eastern horizon. Gentle cold breeze blowed touching my cheeks caresing my hairs softly and leaving my heart filled with peace and joy.
… and I saw the beautiful sun rising up from the horizon.
We were privileged to see such beautiful sunrise.
While watching sunrise, I kept on watching all the trekkers and I was ready with my card in my pocket that I intended to give him for our future connection.
But, my beloved reader, you know what!! I guess God has some other plans for me. I silently bid adieu to my newly lost love, smiled and joined back my teammates and headed for Ghorepani.
We reached an exposed hill from the top of which the entire 360 range of horizon was visible. Flapping sounds of the prayer flags was creating a kind of unheard music and it was nice to the ears.
I was just captivated by the beauty and the masculinity of Mt. Dhaulagiri. It seemed to me that a sculpted figure beautiful man looked at me and winked at me with a smile and asked me to stayed back with him. I felt that sometimes we need to sit and simply watch the mountains. So did I.
If Mt. Dhaulagiri had eyes, it would have been pleased to see me thoroughly swamped with its beauty and standing in admiration.
When I entered the lodge I found all the sherpa guys from different other trekking groups were sitting in the dinning room, playing cards, some of them were singing. The entire environment was very comforting and cozy. I had a crazy thought and I just wanted sit in-between all these non-bathed sherpa guys. So I made my place and sit besides Bhakta. There were few other European trekkers. We all made a lovely homey environment. We laughed, we played cards and there were no boundaries and barriers. Wow! what a wonderful time it was. Everybody felt like my family member.
… and that’s the best part of travelling. World seems small and everyone seems your family members.
Day 7Journey from Ghorepani to Hille. It was morning 5.30 am. Outside was pitch dark and roaring wind was blowing full force. Rattling sounds of window panes were proving my presence in the high Himalayan region. I was still cocooned inside my sleeping bag and was happy with the warmth that I had created with my own body temperature. Suddenly, I heard someone calling me and knocking at the door. The entire dreamy situation vanished within a moment. I came out from my sleeping bag and opened the door. It was Bhakta with his lovely smiling face. He was all ready and set to take me to Poonhill. Oh! My Boy! You are so sincere. I couldn’t stop smiling looking at his face.
I asked him – is that very cold outside?
Bhakta – yes. It is.
I asked him again – is that very necessary to go to Poonhill
Bhakta – it’s up to you Susmita.
I said – Okay. My dear. But I want to sleep now and you too go back and sleep.
He smiled and returned to his place.
Once he left, for a fraction of moment I realised that probably in my lifetime I will never ever come back to this place and probably I am loosing my opportunity to see the beautiful sunrise from Poonhill forever. Oh! I felt the ultimate pain.
But then again, a strange feeling of satisfaction prevailed my mind. Till date I am not sure what was that. It was something like accepting my failure with pride. Well, what is that? ‘Accepting failure with pride?’
Am I trying to justify my decision? No, not really. I felt that moment, that my heart was fully satisfied and I no longer need to chase any goal. I was done. I have a story to tell. I met new interesting people, I had seen never seen colorful Himalayan birds. I had also enjoyed spectacular sunrise at Tadapani. What else I would require to fulfill my heart. This time, don’t know how but I was even managed to release my pain that I was carrying deep inside my heart for so long. I felt so relaxed and free. My past no longer able to touch my present.
Soon after we headed for the day long journey towards Hille. Series of photos that I took during our journey will tell you all that how tiring yet a happy journey it was.
Day 8 It was the last day of our trekking. It was a bright sunny cheerful day to do nature walk. It was an easy flat trail beside the river modi khola. We started sometime around 7 AM. We all wanted to reach Pokhara at the earliest, so that we can take hot shower and can go for our shopping.
Morning time when street dogs were still curled into the street corners and not even shown single bit of interests to the outerworld and village women was getting ready for their household work we said goodbye to our host and move ahead. The village at Hille was a village from my childhood story book. It was directly from my fairytales book. A tiny little village with very few population situated at bank of river Modi Khola and and at the foothills of lower Himalayan region. Morning sky was painted with perfect blue. Green valley was softly covered with the glittering morning dew. Birds flying high, butterflies in the sky made our day a perfectly happy day.
On our way back to Nayapul, I spotted several birds which I had never seen before. Among which Crested Kingfisher was my best catch from this trip. Apart from these I had spotted Woodpecker, Red Billed Blue Magpie. It was an amazing experience.
Day 9 Time to say goodbye to mountains and my new friends. After having amazing breakfast at German Bakery we headed for Pokhara airport. We had enough time after security check-in. So we went up in the rooftop of the small airport. The day was bright, sunny and pleasantly warm. One last time before departing we had great fun there. Once we reached Kathmandu, it was time to say goodbye to two of our other trekmates and at the last moment we all decided that we are gonna make another trek together.
Day 10 Now it was time to go back home. As I left everything behind simply to get the pleasure of escaping. Similarly I have promises to keep. I have work that were undone. I am glad that I have made my journey to Himalayas several times and I hope that I will be able to continue with this passion throughout my life. Here are few pics of Himalayas taken from the flight.
When I am finishing writing this experience, I am not sure whether I will be able to go back to mountains again or not. But of course I want to travel through the entire Himalayan region in my life and I will wait for mountains to call me back.