Ladakh is not just beautiful, it’s mystical, divine!
After being in the mountains of Ladakh, it makes one wonder how insignificant one’s existence is. But human existence has always been insignificant in comparison to the extravagance of Nature. Still, man strives on, not giving up, daring to go to places he has not ventured before, wanting to know the unknown and curious to explore Nature and its ways, however dangerous they may be.
That being said, Ladakh makes you realize how trivial you can be sometimes. Marriages, divorces, children, upheavals, political crises, etc are but petty issues. It dawned on me that I would rather want to constantly strive to achieve the highest level of excellence, to love in the most passionate and intense manner, to travel to places rarely ventured to and to know the world with the woman of my dreams than settle in one place and lead a regular, routine and mundane life. The magnanimous scale of things makes you wonder where you fit into this beautiful, although much complicated, puzzle of Nature if at all you do. It makes you question your successes, whether they are actually as big and important or sometimes even as relevant in the larger scheme of things as you think of them to be. It makes you look at failures as an opportunity to start something new, afresh.
I want to venture places which develop me as a person and enhance my views about love, life, and the cosmos. I don’t just want to travel, I want to experience, I want to experience Nature’s and Man’s marvels, I want to experience the varied sensations, the overwhelming feelings that you have when you get to know different kinds of people. But if you know me well enough, you’ll know that I am not a person who likes to be alone. I want a companion with me to share those feelings with and experience these things together. It would be an added bonus if such a person was someone that I love deeply. That brings me to the company I had on this journey.
Travelling makes you open your mind and that helps you settle your priorities. Allow me to share some thoughts that came to my mind at specific moments during the journey.
The day after we reached Leh, we left for Nubra and returned the following day. You have to cross the Khardung La on the way from Leh to Nubra and back. So we had cycling scheduled on the way from Nubra to Leh starting from Khardung La (@5600 Metres) up to Leh (@3500 Metres). The cycle ride was one hell of an experience.
By then I had been in the region for a good four days and was amazed by Nature around having never seen such landscapes before but it was while coming down from the mountain, that I truly experienced the size of the Himalaya of Ladakh. It was only because being on the cycle I was so close to the landscapes than looking at them through a car window that I realized this. I have been in mountains before and also in the Himalaya even for a trek in Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh. However, what you see in Ladakh just bewilders you. It is nothing like the rest of the Range. The thing I learnt here was ‘You really don’t realize it unless you actually go through it’. I related it to the people around me and how I judge them. Once you realize this, it makes you think more about others than yourself. It came to me that for an outsider, a particular situation or event will never be the same as for the person who is actually going through it. Once you are aware of this, you don’t tend to judge people based on their external qualities. I was thinking about this for quite some time even after I completed the distance and reached our guesthouse. I knew this before too, it’s not as if this was something completely new. But it’s like the difference between theory and practical. Here I actually experienced it rather than just merely observing it or reading about it.
Rafting was the most adrenaline pumping experience I had during those 12 days. The water was 5° C and I was sitting right at the front. On both sides there were mountains as tall as 100-floor buildings and the river really got rapid at many times. We were crashing into these 7-8 feet waves of icy cold water not knowing when anyone may just fall off in the river. This is where this sudden thought sprung up. I used to think of this before too, but what I reflected upon this time was really deep.
Happiness is a very small word and so is bliss while ecstasy is too shallow. I don’t know if the English language has a word to portray what I feel and what I want to describe. You know what I miss the most about you? The way we slept together. I’m not talking about sex. I mean of course I will miss that, it was soul enriching. But here I am talking about just the way we purely slept together, in the literal sense of the word. The intimacy, with us being so close together without so much as a piece of cloth in between, was something beyond lust or even love. The way we hugged each other, the way I kissed your forehead, the way you caressed my back, my head and your hand behind my neck, the way I held you by your waist, the way you rested your head on my chest, I felt as if the world was mine. That moment was pure love. That moment was one hundred percent trust. That moment was my complete surrender to you, emotionally, physically and mentally. The closeness, the oneness amongst us was so unique. It was like two bodies bound together with one soul. To have experienced that was like a dream come true. Not many people have persons like that to have that level of intimacy with. I, for one, had never experienced that passion before. I always wished that moment never ended.
You don’t realize the enormity of Tso Pangong unless you take the Inner Line Permit Route from Tso Pangong to Tso Moriri. This route takes you all along the Indian shore of the lake right up to the Chinese border. The lake is pretty massive, and even more massive are the huge mountains in the background. I always thought of this during the entire tour, but this was the time where Jigmet had put on Ladakhi music (which really put your mind in another place) in the car and the beautiful drive along Tso Pangong made me think really hard and deep about it.
I realized in Ladakh is how humble Nature is. That very humility of Nature humbled me the most! The Himalaya is home to some of the most massive natural formations on Earth. The mountains are just humongous to say the least, the rivers so wide and so long, the snow so white that it actually reflects the moonlight at night, the Himalaya is pure extreme and some places are actually the most hostile conditions to life on Earth. It has the power to wipe off a village, town or city in a matter of minutes like it never existed in the first place. Despite all this, Nature is just so calm that it actually feels like it greets you with a pleasant namaste. Man, on the other hand, man is so puny, so fragile and yet he thinks that there is nothing else better than him and yet he is so arrogant and obnoxious. That taught me how important it is to be humble. It made me realize that it is not what people think of you but what you actually are that matters. If you have substance, people will take notice without you even asking them to. It takes a second for you to be angry at something or someone, but the effort it takes to get rid of that anger and start focusing on the thing at hand is not worth all the pain that you and the person you are angry on go through. I wondered many times whether Nature ever gets angry on Man. Man pollutes nature so much and in so many ways and still Nature always welcomes Man in the most awesome way possible. Ladakh taught me that it may not always be possible to avoid anger, but it’s always possible to manage it in an efficient manner, it’s always possible that you don’t hurt your people with your anger.
On the last day when we were on our way to Chandigarh Airport, I was reflecting on the tour I had for the last 12 days. I felt like catching the next flight back to Leh and not returning to Mumbai again. Then something happened on the flight back to Mumbai that made me think otherwise.
While coming back home, our flight was hovering over Mumbai for a while for ATC clearance. Due to the monsoons, it was very cloudy and I couldn’t see any land below, just clouds. I was not very interested in watching Mumbai below being a bit sad that such a life-changing Ladakh experience had just ended. Just then, there came a gap between the clouds. And I saw a little spot of buildings and green below all drenched and wet. I suddenly started smiling like a little child when it meets his mother after a long time. I couldn’t control my happiness when I saw Mumbai after such a while. Mumbai just showed me that I actually missed her subconsciously! No matter what happens, no matter where I go, no matter how much ever I roam around, my heart will always be indebted to my beautiful Mumbai. I will always be as happy as a little child when I see her after a long time. I realized her how much I missed Mumbai after what I saw from the return flight. And when the captain said ‘Welcome to Mumbai’ my heart was filled with sudden pride! I am a Mumbai lad after all; I can’t live without my Mumbai for long.
Travel makes one modest; you see what a tiny place you occupy in this world.
– Gustave Flaubert