We were in Kibber..
We looked at the landscape. The village was a ‘must visit ‘on travellers list because at one point of time, this was the highest altitude village that was accessible by road.
Moving away from the cafés, the travellers/backpackers, we looked at patches of green and decided to walk towards it. Crossing hamlets, the village centre,we cut across yellow green fields blooming with wild flowers.
Even though there were visitors, there were no major signs of commercialism, just reaching Kibber was an arduous journey for most. We avoided walking on the cultivated lands and made our way on a narrow trail with the irrigated water gushing and flowing along our side.
Bhim pointed out to a space, a small hillock and said let’s sit there. We were away from the hamlets, in midst of the fields surrounded by the magnificent terrain. The weather was having it’s own rhythm, from cloudy to sunny to a little bit drizzly, it was enchanting.
We relaxed making sure we were not sitting on any saplings. Summer here was just 3 months and the people worked really hard. Sowing, cultivating and growing food as much as they could to get ready for the winter. In the lure of taking ‘ perfect pictures’ most travellers just treaded on fields and destroyed saplings not at all respecting the land.
I remember lying down with my head up to the mountains and skies in silence. Bhim too relaxed back getting into his own world. What else could one do except be silent, still and experience every second of being there.
The pretty hamlets, the vista of the mountains, the yellow green fields was music to our ears.I even dozed off. Sleep doesn’t require a luxurious bed, when the heart and mind is free and empty of all thoughts it just happens.
After an hour, Bhim said let’s go? We slowly made our walk back. Instead of going back to the village, we went towards the Stupa. There was a motor route leading to the Stupa. By the time we reached there, most of the vehicles/bikes had left, we weren’t ready to hear any human noise or conversations.
Do we hitchhike again or do we walk back? Bhim suggested we have something first at the cafe right next to the Stupa. We had delicious cold coffee while Bhim had a sandwich. We asked the cafe guy, does this route go to Key? Yes he said. All the way down to Key! We looked at each other and decided to walk back. It was a good 8-9 kms but we didn’t feel tired, instead a fresh surge of energy set in, so walking it would be.
And what a walk it was! We were walking,striding, dancing as we moved and grooved to The Doors, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Mark Knopfler. We sang aloud, Here comes the Sun, Hey Jude, Country roads, Let it be, Roadhouse Blues, Afreen Afreen, Loud! 😁
We were full of laughter as we expanded with our arms wide open grooving, moving zig zag and shaking a leg. We were happy and blissed out! How often do we ever get a chance to be ourselves? To not worry about how we talk, how we move, how we truly want to express ourselves..
In the mountains, we are totally uninhibited, free with no judgement. I could feel our eyes lit with excitement. What a landscape to be in, to enjoy every moment unhindered. We hugged, laughed and danced with Bhim saying This is IT! This is IT! I remember him taking a video of me dancing, we felt so free and alive.
As we were straddling along, a local woman was resting up on the side, we greeted her with Juley, she smiled and asked if we were walking all the way to Key, when we said Yes, she pointed out to the small trails cutting through the mountain, locals used it to cut short the distance instead of the long winding routes. Thanking her we made our way to that trail, it was fun, it was thrilling and in no time we cut a good distance. We looked back and waved at the kind lady, she waved back.
Once we started nearing Key we realised how much we had walked in the morning before taking a ride! It was easily 9 km. With the walks not including the hitchhikes we must have covered around 16-17 kms, and in the mountains that’s a lot.
We were nearing the gateway entrance to Key monastery, just a km away so we sat down at the edge, taking care not to be too close on the road and taking in the scenery in front of us. It was a life long love affair to us – The Himalayas..
I don’t have words to express what it does being in midst of them. Silence, emptiness, nothingness, an almost Nirvana state. Bhim played songs by Indian Ocean and then one of our most favourite songs – Khamaj by Furzon. Sitting there, the songs, the mountains, all your emotions are laid out bare. There is no escape, for how can you escape yourself?
I felt this sudden surge of emotions, of missing our dear friend Pankaj. This man, the mountains and our friendship and tears came rolling. I said to Bhim, Shit dude, I miss Pankaj and Bhim held hands with a smile as we looked beyond.. Some relationships need not be defined. It’s just there.
Slowly we came out of our reverie and made our way up to the monastery. What a day it was and there was more to go. We searched for Karan. Since we were leaving early tomorrow, we wanted to settle the dues tonight. His equally chilled and phased out Bihari assistant/cook/Man Friday told us he had left for Kaza and would come back tonight.
We rested up a bit. As I was freshening up, Bhim said he would wait outside the cafe and we could go to the monastery.
I came out and was walking towards Bhim, he kept smiling and started pointing out to something, I didn’t get it initially until I became aware of a Jeep that stopped in front of me. Who comes out? Question Swami and Bengalan Aunty!!
To be continued