The English Green: Where the senses and the soul blend
June 15, 2003
The Earth does not
belong to man, Man belongs to the Earth
June 8, 2003
June 1, 2003
the Dragon country
May 25, 2003
Kerala’s backwaters, a lifetime experience
May 18, 2003
Park: Varied hues of nature at their best
May 11, 2003
Spectacular and scintillating, that’s Sri Lanka
May 4, 2003
Frolicking in Finland’s saunas & green gold
April 27, 2003
Bewitching Bikaner beckons
April 20, 2003
A testimony to search
April 6, 2003
"Two jugs of water for drinking and
all your toiletry," the chowkidar has a deep, guttural voice, his
nose seems to run. Clad in a thick weathered coat that envelops him
thoroughly, he smells of country liquor as everyone on the high
altitudes does. He opens the rest house for us and disappears. We
rummage through all the rooms, drag the best possible quilts
("the least smelly quilts," as my companion observes, less
euphemistically) into our room, collect as much water as we can,
replace the wine bottle in the bathroom with a plastic mug that we
discover somewhere. Finally, we sprinkle talcum powder over the
bed-sheets and quilts and retire for the night.
On the way to Kaza:
The forbidden passage
Every day, just after dawn, a little
figure climbs the desert slope on the left of where we are staying.
The little black figure, slowly going up hardly seems to be moving.
But when I strain my eyes, without stirring, the black figure moves a
bit at a time, shifting its position awkwardly quarter of an inch and
then halting altogether. A massive barren slope, the inclined desert
of long wobbling streaks of colours. If someone starts rolling down
from the top, he would come smoothly down the incline, smoothly
rolling down the slope like a wheel. A soundless wheel. Hundreds of
feet down. Smoothly down! It may be a hundred. It may be thousands.
This slope is so uniform in texture, it is difficult to judge the
distances. As the sunlight gradually climbs up the rocks on the
opposite bank of the Spiti, the black figure inches to the ridge and
finally disappears. Next year, I will pursue you black figure, beyond
those desert ridges, I think. Not this year. Certainly, not this year.
Certainly, the next year. Be sure and take care!
Oasis in the desert
A baker just on the
roadside bakes fresh bread. That Swiss is there again: "Something
goes wrong with us. Something gets under the skin of our head, under
the skin of our heart. Something goes wrong. And we don’t know what
to do. Buy one car, then other and then another and finally
another." We met him at Tabo, two days before. O man, may you
find peace that passes understanding, with your pockets bulging with
Swiss money, and with your stamped international visa. Your ambitions
run high, indeed. Amen!
There is a chemist shop.
It is necessary to buy skin ointment as cracks have started appearing,
particularly on the finger-tips. They ache, becoming deeper everyday.
These seven days have seen our complexion turning grim. In the barren
stretch of 200 km, with an altitude that fluctuates between 3000 and
4000 metres, we have the first man here who dares call himself a
scooter mechanic but is wary of opening its elementary lid, "If
something happens, from where would I bring you a spare? At least your
Cool Spiti water in the crisp sun.
— Photos by the writer
At least our engines
turn in the forbidden land. And at least, there is petrol here. Enough
petrol to fill all our 5/10-litre plastic cans to tie and hang over
the rear wheel, enough petrol to fill the mineral water bottles and
stash them neatly, along with cornflakes, in the well separated
compartments of the kids’ school bags that we had clamped over the
front wheel. The last petrol pump, where we could have our fill, was
at Poari (Kinnaur) about 200 km back. But here there is petrol, and
when it comes out of the narrow nozzle in its golden sizzling
transparency, it seems that Niagra gushes in all its abundance. And it
seems that this Kaza is an oasis for the caravans to take the
momentary breath. Then to proceed onwards to conquer new heights —
Ki, Kibber, Chandratal, Surajtal and then even beyond. Even beyond the
land from where the little black figure came.