The Path Without A Destination
In Taoism, there is a path that has no destination. And, that is the path. The locals of Larot told me that the road to Dodra and Kwar, my destinations, is snowed out. Was I disheartened? Is being ambitious the same as being greedy? These modern times inspire us to be ambitious about money, position, success, fame and well travel destinations. Neither am I ambitious nor greedy. I am just a passenger of time. A drifter. Go as far as the path goes. If the path stops then so must you.
I mounted my bike and started the ascent to Chanshal Pass, 16km from Larot. Tall deodar trees emancipated the lonesome muddy road with their effervescent aroma. 4km on the road and I encountered snow on the sides of the road. Filled with enormous joy, I picked up the snow, closed my eyes, smelled it and held it close to my heart. Now, I have seen plenty of snow. I have seen six winters with miles upon miles of snow and the mercury dandling around -10 Celsius. Heck, I often walked for 45 minutes in the snow at 430am after my night shift when the wind chill felt -16 Celsius. But, that was another time-space quantum altogether.
The Snow White Love Affair
Of all the snow I have encountered in my life, nothing comes close to the poignancy of Himalayan snow. It is nature’s poetry inscribed in white. It has the messages of sages who meditated in these mountains, words of philosophers who spent hours next to these rivers and the joy of all those travelers who lost themselves only to find themselves in these parts. I continued with a newfound smile.
Some 2km later, I encountered the same Himalayan snow where I dread it the most – on the road. The smile turned into a smirk as I motored on. Zzzzziiiiiippppp the back wheel almost slipped. Zup the back wheel got stuck in snow kicking it but not moving from its lovingly occupied spot. I got off the bike and pushed it very hard to end the love affair between the back wheel and the patch of snow. But, few meters later it fell in love again. But, it’s not his fault after all. Riding the packed cities of India, he has only known potholes, overflowing gutters, garbage, and dirt. After all that, anyone will give his or her heart to such white beauty.
The Ghosts of Langza
What happens when the powdery soft snow stays unmoved under below freezing temperatures for a couple of days? Yup, a rider’s worst enemy – slippery ice. When Bajaj launched Pulsar 150cc, it was for the typical middle-class Indian to take it to work in crowded cities of India. Naturally, its wheels were not getting any friction on the ice. It was begging for mercy but such is the fearless might of men that it can push a machine beyond its limits. Through near slips and stuck wheels, I motored on for another 2km. Here some 8km before Chanshal Pass I encountered a blanket of ice and snow. I walked some 500 meters and the blanket had no end. Now, it was decision time.
I sat on a solitary patch of brown that I found amongst the white expanse. I lit a matchstick. Six minutes of thinking. “The ghost of Langza. Oh no no no, you better stay away. But wait, should I be a prisoner of my past, a bravado in the present or a potential fool in the future? I did not see a single soul until now nor do I have any cell signal. No one will be there to help if something happens. And, there is still quite a lot of the world that I want to see.”
I turned around and put the bike out of its misery. I will tell you more about the demons of Langza when you come next. Don’t forget to bring some wine. A red one.