I dreamt about you yesterday.
It was a lovely dream where my 10-day trip to Fagu, Sarahan, Kalpa, Sangla, Narkhanda and Chail in September was relived all over again. I usually don’t remember my dreams when I wake up, but this one was so crystal clear and real that I’m pretty sure that I must have spoken in my sleep !
I dreamt of the trip of many firsts — the first time I visited your state, the first time I saw the mighty Himalayas, the first time my under-graduate and post-graduate classes on Himalayan Geology came alive, the first time I saw apples on trees, the first time I tasted a yellow plum, the first time I saw the confluence of two rivers … and so much more.
I dreamt about the rainstorm you welcomed me and the group I was travelling with. And how in the space of a few hours, we went from hot and humid Mumbai to cold, almost freezing, weather in Fagu. That night, I slept under two blankets and had a heater in the room.
I dreamt of that first morning I woke up to in Fagu. Clouds had covered the entire valley and I delighted in watching the clouds vanish like wisps of vapour as the sun rose in the sky to reveal the distant snow-clad peaks of the Himalayas. And closer, much closer, was the vegetation associated with the Himalayan ecosystem. Not that I could identify any, but still… 🙂
I dreamt of that first glimpse of the snow-clad Himalayan peaks. I thought they were clouds the first time I saw them; I didn’t make the same mistake the second time around.
I dreamt of the sacred stories of the various peaks narrated to me by the local people and felt and shared the reverence they have for the Himalayas.
I dreamt of the long rides on the winding roads of the NH22 / Hindustan-Tibetan Road — a lifeline for your state and also one of the world’s most dangerous roads. Travelling on this road made me realise what living on the edge really meant. I came away with respect for those who drive on these roads for their living every single day. I also agree with a statement that Pawan, our driver, made:
Once you have driven on these roads, you can drive anywhere else.
I dreamt of the sacred, much revered and worshipped, River Sutlej. During the trip I saw the Sutlej in many colours and shades — from brilliant blue to a coppery red to the most depressing shade of liquid cement.
I dreamt of that first clear glimpse of the river and the sound it made as it tumbled over rocks and boulders.
I dreamt of all the gorgeous sunrises, sunsets and moonrises that I experienced every single day, each one more beautiful than the other. The changing colours, the dancing light on the snow-clad peaks, the clear skies… I dreamt of it all.
I dreamt of all the rocks and rock formations that I saw — marbles, schists, gneisses, slates, conglomerates, migmatites, folds, faults… I finally understood what my graduate lecturer had meant when he said that “Himalayan Geology is an entirely different branch of Geology”. The scale, complexity and variety that I had till then only read in books or seen in photographs was right there for me to see and experience and realise just how unique and different it was. I actually got pretty emotional, you know.
I dreamt of the lovely, long walks I took along winding roads, and pine-scented walking trails. Sometimes, there were little streams and rivulets to be navigated and sometimes there were little boulders to be clambered over.
Each walk was one of discovery — of an interesting rock, a fern or a lichen or a mushroom or a flower to delight over. There were always local people to exchange greetings with and try to answer their curious questions about where I was from…
I dreamt of all the fruit trees I saw and the variety of fruits I ate — apricots, plums, pears, peaches, figs and apples. This was the first time I was seeing so many fruits on trees, especially apples. The fruits tasted so fresh and so different from the ones, I’ve eaten in Mumbai. Do you know that I have not been able to eat a single apple after my return to Mumbai? They just don’t taste the same, you know. 😦
On an aside, do you think with all the apples I ate and the fresh apple juice I drank every day, not to mention the hundreds of apples I saw, I’ll ever need a doctor again?
I dreamt about the various hotels I stayed in — the excellent Grand Shangri-La (Kalpa) and The Palace (Chail); the good Kinner Camps (Sangla); the average Apple Blossom (Fagu) and The Srikhand (Sarahan); and the downright awful Bushehar Regency (Rampur).
I dreamt about all the temples and gompas visited. From the shaktipeeth Bhimakali Temple at Sarahan to the roadside shrine of Tarandaa Devi on the NH22 (that all drivers pray to without fail), to the Badrinarayan Temple at Batseri, to the Kaalchakra Gompa at Kalpa… each one gave a glimpse into the culture and beliefs of the local people, and how beautifully and seamlessly Hindu and Buddhist beliefs have syncretised over centuries.
I dreamt about the surprise I felt at not seeing a single beggar at the temples or gompas and also at how clean they were.
I dreamt about the beautiful wooden houses I saw and the palaces I visited. Painted or unpainted, with traditional slate roofs or tin or asbestos roofs, I loved them all. I also dreamt about the ugly, modern and tiled buildings that are now replacing the traditional houses. Sorry to say, dear Himachal Pradesh, I hated them.
I dreamt about the best meal I’ve ever had during my travels in India or elsewhere. The Sharma Vaisno Dhabha at Junedghat near Chail was a real find. The simple finger-licking lunch of aloo matar, kadhi pakoda, rajma, chutney and chapatis followed by chapatis and ghee-shakkar for dessert is a meal that I can never forget for as long as I live. 😀
I also dreamt about the not-so-nice aspects of the trip — the unchecked development, the large hydroelectric projects, the river pollution, the landslides… I fear that there is a major disaster just waiting to unfold behind your scenic vista.
I dreamt about the time we got stranded in Sangla due to bad weather and landslides leading to part of the road out of Sangla disappearing. The wait for the roads to get repaired and to re-open was a scary time for me, but one where I learnt a very important lesson. I learnt to be patient, I learnt to wait things out and really and truly understand that every process has its own time and place and certain things cannot be rushed.
I also dreamt about the conversation I had with my boss earlier this week, when after a meeting he suddenly remarked:
“That Himachal trip of yours must have been very good.”
“Yes, it was” I said, wondering why my trip to Himachal had suddenly come up.
p style=”padding-left:30px;”>As if reading my thoughts, my boss continued, “Well, you haven’t coughed even once during the meeting. I can’t think of any reason other than the clean mountain air of Himachal being responsible for this. I think you should take an annual trip to Himachal every year”
I can’t agree more with him as my allergic bronchial cough, an almost constant companion the last decade or so, has almost disappeared. And my doctor is thrilled as well ! 😀
I dreamt about you yesterday, dear Himachal. And this reminded me that it has been 3 months and 2 days since I returned and for some lazy reason or the other have not written about my trip. Thank you for the beautiful and gentle reminder.
This is just the first of the many posts that I have planned and there are more coming up.
Lots of love,
PS: Where in Himachal do you think I should plan my 2014 trip to? 😀