location:- Leh airport
16, August 2017, it has been exactly one year since I landed at this very airport (Leh) … when got out of the plane.. at first I thought that this is some kind of a dream…Its air was so fresh and pure…. The blue sky and the contrasting grey mountains, it felt like they have some kind of magnetic energy which started attracting me.. the flowing shadow of clouds over the mountain is like mountain veiled by fine Kashmiri pashmina by the shadow of clouds like the shadow of angels flying about the mountains. but my day dream was short by airport ground staff moment they called me “sir!!!…. This way!!!…”. but still, landing in Leh was the best feeling. I am revisiting this place again in this November or December when my busy schedule is over. Hoping Leh will welcome as it did in last year.
as a lone traveler and wildlife photographer !…. I have explored many places alone….. I spent nights out side the hillsides, deserts, cold desert(-5), on top of the high mountains in a small tent!… I never felt fear or nervousness. until I came face to face this tigress in Ranthambore!!!….this was my first tiger encounter in wild. I waited for a long time for this movement!!…. I was super excited!!. after 2 hours of search, we found a tigress, she was sleeping on the roadside. I mediately took out my camera and start taking pictures. after a few seconds, I guess because of my camera shutter noise it woke up and This Wildcat looked straight into my eyes And started walking towards me. I didn’t realize it initially that it came too close as I was busy in taking pictures. when I looked up, the tiger was barely 5-6 meters away. it looked straight into my eyes again. My wildlife guide whispered “Shashi!!… don’t move and stop staring at the tiger!!!…. otherwise, it will leap on our vehicle!!!…”. In that few seconds of wild eye contact, I felt like, for a few seconds, the time has slowed down million times of a second, if not its frozen completely. I felt the aura of this wildcat so deep that I was able to feel my heart beat, it felt like my heart was beating like race car engine, and in that particular movement, I felt the fear that was so real and I realized that this what it feels to be a king of the jungle. I think and I believe Tiger is the real description of word fear…
you know that slight pause one takes, the one when two sets of eyes meet, independent of time or place, from rushing between gates at a terminal to being standstill on a busy intersection, two unaware strangers, apathetically predisposal to their circumstances, lost in thought, heads at a swivel, and out of nowhere comes that pause when they look into each other’s eyes. and I wonder if both are simultaneously jolted away from their inner monologues, even if momentarily, and if both feel this colossal rush to look away, so as to hide away from their own self, ashamed at their transgression, aghast at the prospect of it all being misconstrued. What if all those pauses were to be collected? would we have an eternity of strangers just staring at each other, unable to ever go back to their inner rambling, an ocean of unconformity couplets, tangoing it out till infinity?
I love going out of my way, beyond what I know, and finding my way back a few extra miles, by another trail, with a compass that argues with the map…nights alone in hotels and guests houses in remote Himalayan towns where I know no one and no one I know knows where I am, nights with strange paintings and floral spreads and cable television that furnish a reprieve from my own biography, I have lost myself though I know where I am. Moments when I say to myself as feet or car clear a crest or round a bend, I have never seen this place before. Times when some architectural detail on vista that has escaped me these many years says to me that I never did know where I was, even when I was home.
It had nothing do with why I travel alone or people around me. It only to do with how it feels to be in the wild. There is no place on earth that is so pure and wild than Ladakh. With what it was like to walk for miles for no reason other than to witness the accumulation of mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way. That’s what Ladakhis knew, I supposed. And what monks knew and invaders knew and what thousands of people who preceded and followed them knew. It was what I knew before I even really did, before I could have known how truly hard and glorious this place would be, how profoundly the trail would both shatter and shelter me.
It’s been 3 months since I am back from Ladakh but I never stoped thinking about it, probably I will never stop thinking about Ladakh and Ladakhis.i wanna go back there and feel that pure wild feeling, which I believe, can be felt only in gray mountains of Ladakh. Every wild lover, lone traveler, hiker should hike into this oblivion world. juleh!!!…. juleh!!!… Juleh!!!…
There is a old ladakhi saying “the land is so barren and the passes so high that only our fiercest enemies or our best friends would want to visit us”. After reaching this place I felt that I ‘ve crossed some kind of invisible line or some kind of invisible barrier . I felt as if I’ve come to a place I never thought I’d have to come to. And I don’t know how I got here. It’s a strange place. It’s a land of wild dreams. It’s a land of mysterious. It’s a land of monasteries and peace. It’s a place where a little harmless dreaming and then some sleepy, early-morning thinking has led me into talk of whether there is heaven or this is actually heaven on earth. Even if there is actual heaven somewhere, if there is, I am sure it can’t more beautiful then Ladakh. here it feels like I am dreaming in the land of wild dreams … Juleh!!!…. juleh!!!… juleh!!!!….