A Heavenly GetAway

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What was I thinking? Where did I get the nerve to plan a hillside trip in the monsoon season? I did check the weather forecast for the next four days, and like an ominous sign, the illustration above the forecast showed sinister-looking dark clouds and bolts of lightning. There will be thunderstorms for the entire week. Should I trust the forecast? I checked the weather situation on all the states we have to pass by, and it was the same all throughout, up to the hills and to our final destination. It was going to be a 12-hour drive, half of it on the hillsides.

On the morning of our departure, I awoke with uncertainty about our trip. I told my husband we don’t have to go, but he assured me it was going to be alright. I looked at Babar and thought how he must be missing the hills and the spacious space where he can run so I thought, what the hell, this trip would be an adventure. It did become a nail-biting adventure, for me at least. Hubby did not even break a sweat.

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We were already out of the city when the heavens opened up and poured out all its watery contents over our heads. The wiper of the car worked overtime, but still, it was not fast enough to clear the tons of water cascading on the windshield of the vehicle. We could not see anything in front of us but a thick wall of rain. We stopped when it was getting dangerous. This same narrative recurred during the entire trip until we reached the hillside. Over there another element added to this thrilling experience. Fog. We snaked up slowly and drove gingerly in zero visibility. Once in a while, the mist cleared up to give us a view of what lies for us up ahead. It showed us the tip of the mountain shrouded in thick clouds. After a few hours, we were literally driving through a thick blanket of clouds. I held my breath each time we turn on a curve which we could barely see if not for the light coming from the trucks driving toward us.

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DSCF6427.JPGIt was six in the evening when we reached Narkanda, as instructed by the manager of Agyaat Vaas resort, where we would be staying, we drove to Baghi road. Darkness was fast approaching when we saw the fork in the road. We had to take the middle one leading to Hatu peak. It was just a cycle track, really. Only wide enough for one car to pass. And we had to climb 5 kilometres of it to reach 3400 meters where our destination lies. 15 minutes had never seemed longer. My heart stopped beating for a few seconds when a huge white SUV came nose to nose with our car on a curve. What to do. We had to go back down with one of the rear wheel hanging for dear life until we found a space wide enough for the other car to pass by. The driver of the other vehicle told us they had to turn back for it was much too dangerous to climb any further. My heartbeat went into overdrive.
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When I alighted from the car, upon reaching our hotel, my legs were shaking. Babar jumped from the vehicle in wild excitement and dipped his nose in the first puddle he saw. He ran and ran. Ahead of us and then towards us, wagging his tail gratefully. I laughed. We made it in one piece. Thanks to the steely nerves of my husband.

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20130816-121241.jpgAs we walked down towards our cottage nestled in the misty woods, I felt like I was walking inside a fairy tale. The place was romantic and mysterious.

Different seasons in the hills have different challenges but different rewards too. The jungle has never been more beautiful. Everything was so lush, fresh and green. The weather was incredible. It was delightful, with just a little bit of chill.

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As the forecast predicted, it did rain for the whole week. So we sipped chai as we watched the rain and, munched on tasty pakoras. I read an entire novel in 5 hours straight. A slim volume by Haruki Murakami, The West Of The Border East of The Sun. Hubby got all the rest he needed. Babar ran as much as he wanted, rain, mud and all.

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On the few hours it stopped raining we were able to trek towards a vast lovely meadow called Jau Bagh where numerous wild horses were grazing peacefully undisturbed even by our presence, even by Babar’s excitement.

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The most extraordinary thing about the trip was how awesome it was to walk in the clouds. To see a wisp of it rising up from the ground like thick smoke from a fire. How it touches my shoulder. I almost wondered I had died and gone to heaven.

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-JMKhapra copyright 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern

In addition to paintings Grecian, Roman, Baroque, Byzantine, Renaissance, Mughal, Victorian and Gothic architecture also fascinate me. I am in awe of the ornate carvings and designs of these buildings. I can spend one whole day just staring and studying the beautiful patterns of its facade, pillars,walls ceilings, doors and windows.

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Duomo Cathedral Church in Florence, Italy.

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Leaning Tower Of Pisa, Italy

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Base of the Eiffel Tower, Paris

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Palais Garnier Opera house in Paris, France.

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Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, Rajasthan

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Taj Mahal, India

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Intricate patterns on Taj Mahal’ s exterior wall.

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Rashprati Bhawan, New Delhi. ( Indian President’s Residence area )

Lullabies In The Valley Of Dreams

 

A quaint little village in Sangla

Summer arrived, blazing and crackling. The air sizzled frying at forty-five degrees (Celsius). Fed up with living in air-conditioned existence, we decided it was time to leave the city.

So Hubby, Babar and I with our suitcases packed for a seven-day adventure, drove up and up the mountain chasing some chilly wind.

Narkanda highway
Wall of pine trees in Kufri
Heart-stopping roads in Kinnaur District

The roads tapered off as we were nearing the top, sending some nervous flutter in my heart.

Descending from Rampur, a pleasant drive along the river.
Babar enjoying the breeze. Ears flapping about.
If I have ears that long it will be flapping too.
Climbing extremely narrow roads on the way to Sangla.

 Then it soared when my eyes behold the snowy peaks in the horizons.

The lethal beauty of Sangla Valley at the height of 2800 meters.
Babar passed out after a whole day of driving.

As the sun was setting, finally we reached the camp. The signboard was on the road but darned it the campsite was way down below.

Kinner Camp

Holding my breath while Hubby turned the car around, tires rolling by a hair’s breadth on the edge of the cliff, I was left thinking the camp owners may have some sadistic streak. After enduring the torment of that snaky ascent, they make sure the thrill continues with the roller coaster descent.

Very comfortable accommodation with an attached bathroom ( western toilet and shower) unlike real camping at all.
The valley morning after.
Babar sleeping soundly in the fresh air.
Sharing a cup of chai with hubby.

Waking up the next morning after a very sound sleep, sipping tea in front of the tent with the mighty snowy mountain right in front of me, I was filled with a deep-seated feeling of well being.

Not a soul was stirring from the nearby tents. The silence was pure and sweet. A commune with nature in the truest sense.

The Mighty Baspa River

When Hubby and Babar finally roused, off, we went hiking towards the mighty stream. Furious cascading water thundering down from the melting snow of the northern Himalayan peaks.

The roaring stream.
Babar testing the waters.

The energetic canine run to and pro, going mad with the freedom to leap and bound. Once or twice, Babar braved the icy water and dipped his toes. Oh, how he loved the water! He would swim if not for the turbulent flow.

The water dog.

Lovely Chitkul Valley
Pashmina heaven.
Passing by surrealistic looking roads on our way to Kalpa

Snowy peaks in Kalpa

Days in the camp passed by like a dream. We were lulled into calmness and serenity. All our silly worldly cares momentarily forgotten.

Babar made a lot of new friends in the camp.
Little girls who were very fond of Babar.

I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order.
-John Burroughs

©JMKhapra

Emerald Dreams

Rummaging through a box of memories, eager fingers flipping through a set of honeymoon photographs. Eyes sighted something green and sparkling. In an instant, the heart ached with longing for carefree days spent frolicking on Coron’s emerald shores.


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 That untainted jewel cocooned in a cluster of islands down south of my native land. Nostalgia echoed on my bedroom walls. Of crispy laughter reverberating under Asian sun.

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The mind wandered back pining for that bright morning, hiking up that volcanic mountain to swim in that verdant lake, in that green soup where swallows dip to quench their thirst at four in the afternoon.

Yearning now intensely, for cool waters caressing the skin while snorkelling in that secret cove, Twin Lagoon it is called, where salt and lake water meet painting mirages for creatures underneath.

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Sighing, wishing to go diving and swimming with those kaleidoscopic school of fishes playing around a maze of brightly hued coral gardens. So ornate and splendid, a surreal world so exquisite, an encounter with mermen and mermaids would not be impossible at all.

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©JMKhapra

A Gathering of Minds

painting by Jofelyn M. Khapra

 

A gentle ray of sun fell on the blooming bushes and trees. A cheerful sight to behold after the gloom the rainy days brought forth. The air was fresh with the scent of newly washed grass. I walked past the iron wrought pavilion shawled in ivy vines and yellow bells, towards an enclosed section of the garden. The circular row of cypress trees standing  in full  attention looked verdant and well nourished after the monsoon. Well trimmed lawn carpeted the green cocoon and decorated with a row of white wicker chairs around a pristine long white table. On it, sparkling under the yellow light streaming down from the azure sky were a collections of my finest tea cups and tea pots amidst an assortment of tea time goodies; red velvet cupcakes, chocolate chip muffin, chocolate truffles, slices of cheese cakes, danish, lemon tarts, eclairs and oatmeal cookies. Fresh flowers plucked from the nursery blushed profusely against the immaculate table cloth. I smiled and sighed with deep satisfaction. I sat on my favorite chair at the left corner at the far end of the table granting a full view of all my friends who shortly would be arriving.

Painting by Jofelyn M. Khapra

I pour my self a cup of Darjeeling tea and opened the IPad with child like anticipation. Out came from WordPress’ portal the Poet, carrying with him beautiful sentiments of the day. Together with his melodious musing he sat comfortably on my side, listening entranced I offered him a cup of Chamomile tea. With boisterous laughter the Story Teller burst out inducing much hilarity. Pacing to and pro a humorous tale she related. The garden reverberated with peals of our laughter, competing with birds chirping in the trees. Clutching our stomachs we were helpless with gaiety. Silence! Cried the Critic who sneaked in on us. ” You are all wrong and I am right!” With angry stride and forceful remonstration his rhetoric went on and on. Arrogant might be his words but it did trumpeted loudly with truth. He cleared his throat upon conclusion. Black coffee he demanded. Scrambling to my feet I searched for the bitter brew. A stronger caffeine I knew will be requested.

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” Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace.” Uttered a voice of  Reason. So softly but firm it was almost a whisper. A gentle hush fell over the table. Even the Critic turned his attention to the new comer. With awe in our faces we absorbed the wisdom he imparted. Peace filled our being. Eyes turned towards the horizon we were lost in deep contemplation.

When we were exhausted with words the Artists soothed our eyes with their visual creativity. The most wondrous photographs were passed around followed by the echoes of oohs and aahs. Worked of arts painted the garden with kaleidoscopic hues. Our eyes drunk in nectar of those beautiful creations.

With such lively company the hours sped by easily.  Soon it was noon and time to bade adieu. Far too hot to sit under the sun much longer. With a promise to see each other again the next day each went on their merry way.

painting by Jofelyn M. Khapra

Now that the gathering was over, I was overcome with regret. Wanting to kick my behind I asked myself, where was I ? What have I been doing all this while? What took me so long to join this community? Many pleasurable hours were spent in the garden alone ravishing books one after the other but exchanges of thoughts bring titillating delights. I am energized. Infused with vitality after such communion I felt like a well oiled machine at the height of my creativity.

My fellow bloggers this is my ode to all of you. Thank you for gracing my home every morning with your  intimate musings  and witticisms and thank you for enriching my life with your beautiful thoughts and truths daily. I am much obliged to you. Have a great weekend.

©JMKhapra

Painting by Jofelyn M. Khapra