Monday, May 18, 2009

Fifteen Minutes

I am standing against a small ridge overlooking the majestic kanchanjangha.
Though not much can be seen now. Cloud has covered everything. The Sky has taken a pale grey, murky color comparable to the water of the Bay of Bengal. Flashes of lightning piercing through the cloud can be seen now and again.

I look again..patches of green everywhere. Cold, damp chilling wind is blowing against the rain swept slopes. Incessant sound of rain drops falling onto the leaves, creating a beautiful sound. My hands are wet in rain, socks are soggy.

This place is unusually calm, but still one can hear the distant sounds of birds, unknown insects buzzing all around. An earthy smell of rain drenched soil percolating through my mind.
I keep on walking.

It was Sikkim.It was in June. Monsoon. Whereas most of my friends in kolkata were enjoying their mach bhaja with khichuri in a much deserved break after the prolonged Higer secndary examinations, I was trekking somewhere near pemayangtse, in west sikkim.

I was staying in a PWD bunglow in pemayangtse. Just over the top of the hill, sorrounded by the magnificant peaks covered with snows. When morning light falls upon them, it looks like vanilla ice cream. Half frozen.half molten delight.
In clearer weather one can also see 7000 plus peaks all around.360 degrees of panoramic view.
The view in monsoon was also surreal. I always liked travelling to the Himalayas during different times of the year. It showed me different aspects of the mountain and its people. Just on the other side of the Bunglow, there was a small garden. Where you can find all types of flowers, jasmine, lavender, primrose, orchids, chrysanthemum; dripping in rain water, after a long summar in mountains it was their time to celebrate the rejuvinating downpour. On either side of the entrance to the Bunglow, huge cedar, pine, deodar trees were silently meditating.

I was walking towards Upper Pelling. A small hamlet at the edge of the mountains. It is quite a popular place for the tourists. During peak season, this small village-town gets flooded with people from different parts of the country. But in monsoon, it is deserted, few half mad trekkers and foreigners searching for the Path of Buddha could be seen.
Just behind the Upper Pelling road, there was a small market. Typical pahari market. Cold, old and empty. Couple of strayed dogs, an old porter smoking a beedi, few bengali tourists in search of bengali hotel could be found. I was going to the market. I needed to make a STD call to kolkata.
I was walking cautiously, roads are wet, slippery. A misty fog covered the entire strech of road, hardly 10-20 meters of road were visible.

I was walking for about an hour now. Market was nowhere to be seen.
“Is this the road?” I asked myself.
“Yeah have to be this” I thought.
But I need to reach the market before 10am. Otherwise, I will not be able to return before noon. “But whom to ask?” I wondered.
In another 15 minutes, I will be in Pelling market I told myself.
Someone was coming on my way. I can see. Distant, slowly moving figure. Must be another trekker. Because this road, was taken generally by the trekkers who were moving up towards pemayangtse.
I watched the person to come out of the mist. Gosh..It was a girl. A extrodinarily pretty girl.
She was smiling!! or was she?
I looked at her..she looked somewhat of my age..slightly built..wearing a blue sweater and light bluish windscheater, matching knee high blue socks.
I kept on looking at her..she had pinkish cheek.
“Shall I ask her about the direction? Have to.. no other way..” I told myself.
She was on a slope, slowly coming down towards me. Empty road, apparent silence everywhere. Sky seemed to be getting dark again.
I slowly walked towards her..My heartbeat had already picked up..She stopped..looked at me..and said “Lost!!” in an amusing tone.
“Ha-yes”.Goodness..I had mixed up my hindi and english..
“Come on speak something” I thought.
But I was still admiring her simple..yet so innocent.
I regained my thought and hesitatingly asked, “Is this the way towards Upper Pelling?”
She nodded..Was that Yes or No..I wondered.
I looked at the road and said “I was walking for an hour..and then I saw you & thought…” my throat had dried up already. I was feeling a kind of cold, tired.
She smiled again “You are walking in wrong direction...this road is goes to Pelling Monestry..I am going towards peling..” she fell silent.
The thought of walking with her excited me.
“Can I come with you?” I mumbled.
“Sure”she said. Still that smile...decorated her face.
We were silent again..Not much of topic to talk about..I guess.
She broke the silence.
“We need to walk fast, the drizzle has picked up again”..
“Is it ?” I wondered..I was lost in time.
We picked up pace..
That was the best fifteen minutes walk for me ever in my life.

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