It has been three years since I visited the Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh and I must admit that I’m still in the process of evaluating the impact that they had on me. The whole adventure had an everlasting impact and changed my perspective on life and living. When I look back, the sentence that I posted on my Facebook wall from Guwahati after coming down from the mountains summed up the whole story. “It is better to die in the mountains than to live in a city,” holds true even today and speaks volumes about what those mighty mountains and quaint valleys with some amazing people did to me. I always wanted to write about the whole experience, but then I did not. Maybe I don't want to empty that special emotion. I clicked thousands of pictures but only published a few. I want to thank God for the eyes, for they gave me a glimpse of heaven on earth.
The first sight of snow-capped 20,000 footers made my jaw drop, I have never seen such a view in real life. It was a sight to behold. It looked like a surrealistic painting on canvas. Crossing through the thick rainforests of Arunachal Pradesh, in an unrealistic setup where everything was under the control of nature, except for the steering wheel in my driver’s hands, was redemptive. The weather in the mountains was so dramatic that it would change at the snap of a finger. Clouds moved in, moved out, appeared, disappeared; Showers poured down, went mute; Rays peeped through the lush bush and puff; lands slid and roads crumbled. Just like a love story, truly romantic.
Fortunately, there was the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), to handle the trouble. The lack of development in Arunachal Pradesh was a blessing in disguise. The state was unadulterated and pristine.
People of Tawang, mostly from the Mompa tribe are predominately believers of Buddhism and truly good at heart. I am a Christian and they had no issue with my faith. In fact, I feel honoured to have experienced their hospitality and goodness. Of course, their food, how can I forget Mondre and Churpi soup at Kunchock’s place, Momos, both steamed and fried at Pema Didi’s place and the fish fry and daal at a local’s place, who built bunkers for the Indian Army. I think neither the Indian Army nor the Border Roads Organization could carry out their duties without the help of these hardworking locals. Whenever I think about Tawang, the hardworking nature, and dignity of the labour of the people living in the town simply astonish me. I did not see any class difference or biasedness. I did not see anyone beg. Most of the people had a fashionable lifestyle and wore elegant clothes and rode stylish motorcycles. They played football like professionals, which even made me wonder why on earth was India not doing well on the world stage. On the other side of the spectrum, I found plenty of traditional life too, antique wooden houses, women wearing a warm jacket and a sleeveless chemise that reached down to the calves, headwear made out of yak hair and loads of maroon-clad monks painting the holy town maroon. Thanks to Galden Namgey Lhatse, one of the oldest monasteries in India.
Kunchock, Pema Didi, Sultim, little Daichen, and a whole lot of other beautiful people that I met during the trip made me believe in the goodness of human life. Maybe to an extent that I want to revisit the Himalayas in Arunachal, just to see them. Can’t thank them enough for making the ordeal pleasant - a journey of a lifetime. Though I now live a responsibility-driven, commercially motivated and people pleasing life in the city, deep within, my soul longs to hit the road at every opportunity.
Now, whether I open or close my eyes, memories are just beautiful.