Saturday, April 04, 2015

Ladhak & Kashmir 2010 - Day 6 - Pangong Lake

5th July 2010

It had been a difficult night. For all of us.
But I did not know at that time, it was fluid in our lungs. The result of poor or failed acclimatization.
It affects different people differently – headache, dehydration, fever...some people have fluid in their lungs.
The key to acclimatization is gradual gain of altitude. Gain 150 meters a day, no more.
When you fly from Delhi to Ladhak, you fly from a few hundred/thousand feet to 11000 feet.

When you have fluid in your lungs, you can’t sleep in the night. During daytime, the fluid rests at the bottom of your lungs and you are able to use the top part for breathing.
In the night, when you recline, the fluid spreads all over the lungs and you can breathe effortlessly, you have a ‘Sinking Feeling’.

So, all three of us were awake, almost all through the night.
At one point, I turned to look at my father and did not see his body heaving up and down and I feared.

I sat up at another point thinking aloud of Hitler’s poison gas chambers and how those victims must have struggled for breath.

We woke up to a grey morning.
There were thick clouds all over and silver grey lake beneath.
The waiting began. For the clouds to part, for sun to show, even through a tiny hole in the sky and for the lake to turn blue.

The local folks knew from one look at the sky it would not happen until the next day but I hoped anyway.

I waited and prayed, in turns.

After a while, I asked the driver to take us to Spangmik. I hadn’t been there the previous year.

We drove. There was no road but a trail along which an SUV could move. After a point, it was uphill climb.
It gave us a view of the lake from above and what a sight it would have been if it were blue!

And then we returned.
We ambled along the lake for sometime, sat on its banks here and there.
There was ray of hope. But just a ray. For just a few seconds it turned to a shaft but no more.
The lake was grey to silver to pale, pastel, powder blue but not a patch of peacock. (that's 2 more p’s than I need for an alliteration!)
What disappointment it was!

It was with a heavy heart that I sat through the journey back.