Wednesday, September 28, 2016
We kept driving.
The aim was to cover as much distance as possible and reach a point midway between Kargil and Padum which was the major town in Zanskar area, so that we wouldn’t have to drive too far and too long the next day. It was a balancing act.
The thing was there weren’t too many dots on the map connecting the line. The two major ones were Panikhar followed by Parkachik. It had to be one of these... as I remember, and we had to reach before sundown.
I don’t clearly remember which one of the two it was where we halted.
But what I recollect is a J&K tourist ‘bungalow’ which was just about habitable. To middle class people having lower middle class in their ancestry and the enormous capacity to adjust, inherited from those ancestors.
It was o seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. It was a all hillocks with huge mountains and some famed peaks surrounding them; our building was on a sort of elevated piece of land; my father sat on a chair, drinking chai, looking down at boys playing cricket ‘over there’.
One of the nun kun peaks, snow clad, was along the same line of sight as the cricket playground if you looked skyward.
Did the boys look at the peak often with awe, like us? Did they look at it at all? Did it amuse them to know we had come from thousands of miles away, spending thousands of rupees in search of that peak?
What kind of travel plans did these boys make? Going to Bangalore? Bombay?
Irony. Irony. Irony. One man’s life, is another man’s irony.
A middle aged Muslim, in his long knee length cloak (was it sheepskin?) and a long beard was our caretaker.
A young fellow, upon my suggestion, agreed to take me for a walk.
My father hollered out to my mom, who must be equally tired as himself, asking her to be the chaperone. This, after I had already made 2 visits to Himalayas previously, all by myself, at the care of many many strange men!
She came along, unwilling and after a few steps, returned back.
It was a slightly uphill road, but not winding, as I recollect. Pastures, a few tiny streams. What lay ahead, I do not remember, because I kept looking back, at the peaks that showed more of themselves as I rose, and at the pastures and the village below.
I took pictures of a little mosque, and of a little boy from the village, who agreed to pose.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
A scenic drive. We must have passed through little villages, most of whose names we did not know, most of which were so tiny that we did not even notice them. Only when the driver stopped for chai or lunch did we become of a possible human settlement around.
We did not even know that we were, at one point, looking at Nun Kun peaks, right ahead of us. “the great Himalayas has many 23000 feet plus summits but the Nun Kun (pronounced as noon-koon) peaks rise in a part of the range where no other mountain attains such staggering heights. Nun (23408 feet) is the highest peak in Indian Jammu and Kashmir and its sister mountain Kun (23218 feet) is a close second. A vast icy plateau, some 2.5 miles wide separates the 2 summits and there are several high pinnacles all around the tableland.”
Just to give you a perspective, Mount Everest is between 29000 and 30000 feet...