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:: Saturday, October 18, 2008 ::

The Writers Itch and Block, and the mountains

Sometimes I get this itchy feeling in my fingers that I should be writing something right now. I am not sure if it is designed to be that way - the feeling almost always comes when I am somewhere out, and there is no way I can start writing immediately. And when I go home, the mood is lost, and as I boot the comp, have to struggle for words.

Today was one such situation that made me crave for a laptop when I was commuting in the city bus. Sitting in a rather stiff atmosphere in a Volvo where most people were returning home after work and there was a sort of dullness filling up the place, I felt a need to get away.

Michal Palin's book 'Himalaya' did an excellent job at transporting me out of the situation right into the mountains of Bhutan where snowy peaks loomed large outside his tent and a population that has refused to modernize stayed besides him. It all reminded me of Ladakh, where I was a few months ago and could never shake it up from my memory.

It took me to a scene more or less two months ago when I got caught in a sudden unexpected storm. Cold wind braced us and shafts of chilling water pierced our skin, changing the mood from pleasant and sunny to almost forbidding in a matter of less than a minute. There is always some good things to look forward to in every situation - we got sheltered in a nomad's tent and got a moment to peek into their life.

Its not as exotic as the word nomad sounds. They are not on their feet everyday, but stay put in a location for a few months. Although their tent is very rudimentary and can barely save them from the elements, the insides are not entirely void of creature comforts. What made me raise my eye-brows first was a rather sizey tape deck that seemed powerful enough to shake the tent made from yak fur. The next unexpected sight was a gas cylinder and stove for cooking. Back in the big city of Bangalore where everything should be a phone call (or these days, a click) away, one has to struggle with ration card, 'below poverty line' card, non-poor card or whatever that applies to you, and then run from pillar to post getting document after document ready and proving that you are who are and you live where you claim to live. But here is a nomad with no permanent residence or whatsoever, and who in the first place would have given an image of people far from civilization, happily cooking away on LPG.

The glasses in which we were served milk was pretty good too and was at least better than what I use at home. Can't exactly call their life as a comfy life, but it was good to see them living a life that is not as full of of struggle as it would have been for them a few generations ago.

Talking about all this, or reading books written on the mountains, or just this evening when I was having a conversation with someone about the Himalayas, I know there is something about these mountains that has a powerful draw. I am back from Kumaon only a week back, and Ladakh just a month ago. But a longing to be in the mountains surges the moment I descend into the plains. Its not just the scenery, the attraction of the rugged terrain and the experience of isolation. The people of the mountains, the clean air, way of life, everything combine and make a pitch to get me back there. I am looking forward to my next opportunity.

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