They say that the best things in life are unplanned for. You just stumble upon something and you know that in some strange and unique way, it is going to stay with you forever.
It happened almost a year back. Taking a much needed break from our busy schedules and demanding jobs, my friends Arjun, Pooja, Sayan and me embarked on a 15 day trip to Ladakh. Ignoring the advice of a lot of people, we planned to take a road trip from New Delhi in an SUV. Our spirit of adventure started to wane when we left the plains and ventured into the mountains being on the roads for 14-16 hours every day in addition to the unease that we started to feel due to the scarcity of oxygen in the great altitude. That day on our way from Manali to our camp in Sarchu, we were all feeling more than a little dizzy when suddenly we came across a view that just made us forget everything. We stopped the car and got out.
It was a small lake in Jispa. There was a solitary yellow boat tied to the green shore. The blue water of the lake was as transparent as the glass. The undulating meadows on the other side of the lake seemed to be the mysterious lands where magical creatures abide. And then at the end there were the Himalayas, standing tall and magnificent, a force to reckon with. I have seen many other beautiful sceneries, a lot many on this same trip. But, for some reason, I have never felt such peace, such joy, such awe and such humility as I felt at that moment. I was at peace as I felt I am separated from all the worries of the world, I felt joy to be able to experience such magnificence, I was struck with awe that such beauty could exist without me being aware of it for so long, I felt humble that I had been given a chance to witness it.
We took a boat ride on the yellow boat to the grassy meadow on the other side of the lake, accompanied by the boatman and his young son, whose running nose was very much comparable to the running stream of water around us. There were some rocks which we had to climb and then we reached the grassy land. The greenery was punctuated everywhere with small flowers of almost every color. Even the mosses on the rocks seemed to have vibrant colors of their own. It was so surreal that I felt as if we were stealing our way into the virgin uncharted territory of a secret mythical creature. I opened my shoes and loitered around the entire space. Then I lay down on the grass and just looked at the sky above. Away from the noise and pollution, even the sky seemed to be bluer somehow. I don’t know how long we were there but numerous photo clicks later, we climbed back into the yellow boat and returned to the shore.
The boatman also had a restaurant just beside the lake and we had a hearty lunch there. Hot steaming cups of tea and hot Maggie seemed to be the food of the Gods. And then we bid farewell to this beautiful place and ventured on to reach our camp in Sarchu.
But as our car started, I took one last look at the place. The frame seemed to be the exact same one as the one we first came across – the yellow boat, the blue water, the clear skies, the grassy meadow on the other end and the mighty Himalayas. And it struck me that in a strange way it defines the solitary human being who is not unlike a boat on its journey of the uncharted waters of life with the promise and hope of happiness like the grassy meadows co-existing with the numerous mountainous obstacles. And that is the view that has stayed with me and will stay with me forever.