“She’s a *****! She’ll jump up on you in all her glory when you’re least suspecting,” said the Doc, the cigarette almost jumping out from between his index and middle as he threw open the window panes to let the smoke out. The Nepali driver had convinced us earlier during the dusty trip west towards Pelling, “No one can see the pahaar at night, nothing is visible in the dark.” He was resolute and his words absolute. No one knew the mountains better than he did.
Now gazing in veneration at the whole panoramic wide-angled view of the Khangchendzonga, under the bright moonlight, the Hypocrite Lecteur muttered between her teeth, “B****y drunk! Can’t see the peaks. Don’t think he’s ever seen a minute after sundown.” Well, can’t say we are lucky enough. We seem more than lucky. The Khangchendzonga, made popular by a un-Tibetan-more-Bengali name, is the very vision the Bengalis dream of in their wildest vacation dreams. To think of such ambitions of scaling its golden height with a belly-full of Bengali ‘sole-food’ (pun strictly intended!), the phenabhaat-potato-chilli, sounds somewhat Quixotic than Machiavellian. Men would kill for a glimpse of this ornamental glory of the cascading white and gold peaks. The Khangchendzonga chooses to reveal her face to only those who doubt her magnificence, a reminder for the infinitesimal I AM, a nanoparticle on the face of Nature— insignificant, ephemeral, transient, fleeting. And do I dare, do I dare disturb the universe?
It had been raining incessantly the moment we landed in Pelling. Local sight-seeing, part of the package so we have to stick to it. Must cover all that is there in the itinerary within said time; no chance to STOP and STARE. Khechepalri Lake where birds and fishes forbid any leaf that ever dared to float on the surface of the emerald water. Half as enchanting as Mother had said on the phone. Pengyaste Monastery, too dark inside that we did not bother to open our shoes to enter. Relished the free view of the Rabdentse ruins from the monastery grounds. The driver wouldn’t take us because it was a forty-minute drive down a road-not-taken.
“Ah-mahzhing! Just Ah-mahzhing,” aspirated with arms outstretched a youth, ‘just’ pushing his seventies. Wish I had his energy and enthusiasm to jump up at the sight of every minor waterfall on the way. “Highdrains and ditch-water, I tell you. Kanchenjangha Falls. Not-a-waterfall!” London-Bridge-is-falling-down-falling-down… my-fair-lady!
—Tomorrow, we go to see the snow.
—What is there to see?
—Oh, do not ask what it is. Let us go and make our visit.
(To be Continued…)