Narrow Escapes

If we could see the future; we’d be tempted to change it — in our favour. Or, do something, to stop it. Probably, not get out of the house or cancel a dream trip. (Un)fortunately, we cannot predict the future. And, that’s why, we set on new paths and explore unknown places. Make no mistake, there will always be a voice saying, “anything can happen”. A small jitter that wants you to reconsider. A nagging doubt, playing over and over, wondering if you must really go through with this?

There have been many moments when I’ve felt this could be it. I’m not sure, if we’re going to make it this time. Or, I’m finally going to give in to fear. Narrow escapes can teach you a lot. Optimism goes a long way. And, survival doesn’t need heroes to save the day. The will to survive should do.

Road to Rohtang, India

 Survival can be summed up in three words – never give up. That’s the heart of it really. Just keep trying.

Bear Grylls

Nights before, our trip from Manali to Leh; I found it hard to sleep. I had read travelogues and first person accounts of bikers who’d fallen sick in the mountains. I wasn’t half as tough and I would have to trust our lives in the hands of a 20 something driver. On the first day, we made it to the last leg, of the first pass, by 8 am. The hairpin roads were clogged with slush and two-sided traffic on a single way road. Tourists from the plain wanted to see snow. All we needed, is to get to the other side. As we waited, rain turned into ice, and I could see our carefree driver look worried. We proceeded a little further, only to hear drunken drivers call out a flat. New tyre, little shaken, and after two hours of the jam, we made it to the summit of the pass. And, that’s when, our driver gave us of the news of two trucks that had slid at the end of the road, whilst we were stuck in the jam below. Not surprisingly, Rohtang La translates as ‘pile of corpses’.

2

In Search of Zero, Sikkim, India

Survival requires us to leave our prejudices at home.

It’s about doing whatever it takes – and ultimately those with the biggest heart will win.

Bear Grylls

I was excited on my first trip to the mountains. I had nothing to be scared of. I was born, in the plains, in a coastal village town. And yet, I was excited. The winding roads of Gangtok, often made me nauseous, but didn’t dampen my spirit. On our third day, we head towards Yumthang Valley. The views were spectacular and silence — rewarding. The highest point of the mountain ends at zero point. When we reached there, there was a buzz of vehicles, tourists, and stall owners. The others from our group, wanted to carry on further, despite warnings from our driver. We waited, out in the open, as our reluctant driver ferried the others across. By noon, the sun came out, other cars drove away, and I experienced symptoms of AMS. The truth is, when your stuck there, all your mind can think of is the worst case scenario. Basil decided to head to the army base, somewhere down below. With no sight of our driver and with the last vehicle about to leave, we were getting desperate. Being isolated on a deserted mountain isn’t the best experience. Fortunately, our driver did return, and we made it to our home stay in the village below.

 

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Mawsmai Caves, Meghalaya, India

Humor is one of the best ingredients of survival. 
Aung San Suu Kyi

I’m not good with closed spaces. Strangely, I was excited to explore an ancient cave. There were a lot of other tourists to follow. And yet, as you enter inside, the cold darkness just grips you. Rats may keep you company, just in case, you’ve lost sight of the others. Reaching the other side, often means, squeezing through narrow crevices or crawling on your knees. At the end, of a rather short (but felt like a really long) walk, light waits.

 

3

 

That survival instinct, that will to live, that need to get back to life again, is more powerful than any consideration of taste, decency, politeness, manners, civility. Anything. It’s such a powerful force.

Danny Boyle

Under choppy waters, the whirr of speeding boats, and frolic of tourists; lies a world of silence. There’s only one way to experience it. And for anyone, who hates being underwater; let’s say, it’s not the best experience. Panic hits you before the loss of sound can. And when you try to walk, that’s when bigger shocks await. But then, luck saves the day. The diver and your husband happen to spot you. Life is sweet again. And an opportunity of exploring another world lays etched in your mind forever.

 

37 responses to “Narrow Escapes

      • We went on a narrow road in a tour bus in HI this winter. Just as we rounded a particularly narrow hairpin turn, we met a semi. It was a tense moment. Our driver had prior knowledge somehow, and pulled off to the side in a safe spot, and there was just enough for it to squeeze by. fortunately for us, it was on the cliff edge, but it would not have made it if we plowed ahead.

      • I just played that in my mind! 😦 So glad you made it through. Don’t the mountains make you feel vulnerable and powerless. And yet, there’s so much beauty outside that window. Travel is filled with tough choices! 🙂 Have a great week, Marsha. 🙂

      • Thanks, Cheryl. You have a beautiful blog, and an amazing story. You are so fortunate to share those experiences with your husband.

      • Ah! I must add that travelling with your husband, who doubles as a travel partner, is not always easy! You know what they say, travel can get the best or worst out of you. 🙂

  1. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow | stenoodie·

  2. I am not good with closed spaces either, and I don’t know when I’ll brave as you to take this kind of journey. And I like all the pictures, especially black and white picture of Mawsmai Caves, Meghalaya, India.

    • I’m sure you can do it! I’m not as brave as half of the bloggers think I am. If I can, surely you can! Mawsmai is a very small path to trace. It’s doable. 🙂

  3. I’m OK with narrow paths to hike on and narrow roads (if I’m driving), but I really don’t like narrow spaces in caves! I have nightmares about getting stuck in a tiny crawlspace. I did once crawl through a very narrow tunnel on my stomach, my backpack pushed ahead of me, and that was enough for all time!

    • I don’t like narrow or closed or submerged places. 🙂 I’m not sure how do I travel? That tunnel story sounds like a nightmare. Fortunately, my cave experience was very short. I just kept moving all the time and followed an elderly local. He looked so wise, I just thought, there’s no way I’d get lost with him around. 🙂 And to think, I wanted to try caving in Iceland.

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  6. I would have been a bit panicked if I couldn’t see my driver returning as well.. especially if the plan b involved walking down a mountain with no proper gear 😀

    I’m ok with closed, submerged and narrow space but not with narrow roads, I just freak out.

    Nice contribution to the weekly challenge !

    • Haha! I think I panic in all situations! Lol! Basil’s the level headed guy! Actually, the mountain had a tarred road, so walking wouldn’t have been a problem. But, in these landscapes there’s not a soul in sight for miles and the rest of us would be stranded on top. The concept of rescue missions don’t exist. 😦 The Army base was 3 hours or so below. We were at a summit of about 14,000 ft I think. And, after reaching our homestay in the village below, I refused to go back with our group and drunk driver. So, we stayed in a local villager’s attic. Haha! Next day, travelled with locals, on our own, changing twice. Our hotel owner in Gangtok, who’d organise the trip hadn’t received the news of our extra stay in the mountain village. He was worried sick that something really bad has happened to us. Our driver hadn’t informed him. Was he happy to see us. 🙂

  7. How I’ve missed your posts! This was wonderful, such inspiring quotes and brilliant photos as usual and I love your words and musings. What a great take on the challenge.Glad I found it.

    • Thanks a bunch, Miriam! How are you doing? I’ve missed our little conversations. I don’t find posting easy these days. So, I always try to put in a little inspiration to get me through. 🙂 I’m so glad you liked it!

      • I did really enjoy this Cheryl and I’ve missed our chats as well. My posting has eased a bit too, lots on my mind and finding it hard to get motivated. xo

      • I know how difficult it must be. Whenever my mum’s unwell (especially past month) I haven’t been able to concentrate on anything really. But writing helps ease the pain… Just as you’ve always helped me continue writing, I’d say don’t stop. Hugs! You’re incredibly strong! If I haven’t said that before. xo

      • Sometimes I don’t feel so strong, especially lately. But I’m just going with the flow and letting the tears fall. Taking it one day at a time … writing has been hard but I’ll get back into it slowly but surely. Thanks for your support and friendship Cheryl. It means a lot. xo

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