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