I have always nurtured a dream of owning a house in the mountains...overlooking the snow-capped peaks of Kanchendzonga. A little hamlet scooped out of a piece of the green hills, with rhododendron bushes bordering my porch, and chirping of birds as the only company. The moment I got a view of this place after the steep climb of what looked more like a pebbly mud path dug out of the hillock rather than a proper road, which housed this little piece of paradise... it felt like an instant déjà vu where memories swung across right in front of my eyes from what seemed to be buried deep down in the subconscious. The place lay barren like a kingdom in slumber, waiting to tell us intriguing stories as we checked in as the only guests at this time of the year which was considered outside the visiting season. There were bushes with wild flowers all around the place and the mud was wet with last night’s rain. We went for the hillside cottages, which opened up to a majestic view of the Kanchendzonga at other times of the year. However, they say there is no dearth of variety when it comes to nature...and just like an adolescent girl who has suddenly discovered her womanhood, she consciously draped herself in different hue and colour each day, nurturing and healing our spirits as we entranced, drank into the magic potion of her beauty. With monsoon in full swing, they did not expect guests and the only people to attend to us was the Nepali makeshift manager, a Bhutanese cook blessed with exceptional culinary skills and one who I had every mind to offer a hefty bribe to follow us home, Mohan – the cute bell boy... and yes the thick-furred black dog which followed our trails everywhere and though I was a tad sceptical in the beginning, eventually felt grateful for his company from dusk to dawn when the place was engulfed in dead silence and everything around seemed creepy. I never knew I could ever be an early riser till I came here. Mornings greeted you with incessant twittering of nameless birds, unknowingly weaving a beautiful melody in the ears, and the urge to uncover what lay outside the window won over the otherwise unconquerable temptations of slumber. Just like I pulled aside the heavy curtains and got a glimpse of the breathtaking view all around, I wished I could pull away the clouds from the blue mountains’ and get a sneak peek into the snow-capped ranges, only for a split moment maybe... however nature’s laws knew no exceptions. The clouds started gathering around the giant range from the wee hours as if guarding some well kept secret as decreed by the master. Stepping out and into the grass was a wild idea, given the countless leeches which called this home too, especially during the monsoons. Tiny creatures which looked like black specks would crawl up the feet and in no time leave a bloody patch in a toe or finger cleft. After all, they didn’t like intruders too and feasted on your flesh at the slightest stimulus. However, when a bird sang from behind a hidden branch or a bee buzzed its way from one flower bud to another, the camera just had to catch the moment and leeches failed to qualify as obstacles. The night in a forest had a special charm. As darkness lay its blanket after a short interlude of a confused evening, the ears were greeted to an orchestra of zillions of insects which suddenly brought alive the otherwise quiet forest, with perhaps the cricket being the lead player. And after a while the rain which started with a pitter patter on the asbestos sheets lining the ceiling, suddenly muffled all other sounds as it roared downwards, holding command and hushing all others to silence. And with no other sound other than persistent downpour the forest lulled you to a peaceful slumber, one without dreams or nightmares. Getting up along with the sun had become a curious habit with me from the very first day I had stepped into this land of mist and greens. I don’t know how my body clock adjusted so well, more so because I failed to synchronise it with my schedule while on the plains and almost always started the day being sleep deprived. Like a gadget which constantly beeped from low charge. This was our last day, and as I sluggishly got up from the bed thinking about the change of sequence and milieu from the very next day I had the very same questions to myself that I always had while being close to nature. What if I could stay back… for good? Hanging the camera sashes around my neck I stepped out with a wish to savour the last few hours in this peaceful hamlet in what was still the wee hours… and the moment I looked up, I was wonderstruck and stayed open-mouthed for a while at what lay ahead of me in the vast canvas, before I could gather myself to slowly draw the lens out of my camera bag. The snow-white-golden tinted-majestic range had magically appeared like a genie’s wish, from what seemed a valley covered eternally by mists and clouds from all sides. It looked heavenly to say the least. I could not help but drag the other extremely-reluctant-sleepy-soul which accompanied me, from the comforts of a double-deluxe spring mattress only to witness the same emotions which numbed me a while back. We were like two children learning to speak again, as we felt bewildered and lost, and could only smile back at the wonders that greeted us. As I packed my bags and during the entire winding journey downhill, there was this one verse that grew stronger and stronger inside me…

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods…

There is a rapture on the lonely shore

There is society, where none intrudes…

By the deep sea, and music in its roar,

I love not man the less… but Nature more.


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