Thursday, April 07, 2011

A 6th of April Miracle at Triund

"The sky knows when its time to snow
You don't need to teach a seed to grow
It's just another ordinary miracle today"

Ordinary Miracle (2006) by Sarah McLachlan

I put this in writing so I'll never forget. This is the reason why I took up the pen.

In my four hour-hike over grey shale, grey granite and ripe brown mule excrements which paved the hanging road to Triund, I've exhausted the battery of my digital camera and it died the moment I reached that meadow cradled by the side of the world's bones. All I have to show for are these words, written hastily in a yellow ruled copybook in the midst of a day that shouldn't have been. Mr Suresh, who has run his stick-and-stones shanty of a teashop in this very spot for the past twenty years, near three thousand metres above sea level, told me that this is the first time he know of that snow fell on Triund in the spring month of April.

"Bad weather," he remarked apologetically, but to this boy from the malarial tropics of the Malay Archipelago, it was the furthest thing from bad. To him, snow is the thing of fables, fantasy novels, and foreign films. It was magic, fairy sprinkles and dream stuff.

And to think I almost missed it. I was huddled in another tiny teashop just thirty minutes below Triund with a lone Taiwanese she-hiker and the young proprietor of the spartan establishment, waiting out a frigid mountain shower. Yu (for that was her name) and I idly discussed the wiser choice of returning to lower ground for fear of being caught in a rainstorm on the cruel, exposed rocky outcrop we call our destination to slowly freeze our digits and ears off. Then we received our Sign. A beautiful, porcelain-skinned Korean girl dressed in an insubstantial pink Punjabi suit ghosted past the teashop's entrance.

"We are wearing hiking boots but here we are, talking about turning back. She only has sandals and yet, she's pressing on," said Yu, philosophically. "We have to go up now."

It was late in the afternoon. The mule drivers and enterprising tourist trappers huddled in their little tourist traps around their cook fires, muttering darkly about the freak meteorological phenomenon. The other pilgrims, to whom snow is commonplace and a nuisance, had all started their descent down to avoid worse weather they divined would forthcome - even Yu. I stayed. I stood unsheltered, facing the titanic spine of the Dhauladhar from whence the ice wind blew, bringing the echo of a winter past. I stared into the great abyss in the sky the colour of despondency as little dancing shadows of snowflakes - no two alike - floated down to meet me in the eye. They perished the second they touched the searing heat of my face; the dampness they left were transient but the memory of their cold lingered like a shy first kiss.

The clouds' bounty grew heavier - heavy enough that the stony ridge of Triund with its lush, grassy knolls began to surrender its hues under a fresh, pure silken sheet of snow; like a watercolour painting fading in a basin of water. The sins of ovine and caprine leavings hoarded over an age which serve as the humus of the meadowland were quickly censored by the brand new icing. Alas, it lasted but an hour, a nothing gust of time in the gales of eternity. The mercury was not nearly low enough to nurse the infant snow, and the moment the precipitation slackened, it all melted away like powdered sugar over a hot doughnut, glazing the landscape with wetness and a gentle sense of regret. Mi rtag pa, as the Tibetans would say. It's anicca. It's impermanent; never-lasting.

Perhaps the shopkeeper told a little white lie to make my maiden trek up Triund special. Maybe it blizzards every Wednesday up here in April since time immemorial. It matters not. What matters is that when I was standing right there with my eyes closed receiving the bittersweet caresses of the tsundere Daughters of Frost, I believed that a miracle had happened, and it happened just for me.

Happier than he has ever been,
k0k s3n w4i


Glo-w~* said...

o.O" why no pictures to share with the rest of us not so lucky mortals...sigh, good thing you're good with words^^

McGarmott said...

Having your camera battery die just as you reach a beautiful destination? That's the travellers' curse, and it strikes with alarming, almost unfair regularity.

Liz said...

Awwww. I wish I had a chance to experience snow. How lucky you are ! :D

k0k s3n w4i said...

Glo-w~*: i have tonnes of pictures but i'd like to edit them first - so, you'll probably only see them when i return :)

McGarmott: it's my fault. i overestimated the battery's capacity and chose not to charge it before setting out that morning. well, the written word is the next best thing, i guess.

Liz: i saw snow when i was in manali 3 years ago, but i've never seen snowfall. it was really magical...