Friday, November 24, 2006

Chiffonesque

Recently, I had a chance to watch “Shall we dance Mr. Clark?” It was quite a while after the image of Mr. Gere, in a sleek and well fitting tuxedo, a solitary long stemmed red rose in hand and eyes that said it all, disappeared from my mind that I could breathe again. As the got blood flowing into my neurons again, my brain began unscrambling the messages that I was sending. I realized I was thinking, actually. (Like Pooh bear on a blustery day)

Mr. Clark’s life had become routine: a simple but disoriented and empty life as a faithful husband and father, a brilliant and overworked lawyer, a man without any wish or passion. During a poignant moment in the movie, Mr. Clark tells the missus that dancing makes him happy and that this derived happiness has filled the space occupied earlier by something monotonous. It has nothing to do with Mrs. Clark really, he insists and the fact that he loves her truly is displayed through their slow dance in the shop.

Just as anyone can chose to join in at a dance or stand by the wall simply to watch, the decision to seek a life of meaning, passion, and emotion is also a choice. I had no idea how well I could identify with this feeling or make this choice for myself in a small way.

After 7 years of hard core gymming, I recently included aerobics in my routine. And guess what, I began liking it as much as pumping iron. My tryst started with apprehension about the instructor’s capabilities and ended with awe at how they conjure up the kind of heart stopping routines they make us do. over time, I realized that every instructor has her (Yes, its always her. Ever know if a ‘him’ aerobic instructor?)own style in which she conducts the classes, includes warm up exercises, intense CV workouts and the floor reps. So it happened, we got a new instructor for the class. What makes M different is this amazing method she uses to help us cool down.

The music is switched, slow beats and soulful words fill the air. She executes a dance step and indicates that we follow. I watch keenly…..the head falls to one side, the hands sway in rhythm with the torso, very chiffonesque and it’s the eyes..the eyes that betray a passion. I could watch all day..but a sharp glance from her makes me skip a little. After all, I am not to this manner born, so a few pathetic attempts to sway, follow. Amused, she tells me that my dancing feats will be her best kept secrets. What happens in class stays there. J Rhythm is never the problem for that I can execute with perfection. It is that swan like grace and the need to dance without inhibitions that I fall short on.

As classes progress, I see less and watch more. Her passion is catching. I find myself trying to mimic her movements. (Yeah, it’s a big thing with me to be able to do THAT. My friends say doing a deck of 500 pushups would be easier for me than this. Well, each to his own.) It no longer bothers me if I am doing alright or I’m still a hopelessly lost cause.

All I want to do is dance and feel the rhythm divine. And it makes me happy with a capital H. Amen!

PS: Title borrowed from a friend’s blog of the same name. Thought it is very apt here!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Parting Shot


Yak


Parting Shot


Yak


Pretty Flowers


Pangong ~ III


Pangong ~ II


Pangong


Pangong: First view


Scene en route



Road to Chang La



Sunday, November 19, 2006

Leh Logs: Days Six & Seven

My gaze followed the ripples as they widened on the deep blue waters of the Pangong lake. They had a long way to travel before they succumbed to surface pressure. The water in this world’s highest salt water lake recognizes no boundaries, boundaries that my mind is forced to acknowledge. Of the 70 km length, the better part (40 km) lies in china and the rest in India. The lake is the closest we can come to a pristine water body within human access.

A grueling 5 hour ride, passing through Chang-La found us on the banks of this lake, a wondrous creation of nature. The Chang-la is the world’s third highest motorable pass.

The road rough was perpetually rough, the snow and frequent landslides ruining every effort the BRO takes to keep it smooth. We took a tea break at Chang-La. This area is not frequented by ‘regular’ tourists. It’s those in search of the unusual who brave the distance to venture to the Pangong. We hardly met any cars either ways. The military trucks though, were plentiful.

The landscape was as proud as ever, almost Ozymandias-like. The message was simple, take it or leave it! For those who choose to take it, hidden treasures revealed themselves in all their glory. Glimpses of the multi-coloured mountains, the coarse deserts, the magnificent but brittle rock, the sudden patches of green, enchantingly blue water bodies, the mighty peaks and the silently grazing cattle……vision-scapes of Ladakh, its real treasures.


On the way to Pangong, we had stopped at a military post to hand over the mandatory permit. A couple of locals, a sister and brother, requested us to give them a lift further up from the camp. It was harvest season and they were heading home to help their folks with the efforts. Leave us as soon as you reach the mountain pass before Pangong they said. Since public transport is notoriously infrequent, we obliged. There was no sign of habitation for miles, we were not sure where in the wilderness they were heading. Close or remote, home is after all Home. As we said adieu, we wished them all the best with their lives.

Such is the nature of the Ladakhis that during times of adversity, they will take life by its horns. And otherwise, they’ll loll on the grass and watch it go by. They are a very refined and honest people…respecting, almost worshipping the land they dwell on.

Back at the lake, I could not take in enough of that tranquil blueness…I became painfully aware that this would be my last chance to let Ladakh wash over me.
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A quaint little tea shop completed the scenic picture at the Pangong. We had some tea and I also had noodles. We were about 10 people there, excluding the tea stall folks. This was a welcome change from the throngs that you meet at other places. No bawling kids, no snap happy couples and no pushing or jostling. Ahh! Umm! Yummm! (My involuntary exclamations after the tea and snack.)

It was time to leave this paradise behind. I was very difficult to look the other way. L Even the exhausting journey back seemed inviting if it meant staying with the landscape.

We had to pack and be ready for our 9 am flight the next morning. It seemed unreal that I was on the banks of the Pangong at that time, pulling my parka close to keep the chill out and 12 hours later I was sweating it out in the New Delhi airport. Unreal! Unreal!

Our last glimpses came from the plane as it flew high above the peaks and glaciers. We could see the roads we had traveled on go places in this Wonderland and other equally beautiful spaces where no man had ever set foot.

Here ends this tale of this enthralling voyage. It had been my mother’s wish for some years now to see this magical land. The WWW played a decisive part in making this trip possible without any untoward incident. We finalized our travel plans, the hotel, the various locations and even our itinerary, courtesy the web.

It’s easier to get into Leh – Ladakh than getting them out of you. And I don’t think I am ever going to try to.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

# 16

....solar flares of old
like fireflies flicker
spirits roused
the phoenix was seen...