The temperature had fallen below zero degrees celsius. Our driver had been fidgeting for the last one hour. He was a native, he climbed these hills every day for a living. A professional cab driver, with a skin thick enough to withhold falling snow and selfie stick enthusiasts. We were late to leave our previous destination, the Nathu La pass, the trade border between India and China, and the visibility grew worse even as we descended.
I sat snuggled in a sweater too big for me, wearing three layers of socks, rubber boots, and gloves that had given away to the cold. The only solace: My woollen cap protected my ears. I had never loved that cap more before.
And all of a sudden, the cab stopped. Out the window, I saw an expanse of white all around me, spotted with a few black rocks that peeked through the snow. Then I turned to the other side, and there lay, the Tsmongo lake.
My first thought: It was the most beautiful thing I had even seen. In hindsight, it was one of the most beautiful things I had seen that day. It was a feast bigger than I could comprehend in one look.
I lost my breath for a while. In the beauty of the lake, but even more in its endurance. As the chilly breeze swept past me, my bones tingled in tune to the ripples in the river. Surrounded by mountains of snow, with more snow just beginning to fall, the lake remained unfrozen. I don’t understand how, and I don’t want to either. It’s just one of those natural phenomenon that’s best left unexplained by over-enthusiastic humans and their inhumane science.
Our driver gave us generous time to get out of the cab and breathe in as much as we could.
For the first time in three hours, all the blood rushed to my feet and I almost jumped out of the cab.
It’s a famous spot, and there were no shortage of walking sweaters and hoodies. Of the six in our cab, only two of us got down to greet the cold. And boy, what an experience that was.
I still felt the cold piercing through my skin, but I had grown accustomed to it. A few more days there and I could have endured at least a small part of what our cab driver did.
Anyway, we walked over to the metal bars that stood between us and the lake. Hanging over it were so many tourists capturing moments to bring back home and tease their friends. I couldn’t pass that opportunity. So I hung over the bars to get a few brag-worthy shots myself.
Meanwhile, my friend was taking photos as well. He asked me stand still as he clicked. I wasn’t too keen on posing on purpose, but did so anyway and, in turn, asked him to do the same. Courtesy, you know.
As I stood there, a few snowflakes fell on me. And despite my grown-up stance, I held it in my finger with a clumsy look and a lopsided smile. I was holding a snowflake!
Once our ten minutes was up, we packed ourselves back in the cab, and headed downhill with almost no idea of what’s going ahead of us.
Another dream, realised.