I have a problem. Rising or setting, I can’t get enough of the sun. I wake up at 5, just to catch the sun rise. And, sure enough, more than once my colleagues have caught me peeping through the window at the sun retreating behind dusky clouds.
I don’t understand why I care so much. After all, the sun rises and sets every day. And it will continue to do so for at least the next few million years, I think I read somewhere.
But I still feel weird when I miss the sun in all its glory. From the pink morn streak to the golden glaze at mid day, all the way to the fiery orange later in the day—I wonder why people aren’t as excited about the hundred shades of the sun as they are about just half of Grey.
During a trip, we had to get ready at 3.30 in the morning to see a special sunrise. And guess who became the human-alarm to make sure everyone got ready on time?
I was all set — at 3.15 — eager to see the sun again. People were skeptical though. It’s just the sunrise, they said. Nothing they couldn’t see back home, in photos, and HD movies. What’s so special about the sunrise in Sikkim that we had to wake up even before dawn cracked?
I didn’t care. If it’s the sunrise, I can even stay up all night if I have to. In hindsight, every tired blink was worth it, even though my eyes puffed up in redness.
We weren’t used to that temperature. We wanted nothing more than to curl up in everything thermal we could find. But we stood, waiting for the sun to show his face.
It was a special place: Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, stands in the border of India’s Sikkim and Nepal. And we stood somewhere in between the Kanchenjunga and the Himalayan range. I got goosebumps just knowing that, let alone the cold.
The sunrise point lay about 30 minutes’ drive from our hotel, and when we got there, an old woman came toward us from what looked like the outline of an old shack. Trudging along, she clutched a flask of hot coffee and cups the size that disgraced a coffee-fanatic. Nevertheless, we welcomed the drink with more than open arms; it was too cold to whine.
Within the next 15 to 20 minutes, the place flooded with light, and tourists with unmanageable cameras. We stood as close as the bamboo plants along the mountain’s perimeter let us. The old coffee lady came back for another round, and though the sun hadn’t yet shown up, we could see that the shack we saw earlier, was, in fact, a shop selling woollen clothes. It seemed like the old woman and her family had taken responsibility of ushering us annoying tourists.
And so we waited. I wore two pairs of socks — a woollen and a thermal. My woollen cap and hooded sweater, kept my ears warm enough. But my gloves wasn’t wool enough to endure icy streaks that pricked at my skin. When I realised I couldn’t take photos with them on, I decided that had to come off.
For about 2 hours straight , I clicked at will. From the mildest purple, to the half-faded pink behind bamboos. My fingers had become so numb that the touch-screen wouldn’t even work. It was one of those days I hated myself for loving the technology. It took me more than a few jabs to get more photos.
And then at about 5.30, the sun started to rise. And that’s when we realized many young tourists had headed towards a cliff-like part of the mountain for a closer view. We weren’t cowards. We ran. We climbed those tiny mountains, and walked towards the sun that was now on level with our eyes.
It was a beauty.
All the gold in the world wouldn’t make up to even one ray of that golden-orange.
I felt fulfilled. I stood there, basking, while my friends took selfies with the sun. I had gone beyond photos. I stood in the moment and, for a moment, that’s all that mattered.
Two weeks later, as we sat reminiscing, one of my friends revealed the blunder we had made that day. The sun wasn’t the specialty of the region at all. It was the way the sun’s rays reflected off the mountain on the opposite side. Our driver had ridiculed us (yet another reason to learn the local language), musing why we had to come all the way to see the sunrise we could see at home. It was all about looking in the opposite direction. And we didn’t know.
But no matter what you do, nature gets the final word. Because that day, for some weird reason, the special reflection that drew scores of tourists, didn’t happen. Even for those who knew where to look, it was just another day where they had their backs turned as the sun rose. At least we faced it.