Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chasing Mountain Views

All that rain yesterday did a glorious thing. It cleared the skies of the clouds, dust, and smog that have been obstructing this view for me until today:

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I took this photo late in the afternoon on Pulchowk Road, right near my office. I think I audibly gasped when I looked up and saw the mountains in such gorgeous clarity.

Here is a photo of the same view, taken exactly one week prior. That day I was excited to catch even this little glimpse of the Himalayas:

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See them? I swear they are there. But you probably would not believe me were I not able to provide proof from the first photo.

In case you could not tell, I have somewhat of an obsession with the Himalayas. I don't know why -- it's not as if I am a climber or anything, though I do like a good hike. My mother tells me that I come by it rightly, as my maternal grandmother, whom I never knew, also loved the Himalayas, even though she never traveled to this part of the world.

I first saw the foothills of these amazing mountains in 2001, when I traveled from Delhi to Manali, India, with my good friend. That 18-hour bus trip on hairpin curves was well worth the rewarding views in the end, even if our guide did get us lost in the woods and started praying with his rosary.

My second encounter was two years later, during my first trip to Nepal. I did not glimpse the Himalayas from Nepal, though, as it was monsoon season and the skies remained cloudy all summer. I did, however, get amazing views during a two-week excursion to Tibet. During my overland journey from Kathmandu to Lhasa and back again, I saw gorgeous glacial scenes and, most exciting, Everest up close from the north base camp in Tibet.

Finally, Brian and I lucked out on our last morning in Pokhara, Nepal, during our honeymoon. We had woken up a second morning in a row to watch the sun rise over the Annapurnas; while the first morning we saw only clouds, we decided to give it another shot before leaving town. Slowly, slowly, over the course of about half an hour, the Annapurna range revealed itself to us in all of its glory. I blame that view for distracting me as I carried up a cup of tea and tripped over the flagstone path; tea, wallet, and dignity went flying, and I still have a scar on my shin to commemorate that fall.

So, what's next on our list of Himalayan vistas? Well, the list is long. I want a proper viewing of the Annapurna Range; I want to see Everest from the Nepal side; and one day I really want to travel the Karakoram Highway, which is the highest paved road in the world and links China and Pakistan.

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