Looking back at the year that went by, it has been for me a year of many journeys and a diverse set of experiences. I started 2014 by travelling high in the Himalayas in bitter cold weather, experiencing temperatures as low as -25C in landscapes that are so beautiful that heart aches to leave them behind. On the contrast, I spent a month in the low-lands of Myanmar and Cambodia exploring some of the wettest regions of South East Asia. SEA charmed me with its vibrant cultural landscape–friendliest of smiles, genial monks, green carpets of rice paddies and a life that is still waking up to the rat-raced modern culture.
When it comes to cherished interactions, I spent time with shepherds of the highlands of Ladakh, lived with monks in high Himalayas of Himachal, gazed on air bubbles and crystalline formations in a frozen lake, interacted with farmers in rural Bhutan, picked sweet-peas in a Himalayas farm, watched the sun come up over a mirror-like calm lake amidst the mountains, sat in a carpet of wildflowers overlooking snow-peaks, watched ebullient young monks play joyfully with little concern for the world, flew on two brand new airlines that were born this year in India, enjoyed some beach-side holidays, sat pillion with great anxiety riding a two-wheeler on a train track, walked on the world’s longest teak-bridge which has an air of romance all over its length, made friends with a talkative monk, attempted to learn the heart of an elephant and felt the emotions of a caring mahout, flew on some tiny aircrafts and walked careless on a tiny airport tarmac, went on day-long boat journeys on rivers, met and chatted with the friendliest folks I have ever seen in the countrysides of South East Asia, witnessed nature’s slow and persistent dominance over man made edifices, lived in the remotest parts of India, got first hand insights into lives of people in the farthest parts of the country, watched an incredible event that is often dubbed as the ‘festival of festivals’, saw and learned how they make salt and spent the last few days of the year basking in some glorious sunrises and sunsets among gentle camel and colourful dancers in the deserts.
I couldn’t have asked more, but more did come my way. In the end of all these journeys, I came back a wee bit wiser, as people whom I encountered all along the way taught me a lesson unknowingly to them – that one doesn’t need all these experiences to be happy and yet, one must search and wander to learn this lesson.
Here is a collection of images and experiences I accumulated in the last twelve months.
In January 2014, I was travelling through Changthang Plateau in the highlands of Ladakh. It was a relatively mild winter, and yet, the evening hour temperatures were in the order of ten degrees below zero. Just before sunset, we arrived at a grassland coveted by ChangPa shepherds. It was time for the sheep and goats to return home from the day of grazing. A thousand or more of them kicked up dust from the parched land and until the air gathered the colour of earth. Last rays of the sun bounced off from the thick wooly hide of the sheep even when the setting sun was momentarily subdued by thick dust. The scene of a thousand sheep walking home in the evening light was an extraordinary moment. click to read more »