Back to the Source

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This is the third time I’ve ventured into the Himalayas and the magic gets stronger with each encounter. The last two times were both on the China/Tibet side of the slopes. This is the first time I’ve come at them from the India side and the vibe is decidedly softer. 
 
It’s only two weeks after a 6.8 earthquake rocked this area and the road from Siliguri to Gangtok, which even in the best of times is not a great road, is now in parts nearly impassable. Army crews are out clearing landslides and in places huge chunks of the road have dropped into canyons that seem to disappear into the center of the earth. Not that it stopped the sumo taxi driver from passing along the narrow ledges.  

The further we drove into the mountains, the more it began to feel like leaving time and the world behind.  

Along the roadside, hundreds of monkeys perched on boulders or clung onto the cliffs. Mother monkeys nursing their babies and young ones rolling around together. Large males strutted along the shoulder and juveniles tossed pebbles at the vehicles. Whenever I see monkeys in action, I’m more convinced than ever that Darwin was right. 

Something about these mountains moves me and I feel so at home here. Maybe it’s just that they are so stunningly beautiful; it’s like walking into a myth. Waterfalls around every bend, some like silvery spiders’ webs threading through the rocks while others thunder down the mountainside for hundreds of feet.  

And now from my third floor window in the Fujiya Guest House, Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world, shimmers in frosted white. Tibetan prayer flags flutter on rooftops and this morning I woke up at dawn to a procession of monks chanting in the street below. It’s easy here to believe that monks can fly, flowers fall from the sky and yetis roam in the wilderness. It reminds me that the world is still full of mystery. 


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