Lesson 3: The Cream of Manali

Trina Talukdar

The bus stopped at 5am at a tea stall. We looked down and the beas river was flowing right there, and the mist was rising. The river was flowing, and a river of mist flowing right above it. And I knew that all the Lord of the Rings scenes were not animated- they can be real.

Yet, watching the river of mist flow right under me was no match compared to watching it from 15,000 feet above.

Solang Valley, 11 a.m. , and it was still so foggy it looked like twilight. I’d been waiting for more than 2 hours to jump off the cliff at 15,000 feet. But I couldn’t jump into the fog for fear of hitting a tree to. So, I waited some more. Nearing noon, when I was ready to trek down to the valley, my stomach growling and demanding cabbage Momos, the fog rose, the tree tops began to emerge. First the tufts, then wide spread branches, until the whole valley spread out in emerald green thousands of feet below me.

I strapped on my wings, sprinted 20 steps and jumped. Civilisation was a miniature Lego construction thousands of feet below me, and I was flying above it all. Gliding like a hawk, swerving past tree tops, skidding through clouds. Yaks grazing below me were black dots shifting like the cursor on a DOS screen, and people colourful dots twinkling- appearing and disappearing. I could only assume they were people.

What must I look like for a bird who lives up here? For an insect flying above me? For a mosquito who can be up here whenever it wants, I am a blinking colourful dot, appearing and disappearing. And one day, if I never appear again, the universe will not even notice. The river will continue to flow- just as breath-takingly beautiful. The trees will push their tufts up even higher. The clouds will swim and form rabbits and puppies in the sky. And more colourful dots will appear and disappear. But not me, no longer.

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"Lesson 3: The Cream of Manali" by @bongbuzz