While travelling in the mountains, you require more than a good luck. And with this ‘more than a good luck’ we traversed two hundred kilometres of secluded mountain road in a worst rain. That day it wasn’t raining cats & dogs, it was: cats, dogs, buffaloes, elephants, grizzly bears, and whatever you could think of.
Actually, the downpour had started the previous night. And for the entire night it had been like a constant flow of a rivulet by the windows of our bedroom; and the persistent rumbling of the clouds made me twist and turn and worry in the bed. In the morning when I opened the front door to peer out, it was cats & dogs still. But we had packed our bags, and the snacks were packed too, and the refrigerator was cleansed to the last morsel of eatables, so we had no choice but to start.
Traveling alone in the mountains is risky, but traveling with your mother, wife, and an infant is a different story altogether. You’ve to be the strongest – not only because you are at the wheel, but three other lives are your responsibility. So at every bend and cliff I kept my right foot on the brake pedal and peered ahead faster than the speed of the car to see if loose rocks were not charging ravenously at us, or a tilted tree about to lose hold of the ground, or a sudden gush of water making way on to the road.
In the rains the mountains are least forgiving. A single stone rolling down the slope could tear the window pane of your car and penetrate your intestines. One falling tree could neatly smash your car into two. And it takes just two landslides to trap you in between. And in those secluded faraway corners you could be waiting for hours, if not days, before you meet any other creature with two legs. In those moments you can’t do anything but sit idle in your car and leave everything to almighty, if you believe in him (I do).
We had covered half of the perilous terrain trembling and chanting prayers when we were brought to halt by a log of vehicles on a ‘U’ curve. A landslide had blocked the road and people were trapped at that remote, isolated spot since two hours. I pulled the car to side and walked ahead to see the scale of the disaster. Few people, who were also travellers like us, were surrounding the landslide in raincoats and umbrellas, and a few like me were soaking in the rain. Then few men brought whatever tools they had in their vehicles: one gentleman brought a shovel, another brought a rope, and one pickup driver brought an axe (?), and they started clearing the sludge, not bothering about their getting dirty or drenched in rain and sweat. They were taking turns to pull the shovel whereas a few, including me, stood there worrying that the debris was beyond the power of the men.
I soon got soaked and irritated and cursed god: why, why, why were we trapped there?
Dejected, I turned to wait in my car. It was then I saw this:
Beauty in the disaster that left me awestruck, lessened my worry, and subdued my fury. Sometimes beauty is right behind us whereas we are busy cursing the ugliness. All it takes is just one turn to change the perspective.
The landslide was half cleared by men before the machine arrived and cleared it. We escaped the spot as fast as we could, but the rain was still the same: non-stop and unforgiving. The fog still covered most of the area, only sometimes it touched the front of our car. But I observed that now I wasn’t as irritated as I was before I witnessed the magic of nature. And we reached home safely. But, yes, it was a great risk that we embraced, and I would never advise you to travel in the mountains in the rains, not with the family.