Yushu to Lhasa to Kathmandu to Bomday in 2007
Good ol memories.
THE sky is always smiling and happy like the Tibetans who despite their privations are an embodiment of compassion, like true Buddhists
It must have been about 7 degrees below zero. I was holding on tightly to
the exhaust pipe of my 150cc motorcycle for about five minutes in order to
save my fingers from hurting in the cold. As my frozen shoes hung close to
the warm engine, all I could do for my bare feet was to ignore them for a few more minutes until the socks thawed soft. I sat there on the earth that never saw any plant grow more than a few inches because of the permafrost that she kept under her skin. At an altitude of more than 5000m, it was the evening of the fourth day of my 10-day-motorcycle- ride from Yushu (Qinghai) to Lhasa (TAR). Freezing wetness in my clothes, gushing winds and hunger made me want to end this part of the trip. I wanted to be in India eating the spicy, juicy foods and breathing the warm tropical winds. A thousand miles on the off road terrains in unknown territories (unknown to me and my GPS) had been a scary thought even before I had ignited the engine.
Amidst these thoughts I saw rain falling at seven different corners around me. It was far enough to wet only the snow covered mountains in the horizon in all directions. The grass displayed all the shades of green a human eye could encounter. The sun looked a sleepy red with clouds around it, shades of celebrating crimson colours. It seemed that the sky was probably smiling and very happy, like we are when we come home after a long tiring day. The landscape was a celebration of some sort. Probably Tibet was the home for all those beautiful clouds and the sky. The land was owned by the overwhelming presence of the dark blue skies and contrasting clouds. A little feeling of accomplishment sat on subtle smile that I felt in that cold. I was there - “On the roof of the world”.
But this should have been expected. I was avoiding the road that joins
Nagqu with Chamdo to avoid the Chinese check posts. Anyway, off road anywhere can be uncomfortable. After all, this was Tibet. The native people
cover these distances on motorcycles if not by foot. But no one seem to know
for sure if there was a way south. I had been riding in the direction towards the snow covered mountains that reflected sunlight in brilliant colours. Those
mountains did not seem to come anywhere near me even after riding the
bike for two days. It was like one of those dreams where you strive for
something really bad and it does not even come close. I was able to cover
only 12km that day because of the Grasslands of Tibet. Two days north of Soq Monastery rivers and U-turns. The fifth day I found myself beyond those mountains and on the track that ran through villages and little towns. With only yaks, butter tea, and salt to their name, I always thought of Tibetans to be the most spiritual people on earth. This place had an image of contempt and vastness. With these notions in my mind, Tibet was in my plans since years. I wanted to live here for a while, like the locals. I always wanted to feel the vibrations that the land gave out where people tend to live a life of satisfaction and utter peace. I also wanted to see how the natives living
in Tibet felt about and reacted towards the Chinese oppression. My journey gave me a first hand experience of Amdo and Kham (provinces within
the ancient Tibet) where I lived in a Buddhist monastery, and biked through
the mountains and grasslands of Kham and U (pronounced ‘Oooh’). Further I
went south to travel through Nepal and India to meet Tibetans living in exile.
While I was at it, I ended up stimulating my senses through the colours, tastes and smells of the vibrant cultures of the subcontinent. My journey started in Beijing in September. Overland covering more than 12000km, I crossed Tibet and entered India, to finally call it a day (for at-least two weeks) in Varanasi.