A Photo-Ethnographic Study, Himachal Pradesh, India, Photographic Stories
Comments 108

The motorcycle, Dalai Lama and the Meal – I

Few years ago, I was travelling with once upon a time a beautiful friend. And like all great friendships do, we were growing up becoming something together. And during this long period of growth had found our confidence, our speech, as we took travelling to many a distant lands and one land far; discovering treasures together that helped us earning our eyes, my outer nature and his inner, we learnt together and kept going.  

The sun had set again. And unlike last night that had just blown in; we should have found something, somewhere to rest, to eat by now. But here we were still riding, and had been riding our motorcycles for last two, twelve-hour days, while living through one gruelling moonless, freezing night in between, that started late yesterday noon, when we were stopped, stunned to see a river that had come on the road. We parked and got down. One spring had broken loose. Pulling in all mud, the boulders, rocks, with an intimidating noise, and the force of the coldest water as it rushed downstream.


In the last one hour of our ride we had over taken no one and that meant no one was coming behind us, at least for sometime. It really seemed, as we had always wanted to be amongst nature; that day nature herself turned to us. The moment of helplessness was so overpowering that the first thing that came to us was a smile looking at each other. It was intimidating to an extent that it looked impossible to even attempt crossing it. Our motorcycles were heavy filled with bags, petrol, luggage, and only one slip, one misstep could lead to directionless-ness of the journey ahead and may be life. There was no one to be seen on both ends to speak with. We thought and looked for a way, sat, made plans, charged ourselves, challenged us and filled ourselves with some hope, of giving it a try. And for once, one by one we started our engine and pulled it all to power pass through, manoeuvring, pushing at least towards the mountain curve uphill,

but it got worse and I found it even harder to sustain that much force. On the way uphill just before the curve my bike gave up, water entered the silencer and I had to watchfully get it backwards walking through the ice water where we were before. I removed my sock and shoe, as we sat mulling, rather waiting again, together. 

A truck arrived and stopped, driver looked for a while, gathered some sense and went with speed. With much difficulty though, as it was the first time we could assess through its big the depth and level of difficulty. And to say the least that truck was the only machine that actually passed that evening. Cars that arrived later tried to follow suit. Some men came together determining a way, some started removing bigger boulders, or putting in to help the others to pass. Everybody stopped and looked as one Jeep ahead inside and tried its best to negotiate with force and stubbornness but it happened to be the one that got stuck right in the middle of it;

evening by then slowly turned to night; becoming impossible to try anything. The cold outside became unbearable. We befriended a man who was alone sitting in car, giving us sitting shelter for the night. Sleep was silently beyond comprehension as from this car we saw the car stuck right in the middle of the road river, passengers sitting inside it as the coldest water noised past through their car all night, when somewhere around that time someone started blowing a flute.  

As soon as it dawned, It took tremendous might and a lot of time; many a hands came together to help get each other pass through this unbelievable stretch of the road. The ones whom we helped, came back to help our motorcycles pass. And as we carried these memories of the night last, still riding, and riding fast going into another night to reach, to feel safer, comfortable, to stretch our bodies for once, to rest and to eat, when suddenly the headlight of my friend’s motorcycle busted broke and we came to a halt again. 

It took us two hours from there to descent from a high pass, through the deepest Himalayan gorges closest to the Tibetan(Chinese) border; very cautiously without one headlight on an another dark, freezing night, we attached two hand torches on one motorcycle as i lead us slowly to the only camp.

And as we arrived, I remember we were welcomed by the sound of cooker whispering loudly in that playground valley of the winds, that food is here; you are welcome. It was super comfortable, and there were quiet a few people already sitting and resting. Some fellow Indians, few foreigners. We were slowly getting back to warmth, finding our breaths back, ourselves amongst hot tea, as finally feeling humans and not on a war. As not far from us, we realised that one discussion was slowly going towards disagreement, argument as hands were thrown at the table when we learnt that the two adults that are arguing, were one from Israel and the other from Palestine. 

The food arrived and Dolma(big sister in Laddakhi) don’t know why told us that His Holiness Dalai Lama would be coming tomorrow, not very far from here to a place called The Chandra(moon) Tal (Lake). And many lamas and monks in numbers would be coming, serving food there for anyone present.

Early in the morning, we woke up excited and left for the mountain lake hungry, lot before the first ray would touch our planet, it was long journey and the road was beautiful, deep inside a valley that had separated itself from another grand river Sutlej, satadree nadi in Sanskrit. These roads were not paved then, and for a any vehicle larger than a car would be almost impossible to get through easily. 

It took us over two hours to reach. We parked our motorcycles and started trudging up the hill. And slowly as we were reaching the oldest heavenly sight of the crater shaped lake, we were surprised to see locals, monks coming from directions we never thought even existed to walk, they were walking from one mountain to the other calling people from the villages where roads might never reach. They were walking in small-large groups from far away mountains, and some for even days to meeting, to see, to have only one glimpse of their lord, His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the moon lake, below. 

Everyone seemed happy, waiting to be enlightened. Singing, conversing, talking, walking across the lake, observing it, seeing it, meditating over it and calming their restive souls waiting for him. It was half past two, and still Dalai lama hadn’t come. And because he had not come, the food was not served till then. 

Yet as we waited, we came close to and started speaking with the Rinpoche lama, scholar and a close aide to his holiness, as he learnt that we had come from far on Motorcycles asked us if it is true! My dear friend then in a matter of fact like conversation asked him if he ever rode a Motorcycle in his life? He, the Rinpoche smiled, thought for a moment and answered him in a question, that, if he ever swam this lake? While looking at the coldest waters, both burst out laughing.

At that time my friend did go to the shore of the lake, putting the tip of his toe in the water after removing his shoe and started laughing even louder like a child, probably acknowledging Rinpoche’s wisdom or contemplating his own childlike nature. The water was freezing. 

Today after all these a few years, i imagine that laugh was more than just an acceptance and a surrender to everything that nature presents. Including all those days that were not laughable, to those beings who spend their time meditating likewise travelling within themselves. And even after all these years when he is not here with me, his laugh still rings like that melody of fluttering, colorful Tibetan Prayer Flags.

That day His Holiness the Dalai Lama did not arrive. And yet that day became the most fulfilling day with the company of many monks we ever had during our motorcycle diaries. The food was delicious. 


But two years later, something rare, something unusual will happen.

by

Hi, I am Narayan Kaudinya. And i welcome you on this journey, the Road to Nara ! I am an Ethnographer and a practicing Indologist. I did my masters in History and further learnt Sanskrit, Yoga and Nerve-therapy. At 24, pushing most academic sounding, office sitting works away, i felt compelled to know and understand the world and my country, Bharat/India. I travelled, and as it happened i took up teaching in Kashmir and further up in the remote villages of Baltistan in the foothills of Karakoram Ranges. For around three years and many states later there came a time when i felt that it was only while teaching i learnt how to laugh, to see, feel, breathe, love and cry -with children, and mostly resource-less parents in the harshest-freezing border conditions. I write, and work as a documentary photographer and Filmmaker, with numerous published, exhibited and some awarded stories. In my travels and life i have let nature lead me, the divine mother, and as a Yogin, my resolve here is to share my experiences and thoughts as honestly, and through them to blossom in everyone the power and possibility in pursuing your breath, that you seek your true nature with courage and curiosity. Here, on this road i will share my spirit, my love for nature, the elements of life that are us. And in doing so, i'll be happy to see you along.

108 Comments

  1. Narayan, Thank you so much. For connecting us to Mother nature with your pictures and magical description, your experience with the monks, the mere force and pure beauty of Mother Nature. Every word speaks out the endless road… motorcycle pulling you through.. everyone trying to make others pass through the gushing river..and what a sigh of relief with that cooker whistle ❤️

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes Richa, that cooker whistle. And it is another world when you are biking. You, like no windows on the bike are open to the world of possibilities; you have accidents, you become dirty, at a time just throwing stones towards the valley with the friend not knowing the night coming.
      Thank you ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  2. What a narration! It transported me to the magical place. You write so well and your words easily make the connection to our soul directly. God bless. Looking forward to reading the next part

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A complicated journey but full of enriching experiences for the spirit. The objective of seeing Dalai Lama was not fulfilled but at least they enjoyed the company of the monks. Excellent story. It is so well written that it is enjoyable to read from beginning to end. The photos were great. An excellent souvenir of the trip.
    Manuel Angel

    Liked by 2 people

    • Manuel, i wish i knew that much Spanish(?) to read your poems. Yet one feeling that i felt going through some was how sensuous all of them are. Mui bein.
      Yes, you felt it right, it was complicated journey even to write it to down coming closer to how that was exactly it.
      And you know, even though Dalai Lama couldnt make it, two years later things took a turn and i became one of the monks travelling from mountain to mountain. And that was spell binding because it was Kashmir. Will trying summing them in next two parts. Thanks for making it here. Thank you for your beautiful words.

      Narayan x

      Liked by 1 person

      • So the trip paid off. I think you are fortunate to embrace the teachings of Buddhism. The familiarization of the mind with an object of meditation is the maximum that the spirit can aspire to find peace of the soul.
        As for the poems, they are translated into English and Italian. Maybe I can bring you closer to my poetry.
        A big hug
        Manuel Angel

        Like

        • Dear Manuel, yes trip/s come without any expectations, they normally take you on a ride by themselves.
          The seed of Buddhism is Hinduism. The seed of Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma, the eternal faith and yes here in India our genes are a mix of extreme curiosity towards seeking that eternal and hence this chaos, because too many curtains have come. It takes time to put them away to see purely.
          Please do bring me closer to your poems. I would like to flow.

          Long hug
          Narayan

          Liked by 1 person

          • I will do what is in my power to be able to transmit my poetry. I wanted to translate into Hindi so as not to lose the essence of the verses but it is very difficult.
            A good weekend
            for you.
            Manuel Angel

            Like

            • Hindi indeed would be very difficult. It is completely a different script. I am happy to feel it in English Manuel. Whenever you think you can share, i will be happy to take time out.

              Narayan x

              Liked by 1 person

            • ❤️️ Thank you again Manuel.
              But i thought some were already translated. Anyways, as we are on the way, i will keep reading and receiving however you send it.

              Narayan

              Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a story so vividly told, that once read, it will never be forgotten. To anyone who lives in an urban environment, it is like a fairy tale of dragons and demons, and of the unconquerable power of nature. It is also a tale of an adventure of two free young men, in the time of their life when the world is so wide open that seemingly they could reach the edge of the Earth if they rode on.
    One of the best you have written, Narayan, and I thank you.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have travelled with love dearest, for anyone who met me on the road, i tried becoming it. Not humans particularly, no. But anything that i saw, felt, riding for days, with rivers and wind sculpted mountains, that had i had no memory of responsibility i would have made your words true; would have ridden the earth in however way possible.

      Only you my dearest can tell my best, or even future, dear Sun.

      Love
      Narayan

      Like

  5. What an experience. God willing you shall meet HH some day.
    Last year my niece in Delhi had the good fortune to spend a couple of hours with him and I was so jealous 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashok, such a memory it was, that day at the lake and was only our fortune to even eat amongst monks at such a place like a bhandara happening with all waiting for H.H himself.
      But harshest terrain.

      And to tell you if i met or not, allow me to compile in two stories as something happens in between 🙂 and how.

      but seeting him is childlike if one gets sometime peacefully.

      Thanks dearest Ashok. Very happy to have you along in this journey together.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can well imagine your elation and the experience Narayan. And yes Ladakh is beautiful and harsh.

        It is my pleasure equally my friend 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

  6. A experience to remember a lifetime with a beautiful narrative Narayan. Only a few who dare to step on a path less taken make such memorable memories. It must have been a night to remember. Those pics radiated the stunning and pristine beauty of the place. God bless and thank you for sharing this lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Radhika, that was a cold night to remember. I still feel it, more so now hen winters are here. It was spent inside a car with an aussie, sardarji and we too in a maruti 800 hearing the road river all night long assuming all the time that water is decreasing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That gorge looks heavenly. It was breathtaking in the twilight. And you must be fit from all of that mountain climbing. How I long for some time outdoors. Wishing you great new (lasting) friendships.

    Like

    • O thanks you dearest Sabiscuit, It wasn’t too much climbing that time, but riding did help in sculpting the brain and bit of arms, motorcycles do help in a few things like this in the longer run.
      Carefully though, you can plan an outing if you must.

      Thank you friend, i have learnt it to be only a blessing to have friends that live together deeper than just sharing physical spaces. But hey, here, this and now is great to start with.

      Love to you
      Narayan

      Liked by 1 person

      • Warm hugs to you, Narayan. I’m all about the long hiking and sweating out an adventure with an away team, in the wilderness. I can’t wait to go back to exploring soon. xo

        Like

        • 🙂 O yes, any day. Would love to continue each year to walk a new walk, trek all possible forest trails in the higher Himalayas throughout. Keep walking.

          ❤️️ to you
          Narayan x

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.

    Look advanced to far added agreeable from you!
    However, how could we communicate?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Very well written as always. I was transported to another time and place entirely. How awe inspiring. What an honour to be find oneself among those who are unhurried and in sync with the rhythms of what is true and eternal. The modern mania of this world is like a sickness. We operate at such feverish paces and cannot unlock our true potential.

    Liked by 1 person

    • O maryam, did you change your blog name ? I tried looking for it the day.

      Yes, you feel it. The modern mania of this world. even when it has halted us all together. Yet there are places dearest, small pockets of life that we can unearth, and fit in. And if we are simple enough to treasure this simplicity, we might just make on the other side contented, smiling, floating.

      Love to you.
      Narayan

      Like

  10. My heart warms. The part where he asks if he ever swam that lake😂😂

    What a journey!
    You are bold , courageous, adventurous.
    Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 2 people

    • 🙂 Yes that was pleasantly surprising; Rinpoche was laughing himself.

      My love to you dearest, for you felt the journey all along, with me.

      Narayan

      Like

    • Jess, thank you so much. Well as you saw, that i couldnt meet him but wait for the upcoming posts, it will be an adventure a little over, greater than i could imagine. Opportunities came and went, but something will happen and you will love it more 😉

      Narayan

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Amazing story including the good and bad, and the right amount of suspense. Nature will be there for you and protect you. You just need to have faith. Waiting to read the next part.
    Great pictures.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Right amount of suspense 🙂 Neel yes, its mother nature and faith that sends your power dear Neel. Yes next two parts will be interesting, because Dalai Lama ji still have to be met 🙂
      Lovely to have you along dear Neel. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. What a great adventure , filled with unexpected and spiritual experiences, the Dalai Lama would have loved to be there. I personally have met him several times here in the US in California, last time at his 80th Birthday Celebration some years ago. Thank you for your great share, Narayan, I also enjoyed all your amazing images. Stay safe and happy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cornelia, absolutely Dalai lama, that day would have loved it.
      Wonderful to learn that you have been meeting him, (80th year, many years ago?) that means he must be touching the fragile age by now)

      Thanks Cornelia, yes you must have felt, i loved this day and some others that would come on my journey to meet him and many others in the service.

      Love
      Narayan

      Like

      • Thank you Narayan, for your kind response. It was 5 years ago I saw The Dalai Lama, actually there is a post of mine about it, I had published in July 5th 2015, if you are interested to view it. Take care , stay safe and healthy.

        Like

        • Yes, absolutely Cornelia, would it be fine with you to share it here, i would love to see the link and Lama ji of five and a half years ago.

          Like

  13. Thank you for a wonderful trip that I could never make. I love the image of monks walking from mountain to mountain, converging and meeting with strangers from afar. Now I must scroll back up and look at those wonderful pictures.

    Liked by 2 people

    • haha thank you so much. how i felt happy knowing you loved it being there as much, in the Himalayas. It was a happy day, as everyone had one goal to do good and make things as comfortable for the coming Dalai Lama, instead they were still that compassionate even when he didn’t arrive.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Narayan, Thank you for sharing your adventure in the Himalayas. ❤ Love the beautiful photos and narration, and I am looking forward to the next installment. My late husband heard the Dai Lai Lama speak once at Florida International University. I was a little jealous. 🙂 I did watch a documentary about his life. All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheryl ❤️️ thank you for expressing this. ha ha wow i am happy that i and this post triggered such an important memory for your loved husband; and that once it even made you jealous 🙂 haha.

      Like

    • Moreover, i feel little more connected to you, as i know little bit more about you. Hope you are doing things happily dear Cheryl.
      ❤️️ to you
      Narayan

      Like

          • Narayan, I have never been to Iceland. All I know is from documentaries and news stories. I know it has very long winter nights, long summer days, fjords, hot springs, and, I think, glaciers. The city, Reykjavik, has been the site of many international treaty negotiations. Are you planning a visit?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Apologies for writing this late Cheryl. Yes, i was on an assignment for the national Geographic with an Ecologist. It was called off at the last moment due to Corona. I was assuming if you had gone and thus wanted to get in touch, if and well it was needed.

              But well, at last it didn’t happen so it was all quiet.

              How have you been Cheryl and preparing for Christmas ?Are you ?

              Like

  15. What a marvelous adventure. This travel is not easy and not for the faint of heart. But you did it and thank you for sharing it with us . Your photos of the places and most importantly the people are wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anna, how wonderful to have you after long. Felt so happy to visit your beautiful world again. Just wanted to see more of their images again.

      O yes the process, the journey came out to be a lot complex than anticipated. The photos and the narration is to only coax you to plan a visit to India soon 🙂

      Thank you dearest Anne. So much.
      Narayan

      Liked by 1 person

  16. What a fabulous story Nara. Wow! I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I can’t imagine going through that experience. Thanks for sharing that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Marsha, lovely to have you and your beautiful words here. It was as much a memorable journey for me, but this sojourn has few more turns to come, i hope to publish them soon before this year ends.

      As much i would like to read your tales. Thanks so much Marsha.

      Narayan

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Narayan. I wish you the best in your publishing journey as well. Are you still on the journey, then? I will treasure your opinions on my Story Chat about Jenny. Do you think she handled her bully well, or would a ten-year-old respond how she did? BTW, I would be honored to publish a 500-1,000 word snippet of your sojourn on Always Write. You would have to rewrite it somewhat when you publish your memoirs if you go through a publishing company. I am finding that slimming down my work to meet a specific word limit helps my writing tremendously. Have you ever entered any of the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenges? That is helping me a lot. I look forward to more chats soon, Narayan.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Marsha,

          Took me some time to write back. I hope you are doing things with joy and love. I try much intend to be on this journey, and would love to read your story about Jenney. And only after i read i can probably answer what you need to know about it.
          I haven’t really thought about entering Fiction challenges, may be nothing till now came my way. Please shed light if you may Marsha.

          Great to hear all what you mentioned. Looking forward too.

          Narayan

          Liked by 1 person

  17. “…his laugh still rings like that melody of fluttering, colorful Tibetan Prayer Flags.” What a poetic, cinematic portrayal of your travels!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thanks you Coach, lovely to have you and your words here. And apologies couldn’t write to you sooner. The post has two more significant parts leading to His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Hope to have you around.

    Like

    • haha, yes.. Mother is too kind to us in all the ways. Thanks dearest Nitin for your acceptance, your kind words are heartily accepted 🙂

      Like

  19. This was quite an experience – the difficulty of the road, the joy of communing with nature and the community of monks, and the photos give one the feel of the day and the landscape.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ruth, It was a special time and day, riding with a friend and being witness to this one of its kind walk. Even though it does not end here and that is what i had to divide it in three parts.

      But thank you, it is lovely to have you here and your words. Thanks

      Nara x

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Well said that jobs filled your pockets, adventures filled your soul…..And u experienced a wonderful thing in ur life and shared it with us…Thank you so much…..🙂nd wishing u a very happy new year …May this year comes with new aspirations and brings a lot of happiness in ur life….

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s