Himachal Pradesh, India, Jammu and Kashmir, On The Road, Road Journals, The Great Himalayan Road Journey to Baltistan
Comments 66

Call of the Now – I/VII

I am writing in my 17th hour of the day one. My eyes close and I open them but I must write. Else tomorrow, today will be gone.

I was ready to observe this. This journey, which was almost defunct before even it started, found a calling when Yagya landed at my home. A divine landing. In last 19 years of knowing each other he had never come to my home. But he was here. Begging almost, requesting. It had to happen.

A decade ago, this month, this time Yagya and I along with three other were the first ever civilians and teachers visiting the border village of Baltistan, Turtuk; to teach almost 250 higher secondary school students. And more would come if teachers were any good, and more came once the news found them, from all over state, so many that we had to take classes even after our school.

Three months ago the village head Rehmatuallah ji called each one of us inviting us to come for a week, like before live and stay with the village people but this time to not teach but observe, talk with the village children, elderly to see how things have shaped for the village in last ten years since we initiated. It was an exciting news then but in no time it faded like color, like an ageing cloth and like all old memories that are slowly being consumed by this killer Pandemic. In just one month the time felt like a different era, rather it still is an ongoing life.

For I called it off as I was in pain, but with me other three denied. Yagya and wife were left alone wanting, desiring to go at any cost. As he wanted to show her, his valuable past. But After a prolonged silence from my side with the certainty of the trip being called off, he from nowhere unannounced arrived at my home. 

Yagya and I both had some beautiful memories in the village, and all these years we have had numerous occasions when we had even slept talking about the days and nights spent in the Balti villages, teaching kids, teaching them questioning the views, even learning their ways of life, learning their language like calling water tresha, i still say this name, or the time spent at the last Tibetian monastery of the Gilgit-Baltistan region, looking over the snakelike angry river Shyok.

Where did these ten years go, no one knows? And after three hours of yes and no, he convinced me to not just go by any flight but to drive 1300 kilometers starting tomorrow morning. And what a morning to leave, arrived! One that felt like becoming one with the smell of earth, like mother’s home even while at home. The first rain of the monsoons, heavy black clouds curling, ganging up without a sound, dawn that looked like night long after darkness had left, drizzle that asks for your hand, allures your heart, your face to feel wetness, drizzle that you know is going to become a downpour soon. But while all this was the background. I left, Leaving mother’s eyes wet.

Only I know how much effort it has taken for me to make this journey possible, right now in pain, the journey began. And for the first time with one tooth less.

The car moved.

I felt excited to hold the steering, to see myself on the road again and driving, realising that this time its not just for two hours or two states, it is a drive towards the northern Indian end; I was driving, and driving with an old friend during this modern day killer pandemic, driving when roads are bereft of everyday chirp or any extra seller, driving like Abbas Kirostami and his one camera crew did in 1990 while filming “And life goes on”, but above all it is enticing because the car is Omni.

Omni! How much ever you go faster Omni will go at her own pace, and well so will I.

Internet in the Himalayas is as unstable as this car i am driving is, yet i will try posting whatever little and whenever i can in the coming days.

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Thank you.

If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste

If you have any suggestions, please write in the comment box or feel free to write to me at narayankaudinya@gmail.com

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I will take this opportunity to introduce you to About me and importantly;

As a co-traveller, my Ten Learnings from several years on the roadbefore you coarse on youown Road to Nara.

Also read: Top 9 Most Read Posts of 2022

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Also, You will be happy to know about My Little School Project. If you wish to come over for a visit someday that you must, you will be heartily welcomed here

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To visit other long-term photographic works, please visit here.

Follow my works and walks as I document Rural Indian Subcontinent on 

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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.


  1. Dear Narayan,
    Your journeys and the destinations just refuse to draw a line, every post takes us beyond the imagination. How many moments of nostalgia, remembrance of those pre pandemic days you would have lived again in Omni. Strange that this van has been a partner for so many journeys across India for so many of us, and it still took you there. Safe travels and looking forward to this adventure of yours🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • My dearest Richa, i hope you and family are happy. It is today that in all these days i found time to sit read and write back. This car rather all old maruti cars became a part of family for each one where it went.. It was one experience of lifetime, i enjoyed it. There are many stories that i could live, and this time it won’t be just stories but would like to reach out to real people in a way to help, to grow, to strengthen mind and body.
      You are always welcome dearest Richa. Love to Logona.

      Nara x

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautiful write up of day 1. I know it must have been a long day… 1300 kms in entirety…wow!!
    Your life is so different, adventurous and fulfilling compared to a city dweller with a regular job. It nice that you are touching upon lives and making a difference. Best wishes in your endeavours. Happy and safe travels. Looking forward to reading your onward experience Narayan.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dearest Radhika, it took me sometime to write back to you, i hope you knew that i was away. This time it was little different Radhika, as many i met were not as happy and joyful rather needed assuarance and sometimes help. As you write that i am touching upon lives, i will actually try to do so, to build something i can and make it possible for each one of us to go there and become a part of it. We will see. Your wishes are needed and remain well with me.

      Thank you again dear Radhika
      Nara x

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This essay on the past and new endeavors are written by a master storyteller, whose hand is guided by the power from above. His use of language is stunningly unique in its originality, This writer will, like Tagore put Indian writing on the world’s map. Mesmerizing and unmisable.
    Than you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rosa, thank you. I think it were your wishes that saw me through.
      Happiness was to know the story of the cover and more so when i found out that the book chose it.

      My wishes for it and all my strength for ther hard part to come.
      Nara x


  4. I just read this essay for the second time and I like it even more. It is like the classics of the literature, you read and never get tired of reading the same story because the words take your breath away. No doubt, I will read it again, each time making a new discovery.
    Thank you, Narayan.


    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for writing inspite of the extreme tiredness that you must have felt, for as you say “Else tomorrow, today will be gone”.
    This is so amazing, re-living a nostalgia, and how! Unstable it might be, but an Omni still rules the mountain roads in my native. To me it is a cult vehicle just like a gypsy, symbolising freedom from norms, and the much beaten path. Just as you and your life stories are.
    Take care Narayan, travel safe. Will keep tuned for the updates whenever the mountains allow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Deb, as you know now where are i had been. Omni actually was the most complete car for the three of us as we could straighten our legs at the back while sleeping as the other drove. Only thing that i found lacking was small petrol tank and hence we had to carry it in cans, its weight shook the carrier and we had to keep it inside. And thus we felt high most of the time deep in the mountains.

      Your wishes were needed and i carried them close. Thank you friend.


  6. Michael Graeme says

    Like others here, I look forward to reading more of your journey. I hope things go well, and I was sorry to hear about your tooth – nothing worse than toothache!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Michael, i was trying to reach out to you but cannot find your site any longer. My journey went well and allowed me to collect many memories and wishes of many people from the road.

      The ache of the tooth was something i am yet to absorb as for one moment it shook my standing being. I treated it and it was kept in check. I was only graced to take this decision and that it didnt happen in the raw, harsh mountains of Laddakh.

      Thank you for your wishes, i hope to get to speak with you, as you get your site back. Sharing the remainder of the journey here Michael.

      Life and nothing more- II

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds like an interesting crusade you are on find with risky details. These people more than ever could likely benefit with your refreshing presence.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So nice of you Nara ji. You are a person who loves country and countrymen by heart. The Baltistan people invited you, loves you, respects you. It is great 👌😊
    Your Omni is also great. Your companion is also great.
    Highly respected person you are.
    Namaskar ji 🙏😊


  9. Anonymous says

    Gorgeous words from a beautiful heart and mind. Blessings on you journey, Narayan.


  10. I like how poetry is embedded in your prose and your travel writing rich with experiences, but mostly I loved this line, ‘I must write, else today will be gone…’, it summarizes life.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Our road trips share something in common it seems. We’re making our mark on raising hope in humanity on our own terms.


  12. Many thanks for your exciting report of your trip to those Balti villages, where you wanted also to see the changes your and your friends help had brought to them!


  13. AJ says

    This reads like a beginning of a novel. I’ll go through the series slowly to bask in each chapter. I was also a teacher, but just in a university for affluent, privileged kids. I wonder how it is to educate those farthest from the world as we know it. Your story should be an eye-opener for me, perhaps too late though. I’ve retired from teaching just this year.

    How interesting that you mentioned Abbas Kiarostami. I’ve seen only one film of his – Taste of Cherry – but your cinematic photography and the arid, sparse landscapes remind me of that movie. Not only the visuals. I can also feel the undercurrent feeling of isolation in your stories, both geographically and – more so – emotionally. Your words and a few suggestive photos take me to Northern India as if I were watching a movie!


    • Really cannot fathom that comparison AJ, between kids of privileged parents and the ones living on isolated borders, but one thing i can say that these parents stood with folded hands and gratitude asking us to come home and sit with them.

      And well i actually feel AJ one can hardly retire from teaching. Yes, may be you wont get paid in life but once a teacher, always a teacher. In most walks of life.

      In so many people it was strange and only you mentioned Kirostami’s film being written about here, I had been very much influenced by his work. He evoked spirits and stories that spoke life out of any character. Very special for me. And this terrain that i lived in came first, only later i saw his films so it became apparent to draw some parallel with his work and my memories. Taste of Cherry is brilliant among a few others of his.


    • Thank you so much for your beautiful emotive review of this essay. Delighted that someone like you read this.

      And can’t really imagine how would it be for you to feel by the end of seventh chapter. ha ha. Not that i am pushing, but just excited by the prospect.

      Cant thank you enough.
      Narayan x


  14. You were a brave one, starting a trek like this in the middle of a pandemic. I see you have a soul for adventure and learning. Your work will last and grow well beyond your lifetime!


    • Dearest Dwight, I don’t know why I had to take time to write back to you for this comment because your ‘these words’ are significant for me. For I am backing myself slowly, gradually to let myself flow towards writing.

      It is only some strange understanding with which you said stated something so big.

      My gratitude 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

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