Update for 9 February 2010
It was cloudy when we set off in a cramped jeep, and the cold got “bitier” as we left the city and the driver was able to push his accelerator pedal a little more. Thankfully, he could not do a full throttle – one because the jeep was overloaded with 10 people, and two, because the gradient was getting steeper and the curves were getting curvier. There was a slight drizzle as soon as we started, which the driver calmed us to believe that it would augur well, as the clouds would disappear after the rain. But the cold got to our bones, and the comfy jeep was not actually very comfy for us in the back – as the rear door did not have a window/glass pane, but a plastic flap that was tied down. Even microscopic holes would let in icy cold wind that froze us in our seats. This went on for some time, but after a few kilometers out of town, we saw icicles on the craggy slopes that we hugged as we chugged past and once in a while, we crossed army trucks which had chains on their wheels – indicating that they had driven on ice covered roads. Some of us mumbled a few silent prayers, while others chose to close their eyes, as we entered slippery road country. We stopped at 2 places up the slope – one to fix the iron chains onto our tyres and the next to bolster our energy reserves by eating crispy hot dosas, South Indian rice pancakes, at a military canteen. This was when we noticed that the clouds were getting thinner, and the ground was getting whiter with snow across much of the mountain landscape. Then the driver speeded up and we took a few more turns, but the climb got less steeper, until we noticed that there were no clouds above, but an azure blue sky with the sun shining as bright as ever. The air was crisp, yet not biting cold, and the view was magnificent. We were on top of the mountain close to our journey’s end. The mountains surrounding us had different colours – the ones facing the south were rocky and covered with snow while the northern facing slopes were craggy, rocky, but with no snow. And in between, lay the most amazing sight – a frozen lake that was covered with what looked like at least a few feet of fresh powdery snow. The local vendors had already started swarming our jeep offering us some snow shoes for hire, a yak ride, some hot tea or even instant noodles. I could not be disturbed by the cacophonic goings-on around me. I was magnetically being pulled towards the lake and the mountain beyond it. I was meanwhile warned not to get too close to the lake – not because of thin ice or other such worldly dangers, but to respect local tradition that considers this lake sacred and not to be contaminated by man. I absolutely understood this sentiment, and all I wanted to do was sit by the lake and admire every snowflake on it in the blistering sun. The grey, the white and the azure blue are such soothing colours.
The D Boyz opened their shops at D Street nervously, dropping the SENSEX a little, then piecing it together, before dropping it again – but thanks to the resilient floor on D Street, the SENSEX did not fall below, but rebounded to cooler climes and did some form of mountain climbing or trekking, moving up and down till it ended 106 points up at 16042. The mountain climb in a jeep must have been tough for the battered jalopy, so a Jeep manufacturer took some beating on D Street; while the long haul did not use the diesel economically, pushing down some Oil Companies on the street. But otherwise, the view from atop was refreshing for the Boyz.
I later on did manage to hire some snow boots, and did a little trudging in knee high fresh snow. It was tough, and a new experience for a city boy from Tropical India, but I savoured it all with much excitement.