Jan 31, 2011

Coordinates: somewhere near Dharali

First, 12h to the North and 2500m towards the sky in public transport...

...and then 5h and 1200 more metres straight up on foot.

Jan 29, 2011

The other Bigs of the Himalayas

All distances are incredibly big and measured not it metric but in time.

Rivers are big.
Pine cones are enormous.
Cultural differences with Europeans are huge.

Thorns of thorny bushes are BIG

Since childhood I know that raspberry brush stings and to avoid scratching it's better not to make too sudden a movement when picking berries. In France I made a new enemy when on several unfortunate occasions I bumped into and made "friends" with raspberry's big bad brother the blackberry. By now I know better than to run into the bushes too hastily without checking out the territory first. In the Indian Himalayas though I had a chance to bump into their even bigger and badder uncle - and that one's ot to be messed with. I pray that I never have to make a personal encounter with their godfather, in whichever remote corner of the world he might be lurking.

There I was, looking for a way downhill and picking paths - wherever I could find one - leading in the general direction of gravitation at any possible angle short of a freefall. For a considerable distance I followed a dry stream bed, scrambling down across loose rocks. The plan was good but it didn't take me all the way down for soon this path too was blocked by thickly entwined overgrowth hanging across from both sides. I didn't fancy crawling through the most vicious combination of stinging nettles and thorny bushes on earth.

The only alternative route meant serious bushwhacking. I felt like a tiny rabbit, popping my rucksack through gaps between branches and then wriggling through myself; or sliding on my back on loose rocks under bushes and generally moving much too carefully and slowly to get out of there before dark. I got whiplased by monstrous inch-thick stalks of stinging nettle armed with overgrown spikes that hurt like hell and grabbed by the biggest thorns I have ever seen attached to a branch. My efforts were futile. Finally on the verge of desperation, stuck in the middle of some tangled mesh of vegetation, hands up as if held at gunpoint and too scared to move, I fished my jacket carefully out of my rucksack, put it on in slow motion and then, covered head to bum with thick gore-tex, simply forced my way through to the clear ground.

Another experience gained.

How I ended up in this jungle in the first place, is the usual story. It started with a brisk walk up the first steep grassy hill at sight, while local fauna kept itself busy, grabbing my legs as means of cheap transportation to new seeding grounds. Since it was my first time being alone off-road in the mountains, it didn't really occur to me that if I need to use my hands for support on the ascent then descent by the same route would be nearly impossible.

It took me three hours to climb up before reaching the heavenly spheres of no other sounds but my own footsteps and the wind in the treetops. Such total silence took me by pleasant surprise. Though I had missed the calm of Northern Europe, I couldn't quite remember any more how it feels like. Back again in Europe, I find the actual noise levels of Indian towns hard to remember, but I haven't forgotten how deeply the contrast struck me when I first stepped out of civilization that day.

The magnifiscent views that rolled out in front of me were instant creators of peace of mind. All of them for me, me and only me! Who would need TV until there are sunny mountains to climb and look at? I never wanted to go back into the town, but sadly I always needed to. What bitter regret I felt, thinking of my lack of trekking equipment - the fact that nailed me to the spot and prevented me from doing anything more ambitious than daytrips. Next time, I will sacrifice the pleasures of travelling lightly and bring a heavy rucksack full of equipment to allow me to stay outdoors for as long as I feel like.

Despite their best efforts, a few thorny bushes didn't stand a chance against those awesome views.

Silence covered the sky

I would pass my time, sitting on a chair on my hotel balcony, soaking in the details of the summits, guessing what it would feel like to be there, imagining how small I would be;

watching the sunlight's angle change, the same clouds build up every day before sunset and fade away before darkness falls; watching the color of the incredibly clear sky change a hundred times over;

watching the dark cold shadow creep slowly up the mountain side, menacing... covering already half the mountain, it transforms the friendly summit shining in warm sunlight into a hungry bloodthirsty beast. Night has a different meaning out there.

Jan 26, 2011

Traditsioonide lipu lehvides: 2010

Aasta 2010 oli vägev. Muuhulgas jõudsin ma sel aastal ka raamatuid lugeda. Uskumatu? Selle nimekirja põhjal, mis on siin põhiliselt mu enda jaoks, võin kommenteerida, soovitada, kritiseerida - ja mõningaid harvu eksemplare, mis veel minu valduses, ka edasi kinkida.

Esimesel poolaastal Prantsusmaal magistritööle lisaks:
1. A. & B. Strugatski: "Hukkunud alpinisti" hotell
2. I. Asimov: Igaviku lõpp
3. S. King: Lisey lugu

Jaanipäeva kanti, Eestis:
4. B. Rajnov: Surra tohib vaid äärmisel juhul

Juulis ja augustis Norras ja Soomes rattasõidu kõrvale:
5. Rachel Gibson: Sex, lies and online dating
6. Neil Strauss: Emergency
7. Noam Chomsky: Secrets, lies and democracy
8. Khaled Hosseini: Kite runner

Vahepeal olin jälle korraks Eestis:
9. Pierre Boulle: Ahvide planeet

Septembris-oktoobris, tagasi Prantsusmaal:
10. Leo Tolstoi: War and peace
11. Amitav Ghosh: The hungry tide
12. JohnJoe McFadden: Quantum Evolution
13. Belle de Jour: Belle's Best Bits

Okt-nov-dets Indias:
14. Neil Strauss: The Game
15. Robin Sharma: The monk who sold his Ferrari
16. Anatoli Boukreev & G. Weston DeWalt: The Climb: Tragic ambitions on Everest
17. Lucy Edge: Yoga school dropout
18. Joe Simpson: Touching the void
19. Joe Simpson: Storms of silence
20. Henri Charrière: Papillon
21. Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere
22. Joseph Heller: Catch-22

Ning jõulude paiku Eestis ja lõpuks Šotimaal oli nii põnev, et lugeda ei jõudnud.

Jan 25, 2011

Kaks aastat edasi, kilomeetreid lugemata

Olen kahe aastaga päris pika maa maha käinud (aga ka jooksnud, vändanud, sõitnud, lennanud jne). Pilt on sootuks teine nii seest- kui väljastpool vaadates ning võrdlemise võimalikkuseks puudub piisav hulk ühisnäitajaid. Vaid linnuke oksal jääb samaks.

Jan 20, 2011

Peeking in through random doorways

With the world all upside down, inside out and the boundaries between private and public property a bit hazy for an untrained eye, you could be walking on a village street that winds through everyone's backyard or step through an innocent looking archway to end up unexpectedly in somebody's bedroom. Similarly, a door that was menacing at first sight might suddenly crack open and welcome strangers into a friendly temple.

It's not easy to make sense of it. Catlike exploration by peeking around corners and stepping in through random doorways might help some. It's an interesting world, how else would you discover it?