The memories of the early eighties in Itanagar still appear to me in a magical hue. Particularly the winter months. Itanagar was not as cold a place as was Shillong but invariably winter brought in its wake foggy mornings that turned our C-sector into a fairy land. The farm produce seemed extra crisp and tasty, and my brother and I got to wear the bright sweaters that my mom would knit for us. At schools our class teacher tended to be a trifle more indulgent and class missed on the really cold day could easily be explained away with a sniff of a stuffy nose.
However the time my brother and I looked forward the most to were the evenings after our father came home from work. He would gather the two of us near him. Cozy in our blankets and quilts we would listen to him with rapt attention as he told us exotic stories of past and present, of ancient heroes from around the world and of brave men and women of the modern world who had made the race proud. The master storyteller he was. I felt his eyes shown with the brightest twinkle when he told us the story of explorers across time. We knew of the Kon-Tiki expedition and of the Apollo Missions, of Daniken’s theories and the early explorers to Africa, of Abhedanada’s travels in Tibet and of the fabled King Solomon’s mines long before it was fashionable to know anything beyond Enid Blyton and Hindi movies. Father instilled in us a sense of wonder and perhaps a bit of fascination for the unexplored and unknown.
Explorers never had precise roadmaps when the started off on their journeys nor did they have road-signs in blue that warned them off the path that would lead them to the village of cannibals and got them headed towards the hidden jungle paradise with fruit laden trees and nectar like water. All that kept them going was their love of adventure and all that kept them alive was wit and courage. And perhaps prayers of those that wished them well. In the well know story of King Solomon’s mines the flicker in a flame helped the protagonists escape a mountain cave to which they were imprisoned. In real life, no less adventurous was Thor Heyerdahl stay in the uninhabited islet of Raroia or the crew’s tryst with the White Shark. Every wonderful detail in these stories speak of adventure and human spirit thirsting to see, to learn. True, for every Tenzing and Hillary, there is a Mallory who never made it back in blazing glory and for ever Daniken there is always a Sagan to rubbish their life’s work. But that is precisely what makes the exploration and adventure so romantic.
Today these story weave their appeal to me anew as I slowly but decidedly moved from the predicable and beaten path to a road that I haven’t traveled on before. The only support I carry is Krishna’s name in my heart and the wishes of my friends.
It is gonna be fun...