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An Audience with the Queen

INDIA | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [73] | Scholarship Entry

Darkness engulfs us from all sides as we enter the enveloping silence of the night. The biting, winter cold is like needle piercing our skins. Not even a glow worm around to lend some light. A shudder runs through me.
Our host offers us a lone lamp that he swings from a stick. He guides us to our rooms. We follow, shuffling and fumbling, bumping into each other, grateful to be safe from the cold.

High up in the mountains, in Lachen, Sikkim, electricity is a luxury.

Inside, hot tea cups and a small wood heater hold the possibility of warmth. We huddle together, but the cold seeps through. The night is spent wrapped up in a thick yak wool blanket. The smell of must and damp prevail.
Cold winds howl and rattle at our windows. An endless night stretches ahead of us, crisp, cold, cutting like the insides of an ice box. Our hosts set up a charcoal stove to heat water.
The burning embers bring much needed warmth.
The hot charcoal heated water rolls down our throats, warming us. Food is served, simple, yet enough to quell the sounds of our groaning stomachs.
Eagerly awaiting the sunrise, and my first sight of snow capped mountains. Mountains that reach the skies and promise to take me to the top, if only I can brave their fiery, baptismal tongues of cold.
I resolve to bear it all, clench my teeth against the chill, and burrow deeper into the blankets.
As we wait for dawn, sleep sneaks up on us.
We sleep dreaming of a clear tomorrow.

Dawn is breaking as we venture out of the warm confines of our room.

Hues of crimson, indigo and tangerine greet us.
The darkness creeps away as the sun takes over.
The dusky and blurred lines of the mystical mountains take shape as dawn sweeps away dusk.

And suddenly, it's light. The mountains reveal themselves, bare against the white morning, stark and compelling. Bright, beautiful and bold they stand tall and proud. Snow has covered most of it.
Shutters click.

A gust of wind bring flurries from the pine trees nearby. They settle on my eyelashes as I turn and set my eyes on the clear-faced, radiant Queen.
The flurries melt, and my eyes fill up-with awe, snow, and visions of the mighty queen, Kanchenjunga.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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