Sneek Peek of Paradise…Continued

February 2, 2010

Aaaa…so where was I?

Oh yes…as we exited the dining hall, after breakfast, we saw a line of 4×4 jeeps and a double cabin pickup standing outside! The excitement started to build already! We rushed to get our bags so that we could select the best jeep for that days trip! We were off to Naltar Lake that day! A few friends and I got into a red soft-top jeep. The back windows of the jeep were just curtains made from thin silky cloth. The seat covers had a rug texture to them and had the design of traditional Afghani carpets. We jumped in and were ready to make this a trip to remember! Exited Gilgit from a shuttered bridge over the river we enjoyed the day before! I plugged my earphones into my ears and put on some music which suited the mood of the drive! The songs I heard on the way are still a great way to recall that drive! I stuck my head out from the right window and let the breeze in as I inhaled with deep breaths! Trying to savour the moment 🙂 I had turned my baseball cap backward to keep it from flying away as the jeep was picking up speed! My friend did the same from the left window. And the one sitting between us was enjoying the Pashto music the driver had put on 😛 There was a long stretch of straight road and through a village we crossed! A little before that village we saw a very fancy school! It seemed better than the ones we have in the city! It was astonishing, and when we passed the gate we read its board which said “AGHA KHAN SCHOOLING SYSTEM” if i recall correctly.

The road gradually became twisty and turny as we came out of the village! A fast-flowing river was making its way down the mountains! The driver mentioned a while earlier that the clutch of the jeep was misbehaving, so when the rest of the jeeps would stop, ours wouldn’t…A while later we turned back to see that our convoy of jeeps was nowhere to be seen! We were way ahead of them! The driver stopped in front of a cottage alongside the river and said this is my house, I’ll be back in a bit, you can stretch your legs while the other jeeps catch up. I got off and took a deep breath…feeling the freshness of the air wash my lungs clean of the pollution! We hopped over a short stone wall and headed down towards the river. Following the narrow path beside a vegetable patch we ended up in front of a small stream! The sparkly water was so tempting that we crouched down, put our hands together and started to drink it! It had its own distinct sweet and pure taste! We washed our faces, and took a few pictures of our heavenly surroundings!

Walking back towards the jeep, my mind went off into dreamland! 😛

I started wondering how it would be if I were to leave everything, all I had of the life I was living, and shift to this place! Bought a small hut, made a little vegetable patch like the one we jus passed, tied a goat under a tree, had logs stacked up beside the hut, married a local and lived without any worries of the world! I know most of you might have laughed at the “married a local” part! But trust me, the women up in the north are angelic! A pearl complexion and colored eyes, what more do you want 😛 I was just so engulfed in my emotions, having seen such a place, a place which I had always dreamed of! Close to nature, a stream passing by my home! In which my children would sail paper boats and ships made from pine tree bark! If I were still a child I would do just that! In fact I did that when I was young, in every little stream I saw, whether it was made from rain water or whatever! My thoughts started to drift towards the realities of life. How would it be in the winters, the extreme climate that I had never experience? How would I earn a living, to get feed for the goat and fertilizer for my vegetable patch? Would I be able to live without electricity, gas, T.V., and the internet? But deep down inside my heart I knew that I loved this place and maybe some day I would move here!

The driver came back to the jeep and we waited for a few minutes…as we saw our jeeps arriving! We shouted, “let’s go, let’s go, let’s go! Before they overtake us!” On we went! The jeeps caught up behind us and now we were mocking the guys behind us that we were still leading the way! The ride started getting better and better! We had now started crossing roads that where a foot or so below the water! As the jeep surfed through the water I stretched my hand out to get my hands wet! Passing between trees, we went up and down the road which was now only a dirt track! A slight cloud cover started rolling in and the sky became a greyish blue! I was now making a video of the river and the maze like trees we were passing through, thinking of compiling of my videos with nice background music when I returned home! “Everyone out!” Said the driver, as we neared a narrow wooden bridge only the width slightly larger than that of the jeep! After the jeeps crossed the bridge one by one, some having slight difficulties getting to the other side, we got back on! Just a few hundred yards further we stopped again but this time we had reached our destination!

I had googled Naltar Lake before the trip and remembered it being a very unique one! As we climbed over a hill we caught the sight of the lake! It was green! patches of light and dark green! Like a camouflage! Some of the guys complained “the water is so dirty!” When we got to the water we saw that it was the aquatic vegetation which gave the lake its distinct color! The patches where there were no weeds, it was an amazing blue color, like that of a swimming pool with blue tiles at its base! Two ducks waddled in the water! As there were only two, we realised that they were domestic and not wild! The natural reaction of everyone was to call the birds towards them! Some took out packets of crackers and salty snacks and threw it towards them! They dived towards the food as it floated to the left and right! The thing that fascinated me the most, of which I also made a video was the sound they made while they ate! It was like a machine gun being fired underwater! They cleared the water in no time and were anxiously looking towards us for more 🙂

A group of guys saw a melting glacier at the top of a mountain and started making their way up! I felt the want to explore the surroundings of the lake and not go to the top of the mountain and forget about the lake which we had actually come to see! Two other friends and I started our adventure around the lake! To see what we could find on the other side! Over another small hill, and it was as if I had walked into a dream! A pond, between two hills, raised from the lake, it was sky blue, and at the other end a white horse drinking water from it! This was the place I planned I’d take of my boots and dip my feet in the water for a while! When I did so, the water was too cold, and my feet started to get numb! It was obvious, as the water of that pond was coming from the ice melting down the snow-capped mountains! While removing my boots I noticed that the sole of the right boot was coming off! I thought to myself “thank God I didn’t go up to the glacier with my boots in this condition!” I took out my mobile to check what time it was, it was time for Zuhr Prayers. My friends and I performed ablution in a stream that was coming out of the pond. For the first time I actually felt myself getting purified by the water! I felt fresh and enjoyed the ablution like never before! We went back down to the lake! My friend gave the call for prayers and I led the congregation consisting of only us three 🙂

“Come on guys!” Yelled a teacher, “its time to leave!” At a distance up the mountain, like ants, people were making their way back down! They looked so tiny, all the way up there! The way back was a quite one. By now, everyone was exhausted and were looking forward to getting back to the rest house! I on the other hand was feeling disappointed, I was leaving my dreams behind, not sure I would ever return to see it again! Praying to Allah to give me another chance to come back! I was missing it already! Right now I’m feeling the same way, writing about it! 😦

May Allah give me another chance, and another after that, to go back there! Ameen!

That night we went shopping to the local market of Gilgit, having heard a lot about the famous dry fruit and the smuggled electronic goods which were very cheap….

And again I have to call it a day! I don’t want to stop! I could sit here all night and write but I have other priorities which need tending too! I didn’t want to keep my readers waiting too long, and to tell you the truth, I couldn’t keep it in, the thoughts, they were pouring out of my ears! And I had to get them out!

But worry not! I will be back, there is a lot more to come! And it keeps getting better! 🙂

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