Thursday, February 20, 2014

From ‘Heights of Madness. One woman's journey in pursuit of a secret war’ by Myra MacDonald

“India is not an underdeveloped country but a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay”
-          Shashi Tharoor in The Great Indian Novel

“This world was more wonderful for than I had ever known before.
And I seemed to grow greater myself from the mere fact of having seen it. Having once seen that, how could I ever be little again?”
-          British explorer Francis Younghusband on the Karakoram

I thought of Vikram Singh, of how I had gone to see him seeking the sordid drama of war and had come away instead thinking of the ghosts he talked about with quiet dignity. I remembered a poem I had read many years before by D. H. Lawrence about how he had seen a snake in Sicily and foolishly failing to respect its beauty and its power, chased it away. “And I have something to expiate”, he wrote. “A pettiness”.

Crows, considered auspicious in Hindu mythology, are believed to be the only birds present at Creation. They are the carriers of omens, seers of the future. They know the secrets of immortality and of hell. When the Siachen war started, they were still there, for soldiers told me that the only living creature they saw during their long, lonely months were crows.

This once undiscovered place had acquired the dejection of tourist towns that are unsure how to behave when the tourists are not there. It felt lonely and abandoned. Youths in cheap jackets and jeans wandered aimlessly in small groups, occasionally stopping to try to speak to me with an irritating sense of entitlement.

The helicopter was so tiny that is seemed surprised to be in the air …..

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