“Last call for Mamta Chhabra and Ananya Saluja.”

I almost spat out my mouthful of pancakes (I definitely wouldn’t have done that if I had known that those delicious golden fried mounds of batter would be my last full breakfast for a long time). My pupils had most obviously dilated and I was frozen in panic. I must have been a spectacle, what with my arm frozen midair and half a pancake stuffed in my mouth, maple syrup ominously dripping down my chin.

My trip almost finished before it even began.

Massi1 and I were sitting in the lounge at the airport eating breakfast, and I had just got myself a plate of pancakes which I had just discovered were also available; a welcome alternative to the boring dosas my aunt had tried to make me eat. I was halfway through my 3rdpancake when my Massi shushed me as we listened to the announcements from the departure gate. My eyes widened when I heard them calling out our names, saying it was the last call for our flight. I dropped everything, leaving behind a plate of unfinished pancakes, and I tore across the airport to the gate. I received many strange looks, probably for various reasons –

1) I was dressed in full sleeves and boots in the burning heat of May, in Delhi. That may have been enough.

2) Also, I was sprinting faster than I do in my 100 meters race on sports’ day, frantically skipping stairs with two sleeping bags bobbing behind me. A sight to behold!

We reached the gate as huffing puffing messes and were the last people to board the bus. The strangest thing was, that even when I was seated, the only thing I regretted was not being able to finish my pancakes.

I was sad that my pancake and I had to part in such an unceremonious manner, because I knew we wouldn’t meet again soon. My phone went off like an alarm on repeat, but I ignored it in order to clear my head of the pancakes I had left behind without giving a second thought to what this hasty retreat would do to our relationship. I sure had my priorities straight, eh?

Snow covered peaks

Massi was right; just the plane ride made visiting Ladakh worth it. We soared over the brown mountain tops, delicately coated with snow as if they were conical cakes sprinkled with icing sugar. A few clouds floated above the jagged peaks, some lonely and some huddled together, but further down the valleys they gathered into a thick white blanket that merged with the fading blues of the sky.

Himalayas Beckon

The sky had a delicate ombré touch to it – from a darker blue hue on the top, it gradually faded out into white and became one with the carpet of clouds. I was not the only one awed by this scene; passengers crowded around the windows with their cameras and phones in hopes of capturing a scene that could not possibly be captured through physical means – not by pictures nor by words. If you are able to visualize for yourselves the view from my plane window, I recommend you multiply the beauty of it all by a million, and perhaps even then you will have been unsuccessful in picturing the actual scene, just as I am unsuccessful in describing it.

I think I can safely say that the world is more beautiful through plane windows, that in fact a whole new world awaits us above the clouds that are visible to our eyes.

Ladakh through the plane window I didn’t want to break out of the trance the plane ride had put me in, but on setting foot in Ladakh my mind wandered back to my phone. I reluctantly took it out and checked the messages. One from my mother caught my eye immediately:

“What were you doing that caused you to almost miss your flight?! The airline was calling me frantically!”

I sighed before I typed out my simple (and completely honest, right?) answer:

“It wasn’t us… It was the pancakes!”

  1. Massi – Aunt in Hindi

Written by Ananya Saluja

I’m your average eighteen-year old girl from New Delhi studying in the 12th grade at The Shri Ram School, Moulsari. I have volunteered during my last three summer vacations in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, teaching children in the schools of remote villages through the 17000 ft Foundation. It was the most life changing experience, and the childrens’ amazing reactions and responses made even the occasional accompanying altitude sickness worth it.

One comment

  1. So proud of you Ananya. It was your enthusiasm and determination that made this trip happen, even though your love of pancakes almost made us miss the flight. I was inspired by how comfortable and relaxed you were with the children and I ended up surprising myself and also learning so much about myself. Thank you for helping me out with all the arty bits during my teaching sessions and for helping me when I got stuck translating the big English words in the stories we read. Looking forward to more adventures together.

    Liked by 1 person

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