Perspectives from the Himalaya

Cloud Story 2: The Roof of Glitter and Gold

Arlo, Spot and Spinosaurus were thrilled to discover that Big A and Little A had moved to the Himalaya. It meant that a new adventure was at hand. Arlo and Spot climbed up to the pinnacle of their treehouse in Pluto, a little wooden platform assembled on the highest branch of the great oak tree to catch the next shooting star that was due in the next few minutes for their ride to Nepal. But, Spinosaurus was missing in action. Spot made a swift climb back down like an orang utan in search for their spiky friend. He was nowhere to be seen. Spot knew that he could only be where there was food. A thud came from the corner of the kitchen. And another that nearly caused the fridge to sway. Spot suspiciously opened the fridge door and there he found his friend stuffing his face with clawfuls of leftover grilled lung fish. Spot clambered on his head, sat on his snout and glared fiercely into his eyes. Spinosaurus, often stunned by hunger pangs would be swayed away from any situation. But when he saw the seriousness of the human glare, Spinosaurus suddenly remembered where he was meant to be.

They had somehow managed to catch the shooting star in the nick of time. The star hovered long enough for the threesome to mount into the round opening before zooming away leaving a trail of stardust. It took 4.6 hours, travelling at the speed of light to reach Earth from Pluto and before the star could land on two of its pointed vertices on The Roof of Glitter and Gold.

Fact: It would have taken them 6293 years had they journeyed in a car travelling at a steady pace and in a straight line.

It was The Roof with the most stupendous and earth-shattering views in the world.

The children who make the effort of attending school, huffing and puffing to reach the peak would eventually be greeted by The Roof. It is a Roof that is at once smooth and dangerous and the only way into the school is – DOWN. It was at this precise point that when the star landed on the precarious edge, the round latch of the Musk Shooting Star Express opened and the unexpected trio slid down the steep, steep slope of the golden roof that sheltered the school building. The smidgen of seconds on the gold brought out stomach-churning nauseating screams of fear and thrill all at once. In that blink, their vision tumbled into a spectrum of blue and white and the play of sunbeams on the snow capped Annapurna – a chunk of earth’s towering crust – projected like glittering diamonds. Their cinematic ride eventually ended on the playgrounds of the school roosted at the top of Astam, a sleepy village dwarfed by the Himalaya.

Spot shook his ruffled hair vigorously and looked up at his two bigger companions with amazement.  With his tongue hanging out, he exclaimed, “Can we do that again? Can we? Can we?”

Arlo rubbed his bum and was relieved that he still looked like an intact apatosaurus. “Mr. Musk needs to review his landing tactics. That was uncalled for.”

Spinosaurus clicked his enormous jaw back into place as he had landed with his mouth wide open. He sniffed the air around him. His nostrils started to tickle. He found a door in the ground, yanked it open and pulled the other two with him which led them down, following a trail of smell infused with a bird-like feathery aroma.

A lodge came into sight. They were hungry after traversing the Milky Way and were in search for food. Spot, who often rode on Arlo smelt his way right into the window of a kitchen located on the top floor of the lodge. He popped his head in and saw Arjun stirring a pot of freshly cooked dahl. He clambered in without invitation. And without a trace of politeness, he tugged the pot from Arjun, delighted by the sight of the yellow soup. Taken by surprise, Arjun clung tightly to the handle and a tug-of-war ensued. Meanwhile, Arlo had spotted a tasty patch of vegetables in the back garden where the farmer, Uncle Raju, laboriously spend his days. Arlo was in a spot of paradise munching away on cabbages, broccoli, carrots and beans. Uncle Raju, who was planting some seeds on the lower terraces looked up at the sound of loud crunching and gasped in utter shock at the sudden bare patch. Stunned at the disappearance of his hard work and the sight of a rather contented apatosaurus, he froze.

On the other end of the lodge, Spinosaurus was cooking up some mischief at the chicken coup. He had counted that there were 73 chickens, a worthy breakfast for a hungry carnivorous. He was going to save 9 chickens on his spike for a later snack. But alas, Anil who had heard the commotion at the chicken coup came around to check. The sight of a spiky creature brought no fear to Anil. He hoped onto his motorcycle and rode it straight into Spinosaurus in the hope of saving his chickens. The motorcycle crashed into Spinosaurus with a massive impact and sent Anil flying up into the air. Lucky for this brave young man, he landed on the paddy stack next to the buffalo shed. Spinosaurus was thrown back by the speed of the motorcycle and was annoyed to see his dimpled spikes. More was to come as Aunty Anita came along from the back and smacked Spinosaurus’ head hard with her heavy iron pan. He yelped at the pain and with the flick of his tail, sent Aunty Anita flying up. Just as Anil was trying to get up and out from the top of the paddy stack, his mom came crashing down on him.

Back in the kitchen, Spot had managed to dodge around Arjun and slurped up the dahl from the pot like a ravishing dog. He exited the kitchen and was just about to make his way out of the lodge when he caught a glimpse of round little things wrapped in colourful plastic crammed in a transparent container. It looked like shiny berries. Unknown to the little human who grew up in the wilderness, he popped in all the lollipops from the little shop counter and wondered why the berries were so hard but shockingly sweet.                                                                           

By this time, the Adhikari family – Arjun, Anil, Uncle Raju, Aunty Anita – who runs the Lodge were in a state of disarray. Spot and Arlo decided it was timely to leave. Spinosaurus, a little dazed from his misfortunes and not having eaten anything was still a little reluctant. Arlo was not in a mood for trouble that was certainly brewing. He anxiously nudged Spinosaurus to the end of the paddy terrace and down he went rolling like a ball. Spinosaurus was quick to tuck his spikes in rolling out of sight as the paddy terraces descended further and further down into the Oh-No valley. He finally came to a halt and fell into a deep slumber.

Over millions of years, one peculiar mountain was formed.

Tectonic plates of the Indian subcontinent broke off from the eastern side of Africa and collided into Asia. As a result, the tallest mountains on Earth, known as the Himalaya, were contoured and pushed up by the converging plates. Churned and toiled in the abyss of Earth, a slice of mountain repeatedly folded itself over and over again, gradually peaking heavily to one side. The mountain continued growing and the peak began to resemble a fatty, swirled milky ice-cream with a tender curly tip. Wind, rain and snow pummeled the mountain, gradually sculpting the granite into a shapely, tantalising sight. Thick snow blanketed the peak marking its presence with an air of wonderment.  About the same time, an unusual valley began to form below in response to the miraculous formation above. The inhabitants that lived in their blue metal roof houses around this valley named it the Oh-No Valley.

A yak load of chocolate melted in the intense heat wave of Oh-No Valley and solidified during the cold twilight into a stiff bulk.

This happened on a journey along an Annapurna pass at 3200m altitude. Sandwiched between dusk and dawn, the shape-shifting sack transformed from a liquid state to a solid mass. The yak was transporting bars of chocolate to Base Camp, a commodity highly sought after by climbers.

Exhausted after two days of hauling the heavy bulk, the yak laid on the ground. The sun was once again in a fury of delight. Its blazing beams caused the state of the chocolate to melt once again and trickled out of the yak sack onto a dry patch of golden grass. It wasn’t long before the yak’s heavy eyelids came together.

Something happened.

At first the sight of the gooey puddle of chocolate, from a distance could have been mistaken for yak poop of a runny sort. But a closer inspection of the shiny consistency of brownness, laying quite harmless began to lure a kind of curiosity from other kinds. The first to sniff the unusual phenomena was Professor Goat who had journeyed all the way from Canada in search of his Himalayan descendants. He was a curious sort of goat who clad himself in a neat bow tie, half-moon glasses and a pouch that slings across his neck. He was in the habit of chewing dried tufts of wild grass and was rather annoyed that the tuft he was eyeing was smothered in this brown mess. Professor Goat had hunger pangs knocking around and was not deterred by the unidentified lashings of gooiness on his meal. He licked the edge off it hoping to get his teeth into the grass. One eyebrow rose. He took another lick. Another eyebrow met the other. He slurped. His ears pricked up. All his senses started to tickle. This was sensational. To his surprise, this gooey mess was much tastier than the tuft of wild grass.

He slurped away in the sunshine, unaware of what was to come.

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