Gayatri, Satori and Jamshid are guided by their childhood memories
and dreams over the years,
to look for pearl-eating Swans and the lost valley of Shangri-La
With the registrations complete, the mountaineering participants exchanged notes. Social media had taken care of earlier familiarisations and now it was time for the real meeting. Over the last few weeks, there were sessions on expedition drills covering equipment usages, recovery from crevice, managing shifting ice and inhuman temperatures.
“I just hope, we get to use all these trainings,” joked Gayatri.
“One never knows what waits around the corner. Survival motto, be ready always.” Jamshid responded. “I am glad we have you. I need you to hold my, I mean, our hands under water; your speciality in deep water diving is awesome.”
“My hand, only then??!!” complained Gayatri with raised eyebrows, in mock anger with the unassuming guide, while the others laughed at her.
Gayatri looked at Jamshid. Something touched their inner strings and they wanted to be together all the time. From morning jogs to expedition briefings and meals, they learnt about one another – the shape of the curves, smile in the eyes, warmth of the hands, the tingling of entwined fingers, smell of exerted bodies, spontaneity of humour and the glow of authentic souls.
Both had a favourite haunt. There was a picturesque Monastery near their training camp and they loved to jog up all the way, twice a day. The Chief Monk welcomed them to meditation and related breathing exercises. He saw a different potential and zeal in them which matched those of his young disciple, Satori, who now was the head monk of an affiliated Monastery.
“Satori has travelled the Mansarovar Lake trail many times. He is also an expert deep water diver like you both. You should come tomorrow for dinner when he will be here. You will find him very interesting.” said the Chief Monk, his eyes expressing there was more to it than dinner.
Satori had the face of a saint, the body of a model, the charm of a lover and the discipline of a soldier. Both Gayatri and Jamshid were easily taken over by his warmth and humility. They sat for hours sharing their experiences and their inner drive to find answers.
“I get these dream-calls beckoning me to a place where swans glide I somehow feel this expedition has something to do with my craving to search and find this Lake of pearl-eating swans.” Gayatri shyly whispered to Satori that evening. She was in love with Jamshid and saw in him everything she always wanted. But the depth of Satori made her an unashamed admirer of his brilliance, understanding and sheer physical magnetism. She kept her thoughts to herself.
“I know. Jamshid has shared his passion too. He also has memories and a deep calling like mine and yours. For the years I spent in the Monastery, there were many records that I investigated. There was a visitor years ago, who talked about this unreachable place called Shangri-La; the place Jamshid’s relative brought some artifacts from and the place where there is the reference of swans.” He did not tell her about the child found on the Lake.
“Are you saying, we three are here for a purpose? A pre-arranged meeting?”
“That’s what our Chief Monk believes. He has different ideas about our expedition.”
Suddenly he held the two in his arms and looking into their eyes, softly asked, “Are you with me? Will you trust me with your lives?”
“We are together in whatever lies ahead.” The three joined hands forming an alliance, believing in each other and in their converged callings.
Every day, after prayers, they were guests of the Chief Monk where they would deliberate on their dreams. That evening, a few guests from outside the town joined them for dinner.
“Children, these are the well-wishers of the Monastery and represent nations who worry about sustainability of life on earth. They have been searching for Shangri-La for decades. Alas, with no success. They have hopes in the three of you.”
Satori was a part of those expeditions and sensed the failure due to no technical snags. Increasingly, he felt the Shangri-La door would open only to believers of a different kind.
In Gayatri and Jamshid, he felt the bonding and a sense of oneness to venture for one last time on the shores of the Mansarovar Lake.
“I had these altered feelings for quite some time. My mind only thinks of Swans. No longer the onward trail of the Elk from Mansarovar beckons me.” Confessed Gayatri.
“We know the secret lies in the Lake but not the Lake that the world knows. Our studies and past experiences have shown underground caverns and an outlet that would takes us to the other Mansarovar Lake.” Satori shared all the details of previous attempts with his two companions.
Jamshid and Gayatri pulled out of the expedition. The three now had a very different briefing. The representatives opened before them all the past efforts. Powerful sensors revealed some form of living things under the Mansarovar Lake but the trail was faint with no knowledge of the path.
The door needed a different key and as the Chief Monk insisted, the right people. He called them; the chosen ones.
“We will have to train ourselves over the next few months in deep water diving. The early failed expeditions have tried but could not see the path. Astounding under-water Nature pictures have been captured earlier. I get constant images of the three of us searching amidst that landscape.” The young Monk admitted.
Plans were made, loved ones were informed and the adventure into the unknown began…