Almost every day for six years I woke up to the scene above. The majestic Kanchenjunga has stayed in my mind for all these fifty plus years.
I will not speak of the spiritual solace that this and other scenes gave, the long discourses with learned lamas that my parents engaged in and the politics of the time. These have been explained much better than I ever could by my father Apa Pant in his various writings.
But, nevertheless, the spirit of the mountains, being all pervasive penetrated my unconscious mind in subtle and far reaching ways so that even today I feel the deep and lasting effect that those years had on my journey through life.
It is hard to imagine in today’s age of instant and worldwide communication that in those days the most we could travel in one day was 8 – 10 miles, and 10 miles was a long day.
All those trips were primarily on horseback with the ones in Tibet in rickety unheated jeeps. The roads were primitive – often the left side of the jeep would be scraping the mountainside while the right wheel would be at the edge of a two thousand foot drop.
In our travels in Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet I was the “official” photographer for my parents. With my Agfa camera and later my Canon (today these would be called “point and shoot” cameras”) I recorded as best as I could the scenes that unfolded. Little did I sense that many of these would be “historical” – events would dictate that that world would vanish forever.
The photographs that you see here are scans from those old slides – evidence that that old format does, indeed survive the test of fifty plus years – which I have been able to salvage after many years of inappropriate storage in wet and humid conditions.
I wonder if today’s digital formats will last that long…