IT WAS MY THIRD VISIT TO TAWANG, home to a tiny military base in Arunachal Pradesh.
The idyllic base was our home every summer, the only time in the entire year when we got to meet our father. A home away from home. A mystical, fantastical land with surreal weather conditions. The roads, if you could call them that, were narrower than a tick’s ass and precariously wound around an undulating row of mountains that looked like inverted ice-cream cones, topped with London Dairy’s vanilla ice cream. These stoic giants pierced through a sea of translucent cotton-candy clouds and, at 10,000 feet above sea level, Tawang might as well have been the land of fairies and elves where mythical beings and soldiers peacefully co-existed. It certainly was picture perfect, despite the daunting journey that led to it.
To my thirteen-year-old self, getting to Tawang seemed like Harry Potter’s journey to Hogwarts, liberally peppered with some edge-of-the-seat thrill of Mad Max: Fury Road. It started with a bumpy air-pocket-ridden flight to Guwahati that gave me giant knots in the stomach, followed by a two-day road trip that traversed Tezpur in Assam, ran through the picturesque Tenga Valley, crossing Bomdila Pass at 9,000 feet, slowly climbing up to the literally breathtaking Se-la Pass at 13,000 feet and finally descending into Tawang – ‘the land of the chosen horse’.
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