On Setbacks & Silver Linings

Nubra Valley, Ladakh

It seems to have become the norm for me to have bad news to report every other December. Hoping this third time’s a ‘charm’ and will be the last.

I had a fall last week and fractured my jawbone. I managed to dislocate the right joint and have two hairline cracks on the left. I am in no pain currently and hope to have lost enough weight with my baby-food diet to rock it in a sari at the grand-niece’s wedding in Jan. While my jaw is immobilised and consuming liquids through wired teeth isn’t quite fun, I am immensely grateful for all that DIDN’T happen and for being alive and well enough to be writing this.

I am also grateful for the messages of concern and sympathy from friends and relatives and amused by those calling my husband to advice him not to “let me travel solo anymore”. Yes, ‘LET”! I have never allowed fear to rule my life and am not about to start anytime soon.

The images in this post are illustrative of that time, last year, when I overcame my fear and got to witness magic. Not the fear of the unknown that I crossed long back when I took my first independent solo trip, but a real fear for our health. We had both experienced slight symptoms of altitude sickness in Peru and have been wary of travelling to high elevations since. Ravi refused to take the risk, but I, with permission from the incredibly encouraging pulmonologist treating me for breathing issues at the time, decided not to wait for him any longer and battled my anxieties to head to the Himalayas for the first time. I took time to acclimatise and never felt a thing even sleeping at over 15000ft*. Now, Ravi is tempted to give it a try too.

Nubra Valley, Ladakh

Fear is a strange thing. All consuming until we leave it behind. This past week, my country did just that. A considerable number of our students poured out into the streets to oppose a blatantly discriminatory citizenship bill.

One of our guides in Romania had expressed cynicism over the survival of democracy in a large and unwieldy nation such as ours. Most people outside of the country do not quite grasp the miracle that is India. This gaggle of disparate cultures, religions, languages and notoriously rule-breaking citizens who’ve managed to stay together despite some of the most corrupt & inefficient of systems anywhere. That diversity has been under threat these past few years by a not too subtle departure from our founding secular values. The silence has been a great source of personal despair. Last week, the apathy finally snapped.

However these ongoing protests end – the response has been brutal and I know the cost is going to be high particularly for our youth leading from the front – the fact that we were pushed to a point where we were forced to re-connect with our collective moral conscience is a huge deal. I am more hopeful for us than I have been in years. Silver linings are a thing.

Wishing you all a joyous holiday season and a year filled with whatever your hearts desire. And many silver linings.

*A disclaimer that altitude sickness is not to be taken lightly and can affect anyone regardless of age. Please research destinations and access to medical facilities and make choices that feel right for YOU.

Posted by

Hi, I'm Madhu. Wanderer. Travel blogger. Story teller. Bitten late and hard by the travel bug, I am on a mission to make up for lost time.

61 thoughts on “On Setbacks & Silver Linings

  1. Oh, Madhu! Another December issue… Wishing you a speedy recovery, and hoping you have some new interesting solo excursions in time… Sending seasonal good wishes Sue xx

  2. Hope you mend quickly. We are following events in India like the rest of the world and hope India doesn’t continue to follow in Lanka’s direction. When Modi is voted out . . .

    1. Thank you Mallee, and fingers crossed. Our tragedy, and that of many other countries, is the absence of a viable opposition.

  3. Thinking of you as you heal from this setback or “misadventure”, Madhu. Beautiful images of a surreal landscape hidden from the world, a perfect place for overcoming fear.
    There are silver linings and am glad you are ending the year filled with hope for a diverse and tolerant India. I wish I could say that for the US. Our senate needs to reconnect with its collective moral conscience.
    The best of everything to you this coming year.

    1. Thank you Lynne! Such a pleasure to see your Gravatar pop up. Have missed you, hope all is well with you? Wishing for a more peaceful, tolerant world for us all. Merry Christmas to you & Ron!

  4. So sorry about your accident, but had to chuckle at your silver lining. 😅 I’m sure you’ll rock that sari at the January wedding. Yes, altitude sickness isn’t pleasant at all. I had a slight bout of it in Peru, but the lashings of coca tea really helped. Love your beautiful photos as always. Wishing you and your family a happy festive season and only good health in the year to come. 😘

    1. Haha, the husband thinks I’ve hurt my head in the fall 🙂 Thank you for your wishes Sylvia. Warmest Christmas greetings to you and your entire family.

  5. Yowch. So sorry about your tumble but always glad to see your posts, always positive posts even when going through challenging times.

    Your voice is important, and we all share a great concern about the world-wide turbulence. It’s good to see the youth finding a voice, yet we also worry about the dangers they face. May this new year shine on the best side of man’s nature, and may you dance circles around everyone at that wedding!

    1. Amen to that Lisa, I so need those blessings. Thank you very much and hope you are enjoying a beautiful Christmas day.

  6. That must have been some tumble, Madhu. It might have knocked the stuffing out of you but never the spirit. 🤗 God bless and here’s to a trim and active 2020 💕

    1. Thank you dearest Jo. Those were my dentist’s exact words when she looked at my Xrays! Not being able to talk is harder than the diet 🙂 Hope you and Mike are enjoying a beautiful Christmas day. Seems special in Tavira.

  7. Year end greetings to you and a sincere wish year 2020 treats you more kindly 🙂 I’m very sorry to know of your unfortunate accident and trust you have a complete and soon recovery. I love the Himalayas, the Far Pavilions. Used to take annual vacation in the foothills that is Mussoorie and loved the view from there. The view from Nepal is equally as grand. Bharat Mata will always be a melting pot of many nations but the fact is it works in spite of the continuous tamasha and has come a long way since independence. LOL

    1. Tamasha it is! And amazing how we continue to plod along despite it 🙂 Thank you for your kind words Ian. Sending warmest Christmas wishes to you and your family.

  8. Madhu, it’s such a shame to hear about your fall though I am thankful that it wasn’t more serious – and also for the humor you’ve shown in the face of injury, a baby-food diet, and unwanted advice from concerned relatives. Surely the accident had nothing to do with traveling solo!

    I have been following the news out of India and am appalled at the wanton police brutality meted out on unarmed university students. It seems that 2019 will be remembered as the year of the global street protests, with so many countries and places experiencing some form of social unrest. Off the top of my head I can think of France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Spain (Catalonia), Lebanon, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Kashmir, and now the rest of India too.

    As you know from Facebook, I am in Hong Kong for the week to see my family and friends. It has been exactly 200 days since the protests kicked off in June. There is a strange veneer of normality: on the whole, things feel more or less the same, even if the signs of the protests are fairly obvious in the abundance of missing railings (used to build barricades) and painted-over graffiti. We’ve had something of a lull in weeks leading up to Christmas, though clashes broke out just last night between riot police and protesters in two locations. So my wish for a Christmas without tear gas went up in smoke.

    And it has been an exercise in tact to tiptoe around the topic or to gently counter misinformed relatives who seem to believe that family and church groups on WhatsApp are a reliable source of news! Much to my relief, I can discuss things openly with my own level-headed father, who puts the blame squarely on a government that listens only to Beijing and is hopelessly out of touch with ordinary people. Even in July he’d told me Carrie Lam and her inexperienced cronies had been missing every single opportunity to defuse the situation.

    I couldn’t post this comment without mentioning how these words jumped out for me: “This gaggle of disparate cultures, religions, languages and notoriously rule-breaking citizens who’ve managed to stay together despite some of the most corrupt & inefficient of systems anywhere.” You’ve described Indonesia as well, right down to a tee, and I’m very curious to see what you make of it when you and Ravi eventually visit.

    Wishing you a quick and painless recovery, good health, and many exhilarating journeys in 2020!

    1. The brutality has been truly appalling James. You will not believe how many here think Indian authorities are right in coming down hard on protesters but what’s happening in Hong Kong is bad because, well, China! The double standards are hilarious. The rest were silent partly out of misplaced optimism and partly out of fear. I am guilty of self censoring myself but have pulled out all the stops now, on Twitter at least. Have given up on Mangalorean friends and relatives on Facebook who prefer fake WhatsApp updates, just like yours 🙂

      Warmest Christmas wishes to you and your family once again. Have a feeling 2020 will be better for us all.

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