On Setbacks & Silver Linings

Rainbow in the high altitude desert of Nubra Valley, Ladakh
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.

Double rainbow spanning the high altitude desert of Nubra Valley, Ladakh
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.

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

62 thoughts on “On Setbacks & Silver Linings

  1. So sorry to read about your injury and hope that you recover soon and can eat some Mani Puri as quickly as possible. I can’t imagine seeing that and not being able to eat it.

    I follow you on Instagram but not sure why I have not found your blog before (I don’t think) and it is lovely to read you and get a birdseye view into your perspective of your home country. Your eloquent writing is captivating and we continue to be amazed and enthralled by every aspect of your magnificent country… complex always and heart wrenching often.

    The photo of the double rainbow is magnificent. Good for you for conquering your fears. I too suffered from altitude sickness in Cusco, but I think I learnt my lesson and in the future should I be at such high altitudes again, I will really go slow, as is advised.

    A pleasure to read you.


  2. It’s been such a long time Madhu. I hope you and Ravi are okay during these strange times. I’m “stealing” some of your words for my soon to be published post on Rishikesh. We were there for a month this year Feb8-Mar10.
    I see your tweets now and then so figure you must be ok. I hope we meet one day!

    1. Hello Alison, delighted that you liked my description enough to ‘steal’ it…you are most welcome. I enjoyed your Rishikesh post very much.

      What a pity we missed each other. I had reviews for my fracture through early Feb and then we – bravely – set off for Chile on the 27th. We had to cut short our trip by a few days and just beat the border shutdown by a whisker! I hope too that we get to meet someday. Stay well

  3. Landed on your wonderful and enriching blog after very long. I do not blog much but do visit blogs of my friends to enjoy their creativity and adventures. Bye for now Madhu and regards.

  4. Dearest Madhu,
    In the excitement of December events, including a family reunion and our son prpposing to.his lady love, I missed this post – a thought-provoking one.

    So sorry to learn about your jaw this late. You are probably prancing around in a sari at yr niece’s wedding even as I type. Hope your jaw is good as new by now.

    Congrats on your grit and determination in conquering a little slice of the mighty Himalayas.

  5. Wishing you a very speedy recovery, Madhu! And that double rainbow IS magic! Wow! Love it when life rewards fearlessness in equal measure. Happy New Year!

  6. You command an eclectic blend of the art of storytelling and the craft of capturing the facets in your journey that makes the narration indeed so intriguing to read. You have literally created a virtual space for all of us as travelers of life, it is indeed a wonderful destination of place and people we all need to meet, learn and explore. Wishing you a speedy recovery and a year full of health and happiness.

    Wishing you a wonderful 2020 Happy New Year!!!
    Signing Off 2019 from wondering “Makeup & Breakup.”

  7. Synchronicity is also a thing … so strange … I was just looking at treks in Ladakh for next summer, then sent a message on another blog that had a mention of going to Ladakh in 2020, then clicked over to your post, and … there was Ladakh and the Nubra Valley. I think I am meant to go!

    SO sorry to hear about your fall and your jaw! That sounds like a frightening accident, but I’m glad you’e doing OK and even seeing a silver lining in the almost-liquid diet! When I was a little girl, I bit off the end of my tongue while chasing friends in the woods and had to have it stitched back on. Everyone was freaked out (obviously; it was pretty gross), but all I remember was getting to drink chocolate milkshakes through a straw for weeks!

  8. Commiserations my friend. A broken jaw is no fun. Your ruminations about fear were salutary for me at the moment, as we’re your ruminations on India, and your sense of hope in reclaiming moral compass. You made me pause in my outrage about my government’s attitude to climate change, refugees and transparency. Enjoy ice cream and booze – and may 2020 lead to a next December free of bad news!

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