Wildlife was not really on my mind. I suppose there wasn’t anything particular on mind. I was just sitting inside the vehicle, next to Sanjay Mehta who was driving the car. My window was down – much to the discomfort of Abhishek and Ameen in the back seat of the Xylo. I was enjoying the cool wind as we drove slowly up the snow-covered mountain. Our intention was to get to Kibber village. We weren’t really sure if we would get there since the road had patches of ice, snow, and the going was slow. There was one point – at a curve going up – when all of us were down, digging mud to put on the icy road so that the car tyres could get some traction. I was taking all that came in my stride, like I said: nothing particular on my mind.
It was a beautiful day, an idyllic setting, clear blue sky, pristine white snow-covered mountains, chilled breeze, silence, and stillness.
And then as we turned a bend, I spotted two magnificent animals, standing regally, head held high, watching us come up the road. They were Bharal (Himalayan Blue Sheep, called Nabo in Spiti.) Watching them, I could believe that they were descendants of Miocene-age mammals that had branched out and adopted to high-mountain living.
From their demeanour, it was quite clear that they were used to seeing humans and they were not perturbed or threatened by our presence. In fact, I came to learn through our 16-day winter trip, that humans and animals are general used to co-existing peacefully in Spiti. Made me wonder if humans of different hues around the world would ever get around to such peaceful co-existence… but that’s a different existential matter.