I always wanted to see the snow. I don’t know why it fascinated me so. It was a dream that eluded me for almost three decades. I traveled to destinations where snow falls in abundance but the timing was never quite right.
I finally saw it in a small European village right out of a picture postcard. It looks like the place where they shoot pictures for holiday cards. It’s more beautiful than the dreams and the childhood fantasy land.
You can see the whole village from the train station. Our hotel address was only a house number. There was no street name or block number. Information center at the train station gave us a map of the region and pointed us in the direction of the house. There didn’t seem any need for public transportation. We walked.
It was raining which further added to the beauty of the village. Clouds also meant a need for alteration in our plans. We expected to cycle around the nearby villages, sit by the lake in bright sunshine and enjoy the view of the scenic landscape from a viewpoint up in the mountains which can be reached by a cable car.
The hotel owner informed us in a very disappointed voice that we will not be able to see anything from there because of snow. We can only visit the ice caves at the first cable car stop. The second stop is accessible but we can’t walk up to the view point.
To his surprise, I jumped up in excitement because I wanted to see the snow.
We dropped our luggage and immediately left. The ice caves were spectacular. The beauty of frozen ice inside caves was accentuated by the artificial lighting effects. By the time we reached back to the cable car station for our way ahead, our bodies were tired, spirits high and the heart still longing for snow fall. However we were too late. It was around 4:30 pm and the last cable car down from the high point was at 5 pm. The operator refused to take us up there because the view point was about 30 min away on foot and we would be stranded up there. So near yet so far.
We went back to the downhill cable station. While we waited for the cable car, an old man appeared out of nowhere and took the bench next to us. He looked a lot like Santa Claus without the red suit. He greeted us and asked where we are from. My friend replied, ‘India’. He said, ‘you should see the snow up there’. We told him it’s too late now and enquired how long it might take. He said he just came back from there and it took only 4 min. ‘You should go’, he said again.
After a moment’s hesitation, we made an impulse decision to take our chances. We ran back to the uphill station. The operator told us again that ‘you will need to be back by 5 and you won’t be able to go to the viewing point’. We went nevertheless.
It was snowing up there. We stayed near the station exit for about ten min. It was eerily quiet with an occasional noise of a machine being operated nearby. Everything was white. I felt soft light snowflakes falling on my hands and hair. I looked up at the snow falling from nowhere in particular. It was white and misty. A sense of absolute purity, beauty and peace set in. It was mesmerizing.
I finally saw the snowfall… by coincidence… a series of unplanned events… on an unexpected day… in an impulsive moment.
The old man was gone by the time we came back. I can’t help but wonder where did he come from and why in a 5-second conversation, he told us about the snow.