Soaring High: My Unplanned Date with Dhaulagiri

Picture this: I’m squeezed into a plane seat that’s seen better days, en route back to the motherland, Nepal. My in-flight meal is something that I’m pretty sure was chicken in a past life, and I’m mentally preparing myself to answer the barrage of questions about why I’m still single from a battalion of aunts. Life’s looking real glamorous, folks. But then, as I casually glance out of the frosted window, expecting nothing but the cold shoulder from the sky, I see it—Mount Dhaulagiri, in all her unapologetic, snow-capped glory, photobombing my gloom. And just like that, my cramped journey turned into an unexpected date with one of the Himalayas’ finest.

For those of you not in the know (and shame on you, by the way), Dhaulagiri isn’t just any mountain. Oh no, she’s the world’s 7th highest peak, standing tall at 8,167 meters (that’s a lot of feet for my American friends) and flaunting her icy beauty like it’s no big deal. And there I was, witnessing this natural wonder from the comfort of my economy class haven (read: sardine can).

Snapping out of my awe-induced daze, I scrambled for my phone, smudging the window with excitement. The result? A picture that might just make Ansel Adams weep. The Dhaulagiri, bathed in the soft glow of the morning sun, looked less like a mountain and more like a diva commanding the spotlight. I couldn’t have captured a better image if I parachuted out of the plane with a DSLR in hand. This serendipitous encounter made me realize that sometimes, the best travel experiences are the ones you don’t plan for.

As I disembarked, with stiff legs and a soul rejuvenated by the majestic view, I understood that the Himalayas weren’t just a backdrop to my homecoming; they were a reminder of Nepal’s eternal beauty, a beauty that effortlessly outshines the cramped discomfort of a long-haul flight and even the impending inquisition by my loving, albeit nosy, relatives.

So, dear readers, let this be a lesson to you. Always choose the window seat, because you never know when the universe will set you up on a blind date with a mountain. And trust me, when it’s Dhaulagiri, it’s love at first sight.