Recently, I was at Muktinath with some friends. The access to the holy destination, however, was not quite obvious. The Pokhara-Jomsom flight, amid monsoon clouds, made our hair stand on end. Midair, we all appeared to be drawing a tacit inference: it’s time to bid goodbye to everyone, to everything.

And we had more than enough reasons to panic. Despite the airlines’ assurance that the plane would take off only in clement weather, the reality up there was a frightening one: the tiny plane lost itself in the thick clouds. Worse, the ‘jolting’ resembled a truck ride along a potholed Nepali road.

In no time, however, a small crack exposed a blue sky behind the thick curtains of heavy black clouds. The clouds were heading in all directions, as if each had its own destination, very much like our plane.

These rain bearing clouds, however, cannot cross over to Mustang; they just get transformed into heavy downpour when they near the snowy Himalayan barrier. Unlike the clouds, our plane, we hoped, was to soar higher before hitting the Jomsom airstrip.

All was not over. The pilots had a thankless surprise up their sleeves. While the passengers were finally rapt in drinking in the breathtaking nature from Ghasa all the way to Lete, Tukuch and Marpha — the plane nosedived right towards the rushing and fuming Kali Gandaki!

The nosedive over, and we all looked like death warmed over! Well, dictionary defines ‘nosedive’ as ‘a dive of an airplane that is accelerated both by gravity and by the power of the engine’.

Seated at the rear, I noticed something remarkable: in panic, all of us had clutched tightly whatever we could cling on to for life: armrests and headrests of seats, etcetera. We had rested all our hopes on those inanimate objects even as we knew, in midair crisis, pilots save lives, not the lifeless objects.

But then, that also shows how pitifully vulnerable we human beings are in the face of sudden danger; how we look for protection even in inanimate things and resort to such fragile application without a second thought. Wish Muktinath gave mukti from such fears crippling all living beings, especially humans!