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"Were you disappointed?"

Lakpa tipped his head. "Indian mountains are better. Not so high, and better weather."

Ragged patches of blue appeared overhead as they emerged into the driveway. A sunbeam meandered across the green. Under the edges of the clouds to the northeast, Trager thought he could see the flat white of snow fields or glaciers.

"Lakpa, how do you pronounce the name of the mountains? �Himalaya, or Himalaya?"

"Himalaya, Himalaya, Himalaya, all ways okay. All people know what it is."

Max and Freya were waiting by a blue Willys jeep with a canvas cover.

"Christ, it's about time!" Max said. "If you and Freya hadn�t diddled each other so long at the Nanga Parbat, we'd be in Srinagar by now."

"If I hadn't come to get you out of that bar when I did, �said Freya, "we'd be leaving you in Kawapatri."

"Bullshit," Max said, and to Trager's horror, got behind the wheel.

"Hop in," said Freya. "Put your pack on the end of the seat. It might keep you from falling out." She and Trager climbed in back, while Lakpa took the seat next to Max.

"Lakpa's been giving me the sales pitch on Indian mountains, �said Trager. "Better than Everest."

"Lakpa should know," said Freya. "But then he's also Ladakhi, and he's jealous of us going up there without him."

Springtime in Kashmir ©Talbot Bielefeldt 2020.

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