Once upon a time in Hemis National Park, Ladakh, India, lived 2 Brown bears , Chikoo, and Shakar Teti.
The 2 brown bears live in a special cave dug in earth that their friend, Rinch a.k.a bear had found for them. It was special indeed, it was under the tall Poplar and colorful Willow trees. It had 3 smaller caves within and a central area with stones arranged in a circle. They loved that their cave had an entrance guarded by a big rock .
Shakar Teti decorated their cave with special bear things, berries, nuts, honey and plants. In fact, their beds were made of plants.
While they were sleeping in winter, the 2 bears had a baby. And through out winter, the baby bear drank her mummy’s milk and stayed warm in her mummy’s fur. In spring, Shakar Teti woke up and is delighted to see her baby, a cute little Karonda.
She starts licking her, caressing her and playing with her. She then, turns and gently nudges Chikoo
” Wake up! Chikoo. Look’s who is here…”
The family, cuddles and kisses. Soon it was time for breakfast. Mummy Shakar Teti leaves to prepare tingmo, butter chai and sweet chhurpi. Papa Chikoo goes to make a bed for little Karonda in the third cave. Karonda helps her Papa.
Soon the breakfast was ready. The butter chai is piping hot!!!
Papa bear asks “How about we take a walk , come back and have breakfast? We can show Karonda to our friend Rinch. ”
The family of bears goes for a walk to meet their neighbors. Karonda is excited, as she has never been outside the cave since she was born.
At the same time, a family is visiting the area from Sunnyvale, California: Bapu, Ba, Nitali and Nihir. They have come for the Hemis festival. [see photo below from India.com]
Both are scared and Nihir tries to be brave for both of them. They practice the Mountain pose that they had learnt in the yoga class with Ba and Bapuji .
After feeling calm, Nihir encourages Nitali to keep walking back on the path they came on, all the time hoping it would lead back to their parents. Nitali trusts her brother to get them out of this mess.
As they are walking hurriedly, looking left and right, they come across a cave.
The cave is interesting in that it has a rock partially covering the entrance. Nitali wonders if there is anyone in the cave.
Curious as she is, she peeks in. What she sees surprise her!!!! She had never seen anything like this: there is sees a central clearing with one bowl of chhurpi, 3 stones each with a cup of butter chai, and a plate of tingmo[steamed bread]. Maybe people live here she thought to herself.
“Come in, Nihir. There is butter chai, tingmo and chhurpi [ yak cheese] over here and I am feeling hungry. May I eat it?”
Aware of his sister’s vivid imagination, Nihir who is just interested in finding a way back, replies ” Sure there is, and be quick since we should leave soon”
Nihali sits on the first large stone, picks up the bowl of tea and exclaims to herself:
” This is too hot, too heavy and the stone too high” .
She goes and sits on the next stone and yet her feet did not touch the ground and so she moves to the last stone: “This one is just right, look, my feet touch the ground! and this bowl is just right”.
Quickly, she drinks some tea and eats the tingmo with the chhurpi.
“Delicious” she said. “Nihir, I feel tired, may I rest?”
Nihir responded anxiously, “Just for a few moments, we need to get back to Ba and Bapu”
Nitali explores the cave. She sees 3 smaller areas with plant beds. She tries the first one
and exclaims ” This is too big” and then the next one, “This is big for me too!” .
In the smallest bed, she says “This is just right” and falls asleep, while Nihir stands guard outside.
Getting restless, Nihir decides to walk around the cave to see which way to go back on.
In the meantime, Chikoo, Shakar Teti and Karonda come back and go into their cave. Chikoo growls, “Someone sat on my rock“.
Shakar Teti growls, “Someone sat on my rock!” and
Karonda cried ” Someone drank my tea and ate my tingmo“.
Chikoo goes to check his bed and growls “Someone slept in my bed”
Shakar Teti growls “Someone slept in my bed“.
Karanda whimpers, scared “Someone is sleeping in my bed“.
Nitali wakes up to see the baby bear staring at her, she jumps out of the bed and runs straight to the cave entrance. Outside, she sees her brother, grabs his arm and shouts
” Bears, Run Nihir”.
Nitali and Nihir run as fast as their feet can take them. Tripping and falling and running all the way back to the paved road with a sign” —->> to Hemis Monastery” and find their parents looking for them outside the monastery.
“Where have you been? We have been worried” Ba asked.
“Following a snow leopard…and eating tingmo made by bears , sleeping in a bear’s bed” replies Nitali.
“Nihir, is she making this up?” asked Bapu.
“Not sure, I did not see any bears, Bapu”