As I write this article, I recollect memories which gave me a new perspective to look at the world we live in. Though this article is probably too long to be read by sane people (C’mmon prove your insanity! 😉 ), I am pretty sure that the species of travelers, adventure-seekers and curious learners would enjoy reading it.
So here goes my Himalayan journey:
- Entering the world of Youth Hostel Association: This organization facilitates trekking expeditions for adventure-lovers every year. Last year, I chose to be a part of one such expedition. As soon as I reached the base camp- Kasol, I came to know that there were 65 other trekking enthusiasts hailing from different parts of the country and together we were named: ‘SP32’. Gradually I realized how during the whole trek this new name became a whole new identity for me. From one camp to another, wherever we went, we were referred to as ‘SP32’. Group identity mattered more than individual identity.
Lesson No. 1: I learnt how a group name can bind together different people coming from different regions speaking different languages and carrying different attitudes.
- The Beginning: Days at Kasol, our base camp, were the easiest part of the whole trek but these were ones when we all geared up for our BIG ascent. We learnt one of the most important lessons of our lives: ‘Discipline’. Waking up on hearing the sharp sound of a whistle wasn’t easy. What was more difficult for me was to somehow gather courage to take a bath when the water was freezing cold and rendered the whole body numb. No wonder after the first 2 days, I switched to simply washing my face and hands just like others. “3..2..1.. Go” That was my everyday countdown before splashing the ice-cold water all over my face. Breakfast, Morning exercise, Acclimatization walk, Lunch, Dinner, campfire.. from everything to everything was scheduled. No one was allowed to be late and here is where I learnt the next lesson.
Lesson No. 2: I learnt how being punctual and disciplined can make things easier and wonderful as opposed to making them burdensome.
- The climb: As we headed towards our next camp from our base camp, we were asked to carry in our rucksacks only the necessary stuff or rather only the crucial stuff. As they say “Even a needle seems heavy when you walk on the mountains”. And so, our load was supposed to be as light as possible. Allow me to flaunt a little bit of philosophy here..
Lesson No. 3: Shed off the unnecessary load you carry in your mind. A lighter mind can make the journey of life more pleasant.
- The views: As we moved up, there were steep climbs, really steep ones. But what surrounded these climbs were beautiful valleys, rocketing trees, smiling flowers and chirping birds. The scenic views kept us going.
Lesson No.4: I learnt that nature possesses a mysterious power which can make fatigue disappear.
- The art of making friends: With each passing day, the climb became laborious, the climate became severe and the camps became rudimentary lacking even the basic facilities. Surprisingly the graph of our enjoyment kept on increasing exponentially. Each obstacle we faced together, each hurdle we crossed together brought us closer as a group. The camp fires started becoming more interesting as we learnt more and more about each other.
Lesson No.5: It is at the time of adversity that perfect strangers can become perfect friends.
- The helping hands: During the trek, a lot of us staggered stumbled and slipped but there were angels all around to lend us helping hands to keep us from falling. Whether one walked with the speed of a horse or the pace of an ant there was always a gentle and entertaining company around. But there were problems too. In spite of the fact that I considered my immune system robust enough to help me get through any condition, I faced a lot of problems including loss of appetite and sleep at the same time. At Nagaru (one of the most dreaded camps) I was even warned that I would not be allowed to move forward and could be sent back to base camp if I did not get well by the next day. I almost broke down.. But my angel friends were there to take care of me, support me and to help me revive myself within a day.
Lesson No. 6: You are not afraid to fall if you know you have someone to fall back on.
- Lively Indian Goddesses: Girls’ tent rocked! There was not a single moment I remember when I found myself getting bored. There was always something interesting happening in or around the tent. As an observer I saw in every girl an innocent child, a loving sister, a passionate lover, a caring mother and a reliable friend. What was new was to be confronted with the crazy deranged maniac avatar of a girl!!
Lesson No. 7: Fourteen girls in a tent= (craziness)x14= Insanity at its best! = TENT ON FIRE!!
- Sharing and caring: Each camp had its own memories and so did each path. Rest points were the most awaited spots. Here is where we opened our weirdly stuffed lunch-packs and ate heartily while having conversations about the most idiotic subjects we would have ever thought of talking about. And then there were the most admired Maggi wale uncles and aunties! Sharing Maggi inside a shaky plastic tent when its hailing outside, can be real fun!
Lesson No..8: Maggi tastes best at 13000 ft 😉 and so does Bournvita 😉
- The descent: As we neared completion we wanted to hold on to every single memory. We didn’t want the camp fire to end at our last camp. And as we headed back to the base camp we wanted to treasure every bond that we had made there. People were thanked, apologies were expressed and together we moved on to Manikaran, a place synonymous to HOT WATER! Finally we could take a plunge in the warm waters of Manikaran and relieve ourselves of all the fatigue, exhaustion, aches and ofcourse germs! And as soon as our great bath was over, we realized..a lot of things were over..
Lesson No. 9 : All good things come to an end….But there’s always more waiting ahead..
- The nostalgia: Finally we were back to Kasol. Everything looked just the same. The rocks, the trees, the tents, the breakfast, the lunch, the ice cold water and the LED lit campfire! Email ids, Phone no.s and fb ids were exchanged. We received our certificates, said final Goodbyes and made our way back to places where our cells would always remain charged, where our pockets would always carry wallets, where 10 kms would be a short distance to be covered on a bike, moped or car and where the world would be on our laps just a click away..
Lesson No. 10: You can pause for a while but life resumes… 🙂