Travelling enriches you as a person, widening your perspective about life beyond horizons. All heard and said, I had no idea I was going to experience all of this in the next ten days of my life. It was an impromptu decision that I chose a 15,000-ft. pass located in the lap of mighty Himalayas for my first trek.
The trip-reminder mails and a few internet searches about the difficulty level made me realize how unprepared I was. A frenzied call to Sir Ranjit Singh, the only professional trekker in my circle, was what followed. The very next day, fixing a meeting at 6 am, we decided to take the comparatively difficult route to reach atop Yogi hills for a trial. Sir Ranjit, my former geometry professor, would narrate incidents justifying his shift of interests from being a math teacher to a K2 aspirer. His experiences with a fiery-eyed leopard, love for rice beer and atheist ideologies were all I heard about. Though I contradicted and argued on a few statements of his, his enthusiastic and affirmable way of narration made me listen to him more. The small hill that would take him around 10 minutes took almost an hour for me. A bit of dragging and a few motivational lines led to a splendid view atop and a sense of achievement.[pullquote]No book or traveller would be able to describe the Himalayan experience fairly[/pullquote]
The Decathlon showroom at Ghodbunder road was a happy place. Trekkers, cyclists, joggers and sports enthusiasts thronged the showroom. We had much more to do than just hustling and buzzing. Hiking shoes, poles, gloves and windcheaters made their way into one big orange backpack. A list of precautionary dos and don'ts followed.
Continuing with my tradition of never reaching places on time, I was the last of the whole lot to board the train from Bandra terminus. Travel, psychology, mythology, politics - discussions rolled over one after the other, and interestingly all the topics seemed inter-related and stemmed from the previous coherently. Diverse opinions; unifying interests.
No book or traveller would be able to describe the Himalayan experience fairly. One could fall short of adjectives. To me, it appeared like a great saint meditating calmly; detached yet one with the cosmos. It is strong, absolutely pure yet ego-less. During and after the trek, there was an unmindful change in my attitude towards people and everyday life. Worries no longer seemed to make me sulk. My frivolous miseries hardly mattered in front of the herculean ranges. Interacting and conversing with strangers became easier. The climb is a test to one's determination and patience. It teaches us to balance our emotions and use the mind effectively. I left from home with no aim, objective or motive but returned with plenty of them. There were no names on the Himalayan map when I left but I returned with more than 50 must visit places and loads of self-confidence.The base camp was in Rumsu village, Himachal Pradesh. Although having stayed in central India for most of the years, the remote northern mountainous region practically never existed for me. This place was my first introduction to the Himalayas. Although the village was small and scarcely populated, one could find several things to learn and explore if went looking for. Though most of the localites weren't formally educated, they were not short of courteousness or civilization. Their life was connected to nature in all ways and the manner in which they revered mother earth was something one must definitely appreciate.[pullquote]It was magical. I was actually experiencing things that I had only read and heard about.[/pullquote]
The Chandrataal lake was the final spot in our itinerary. Reflections on the crystal-clear water surface seemed to emphasize the importance of introspection. I sat there for a while enjoying the symphony of migratory birds. The colourful prayer flags swung along with the breeze creating a soothing disturbance over the mild ripples underneath. I could stay there all my life and surely, the mountains would have lessons to teach every single day.Covering Chika, Balu ka Ghera, Shia Ghoru and other smaller places on the way, we moved towards our target Humta. Finding our way through the 4ft. snow was a little difficult, but the group spirit made it possible. We would slide, bruise our knees and relentlessly climb back again. It was more of self-learning and experimenting that worked. The early morning sun shone brightly as I got a clear view of the spherical rainbow surrounding the sun. It was magical. I was actually experiencing things that I had only read and heard about. While descending, we were to halt at spiti. Spiti valley is well known for its beauty and was one of the reasons I opted for this trek. The horses in the valley walked around royally. The lush green mountains, flora and fauna, echoing rivers made it a perfect canvas for a painter. The Himalayan mastiff was an expert climber and sharper than the city breds. The dogs accompanied us till the end of our journey and led us all through the way. The early morning view of the milky way galaxy made us stay up all night even though we were tired. The sun, moon and the stars felt so close that they left me believing in the stories where the prince would go moon-hunting for his princess.