Sitting at one place for a year, day in and day out is not a boring job which is what I practically did for most of 2017 while preparing for my post graduate entrance exam. So, once the exams were done and dusted, I decided I had to push myself out of my comfort zone, physically and mentally and what better place to do that than the mighty abode of snow- the Himalayas. Since my exam finished in January, the only possible winter trek available to me was Sandakhpu, near Darjeeling along the Indo-Nepal border.
One of the things which fascinated me about the people living in this part of the world is the minimalist lifestyle and the attitude of gratitude which they seemed to have been blessed with. And the interesting part of the trek was to have such locals as your guides. Our guides, Mr. Ajay and Vijay were simple, soft spoken men who would often softly sing a prayer each time they caught a glimpse of Kanchenjunga, India’s highest mountain peak, during our trek.”Kanchenjunga is the real breadwinner for us”, Mr. Ajay told me once when I was observing him chanting a mantra looking at the mighty mountain. He was merely stating the obvious but it was something which we as city dwellers hardly give a thought to.
Do we think of our work, our job, our source of livelihood with as much respect as these local guides do for their forests and mountains?
An image of a diminutive 5 feet 4 inches tall man from Mumbai bowing down to the 22 yards strip of red clay on the day of his retirement at Wankhede stadium came rushing to my mind. It is not hard to surmise why people with gratitude tend to be the ones most successful.
As I continued the trek, I realized how we crib and cry over innocuous, insignificant things, making much ado about nothing whereas the people here in the mountains were just happy if they could see a glowing Kanchenjunga in the morning from their windows for it meant the weather gods were happy.
I strongly reckon this has got something to do with how shut off these people are from rest of the world. I was so glad to have found that the Airtel 4G girl was a liar. To be honest, I would want the 4G girl to remain a liar. I want the Himalayas to stay this way. Let them not be bothered by whatever shit humans are doing sitting on a toilet sit and typing frantically, “We will not let Padmavati release in theatres” in the comments section of a random social networking site. Digital detoxification is the need of the hour which is why I would urge people to rush towards the mountains and happily get disconnected from the noisy world around us and instead get connected to the sound of their own hearts beating with joy with each footstep closer to the summit.
The ascent is definitely the toughest part or so it seemed to us on the first impression but as we continued along the trek, we realized that both ascent and descent had its share of unique problems as well. During ascent you need strong lungs and stronger will power while during a descent you need a strong balance; one small slip and you could be in real trouble. “Mountains don’t give you a second chance”, our trek leader Mr. Vikas, one of the nicest guys I have ever met, said on the first night of our trek.
This line stayed with me throughout the trek.
In many ways, along the trek, at various points, I realized mountain was just a metaphor for life. If you look at it, we are always walking on the edge of the cliff, physically or metaphorically. The question is do you peep down in the valley and see death staring at you and get frightened or do you look up and see the giant mountains beckoning you to summit them. The choice is always ours.
There are challenges during the high altitude trek but then there is an opportunity to outgrow them as an individual and as a group. Each trekker has a different pace and while some might reach the summit earlier, the trek leaders and guides ensure that everyone makes it to the top. I think there is a wonderful leadership and life lesson to be learnt in this.
Once you surrender yourself to the Himalayas.
Once you have seen the radiant sunrays painting magic on the snowy canvas of Himalayas.
Once you have imbibed this minimalist lifestyle.
It will be hard for you to not realize that there is so much to life than the mad rat race for marks, ranks and riches.
When I left the city to go to the mountains, I thought about the people there and how they have nothing.
When I met them, I got to know they had everything that I ever needed.
“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed”, Mahatma Gandhi’s words keep ringing in my mind days after returning from the trek.