Tuesday, February 17, 2009

After Himalayas...

I posted my last post on Himalayas but after having written about the Himalayas for so long (since June 2008), I feel like writing a little more. Just a little more.

So what happened after Khirganga?

I collected my baggage from Kasol, took a bus to a nearby town, from there – took the night bus to Delhi, checked into a cheap hotel in Carol Bagh, met Rajan, an old friend from Toastmasters, ate in a Chinese place and dined at a resort. The next day, did some shopping in Janpath alone, went to India Gate, had lunch at Piccadelhi Circus in Cannaught place with Rajan (again), saw Charlie Chaplin there(not a poster or statue, but a short thin man with his face painted and all, walking aroung around with a stick), visited a mall and boarded the night flight to Bangalore.

My heart almost burst when inside the airport, I read a notice that said no more than 200 ml of liquid would be allowed on the plane – I was carrying one liter of Gangajal from the Gaumukh glacier and half a liter of Buras juice from Uttarkashi. When I mentioned Gangajal, the man in uniform nodded in approval and I breathed again. :-)
Truly, in this country, when it is the Ganges that people find themselves standing before, the act of surrendering is universal and unanimous!

I landed, to see for the first time, the Bangalore International Airport! I thought I liked it.
Life continued…

The people, the traffic, the noise did not shock me so much, for weeks and months that followed were spent walking through the banalities of life with a half presence. I was in a trance.
My condition was no different from that of a person suffering love sickness. I was burning in separation. One month had passed so soon. It was over.

The Ganges in the valley at Rishikesh haunted my waking hours and my sleep alike.
Many a day, I woke up dreaming of the Ganges at Rishikesh. I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep so I could dream some more.

There was a newfound concern for environment… every passing vehicle, every whirl of smoke in the air, every machine that operated, every consumer item that was bought – in fact, every human activity pointed to the glacier that was melting away. The economic recession is making me happy – as it means a considerable decline in human activity!

In the midst of sorting some 1300 pictures, I would pause to look at a mountain, a valley, a river, a Devdar… and wake up not knowing how much time had passed.

And hey! I thought the coconut tree was the most beautiful or photogenic of all trees... Until I saw the Devdar.

As I started writing about my tour, a new excitement began.
I relived my experience with each picture I uploaded and each article I wrote...it was a time for reckoning…… of all that I had gained…

Covered 180 kilometers on foot in 30 days…collected a can of Ganges from the glacier… fragments of the fragrant Ganga Tulasi…sang a Bhajan with a mendicant in a warm tent in Bhojbasa… the mendicant’s malleable voice lingers with me still… Radhe Radhe Bol… Radhe Radhe Bol …Keshava Madhava Hari Hari Bol… saw life in it’s new meaning… a meaning given by the mountains…
Discovered new friendships and rediscovered an old.

I met many people on my way … some of them still clasp my hand long after the journey is over.

Abhishek Dimri calls me very often – sometimes from Bhopal, sometimes from Bhutan, where he has gone to fly balloons – hot air balloons :-) This is what army majors do when they are not fighting in the battlefield. What fun!
His plan to come to Bangalore has not materialized yet.

Yogesh sounds exhilarated when I call him, his happiness is child like. He has acquired some knowledge about the ways of the cities and its people from the grapevine, but at heart he is an innocent pahadi... a mountain boy!
His mother asks me when I will visit them again. So does one of his sisters who has only heard about me from others in the family as she had gone to her aunt during my visit.

Anu Thakur of Manali asks me the same question. “Phir kab Aogi?”… “Get married and come here for honeymoon…says he”
“Amen”... what else can I say?

As for Arun Babaji, he is on the move all the time… Sikkim, Gawana(where he has his Ashram), Europe… Once over the phone, I read out one of my poems to him and he in turn read out a poem written on the Ganges, by Guru Ramteerth. He has been inviting me to spend some time with him in his ashram. He wishes me to carry from the South, Dosa mix, Sambhar powder etc. “When you come to stay here, you can make Dosa for me” he says. I really hope that day comes soon.
And then …… some jokes. Our conversations do not end until Babaji has told me a few jokes.

It was in Jan 2008 that I read Robin Sharma’s “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”. The book inspired me in a way that the author had not intended when he wrote it.
A rich and famous lawyer from the US throws away everything one day and goes to the Himalayas in pursuit of peace, calm and content… Throughout the narrative, the lawyer describes how the great mountains of India brought about a transformation in him…he attributes his newfound content and realization to the sages whom he met and their ancient wisdom ... his frequent description of the mountains and his spiritual experience filled me with a longing to visit the Himalayas.

I had seen the grandeur of the Himalayas twice before, thanks to my father’s love for travelling.
As I read the book, I dreamt of going there again…it was not easy… but I continued to dream anyway…

In less than 5 months I was in the grand Himalayas.


It’s February now. May is just 3 months away.
I have to visit Srilanka in May- for a few days. I am thinking when to go to Rishikesh... Before the Lanka trip? Or after…? Hmmmm…..
Ways will unfold… I shall start dreaming anyway… :-)


Satish said...

One word that describes the visit to himalayas in "Humbling". All you can do is just admire and enjoy the beauty.........
Guess that is the reason why most people go there to find there innerself far from materialistic world......

Hopefully your trip to the Himalayas materialises and we can get few more posts :) ...........

With such detailed posts.... i can think of an alternative career.... vitrual tour guide of himalayas........

Sowmya Chakravarthy said...

Virtual Tour guide - I can be... after a few more trips... there are soooo many places, so many mountains, lakes, rivers and legends within a small geographical area... one life time is not enough to cover them all...

Unknown said...

Here's my much dealyed, wholehearted thanks to you for your wonderful posts on the Himalayas !

Last year, I was visiting Delhi on a training assignment for two weeks and during the weekend, i was keen on visiting Corbett park, but after I read your posts and the telecon we had, I took off to Rishikesh and your tips on the hotel was very useful !

I covered Badrinath temple again based on your useful tips about halting at Joshimath. However, I couldn't visit Mana.

Awesome coverage ! You should seriously look at writing for travel mags like Outlook Traveller. they are looking bloggers who can write travelogues and make some moolah in the process !

I'm sure you may not be keeen on teh money part but many more will benefit from your tips !

Keep them coming !!!