It’s not always that we look back and feel good about something we did. At least, not me. Often, I catch myself introspecting on why something did not go down too well or how the situation in question could have led to a more desirable outcome.
Today, I’m trying to recall a special moment in my life that I would like to preserve forever. Strangely, there are many! I find it hard to choose amongst the many special moments that I would love to relive. But, I must choose one. Just one.
There is one that stands out from the rest – the one that I’m going to share with you today here.
It is the climb to the Sandakphu peak, in the Singalila National Park in West Bengal, sometime during the early 90s. Four friends and three days of arduous trekking in the Himalayas, sometime in the month of October, through rain, shine and mist, along unfamiliar, uncharted paths, in search of something elusive. It is the kind of experience that you could truly call unbelievable!
The weather was constantly changing – one minute it was bright and clear, but the very next, it was covered in fog, so thick that one couldn’t see beyond a few feet ahead. There was an eerie silence all around us, as we climbed up, broken only by the cries of a wild dog. It was like nothing I’d experienced before, the thrill, the fear, the moments of doubt and the excitement, taking turns to lead me on. Oh, what an experience it was!
As we crossed winding mountain paths, trudging through the dark forests, with no signs of human habitation for miles at a stretch, there would appear, a small settlement, with thatched huts lined with stretches of magnolias and rhododendrons, that our eyes would feast upon. On the evening of our third and final day, the climb proved to be the steepest, especially the last 1000 ft. We made it, though, in time, our tired legs ready to give in, any minute. The air had grown thinner and colder, but our enthusiasm was boundless, as we left our backpacks behind to watch the most magical sunset on the horizon – the sight of the four of the five highest peaks in the world – Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu, being thrilling beyond belief! That is the moment that I’ve relived countless times in my mind, replaying the sequence of events and imagining the awe-inspiring sight of those majestic mountains before me!
Today, I feel, the trek we took that day, was a deeply metaphorical one for us. The journey was mostly inwards. We all had our individual battles to fight, having quit our jobs, in search of something that we couldn’t define in tangible terms. And yet, we seemed to be in perfect harmony with nature, surrounded by the sound of silence everywhere.
Perhaps, the main reason for suddenly remembering this today, sitting in the comfort of a cozy home, was in recalling how easily we took risks, how we worried less about things and how little baggage we carried within us. I loved traveling alone, with my thoughts unbridled, unhindered, to help me make sense of where I was heading to, in life — and where I wanted to be.
As time passes, of the many things that have come and gone in our lives, travel has been a constant. I have enjoyed every journey taken. And, almost every trip has taught me, in a unique way, how much there is to discover, every time we set foot outside our comfort zone. With time, the biggest casualty for me has been this sense of adventure, hardened as one can be, with the passage of time and seeing the world in a different light.
Just for once, I’d love to be that young again, relive that day and that moment. You could say, it’s one of those moments that I wish I could freeze and preserve forever.