Gasp. Pant. Dhak. Dhak. Dhak. Sweat profusely running down my forehead to my chin. Heart thumping, fighting to get out of its cage, to come out and see the wild for itself. I can picture it as if it was yesterday. The best writer would struggle for words at that view, painters would try and fail many times trying to recreate it. When I saw it first, I stopped right in my tracks, and for probably the first time in my life, experienced an empty mind. A mind, always analyzing everything, couldn’t even process that amount of beauty.
There are times, I shut my eyes, and see that view. The best of Manali, at my fingertips . Gushing streams of sweet flowing water . Shades of green that I didn’t know existed. Goats, and humans going about their business, oblivious to the beauty they were a part of.
I have been on various trips before. Each one splendid in its own different way. But this one, was my first trek. The first time, I felt a part of the nature. The first time, I could smell the freedom and the wild so distinctly. So as I reached the campsite, I sat on a stone( very, very far from the stinging Bichu Buti) and went in to a trance. I saw things that day, that I’d never seen before. It, was like my eyes had suddenly opened, and I was looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. How were the colours so bright there? How was the water so pure? Was I in another world all together ?
The trip itself was one of the most eventful ones in my life. Forty young adults , each one, with hopeful eyes, expecting the trip of a lifetime. What Manali had in store for them however, was much deeper than that. It was also a trip, in which one of the funniest situations ever happened to me.
There I was sitting in my train birth with absolutely no clue as to what I was messing up. Being one of the very smartest minds of our generation I wore my trek shoes in the journey. And very smartly removed them, and kept them under the seat.
It was long, long after I had exited the train that I realized, Hey, Where are my shoes?
By then, the shoes had traveled into the oblivion. I do not know whether they were still there, under my seat. I do not know if they were stolen by a tip-toeing thief in the night. I do not know if there was a black hole, under my seat, which engulfed my shoes whole. Frankly I am hoping that it’s the black hole. Makes the embarrassing situation a little bit more dignified. I don’t know how I managed to do this, but by the end of the trip, I had lost my toothbrush and torn another pair of shoes. Like I said, an eventful trip.
This trip, was to me also full of firsts. It was my first trek. The first time, I suspended myself 7,600 feet from the ground, squealing in fear and delight. It was the first time, I over came my fear of trekking.
Travel is a place of learning. Every trip of mine, I learn something new. This trip I learned, However hard it is, however far your snow-capped mountain is, however much your lungs are constricting, if you find in your heart, the will to go on, there is absolutely nothing, that can stop you.
On this trip, I met a group of the most unusual group of people. There were people I could go to, to talk about existential theories. People I could go to, to sing as loud as I can. It was the trip I lost myself in the beauty, and found myself in a new light.
As I neared the end, as I sat on the stone in my last campsite, as everyone was singing around the camp fire, I felt a longing, to a place I was already at. I felt, so very overjoyed and nostalgic at the same time.
One thing I knew for sure, was that, even when I reached home, my life would be ever changed. After all, it was the Manali Trance.