It’s the sweetest accident to stumble upon something or someone. I have the deepest aversion to anything planned and orchestrated. So even reading a book, is usually a random choice for me, like the first meeting with your crush. It’s in bad taste to plan such miracles. I have noticed that they happen quite easily for me these days. Maybe they always did, and it’s only now that I have been able to recognise them. I have been following a new mantra these days, a new way life if you will. I even talked about it in my other post.
It’s nothing complex, just doing what I feel like doing, with or without any company. This new-found way of life has already taken me to two very special places recently. The latest was most fun, and thrilling I guess. It all started when I approached a good friend with a proposal to join me for a monsoon trek. He agreed readily, he wanted to do some photography himself. The destination finalized was Rajmachi. I have been dying to go there since ages. After a week of deciding the place, it was the night before. The meagre number of two trekkers had increased to three, as my brother also wanted to join in. Unfortunately, both of these fine gentlemen bailed out before the trek could even begin. So there I was, my trekking gear packed up, wearing my shoes with a lose sole, and wide awake at 5:30 AM, without any company. An year back, I would have tapped out as well, and would have dropped back on to the mattress without a second thought. This time though, things were different. I had promised myself a trek, and it would have been heartbreaking to not have one. Besides, I had already done a solo trek recently. So I thought to myself, “why the hell not?? I have a date to keep with the mountains!” And so I left, quietly, so as to not wake up my brother, who was in deep slumber. In my hassle however, I forgot my cellphone and my headphones. So I had to wake him up anyway. I had broken all barriers now, and was on my way to the beauty that awaited me. Of course I couldn’t go to Rajmachi now, it was supposed to be a group trek. So I just thought of setting out in general direction of mountains, and pick one randomly. It wasn’t that difficult. All I had to do was get myself to Karjat, and take it up from there.
The weather was beautiful on the way, and I felt smug about enjoying all this beauty by myself. There was a trekking group in the same compartment, in the Karjat local I had boarded up. It was an all girls group, and one of them looked really interesting. She had hazel eyes, and wore a t shirt that said “Keep Calm, if you can :P”. I had to admit, that was one tasty line. I imagined how I could introduce myself to her, and say something smart, like “And the Buddha laughed”. And then I would actually laugh, so she would laugh, and then I would just ask to join up their trek. The girls looked first timers, so obviously they would follow my precious advise, and well I would add them to my facebook friends list later on. I hadn’t quite reached to a point where the keep calm girl would be planning her and mine engagement, when the train stopped and the flock of trekking girls got down at Neral. I smirked at them “Meh, Amateurish, should have known those sissies would go to Matheran.” For the next few minutes I tuned out the world, and enjoyed the fresh morning breeze with a pinch of progressive rock. Yes, I was feeling pretty awesome then. Finally I had reached my mini destination, Karjat. This was where my plan ended, and destiny took over.
I got out of the station, and thought for a while about how I wanted to do this. I had to go on a complete random trek now, so I couldn’t choose a place I knew about beforehand. I had an interesting idea, and thought of trying it out. I walked up to the auto rickshaw driver, and asked him where he stays, and if there was a place to trek nearby his place. He was amused, but complied. He stays in this small village called ‘Bhise’. He mentioned that it did not have a place to trek nearby, but another village was a sure bet. He offered me a drop to ‘Wavarla’. That rolled off my tongue like a place of great importance. If my life were a movie, this would have been one of those scenes where the background music reaches a crescendo, and suddenly a deep voice says ‘wa-va-rrrrr-la’. So naturally, I got in the auto and soon enough, was at Wavarla, a small village near Karjat.
I knew nothing about this trek, and looking back, I should have hired a guide, but that wouldn’t have been as much fun. I was smiling and whistling at the start, thinking this was really cool. I think we, the human beings love painting same colors again and again. Every time I do something reckless, I feel like I am being myself again, and every time it feels so very fulfilling. Yet, I had an emptiness inside as I walked towards the base village from Wavarla. I am not sure which one is the right base village, there were three to four small establishments nearby. As I passed through the village, in three fourths and a star wars t shirt, I looked like I was totally out of place. The village itself seemed to be just waking up, and quieter than villages tend to be. People were not commercial, no one offered me a safe route on the top. They were not really averse to me either, but I could tell, all of them, even the kids were sizing me up for some reason. Maybe that was just how they rolled there…I kept walking and clicked a few pictures on the way. The view was fascinating, and I could see the clouds obscuring the top of the mountain I was supposed to climb on. These were dark intense cloud, not the show-offs that do nothing but look vain and click a pretty picture. These were gloomy clouds, set out to touch me with their gloom and bring me down in an instant with a massive downpour. I had to be careful now, and move up real fast.
It was two hours in the trek now, the wrist watch on my hand assured me that it was not that late, and I could be back before dark for certain. Eventually I reached a jungle stream, the kind that was curiously placed in the woods in a way that the only light that escaped from the woods, fell on the water. If you did not look carefully, one could easily think of it as the river of light, of golden angelic strands. I sat down besides the river, without anyone with me, I made up my own rules, and my own pit stops. This was certainly where I was going to have my breakfast, two chocolate bars of perk. I nibbled on the chocolate, and relished the warmth that it brought me. Then I just drank directly from the stream to save the water I was carrying with me. I refilled my bottle, and promised the jungle river that I would see her again someday. In my mind, I named her Natsukashina. Yes, I am a very self indulgent man. So I left the beautiful Natsukashina behind as I crossed her and stepped in the deep forest in front of me. There was a peculiar problem that I came face to face with at this point. The trail had all but vanished. The locals could not be heard, and there were no trekking groups there to piggyback on. I could always go back, but why would I when this is exactly what I was aiming for. I decided to explore the forest further, and went in the woods without a second thought. Soon, I was being cut and scrapped, and there was no path anywhere in sight. After spending another hour, this was slowly turning into a bad idea, and seemed less romantic now. I was sweaty, tired and without a clue on where I was. My time with Natsukashina now seemed like from another lifetime. The jungle was not happy with me, and I had realized that solitude was not always a welcoming entity. I needed help.
(To be continued)