Our bags were packed, tickets were booked and we were ready to go on a trip to the Mountains of North India. We were a group of 15 people all set to make a difference waiting at Howrah railway station for the signal to get green. Suddenly the sound of the Engine hooting came all across and our face was covered with smile. Smile of Joy, Smile of seeing new place, Smile of being together.
I was only a kid, perhaps 8 years of age when I got this opportunity to go visit a new place with my parents. Along with us were 3 more families, my father’s office colleagues. Excitement was truly visible on all our face as the train passed by fields, cities and many small stations getting closer to our destiny, Shimla. After some tiresome train journey, we finally reached Kalka and took a bus to Shimla. Days passed and finally our 10 day trip came to an end. We were there back at Howrah station bidding goodbyes to each other. A moment of sadness was all around but the wait for next trip to some new place made us happy.
From then on there was no stopping. Each year the same month of October we always went to some place. North, South, East, West and Central India, all seemed to get conquered one after another. Each trip kept on getting better as everyone gained experience on how to plan such trips. I always saw my father and his colleagues plan the trips months before. I learned how to plan such big events and how things can get easier if planned well before. So my first lesson, Always plan before you do something.
Few years later we went to a trip to South India. We had our last visit to Kanyakumari. In this trip we were exhausted and bored by seeing sea beaches again and again. Vishakhapatnam, Pondicherry, Chennai, Goa, and now Kanyakumari. We lost all our hope but to see yet another sea beach with least expectations. But when we actually reached the place, only one thing came to my mind “Oh My God”. That was not any other beach. That was the meeting point of three seas and we were able to differentiate all the three seas. That was a view I still remember.
After few years we were on a trip to North Bengal and Sikkim, A paradise on Earth. As it was the month of October, winter was on its way. Snowfall was about to start in the higher parts of the mountains. We all wanted to go and play in the snow. But that was not easy. For that we had to go the highest point, a place called Yum San Dong in North Sikkim, border areas of China. When we reached there, we were amazed to see people staying in small villages.
They greeted us with all the warmth and served us hot tea. On talking to them we came to know that there are around 7 families who stay here. In winter they move to a slightly lower place, Yumthang. For their food and daily purposes they walk around 30 kms each day to fetch food items on mountain roads. And they are afraid to go till Gangtok as it is very hot out there. What !!!! Temperature in Gangtok was hovering between 5 to 14 degrees in October and they say it’s hot !! People have a lot of hardships and we should learn to appreciate everyone.
Two years back me along with one friend went to a place in Karnataka called Shimoga. There are two places nearby, one Jog Falls, the second highest falls in India and second a place called Agumbe, a place to receive second highest rainfall after Mawsyngram, Cherrapunji. When we reached Jog falls after a terrible local bus ride for 2 hrs from Shimoga, we were annoyed to see a small water fall. Then we came to know that the falls can be enjoyed once we descend 1400 steps to get to the bottom of the falls.
We were young and had all the zeal to accept this challenge. Little did we know that it was no child’s play? Descending 1400 steps and climbing them back was really not even a man’s play. When we reached the bottom, what we saw and what we felt was a sight which can never be explained but felt. We sat there on a big rock and time kept passing. 2 hrs we sat there enjoying the falls and not even an inkling of boredom pinched us. Simply one thing came out and that was “WOW”.
The next day we planned to go to Agumbe. As expected as soon as we started rising the mountain, rain grasped us from all ways. It was raining cats and dogs. What else can you expect when you come to a place like Agumbe. From the highest point of the mountain you can see the Arabian Sea at the horizon. This is another importance of that place. But the only thing we could see was rain, rain and rain. But suddenly the rain slowed down and something caught both our eyes. There was clouds covering the whole of sky till horizon but a cylinder sort of structure was formed in the far distance.
On seeing closely, we figured out it was the rain in the form of a cylinder and it was coming towards us. That was a view which I guess very few people would have witnessed. But to make it worse, we didn’t have a good camera. You never see such a view every day and we stood there like idiots with nothing but a Nokia e63 to capture that beautiful moment.
I never got a chance to go to a foreign country but I never regret it because what I saw and learnt from my own country was in no sense any less. Traveling and exploring has always been an ideal gift for me. Even my friends presented me with a trip to Hogenekkal falls in November 2012 on my birthday in Bangalore. Now is the time to learn and enjoy and it has to be utilized.
In Mark Twain’s words “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”