You quit your job? You should have at least informed us, if you think asking was too much to do.
Dad, it was bound to happen, the place sucked to the core and moreover it is over now, let us save our energy for better things.
Choose wisely, it is going to be your life. May I know what better things are you talking about?
She calculated something in her mind and then she remained silent.
What is it now? Her father probably sensed that something was hidden beneath.
I am going for a Himalayan Ride; the trip will last for a month.
With a group of four friends, I would be the only girl.
We are going on a motorcycle, as she completed her last sentence, she closed her eyes.
Well, for a normal man this episode was enough for a fatal heart attack, but I am not normal, as I have an abnormal daughter, so I might survive. Stay Safe. We can resume our serious talks when you come back.
And the discussion was over.
The very next morning, she was all set to ride in the Himalayas. She had heard stories, seen photographs, and known few people who had been there. She expected excitement and fun but she did not know that in the Himalayas, definitions of fun, fear, and life change, forever. The ride was not going to be easy because the Himalayas are just not made that way for the first timers and once your first ride is over, you become habitual of pain, suffering, struggle, and the Himalayas. And that is when you add a new meaning to an old word in your dictionary, the meaning of fun changes.
Where did this come from, was the first thought that struck her mind as she was riding high on the highest motor-able road of the Earth. Color changing mountains, roads carved through them, and people. The sun and the sky were never so close and she felt as if she could touch the sky with a little effort. She had never expected life to be so different just a few hundred kilometers away from her place. As she stopped her motorcycle near a restaurant, she saw her face in the mirror and could not help smiling.
They named it right; it is a dry valley indeed, sucks blood through your skin. I look like a retard and my mother might never come out of the coma she would get into if she finds me in this condition, she said.
That’s why I say if you want to look good, kitchen is the best place for you, no heat, no sunburns, no nothing, said one of her riding companions.
I would trade this ride one hundred times over anything. Next stop is 200 kilometers from here and that means eight hour continuous journey, so come fast, she said squatting on the road.
Her friends disappeared soon or maybe it was the grandeur of the Himalayas that absorbed their existence within itself. All she could see was the majestic peaks, covered with the snow and white clouds taking different shapes.
Aren’t they lovely? Moving and yet standing there always. I find them the greatest mystery on the Earth, a distant voice approached her.
A foreigner was coming towards her, dressed up in the pahadi style, the traditional cap resting on his head in a funny way. He looked like a pahadi hippie.
I don’t’ know, what I am feeling right now is not what I usually feel, I am still trying to figure out if I am happy, overwhelmed, or a retard.
Your first ride? Is it? When I came here for the first time, I just could not believe myself. And now when I see your open mouth, charred skin, and your shimmering eyes, I know that you don’t believe yourself either.
Where from are you coming and where would you go from here?, she asked.
I live here.
What do you think I mean? I live here means this place is now my new hometown, for the last three or four years or so, I have lost count.
Wish I could do that too. This place is just wonderful. When I grow old, I would like to live here permanently, she said as removed the charred skin from her cheeks
Visiting this place and living here are two different things my love and believe me the difference is colossal, the hippie removed his shoes and he too squatted on the road.
May be you are right. I am not sure but this place is wonderful and staying here would be a great thing. May I ask you why do you “live” here? And you don’t miss your “old” hometown?
No, I do not. It took me some time to get habitual to all this. But now, these things have become my life. A silent walk across the village, twice a day keeps me happy. I have all the time I want in my life. For a Wall Street banker, time is an overpriced commodity, available through the illegal means only.
You work at the street? The Wall Street?
I quit my job, I used to, not anymore, I do not work anywhere now. I work in the fields sometimes, trying to learn natural agriculture from these people. Sometimes I teach English to kids here and learn the local language from them.
What about you? Why did you come here? If I subtract these sunburns from your age, you are not more than 23-24. What brings you here?
I do not know. I always wanted to be here. I think I belong to these mountains. I have seen people, they change after they visit these places. I wanted to feel the same.
Ever wondered why? Why do they change when they come here? Why they want to come to these places at the first place, when what we have here is rubble, dirt, scorching sun and practically no facility.
I do not know that is what startles me.
I am not sure if I have figured out a Universal answer for it but I know there is something we all want to be in our life, free. These mountains set us free. When you ride, you ride free. When you walk, you leave all worries behind. These mountains give you recognition, they complement your existence. They do not expect anything in return, human beings are escapists, running away from something most of the times. These mountains hide us; they accommodate escapist of any form, color, and breed. And the best part is that they do not ask any questions. All questions and answers, they leave them for you because when you answer your own questions, you get the best answer. These mountains accept you the way you are made, said the hippie with a dreamy look in his eyes, probably he was smoked-up, I was running away from time, I wanted time for myself and believe me it was not before I had spent a night here in these hills that I realized there are actually 24 hours in a day. Silence is the language these mountains speak, and the irony is of all the things, humans have lost the art of understanding silence. That is the most important thing the Himalayas have taught me, how to learn the language of silence.
She wanted to share her story too but she just could not speak anything. A different picture of life had overwhelmed her. A group of young girls approached them and the pahadi hippie left with them.
Class Time, he said, have a safe journey young lady.
In the background his companions were clicking pics with the young girls and asking for directions from the foreigner.
All she could see were the Himalayas.
From Wall Street to a Himalayan Village, a guy trying to speak silence. Life could not be more interesting.
“Keep Walking – Inwards or Outwards, does not matter”, was painted on one of the walls as she rode past the school building on her motorcycle.
A Real Life Incident