Manali Memoir

Summer 2018,
… it had been a year since I’d moved back in with my family after spending two years away for a Masters programme. While I’d grown up in that house and lived with everyone for almost two and a half decades, but these two years seemed to have helped me grow in more ways than one.
So, behaving like a typical early adult- lacking patience and full of fire coupled with self assurance; I booked my seat on a week long get away that promised an absolute disconnect from the society and its hum-drum. With two friends accompanying me and about ten strangers to be befriended, I packed my rucksack for a taste of the mountains during the scorching heat.

Disclaimer: I’m not about to share the itinerary, but I plan to take you through what those seven days continue mean to me.

What started with an over night bus journey of dead silence and quiet observation of one another was about to turn into a week that I will continue to remember with great fondness for more reason than one. Stationed at a pit-stop the next morning to stretch our stiff muscles, freshen up and meet our local organisers… the first day began. I do not have a chronological memory of each day but a lot of small stories and some large eventual impacts on myself (of which I was unaware back then) that come rushing to my mind at this point.
So a chilly shower followed by an ice-breaking breakfast session accompanied by some of the most joyful dogs, did we get to know about the first place we were to hike to and stay camped for two nights…. oh wait, I promised no Itinerary! In which case, let’s keep it crisp, we had three different places where we stayed over the week, each of which is kept so pure and un-touched that one has to fall in love with them.

The more I got to know about the Mountaineerz – the company involved in organising this getaway, the more assured I felt that this is exactly what I needed. A couple from the metropolitans who packed their bags and started calling the mountains their home. They promise only what they can provide- an experience that encompasses the quiet and the wild, the divine, the exotic and the spiritual.
Imagine sitting in a clearing, amidst mountains. The sky wearing the darkest of blues and little lights scattered up above. A large ball of light helping you see your surroundings. No boundaries, no walls. Just the background music of water flowing and soothing you just the way a lullaby from your mother does. A blaring flame as if marking the epicentre of your group- keeping us together and keeping us warm. Then new but now familiar voices breaking into songs in different languages and all of them failing to feel strange.
Or… or just imagine being unloaded from your cars and after a hot-cuppa-in-the-cold-hills sort of tea, being asked to hop onto an open top light utility vehicle to make an up-hill journey into a quiet, almost self-sufficient and progressive village. A village I’v found difficulty in locating through google maps. Living in the home of the then Sarpanch, whose father-in-law had also served the community in the past. Jumping into cold water pools formed by the rivers in the mountain ranges and drying ourselves under the sun while just lying in abandoned meadows. Taking a walk around this simple and hardworking village with the Sarpanch’s husband, who seemed more than happy and proud being the home maker. Advocating women’s education and equal rights for them, he had me in absolute awe.
Waking up pre-dawn and wandering the village to find the right spot to immerse ourselves in the experience of watching the sun hop out from between the mountains, just like the drawings we all made as kids. Freshening up each morning using ice cold water. Re-filling our water supplies from the river and fetching wild ferns and mushrooms for our next meal, and learning to find the right kind of wood for our bonfire ritual. Learning about the traditions of the land while savouring the home cooked ‘siddu‘ and trout.

It was this trip and a friends I made and the time that I spent with myself that I’ll always be grateful for, when thinking about my writing and the beginning of blogging. One morning while I sat by myself on a plank at a certain height, just taking in the beauty around me that I felt the urge to write my thoughts down. In that quietness my mind was dropping deafening beats and a few scribbled words proved to be the only medium of noise cancellation. A few brief sentences down, I knew this was about to be a few pages. And a constant nagging by the newly acquainted co-traveller, our organiser and my now valued friend, had me convinced to let him in on the pages. The next thing I know he fed me the idea of making writing a regular process and soon creating the page.
It is funny to think that I had been so unsure and intimidated by this confidence that I told him that I’m going to give this project just six months of time and then quit. And today, it helps me get in touch with myself and sometimes even acknowledge my own thoughts.


By no means is this a promotional post, just me reminiscing in the memories of one of the best getaway I’ve ever had. It wouldn’t have been possible without the team that made it happen, hence the acknowledgement of Mountaineerz and Wandermile. Thank you for giving me a memory of a lifetime.
Let me introduce you to a popular Himachali folk song that I heard during the trip: Himachali Song that has stuck with me. Hope you enjoy it too!


2 thoughts on “Manali Memoir

  1. Wonderful, wow, lovely I
    am surprised to see you have written such a fantastic memoir of your Mountaineerz journey so charmingly. You are such a amazing person the little I am knowing the more I am fallen in love with you, even though being your father I knew u.

    Like

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