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๐—ง๐—›๐—˜ ๐—Ÿ๐—ข๐—ก๐—š ๐—ฅ๐—ข๐—”๐—— ๐—ง๐—ข ๐—ฃ๐—ข๐—ž๐—›๐—ฅ๐—œ - ๐—” ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ-๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ฒ๐˜…๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ - 1

The night that preceded my first ever solo destination holiday was spent in slight apprehension. Travel jitters are normal for me, but this time the butterflies were a bit too fluttery. Not because I was going alone for the first time, but I had no clue what to expect during my sojourn. It was a leap of faith I was undertaking fueled by the singular intention of finding and reclaiming a part of me that I had dropped somewhere on the way in the recent past. Of putting the energies back into the deflated chunks of my self. Of shaking off the unnecessary crusts that were collecting on me. Of making certain that life and I kept loving each other, despite everything.

โ€˜Vipassana?โ€™ more than a couple of people asked when I mentioned to them about my impending trip to the mountains.

โ€˜Better than that,โ€™ I said. โ€˜It is a self-designed program to rejuvenate and realign. Actually, no program. Just flying out into the vast expanse,โ€™ I said, meaning every word I spoke. I was going on a blind pilgrimage, one where I did not know what shrines I would pass by or what deities I would stumble upon.

I spent the previous night looking at the sky from my bed in Dubai, watching the moon just shy of its full circle, accompanied by sparkling Jupiter, slowly get down to the knees at the horizon in the wee hours. I jotted a couple of verses in my phone, inspired by the night and waited for the silver to reflect in the sea. I asked the moon if it was delaying its setting time, just to have me in company for as long as it can. And after scattering silver on the waters, when the colour of the moon started getting warm at the final descent, I took pictures on my DSLR. For what and whom, I didnโ€™t know. When you are besotted with something, you donโ€™t ask boring questions. You merely soak in the moment and let it become a beautiful memory. All you want then is for the moments to become a part of your DNA to be carried to the dust.

The insomniac night passed in moon watching and feeble anxiety. However, on the day of the flight, my jitters grew nasty hands and feet, and I began to feel the tremors. But I have means to put them to rest. Half a pill is all it takes, and the doc has given me the go ahead to use it when required. The last thing I wanted to take with me was mental baggage. The waves mellowed. All set, loaded with smiles in place of silly nerves, the journey to Pokhri began.

It was going to be another long night. Landing in Delhi at 1.30 am, I will have to languish for five hours before I get on another plane to reach Dehradun. From Doon, a good six hours by road to my dream destination, Birdsong & Beyond, in Garwal. Reports coming in from India werenโ€™t propitious. It was raining incessantly across North India, people said. Accu weather predicted thunderstorms in the mountains. Now that could be a bummer. But then, I wasnโ€™t going to be stopped this time. Neither by peopleโ€™s caution, nor by weatherโ€™s dare. Nor my own irrational worries and fears that had found a breeding ground in my mind space.

I was on an outing of a lifetime, and I was going to give it my entirety.

Now, whoever said โ€˜if something could go wrong, it willโ€™ deserves a Nobel Prize. You can decide the category, but nothing truer has ever been said in the realm of positive pessimism. Nothing major to rattle me out of my wits, but a few minutes into arriving at Dubai airport, the sole of my Skechers peeled off, leaving me with a shoe that flapped noisily as I walked and made my stride very awkward. Ghar se nikalte hi, kusch door chalte hi, raste mey phata joota mera. I couldnโ€™t help humming it to myself with mix of a sardonic smile and a frustrated frown. I dragged my foot, faltered a couple times and wondered if there would be a shoe store in the Duty-Free area. Itโ€™s Dubai, so I was upbeat about the chances.

The ripping of the shoe just showed how long it had been since I used my travel shoes and went on long treks. It wasnโ€™t the most opportune moment for the sneakers to let me know of my neglect of them, but then the shoe has its own mind and it decided to show its dissent at its own privileged time. So be it.

The vexing scramble at the security over, I went in search of shoes at DDF, mildly worried that I may have to pay a kingโ€™s ransom to get a pair. Do-buy it is after all.

โ€˜Donโ€™t compromise,โ€™ an obliging spouse texted me. โ€˜Buy the right ones youโ€™ll need for the trip.โ€™ It was true that I would have a lot of trekking to do, and a good pair of shoes is indispensable, but my middle-class mindset about money has made me habitually thrifty and buying decisions are largely price-tag based.. But then again, I must spend what I need to spend for the right purposes, and so I got myself the cushiest ever Skechers I have worn.

Nothing like a pair that feels like they were cobbler-made for you keeping your odd feet in mind. Now, I was truly set.

Himalayas, here I come. Garwal hills, see you soon.

Just that I didnโ€™t see Gharwal hills as soon as I had planned. Nor in the manner I had worked out.

Didnโ€™t I say the chap who gave us that valuable quote about things going wrong if they had to was a seer and sage? Things went wrong, and how! If the unexpectedness of life can be summarised in an episode, it would be in what happened with me yesterday.

๐“๐จ ๐›๐ž ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ญ๐โ€ฆ

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