“I’d rather be in the mountains thinking about God, than in Church thinking about the mountains” -John Muir
Armageddon, the adventure club of IIM Calcutta took interested students on the gruesome Dzongri Trek - A total of 8 days. Although I have done quite a few small treks, this was my first major one. Dzongri trek is supposed to be one of India’s toughest treks. Adding to this, we went ill prepared – inappropriate shoes, no medicines, no knowledge of the trek terrain. It was no surprise that we could not go all the way till Goechala, since we would have had to trek in snow, and I really wanted to do so. "Waving in the summer breeze like the discarded shell of an insect. Something inside me had dropped dead and nothing came to fill the empty abyss". Ironically, it was the cold and solitude that helped me get back on my feet and move on.
On the third day, we had to start early morning at 5 from Dzongri to Dzongri peak, to get the glimpse of the majestic Himalayas with the sun showering its first brightness of the day. It was the scariest part of the trek since I had a phobia of dark as well as height. This was one of reason for deciding to go on the trek. In between, I just could not go ahead, neither could I turn around since the beneath view of distant shimmering dim lights from camps; indicating the height and the phobia kicked in. I just prayed to God and kept my head down on the narrow path and kept going.
The thought of falling off the edge and being lost in oblivion was scary. But I made it. Batman indeed would be proud of me. It was like the struggle Bruce went through to transform himself into The Dark Knight. It was not about conquering the mountains, the mountains conquered me with its majestic view. It was about conquering the fears. The morning view was like a wallpaper come alive. The wind didn’t blow me off my feet, but the view did. It was like watching through the lens of a splendid camera. The hardship of the trek was worth it.
I had my head in the clouds, feet on the ground (literally as well as metaphorically). Because I’m my only escape. Going into the mountains made me feel pure and natural – away from the maddening crowds, gadgets that control our lives and the trivialities of mass civilisation. It felt good to not feel the urge to constantly check WhatsApp messages, lives of others on facebook. I felt liberated from the complex cobweb of everyday life. Felt like a clock – ticking alone with no purpose. It was all about the moment. Surrounded by beauty, you become nonchalant of things awaiting you once you go back. Yes, it feels good to go to the mountains intermittently, but staying there for a long period would kill the life out of me. I guess I am totally dependent on the modern amenities and mountains is just a momentary escape. ‘Peace is unfettered freedom to seek fulfilment’, and peaceful indeed it was.
During the trek, you interact with almost everyone you pass by. Because there are very few human souls around. A warm smile albeit is sufficient to establish a connect. Trekkers realise the importance of dependence to survive the ordeal and without any established relations, go out of the way to help others. Something unusual in the galaxy of humans in the maddening cities surrounded by chaos.
The truth is everything and everyone is going to hurt you, You just got to find the ones worth suffering for. Trekking is one such thing for me. People say, 'one does not conquer the mountains, rather you conquer the fear'. I hope to embark on many such endeavours, because someone said create your own fairytale. And the mountains are calling.
PS : A Poetic adventure since all we did while descending down was play dumb charades and the beauty of view was the only thing that broke it. Yea, also, the journey could be expressed only by a beautiful thing such as a poem.
About the Author:
Niteen Bali is a graduate of NIT Karnataka, Surathkal. Post which he got into IIM Calcutta. He believes in the philosophy of Batman and Chandler is his god. He also believes in short bios.