Protectors In Disguise

Background: A small travel story, i hope you will enjoy it.


Since an early age I have been volunteering for travel companies, who take children to spend an adventurous summer. My passion has always been to travel the farthest. So gathering up all my courage and my backpack, on 27th May 2017 I stepped out of my home for a solo trip to Uroli. Located 6131ft. above mean sea level, its a few kilometers above Nainital and 27km away from Ranikhet by bus. I finally reached a small village on the bus where I saw the villagers doing their daily chores. They scanned me from top to bottom, but I gave them a pleasant smile so they would allow me to stay for the night. In India the people living on the mountains are friendly and stand true to the saying “Athiti Devo Bhav” (A guest is equivalent to God) and so they took me in willingly, providing me with a cozy warm bed and a delicious dinner for the night. As I woke up to a beautiful sunrise in the morning by the sound of my alarm, I was ready to start my adventure.

I walked a few miles, in the morning confirming the address, from where the trek was to be started. When I finally reached the foothills of the mountain I was to climb, I stood there for a moment and scanned the mountain side. Though the mountains were not very tall, the pagdandi (trails) were the real challenge. The weather was mild, the sun shined above me, as I had started my trek early in the day. The whole mountain area was covered with lush brown colour, with the pine needles from skyscraping pine trees, giving the mountain its color. With clear sky above my head, I carried on with my trek, already contemplating the place to rest for the night.

It was the middle of the day and I had walked continuously for about 4 hours, taking short breaks to hydrate of course. I started feeling hungry and I could see no place where I could light a fire and cook something for lunch, because of the pine needles there was also a risk of lighting the whole mountain on fire and burning myself with it. So I sat for a while eating what could have been eaten without the requirement of it being cooked. After having sufficiently filled my stomach with biscuits and water, I knew I had a little time to rest according to my map timings.

The place where I was sitting was covered by the shade of a tree. The cool breeze, and the comfort of the shade, made my eyes heavy, and in no time I fell asleep. It must have been the weather and tranquility, and the fact that I had woken up early in the morning and had walked for 4 hours non-stop. When I woke up, it was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, way over the time limit on which I had decided to start back. So I hurried back on my track, because I had to find the camping land shown on the map.

I am a crazy fan of sunsets, so to witness this beauty when the sun was at the bottom of the horizon, I started to walk slow, taking in the beauty that the nature had to offer. When the sun was about to disappear, I decide to stop to remove my jacket and my guiding light. After taking out the necessary equipments I started staring into the horizon, witnessing the utter grandeur of a setting sun. I hoped the serenity of the nature would calm me down, and rationalize my thinking, as I knew I was already behind my schedule.

After the sun disappeared from the horizon, leaving only a little light behind I decided to move along in my journey. Looking into the map, I realized that I had about 3-4 hours more to walk. I kept climbing at a faster pace. The hours passed by, I became tensed, my heart started racing faster, and as I had a breathing condition, I had to take more stops than I did before. Walking for about an hour now, the little light from the sun had disappeared, the moon shined brightly allowing me to see only a little in the darkness.

I read in my research that the mountains of Uroli had dangerous animals, like leopards, the most harmful snakes and jackals, but I was sure I was not going to encounter them. After walking for another two hours, I saw the camping land and in my excitement hurried to the place, threw myself on the ground and laid down with relief. As it was a set campers place for the night, I was sure that before me some campers had camped in this very place, as there was a hole dug in for the fire. I used the same hole, to light my fire and cook my food. Till the time the food was being cooked, I pitched my tent, spread my sleeping bag and waited for the food to be cooked.

I had made inquiries and found out that, the weather changed in just matter of time one minute the sky was clear, flaunting the stars and next the thunderstorms struck and it started to rain. I had to take my food inside though I kept my tent’s door open. I sat inside comfortably and enjoyed the meal that I had cooked. I was busy eating, and suddenly I heard sounds, of something running. I panicked, it was my first time in the mountains alone, and I did not wish to die. I was too scared to sit inside and too scared to see what it was. So I opted for the latter, I gathered up my courage and opened the back window of my tent and looked. Jackals stood about 500 ft away from my tent. They did not growl or attack, they just stood there. I did not know what to do, it was still raining outside, so I decided to pull out my pocket knife, curl up in my sleeping bag, and call it a night, but as petrified as I was the curiosity of jackals standing outside my tent did not allow me to sleep.

Few hours passed away, and they did not flinch. So I decided to do something. As soon it stopped raining, I stepped outside the tent and tried to shoo them away, but they did not even cringe a muscle. So I stepped back inside. After sometime I had an absolutely absurd idea, first I decided against it. One peep outside into the eyes of the jackals I decided to go ahead with my decision. I stepped outside the tent again and I did what animals do best, I peed to mark my territory near the tent, and shouted at the jackals, “Mine, and yours” as I had seen in the movie Life Of Pie. At least this way I would be a little relieved that they wouldn’t come near the tent, I still had my doubts though, if the human pee works the same way as the animal? But after that I spent the whole night in my tent, apprehensive, yet a little calm. The pocket knife still my hand, I woke up to the sharp rays of the sun and chirping birds. With caution I opened my tent door avoiding sudden movements I first peeped out, and there were no jackals in the near site of my eyes. My eyes fell on the horizon and far off were the beautiful Himalayas. I did not know what happened in the night. I knew that I was alive in the morning and I was happy about it. Just when I had finished my breakfast, I saw cattle approaching. On arriving, I greeted the man with a smile and a pleasant good morning, he returned my greetings and asked how my night was. In reply to his question I described the whole incident of the night. He gave a smirk and told me, that I was very lucky to have had jackals, in the night. He told me that there is almost every night a visitation made by the leopard for water and because there were jackals, I was. I bid goodbye to man and he did the same. I thought about what he said, it was definitely a superstition, but the fact that the jackals were there in the night, posing as protectors was enough for me. My rest of the trek went on smoothly, and as I had peaked my trek, the clear sky showed me the beautiful outer Himalayan ranges far in the distance glorifying their magnificence. I met other trekkers at the end of my uphill battle and decided to hitch along with them for the downhill trek. The jackals posing as protectors against the leopard was the last thing I had expected on this highly adventurous trek in the mountains of Uroli. The delightful end to this adventurous trek, with other trekkers was the only add on I needed to etch this trip as the best one in my small but brave autobiography now making me a true traveler.


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Thank you for reading!

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Etching Happiness: Uroli

 

I was travelling again, alone again, in the train again but this time to Delhi, the capital of India. My mom was very scared and happy as well, as a matter of fact she gave me a name also, vagabond. While the train was heading towards Delhi, I was sitting quietly in my seat which was thankfully near the window. I had mixed feelings about this trip. I was laughing to my self, feeling proud and having fun by myself. This is when I conscientiously realised that I in fact do love my own company, I love to stay with myself.

So, this was it, I was on the road yet again, this time ready to experience and learn. What came as a surprise were the amazing friends that I made, which I am very proud of. It all started out in Delhi, I reached Delhi during early afternoon and was in the hotel by lunch time. I saw a lot of familiar faces as well as new friendly faces who were very welcoming. I was sharing a room with another instructor named Sonia. We became relatively friendly and after a while I found myself with her and 3 other instructors on the metro train on our way to Decathlon.

After the alarm went off at 3 o’clock in the morning me and Sonia got up and got ready as we had to leave the hotel by 3:30 with other instructors. The meeting point for the kids was the Delhi Railway station. After sometime we found ourselves on Shatabadi Express honking our way to Kathgodam station. I was put in a different coach, but because of the kids had to constantly make my way through 2 coaches to keep the kids entertained. Which was fun as its better to get acquainted to kids before hand. Then the camp is nothing else but a lot of fun. When we reached the Uroli campsite, I was awestruck! It was nothing but pure beauty which existed in reality in front of my eyes. All the tiredness from the 12 hour journey just vanished and i was ready to conduct the camp.

The first programme was only of 6 days. I wanted to stay a little longer, and right then a miracle occurred and I stayed back for one more programme in the same campsite. I adored the camp with all my heart. Along these 6 days of the first programme, I learned a lot. I was thankful to be working with the best team there was, with Tony sir as my team leader, who I had already worked with. Our team was like a well oiled machine, everybody knew their own parts, no tiff’s no grudges and we carried out the activities very very smoothly and somewhat very humorously.

During these 6 days I was with the backpacking team. I wanted a little bit of a change and for one day I changed my team to that of rock climbing. There was this kid who wanted to be with me for very long. When she found out that on that day I was not going for backpacking she lost her cool. Thankfully she did not cry, but she made a huge scene even with my team leaders, nothing major. But that act was very emotionally touching in a certain way. Moreover, I could see that my team members also did not want me to leave, I mean that’s what I felt. But I went with rock climbers anyway.

All in all when these 6 days were over the kids took away with them a lot of memories and bonds were created with us as well. We all had a day’s break before the next group was going to come. The whole camp was to ourselves, there were no kids to watch over, no one to wake us up in the morning and on top of it, it started raining. All of us were more than happy to crash out early after dinner and sleep in late.

The next set of kids were a bit older than the previous lot. They made themselves at home as soon as they entered the camp. Though tired from the the long journey, their energy level was still as high as the Everest! they were welcomed with heavy rain, very heavy rain. After they were all allotted to their respective tents, they were made acquainted with us as we all were to spend 8 days with each other. Might as well spend it peacefully. :p

So, I was in the backpacking team again with two new members and two old members including me. This time each group would stay with us for 3 days and then the next group would come again for 3 days. These 3 days also included a night out in the wild. I adored my first group very much. On the first day we took them to our usual route and the usual lectures that we conduct. During the course of day one, we all became very close to each other. Which put my mind at peace that the next two days will be good, especially the night out. To my surprise all the kids of my team were crazily excited about the night out. In no time, on day two, we were packed and ready to go. Because there were a lot of girls and it was a night out I insisted on taking one more lady instructor with me. The night out which we were a bit scared of went off very smoothly. Kids did see a baby fox there, but they were not scared at all. We had a campfire which the kids thoroughly enjoyed. From that day on wards I was known as the “Chuha” didi, because I did a rhyme which they absolutely loved. I was also known as the “Haryali” didi because of a power up I conducted.

Oh! The night out for the kids was a total hit, but the night out for the instructors…… It was no doubt amazing, but we had no tents, we had to sleep under the tarp. Which was indeed amazing, but then it started raining, and to top it all the tarp was not big enough to fit 6 instructors. But the night past and we all came out of the tarp alive. That night changed the equation between me and the kids. We all became much much closer to each other. They adored me and I returned their love with all my heart.

When we came back from the night out in the morning, the kids were in for a surprise. We took them for a bath, in the stream. It was the coldest water I had ever been in till date, on top of that, there was rain with hailstorm. That day was unforgettable, it will always be etched as a perfect memory in my brain.

The next day the groups were switched and I switched with my group to rock climbing. But sadly, it did not last very long, I injured my self and was not able to go with my group for remaining 2 days. Though, I kinda left the kids, the kids of group 1 did not leave me. The kids would come to me to talk about their day, show me their talents, and then we would start singing songs. And of course the chuha rhyme followed. The most special thing was 3 of the kids, made a lovely get well soon card for me. I was emotionally touched, with all the love I was getting.

On the last day, I did not want to leave the camp site, but I had to go back, I had to come home. The kids cried because they didn’t want to leave the camp, some actually cried because they did not want to leave me. But they had to, everyone had to go. And so did I.

And this way, another wonderful camp came to an end, and I was home again. This trip was nothing but a wonderful journey of friendship, love and happiness. I made friends with the instructors who are still very much in touch with me. I created memories with the kids, which will always be ingrained in my brain, and always hold a special place in my heart. Uroli was the best camp of this summer, hands down. I tell this very honestly and very truthfully. The lessons I learned, the love I received, the bonds I created are beyond anything in this world. This trip was all about discovering yourself and it made me realise there is so much more to this world and with just a simple smile and politeness we can touch so many lives and hearts.


 

Thank you for reading.

All the pictures in this blog which do not have me in it are clicked by me.

Everything in this blog is written through experience. I hope you all like it. Please like this blog so that i receive your encouragement. Since you are here please comment, criticism is most welcomed.

Thank you!

P.S- The featured image does not have me in it, but it describes my exact feelings for this camp.

Mindset Of a Traveller!

Time to Travel people!

The season of travelling has arrived and I am here to give you tips on how to travel.

We travel for two purposes:  a.) Luxury.     b.) Because we love travelling.

Personally in my lifetime (whatever lifetime I have had) I have travelled with family, without family, international school trips and also spontaneous alone drives (not far off though :P). I have experienced luxury travelling, but not luxury as in staying ONLY in the hotel room, with luxury travelling I have experienced actual travelling, like sightseeing and stuff. Contrary to this I have also slept nights in a temple floor, with freezing temperature outside and also on the surface of the Earth (literally) with nothing but a small sheet separating us from the ground and all the mud (but legs still being in mud).

So I can safely say that I have had my share of experiences with travelling. 😛

In this post I will be covering the LUXURY mindset of a traveller. And hopefully the next will follow soon.

Now lets see how to start of when you are aiming for Luxury travelling:

1.)  Have a nice Hotel room to go to.

When you are planning your luxury travelling, always remember that while you are booking a hotel room, to where ever your destination maybe, always book a room with a nice view and jaw dropping facilities.

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Having a nice view from the Hotel room and awesome facilities, you can experience the actual luxury that you have come to experience. The view from the room keeps you entertained while the facilities make you lazy. A beautiful view of snow-caped mountains or a river gushing at its full pace or a sunny beach whose waves can be heard constantly, will be all the adventure you will need. This is a small getaway from the reality, where you can meditate and shop till you drop.

2.) Shopping Therapy.

Believe it or not, shopping is a therapy. It is indeed a stress buster. You are free to ask any psychologist in the world, or even refer to books about it.

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When it comes to destination shopping, there is a sudden rush. We want to take as much as possible, because we feel if we leave out things, we are not coming back for them. This is a one time thing. Buy as much as you want if you don’t have space buy another suitcase, enjoy shopping. Be creatively greedy and shop your minds out. Have a smile on our face when you have paid for something. I know it is a wrong advice, but do it, feel that rush. Once in a while, it’s okay!

3.) What to carry.

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Don’t let your closet leave you in dilemma. Take control! If your goal is to solely enjoy on this vacation then why carry the weight of sports shoes. Your motto should be “dress to impress”. You maybe with your family, your friends or with anybody, dress like everyday is a red carpet day. Carry heels or simple pair of footwear which goes with any dress. Also one pair of comfortable footwear, just in-case you are feeling adventurous! 

4.) Planning of events.

Plan events according to your time and convenience. If you want to then do it, otherwise you can leave the adventure. You don’t have to rush into everything, get up late and plan the day ahead with a calm mind. If you want to laze around during the day, you re free to do that, don’t feel guilty about it. Planning is not an issue. You can either go on a one day safari ride, or just take a cable car and sit on the snow caped mountains or even explore all the trendy restaurants. You are there to relax, do not go on an adventure spree, unless that’s what you are there for. 😛

5.) Mode of Travelling

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Mode of travelling- according to your convenience! 😛 

These are few tips to travel when you are on a luxury travel. Even when you are on a luxury travel, you can still explore the city and country side. Trust me sitting in a hotel room is very boring. The basic aim for luxury travelling is to not rush it means to have a quiet get away, be it for a week, a day, 10 days or 7 days. You are there to enjoy, so do that. This does not necessarily has to be in an exotic foreign location, when you are travelling luxury, go where you have been (that is just my tip). But don’t ever forget to ENJOY!