Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Getting lost in the mountains..

Written by: Prachi Shrivastava
Way up to Churdhar
I am sending a guardian angel – basically my present day self – to the three-day old me who got lost in the mountain jungles this Sunday when she hiked alone for the first time in her life. I hope the guardian angel is able to offer comfort to her when she starts feeling like a truly lost cause.

These are the things the guardian angel has to say to the “Me” of Sunday past:

This hour lost searching the forests for your trekking trail, is not really lost. It will add up. It will one day get you out of an “actual” life-threatening situation of course, but for today it will put into motion a sequence of mis-happenings that, eight hours from now, will lead you to the perfect bus.

This perfect bus has every comfort your body deserves after this hike. It is heated, has cushioned seats, and goes straight to your end destination instead of first dropping you off at a connecting port. The bus is fully booked, but for one last seat which is coming to get you, but baby you’d have missed it had you been on your target schedule and reached base point without the lag of this hour.


The dhaba-owner’s family at the base point today will fascinatedly listen to your tales of climbing down the mountain alone, and will ask, “Didn’t you feel scared being alone in the forest?”  Acting cool as a cat, you’ll lend the finishing stroke to your staged performance with a “Not at all guys! What is there to feel scared in these beautiful mountains?!”

So, why not be brave now girl, in order to stay true to your performance a few hours later. Have faith that you will rescue yourself, really try not to feel scared and overwhelmed!


Stop. Freeze right there! Why do you think you will brilliantly succeed in finding the correct route through the middle of this forest when, in fact, you ended up losing sight of an ALREADY established trekking route an hour ago? Stop going forward, turn back immediately, and find the point from where you first took the wrong way.

I can feel your inertia, but honestly, is this the best time to be lazy about having to exert climbing uphill again? 25 minutes after you start tracing your steps back you will come across a stony trail that will rekindle your faith in your right to survive.

This stony trail, curved steeply down towards the left, is your track! The correct track you didn’t even notice existed. 

At the beginning of your trekking expedition you were prepared to analyse and choose carefully whenever two choices of paths presented themselves to you. But in your hurry to complete your time targets you failed to even notice when the choices appeared an hour ago!


I know you are physically unable to control your gigantic sobs because you feel you have the thoughts of absolutely no one with you in this trying situation, but look at me! You’re not alone. I am still there with you and always will be. 

Infact come, let me tightly hug you to give you a tangible belief of never being caught alone.

Though let me be clear. My hug for you is not meant to stop you from crying from your belly. In fact I am grateful that this deep crisis situation has come as an excuse for you to let out all the tears that used to get stuck in your throat from all those years of growing up and hardening. 

Blocked emotions are not so conducive to enjoying life to its fullest, you know. It is great that the mountains heard your hearty sobs today!


You are convinced this is the end and all you really want at the moment is a fragrant hug by mum’s belly one last time before you’re taken away by a wild jungle bear? That hug, which seems so out of reach now, is all you need to prepare you for slipping down and hitting your head on a tree trunk or to fall straight into the valley to put you out of your misery?

That is just the lack of proteins and carbs in you talking, and not your giving up on your will to live, believe me you! Do you remember when you last had a proper meal? 36 hours ago! And the last bite of any food? 18 hours ago! You’re extremely thirsty from drinking water judiciously on this bright sunlit trail that you’ve been climbing down at full speed without a break.

10 minutes from these thoughts now, you’ll throw your 10 kg backpack to the ground, sit down and drink lots of water, and try your phone and your laptop dongle internet connection to reach a friend and let them know you are lost. Your attempts at connecting would fail (The jungles don’t have network range), but the 15 minute break it will afford you will calm you down and get your brain working again.

10 minutes after that break, you’ll find the blessed correct track.

But do remember to take this intensity of your craving for mum’s hug, back with you. Never forget what it felt like to have your birth-right so out of your reach at a point in life.

The aesthetics of lostness
Finally, do take a moment to enjoy this hour. You’re going to terribly miss it when it is behind you. Miles of perfect crispy golden dried leaves beneath your feet, An opal shaped crystal ball of sun peeking out from between the fragrant tall pines and oaks that are all around you, your lungs are full of pure air that breathes so light and its chill is pinching your nose and flushing your cheeks red.  Tiny fiery orange alpine flowers make timid clusters in the brown barren wintery landscape one last time before the snow sets in.

Don’t you just enjoy being left alone with the sound of only your writing ideas for hours? Well, here you are! Relish this beautiful, beautiful setting for that luxury baby – gazing meditatively into the blue deep valley.

And look! Here comes a Monaal! And in a rare event, it is sitting quietly by your side, enjoying your vibe when infact all it does on sighting any human is run away!

Tell me now, how often and how many city journalists have this kind of weekend bliss? Lucky you!

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