There’s much to be said about the journey – about how it’s half the fun and how it can sometimes be more important than the destination itself. I write this in anticipation for my much awaited trip to the north of India where I’ll see, hear and experience Delhi, Agra and the Himalayan state of Uttranchal. I’m a firm believer in journeys being both proving grounds for us to learn about places and ourselves, but also that we ourselves are on fairly long journeys that don’t quite end until we take our last breath. Before one gets too morbid, one should also remember that journeys open to us new possibilities, new experiences and allow us to learn and ultimately grow as people.
In the light of this, I’m almost tempted to characterise the trip north as a journey of journeys where the destinations themselves are fairly incidental. I’m spending 13 days and 14 nights away from Bangalore of which 6 nights will be spent on trains, 5 days trekking and the rest roaming around various towns and cities. Unlike most of my previous trips, the cities that one passes through are not the main things – getting there is main point. Not that destinations are unimportant – the highlight of the trek will be walking through the Valley of Flowers National Park (a UNESCO heritage site no less) where I’m told that most of the flowers are in full bloom during these summer months. Those who remember my predilection for flowers and mountain views would know why this ended up on the itinerary.
That’s one thing I do like about trekking – the journey is an end in itself. Though one does set destinations for the end of the day and one does reach somewhere at the end of the trek, the whole point is to do it. One doesn’t aim for summits as a mountaineer does but for a good journey during the day. The intermediate destinations are usually just simple areas with water to camp at – nothing to shout about but just a place to rest, recharge and prepare for another day of walking. On a trek, one savours the sights, enjoys every sound, celebrates each step forward and revels in the act of making a journey.
Journeys can be more than just moving to place to place. In some cases, the movement itself can be secondary to the transformation or insights that stem from the journey. Just as the journey to Emmaus allowed the disciples’ eyes to be opened not just to Christ but to the truths that he taught and just as Ernesto Guevara’s journey on a motorcycle through South America caused his awakening to the social and political problems that shaped his views and formed the basis for his transformation into ‘Che’, the journey changes the person. Though I’m not hoping for something as life-changing as that in the coming fortnight, I am looking forward to spending some time away from the place that I associate with work and to see a different part of India that I’ve heard so much about.
This journey is part of a larger one in India which in turn is part of my larger journey of life and discovery. Just as one tends to break a long journey into parts to make it more manageable, one also does the same with one’s journey in life. When one treks, one doesn’t worry oneself with the whole long route but instead concentrates on little bits – lunch stops, campsites or attractions along the way. We do the same with life – I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks and am not quite thinking about the new term and new challenges that will be faced at the end of the month. Off I go now….
Will be on the road for the better part of the next 2 weeks. Internet connection might be sketchy and so posts here will be intermittent at best. Do check back on the 17th for an update on the trip!