Everything zooming past me was just a blur of spectrum of colors. Green Pine and Deodar trees, white snow capped mountains, blue waters of river Beas, brown fertile Himalayan soil and gray smoke rising from the chimneys of shacks in the vicinity. Catching up my breath and resting my burning feet on the paddle of my bike I could feel the presence of my other mates riding far behind me. I don’t know what was driving me to get past all of them. I was not in a race. There was no incentive to reach the milestone first. No prize. No levels. Nor was I challenged to prove my mettle. No accolades whatsoever. It was just the thrill of speed. The joy of being free from shackles of figments of human imagination. There was no friend, no foe; no love, no hatred; no joy, no sorrow but the ethereal feeling of being just you and the nature with nothing in between.
After kilometers of uphill biking it really was exhilarating to let my legs rest on the paddles, maintain the posture, remain seated and gripped on my seat while the downhill gradient took care of the rest. Right at that moment all problems of life, thoughts of people, notions of Utopian world seeped down to the core of my body. The only thing that occupied my mind then was the beauty of the Himalayas. She was -in fact will always be- perfect. She’s been the enchantress not just for me but for every human eyes that has ever fall upon her. Not just the exotic vegetation that is born off the lap of this great mountain range but the mountains itself is a medication for a wretched human soul.
Situated in the Kullu valley, Manali is exactly the place that would steal your mind with her beauty, her simplicity, and her closeness to nature. I remember the very first sight of mighty Beas whose monstrous waves hit the congregation of boulders in its way while making its way to meet Sutlej. The moment I entered the valley it felt like my school drawings of river flowing through and sun rising behind the mountains had been breathed with life. The locals travelling with me in HRTC bus from Delhi to Manali exuded so much positiveness towards life that seemed to be missing in people living in cities. I don’t mean that we don’t have such positiveness in our life. Its just that we seem to loose all the wonders and gifts every new sunrise bestows us. For that I would blame our mundane routine and race to make our future better – not just for us but for every individual for whom we care.
For me it was not just a random trip to escape my routine, or the realities of life. I embarked on this expedition to get away from the thoughts of loneliness that clouded my mind by the absence of someone whom I missed. It had been almost 2 weeks since I heard from her. I don’t know if this is normal for everyone else out there. Of course it should be. I’m not the one who is smitten by this bug. May be everyone in their life have been through this. No fret. But I find myself lucky to have tread this trail. In fact not just me, but all other mates who were with me on this trip must have some or the other reasons for joining this YHAI trek of Manali Biking Expedition.
I remember the full moon night of November when I arrived in this town and took a stroll to the Mall Road, the market place of Manali. College students, young honeymooners, school children and some adventure-seeking-foreigners populated the area. Delicious road side chat, mouth watering tandoor, and some really beautiful girls from North India caught our sight. We were asked to jog and exercise -something I hadn’t done in years- in chilly mornings to acclimatize ourselves. Later through the fumes of freshly brewed tea we could feel the light morning air of the valley that made us feel as fresh as a daisy.
Sounds of the forest brought me back to the time when I could still feel the air hitting me while I rode back to the hostel. I tried real hard to make myself memorize the ecstatic feeling I was having then. The feeling of being free. Feeling of going wherever I wanted, doing whatever I felt was right, talking to anyone whom I felt like talking, and keeping mum without answering anyone why I wasn’t uttering a word was quite cathartic for me. But even then I feared my mind would get clouded by thoughts of ‘her’ as soon as I’ll leave this town. I believe that is in fact the beauty of separation. You get to know the importance of people once you go away from them. Many a times we question own-self why is it that people around us don’t understand our situation and why don’t they conform to our wishes. But the fact remains that we are, on the contrary, unclear of what are our desires and wants. When do we want space and when do we want care & affection? When do we want to be independent and when do we seek support? When do we desire to be left alone and when do we long for someone’s company? Well! It’s better to keep some questions unanswered because that is the beauty of walking the trail of life.
Here are some pictures clicked by me during the trip. Please avoid using the pictures for commercial purpose. I hope you’ll like them. :) For information about YHAI, check out http://www.yhaindia.org It’s a really well organized trek and worth being a member of YHAI. I’m not paid by YHAI, just FYI ;).