Unlike most people starting with Shillong when on a tour to Meghalaya, we were driving down to the southernmost point to begin with. This change of conventional plans always is a necessary if you are a tour guide, who wishes to offer the best to your clients. My travelers for this tour to Meghalaya were David and his wife, an Australian couple of mid fifties, who entrusted me to show them one of the less visited fronts of India.
I had decided on Meghalaya due to the time of the year being March, and as per the duration of two weeks they could spare for the grand adventure with me. In Meghalaya though , I needed to find some exquisite place, which are still lesser frequented by tourist. Though we were heading to Dawki, I felt an urge to find something beyond the ordinary to show my travelers.
I knew Dawki, was quiet famous, and it was evident from the cars that were lining the road crowding, once we were close to the destination. I inquired for more information on any unusual destination from my local driver friend, to see if there is some village with almost as good as views as Dawki, but lesser number of people. He said, well there is, and if we are ready to spend night in tents instead of rooms, we can live by a beach of the river. The river Umngot, which was running along with our drive, seemed to be a stream built of emerald crystal clear water , and I would be more than happy to spend a night just by it's vicinity. So i asked my clients about the change of plan that I proposed.
My clients being adventurous , gave me the permission to risk it, and so we did not stop in Dawki and drove on through a narrower road towards the new destination we knew nothing of..
The forest became denser and the road almost came into a single lane, with the tars vanishing from point to point, reflecting that we were moving quiet inside the region. Hardly we met another car as we rolled, I knew it was truly as remote as the driver had suggested. After an hour from Dawki, I read a sign board saying " Welcome to Shnongpdeng " .
I could not pronounce the name, and found myself confused how was it spelled. After repeating again and again from my driver's dialect, I could see it was pronounced as
" shnawng – preng ".
By the time he taught me, and then I taught it to my Aussie clients, we had reached. The road ends here, and one must take a walk down to the river bed, where camps are the shelter for night for seekers of adventure.
As we began walking towards our shelters, we passed through the village. One of the eye catching fact was the village here, had its huts and houses mostly made out of bamboo. They looked pristine and exotic after having lived in concrete for years to people.
I made it a point that once we got settled in our tents, we must take a walk around here, to truly see how the locals live around here in the remotest part of Meghalaya.
We finally walked down to the river bed, to see our shelters for the night. The river here, Umngot, has one of the most crystal clear water , you will ever find in the landmass of India. This is the same river that starts in Jaintia hills, through the gorges high up from Shnongpdeng, and then flows down river to pass through Dawki and then into the neighboring country of Bangladesh.
Plethora of tents were camped on the river beach, and a laid back atmosphere spread around. Frankie, was my man who arranged tents for me. It is pretty basic accommodation inside tents with pillows and bedding. Thank God one does not have to use sleeping bags , as the humid heat of the region does prick inside of you at this time of the year.
We were given options of rooms in bamboo huts too, but who in the world will leave the chance to camp by a crystal clear river flanked by green gorges, huh !!???
Common toilets were a little far, but spirits high with the discovery of this unknown place, we managed the discomfort as did David and his beloved. It was time now to walk around the village.
Shnongpdeng is home to around two hundred people at maximum. The prime livlihood of the villagers here will be fishing and farming. With the arrival of tourism, the newer generation has turned to services of hospitality and adventure sports. One can easily have the pleasures of kayaking, cliff diving or for more calmer experience just boat around the Umngot river. One could try fishing too. There is no shortage of activities here, but the most fun of all would be swimming in the flowing river, which is not too deep, and easy for beginners and experts alike.
Inside the village, the true lifestyle of the Jaintia tribal people of Meghalaya comes alive, as one can see them busy in their daily chores. The villages are filled with trees that ornamented with abundance of offsprings as litchees and jack fruits. A huge cultivation of beetle nut and bananas can be found , which seemed like the prime product of farming here. As we walked through the villages, the locals were all smiling and happy to give us pictures. There houses made out of bamboo or bricks made of river sand from its bed, were signs of their sustainable lifestyle. Clean and tidy, just like most of Meghalaya, the village looks a part of the fairy tales stories we read from.
Quietly I realized they are not yet bored with the conquest of outsiders, that happens, once the place gets overly famous. With such peace in mind and welcoming smiles, we did not know, when the evening passed, as we explored every nook and corner of the villages we could.
As the final light of the day sets out, we hurried to a local food shop near our camping place. Already many a locals were having dinner. It was quiet certain that life here starts very early with the sun rising , and they go back to sleep well ahead too. For dinner , we ate a simple rice and Dal , with boiled eggs, the only thing they had in offer, which felt we knew of. There were certainly other meals, local and regional, but it being the first night in Meghalaya, and also staying in tents, we felt best to go with safe options.
While on dinner, the women who ran the place, told us that if we came around in winter, it was better for the weather. In winter , there are clear skies, and due to that one can see the transparent water of Umngot river at it's peaking beauty. The crystal clear water holds such a magical image that it feels the boats on the river are uplifted in the air.
For now, all I could do is, keep it in my mind, that I needed to return in Shnongpdeng in winter once, to see what she told about so excitedly.
Sometimes, you are not in the right place at the most right time, but it does not take away the beauty of the adventure, for you see a more truer face that very less boast of.
Shnongpdeng , is a favorite destination for the youngsters of Meghalaya. With a fondness for western rock music, at night one can see group of youngsters camping by the beach and playing their music or jamming around a bonfire. I remembered my home in Kasol with such scenes. As we had a long journey , and a tired legs and heart after serious exploration, we decided to sleep. The music that came fror far, acted as a lullaby along with the crickets playing their tune from the dense nature that enveloped around.
The day starts early, and by 5 a.m we were up as with the arrival of a soft lightening sun. A huge cantilever bridge connects the two sides of shnongpdeng, and had our views all throughout the last evening. It was time to walk over it.
The bridge gives amazing view of the place from an alleviated ground. A good place to go, if you want to take great pictures. In my mind I could think, this would be a good bunjee jumping spot, may be in few years they will convert the idea.
After the walk over, we decided to take a bath in the river. Though we could kayak or get ourselves a boat, we just felt like watching them from far. The locals always go out in the morning to fish for the day. It will certainly be a good life to catch a fresh fish for meals, specially for the likes of us, who loves fishes.
But for now, bathing and watching them from far, I also noted to try this for the next time, I find my feet in this river again.
Finally it was time to leave Shnongpdeng, and I could pronounce it's name well by now too. Bidding the friends adieu I made for overnight, I did promise to visit here back in the winters. I must admit, if you can , do skip Dawki and spend your night or two here, definitely in your trip to Meghalaya.
For solo travelers, this place is connected to Shillong via Dawki, and then another hour of shared taxis. For group travelers , hiring a car is more easier and comfortable option. It takes around four hours from Shillong to reach here, though you can drive straight from Guwahati early morning too, like I did.
Lastly for accommodation or such helps, you can connect over to me through facebook or instagram. Both links up on the right corner!
I hope you plan a trip to Meghalaya soon, and feel free to consult me for any advises !
Hope you visit the unknown shnonpgdeng soonest !!
It was a Sunday morning of August in Kolkata, and waking up I felt a little dizzy. I thought it might be gastric effect of eating rich food for the past days. As the day went on I had a fever which felt undetected on thermometer. You know, when the temperature shows normal yet, inside you are not so well. A slight body ache could be felt too, but nothing that could make me label myself sick.
If it was not pandemic situation, I would not have even felt bothered to tell my parents about it. My mother told me, we must go for the Covid test immediately next day, and for now, I should be into bed resting.
I had to follow since otherwise it meant , I am going to endanger my parents as well as friends I was having plans with.
After a good afternoon nap, I felt better, the fever feeling had disappeared and the body ache was not much felt too. I felt like going for a jog or to continue my own kinda day, but again had to stop myself. I was sure it is just a cold, since Covid 19 is heard to be showing it's presence through throat pain, and a little breathing disorder. Both were absent in me.
Next day , still without having any health problems , I kept my commitment of getting checked for Covid from the government hospital. The test was painful , as they insert the testing bud into your nose and take the swab close from the brain. The same process is done to your throat. The pain inside , lingered for the day, as I returned, and only felt better and better.
Just to prepare in case I have Covid, I called a friend of mine , who had suffered it with his family, few days back. After hearing me out, he asked me to try to smell the perfume bottle.
A little weird request but I went for it.
And BAAMM , as I sniffed the bottle , I had no smell ! Absolutely nothing!
My friend said " Congratulations , you're up for the game ! "
Agreeing to my no smell symptoms, what I knew the test report came positive , and my parents went for their tests too. My house was sealed by the corporation of Calcutta, for a next 14 days at least. There were helpline numbers to call and get essentials, though , my friends and my dad's , volunteered to help us. I was glad to see that inversely to all the news that was going around, people in my vicinity were not treating us as untouchables.
To be honest , once the report comes out , you are a little scared. You take extra notice of how you are breathing, if there is any problem. As stress and fear grew on, I remembered, that in many discussions , I had written that Covid 19, isn't as dangerous as the news had preached. Now me being afraid of it, seemed so hypocritical of myself.
I took a deep breath , chanted my Buddha mantra and said, I have already told people, that I have a good immunity, and that Covid would not hurt me much.
It was now time if I believed in what I had put faith in.
Gladly, I was able to gain my confidence, that like my friends and people I know who had recovered well, I too shall go through this fine!
And believe me when I tell you this, it is this faith that did most of the work than the medicines. For when you are not afraid , or stressed , science says your body and immunity definitely works better.
I also decided, I will only take the immunity boosting pills and no Antibiotics, that were prescribed to me.
I am not telling this decision is for everyone, but surely it was for me. I believed in the body and lifestyle I have created over years living in mountains , and surely this was it's peak test for now.
After a fight with my parents, I did convince them that I will not take antibiotics, unless I have a fever or cough and cold, that seems very troublesome. By this time four days had passed, and honestly I felt anything but sick or what is potrayed of a Covid victim in media. Also gladly , my parents did not test positive and the people I had came in contact, none of them had any symptoms too.
This was my basic routine that I followed in my qurantine days.
Wake up around 10 and take three medicines which I surely recommend. It has no side effects.
3. SNEC30 ( Ayurvedic and most effective )
I took the SNEC 30 two times a day, the rest only in morning.
Apart from it, drank two cups of kadha.
Four cups of hot water to gurgle and drink.
Two times hot water vapour for myself. ( I found this from my friend, as the vapour helps to kill the virus if settled in nostrils).
I ate well, as my taste was still there, and I ate heavy protein with meat and egg everyday.
I saw movies , wrote things , read books and most importantly still did small workouts in room, keeping my sweating on in the evening.
Bit of prayer and meditation chanting my mantra, as normally as I do everyday before sleep.
Except for the smell which was still vanished, I was feeling very fit, enough to climb mountains.
Yet as to the norms I was inside the room isolated, but friends and people who called me , helped me have a good time indeed.
Finally after 14 days completed, I took the test again and was tested negative. I survived and realised a story I had heard a long time ago.
" Once a prisoner in US was sentenced to death. Two scientist thought of experimenting on him.
They told him, he was to be executed by a venomous snake bite.
On the day of execution, he was tied to the chair blind folded. And a non venomous snake was left near him, for him to feel the presence of the creature. The prisoner could hear the hissing and understand the inevitable presence. The snake however, was not allowed to bite. The scientist pierced the prisoner with two safety pins in his feet, and the prisoner died immediately. "
Remember my friends , Corona is going to happen to everyone , almost. The spread can't be stopped. However , if you keep you immunity strong and healthy, and your faith intact, it will only mild affects on you, as it did to me.
Of course if you know, your immunity is not so great, you must take added precautions, but even then , believe in your own strength. While climbing mountains , I always tell this to my clients. Our bodies always give up, as it feels pain. It is our will that helps us climb the impossible heights. It is such for this pandemic or for recovering from any sickness I believe. Your will & faith matters more than your physical conditions.
As for now, I am all fit , and it has been a month since I have survived my part of pandemic, and am back on my Adventures, to climb Mountains again.
If anyone of you, is surviving Covid 19 and wants to talk to me about any suggestions or advices , feel free to connect.
And yes if you think you have an immunity strengthened by will power and good lifestyle, join me in my Adventures in the mountains!
Hope to see you soonest!
Patriotism is one of the most debated and hot topic of our current times. By definition it means, the amount of love one has for it's country or native nation. Generally, most men and women love their own country, though the intensity and level of indulgence might vary from person to person. This difference also comes with our level of awareness and perception, from the region we find our affinity for.
In that context, I was wandering to myself , how much did traveling affect my love, for my country ? I certainly had my answer as I retrospect through my experiences from the different corners of the nation. My love is certainly shaped by the truth I was fortunate to see with my own eyes. But before, I share my opinion on how much traveling one country , shapes our love for it, I was also interested to know what other people thought about this.
I took to my Facebook and Instagram and asked for people to write their opinion on the following question
" Is it necessary to travel to Truly Love your own country ? ". What followed is interesting answers from both faces of the coin with some insightful explanations. Here is a try to sum it up in this blog , the views that shows correlation between travel and patriotism is at all necessary or not. More importantly , the reasons behind it.
I made a fascinating observation from the responses to my question. Most people who did not travel a lot, or those who generally are happy with vacations and two week long holidays, justified that it was not necessary to travel to love your country better. Obvious to say, the people who cannot think of their life without wandering aimlessly and perpetual travel, felt the opposite.
I am gonna uphold both their explanations, before putting in my opinion. But before you read the opinions, you must understand, to travel or not to , is but a human choice. There is no good or bad about it. Hence, you must keep a neutral mindset before understanding why the two groups think differently.
It is true that many a people did not necessarily see the length and breadth of their country, before contributing their whole lives in the service of the nation. People doing social work and helping the citizen of a nation for the love of their country are very devoted. Their actions speak for their patriotism, which might not be an effect of the travel they might have had.
A similar case study is of the people serving in our army and other defense forces. One cannot question their intent , who brave the rough conditions in protecting the people of the nation. Most of them are not wanderers or have not traveled a lot before fulfilling their duty in the love for their nation.
Love for one's country can come from the books one read or other mediums that might have interacted with us, to build a nation's image. It then serves to built a pride inside of us and make our identity as citizens of the nation, to find happiness in feeling belonged. So definitely, the explanation given here, that it is not necessary to travel to love your country better, is justified.
However, perspectives differ and both can be simultaneously on point.
Those who traveled far and wide, simply had a beautiful explanation why traveling is necessary to love your country. Most of them put forward the idea, that traveling in a country as diverse and beautiful as India, enriches your love for your nation, when you see, touch and smell them live. It is one thing to read about the Taj Mahal and know of its architecture and every mind blowing information, And another when your pupils get shocked to take the flash of white marble gigantic monument with your own eyes. It is one thing to know its history through movies and songs, and another to smell the marble or touch it's masterclass craftsmanship decorated in it's the wall.
Truly travel might forge experience that builds on the love, and truly cement your pride for your nation much better. Also when you travel the different parts of the country, you help them to grow financially. Your contribution in actions towards nation is much more worthy than words or slogans.
When you travel, you also inflate the bond between the different people from the different part of the country. Since, the people who host you in their home stay or hostel, or in their region also get to know about your diverse lifestyle in some distant land. So it is a national integration process, when people travel their own country.
It can be also pointed out, that army or people serving in defense are exposed to indirect traveling a lot. That also gives them a varied insight of their country which definitely adds up to their patriotism. With such strong reasons, it is justified why so many people who travel thinks, it is absolutely necessary to wander and see far lands of own country as a sign of patriotism.
Now, it is time for my opinion on this topic, and it is a bit complicated one.
Any form of love has no definition or criteria to go through or adhere to. Its personal choice how we love somebody or something. Similarly the love for one's country can be differently expressed and adhered to by different individual, and it's justification should be satisfactory to oneself only, and not to others. With such a view, I believe, it is necessary to travel if you want to love your country better. Here is my explanation to it.
When I started traveling, not all times, did I feel proud of everything my country has to offer. I could see the dark sides of my culture and society that I so openly felt pride in, until I visited different regions. It is often true, that unless you travel, your idea of any country, even your own, will be stereotypical and limited. Your ideas coming from anything but your own experience, will mostly be flawed. Such flawed reasons might be narrow minded justifications of loving your country. One might think all is good in their beautiful country when it is not. And another might think, nothing is right at all.
You might ask why your country does not take the necessary steps to right the wrongs, and might feel a less pleased for your nation.
Take the example of Kashmir. Some of us may be happy with how the government is dealing with it, and some of us are totally against it. However, unless you are someone who has lived in Kashmir for a little prolonged bit of time, you will not have actual insights, you truly need to understand the complications there. More often I see, people putting their opinions on Kashmir, either for the government or against. It does not matter much to me, since personal opinions like perspective can be different and yet to be respected.
What does matter to me is to know that those people have, either never visited Kashmir, or may have been there just for a vacation of maximum two weeks. Now I hope you understand how much of truth can someone dig up in such a less time, or just by sitting at home and collecting his or her facts through news and media, which is always a propaganda in play.
It is absolutely necessary to see everything about a country, the good , the bad and the ugly. Because my personal opinion is, only when you can accept all the faces, can you truly be able to love it in its wholesomeness. And that will be for me a full view of patriotism and not just the pride that an identity brings without justification or my own experience.
I am not saying, Travel is the "only thing" that brings about this learning experience, but surely travel is of all the most effective way, to participate and pamper your patriotism. Why else do you think , great citizens who pushed a nation through their patriotism had raw travel experience and wandered around the whole of country. You can take the examples of Gandhi , Bose or Swami Vivekanada, or the likes of such , and you will find one thing in common. They did travel through their beloved land to understand it better, which helped them to make an impact full change in long term.
Think about it.... !
THANK YOU ALL WHO PARTICIPATED IN GIVING THE RESPONSE TO MY QUESTION THROUGH FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM STORIES. PLEASE CONTINUE TO ENGAGE AND CONNECT, HOPE WE TRAVEL SOONEST ENOUGH.
What are the secrets of Indian Elephant God Ganesha & why is it so popular among people ?
Travelers from around the world who come to India, has always a fetish and fascination for Indian Hindu Gods. It is remarkable how every time, I might tell them a story about certain deity, and they listen to me like children adhered to fairy tales.
There's no doubt that Indian mythology is Rich with stories and fables which are metaphor to wisdom of life. And among such many a stories and Gods, certain ones enjoy much more favor in popularity among the outside countries and foreign Nationals than others.
Ganesha , among all makes a very popular notion among them as the famous elephant God from India.
With my experience of guiding and aiding so many travelers from around the world , here is a brief analysis of the secrets that make Ganesha so famous.
Ezra , a Dutch girl on a tour in India with me bought six pieces of Ganesha idols from the clay crafting markets of Kolkata we were hovering. She was to gift them to her different friends and families back in Netherlands, and took them as souvenirs from India.
I asked her , what compelled her to buy idols of Ganesha , out of other Indian Gods such as Krishna and Shiva in display. Her reply in brief was her affection to elephants ( the beast that wander in India free in wilds unlike caged in other south Asian countries) and the cuteness that Ganesha idols hold with a baby like portrayal.
It is true that among all God's , Ganesha looks different with a head of elephant and a body of a man. His image is a mix between animal and human. It's very essence is the coexistence and correlation among things in peace. With it's cute baby like demeanor, it puts out positive vibes throughout. Even though it looks like a kid , it is considered wisest among all Gods. The elephant as an animal is also known for it's adept memory, and the huge head is a symbol of brain amassed with loads of knowledge, which reflects in Ganesha too. So if wisdom attracts you, Ganesha is your Go To God.
Even though Ganesha is wise , but in no sense it is a hermit who has let go of worldly pleasures like a saint. Ganesha puts a coexistence between materialistic life and the spirituality. Ganesha is always in love of food and is adored by his mother Goddess Parvati in mythology. This reflects the essence that even if he is wise , he still relinquish being pampered by family and enjoys worldly hunger of a physical nature. Ganesha is associated with wealth too, as most people having a business in India surely worships Ganesha. With it's wisdom , it can attract fortune, and inspires people to use their wisdom to the same in healthy manner.
It can be told that Ganesha coexist with the polar opposite features in a nice balance. He has attained wealth and wisdom, something very difficult to balance in human life. It is this, that highlights his prowess. Even when you pay notice to the symbolism of his statue, you will find the existence of snake and rat together there. The predator and prey existing in perfect harmony just like other polar opposite thoughts. It is needless to say , that followers of elephant God , mostly would want to learn that art. To attain wealth without forsaking spirituality. Or to attain wisdom without forsaking the worldly pleasures. After all balance is the essence of life, which for some of us would make our life harmonious.
Indeed bringing in a Ganesha statue at home or surrounding brings a positive vibe, with it's happy halo that it spreads. Ganesha is wise enough to be not bothered by his very fat body. He has no issues of body image , for the huge belly or the non human head he carries. It is the symbolism of his wisdom , that what truly matters is our idea of ourselves and NOT how the world sees us. For many of my foreign clients this symbolism matters the most. Since most days , our world is changing into a platform , where external validation is given high importance. In a world , where everyone is trying to look good to others , Ganesha preaches to being happy about yourself and not be bothered. Eat what tastes good, enjoy being loved and keep attaining wealth without disregarding wisdom.
There are many more secrets related to the Elephant God. And I hope someday when we meet , may be we will uncover more of them. Till then , hope Lord Ganesha brings you wealth & wisdom , as much as you need , and not for your greed.
" Laila , Chado " Bashir motivated his mule to climb the Great Gadsar pass. It's been three days I have had the chance to be close with the community of mule men from interiors of Kashmir. They are our lifeline for logistics, to carry us through this range of Karakoram, as we trek.
In our journeys and travels we generally come across various people of different culture and habits , who makes us wander how different the world is than we actually perceive or knew, if we are sitting at home. This is the beauty of travel that we get to meet such souls and get to hear their stories. Of how they live , how they pray, and how they fight to survive with a smile. This piece is dedicated to one such community the horsemen of the North.
In my journey to kashmir great lakes, time and again, I have met the finest horsemen or rather mule owners. It is from one of them I have heard how mules came into India, and it is a fascinating story to share.
It is said that when Alexander the Great, came to Hindukush, with his mighty army and cavalry, he failed to cross the great mountain range. His finest Bacterian and Persian steeds could not climb the treacherous pass. And without them the army could not take their provision. It was a sucideal mission for Alxanderean Army , without their provision in the conquest that lay East of the Hindukush.
For six months , they tried but failed to cross over. At that moment of need. They observed certain mountain tribe's that lives high on the Hindukush. And they saw , their horses so small in sizes yet so sturdy and expert in climbing the vertical gradients.
On further enquiry , they found that this were a certain subspecies of horses created by the mating of a donkey to a horse. Alexander and his army took hold of this species, the Mules, and with the help of them , took their rations and all other necessities to cross over Hindukush and finally arrive in Indian subcontinent.
Since then in Himalayas , or Pamir , or Hindukush, or Karakoram. Everywhere mules are used for traveling through the high altitudes of mountains and climb the high trails. Regardless to say , I felt a lot like Alexander , when for the first time with a horde of mules , I crossed the Kashmir trail.
Why I think the Kashmiri mule men are finest, in my perspective is because their dependency on mules is far more than anywhere else in other parts of Himalayas, I have trekked. The situation is also because or the regular interval or interuption of normal civil life, that Kashmir faces from time to time. People here need to have mules in the countrysides for their rations being deported when a strike or curfew comes to place, and no public transportation is allowed. It is also true due to age old Amarnath Yatra , mules have played an important role since ages. Pilgrims are driven near to their God's with the help of this animal, and their drivers, the horsemen, are quiet efficient in it. As Bashir had informed me, he learnt it from his grandfather how to handle a mule. He was only six , when the lessons began. Now after four decades of existence, he has his expertise and he passes on to newer generation who are interested in the tricks.
This ancestral history of owning horses and mules, have played a very important role even in their culture and tradition. Mules and other livestock have been their primary assets and are very core to the lives and habits of livelihood. This men have a precious talent of managing 10 mules at a time , and that too without touching them. They roll their lips and whistle to direct the mules, and very rarely I have seen Bashir or such experts, have to cane their mules.
Bashir had told me " the leading mule is important. I keep Jaffa ( a white mule) in the beginning. She knows the trails and is disciplined well. The rest knows to follow her. I just stay mostly with Laila , since she is new on this trail, and hence I keep her in the middle, so that she doesn't get lost or out of party."
There is a science even in driving mules , and often in commonplace without observations , one might miss out such. It is important to learn the science, at least if you have in mind , a plan for solo expedition some day like Indiana Jones , leading your own group of mules through unmapped territory!
The mule owners are not only talented but most hard working too here. Generally , when we are done with a camp in the morning , we require to fold the tents back , organise the stuff and rations , and prepare it manually for being packed and transported on mule's back. This whole process requires time and attention by the cook and other helpers. For lest , you miss out on anything even a small peg or spoon, you might not find it in the next camp. Such trivial things matter a lot in treks and expeditions. Small items such as sugar and salt is of great essence , worth more than golds on treks and expeditions. Hence , the cook and other trek staff need to be on high alert while the folding of camp is done.
But in kashmir , mostly we do not worry. For the horsemen , takes care of everything here. They know how important packing up is and with great attention do it. Such care gives cook or trek guides like is , respite and enjoy the morning for a bit. Their expertise goes beyond at times, and horsemen like Bashir Bhaijaan with help of cook and helpers who reach next campsite long before the trekkers, usually set up camp and then sit around , joking and smoking up good Kashmiri Charas. That is their moment of delight.
In my journeys I have come across many mule owners and sometimes fortunately I have been invited to their homes. Once the trek ended I have attended their invites and have had a tummy full of splendid meals cooked with love and local delicacies. Some mule owners have other jobs while not walking the great trails. They work as high priests of the local mosque, some are teachers and mostly farmers. It is not only to earn extra that they work as mule porters or handle the mules. It is community service , for without the mules how would sometimes provisions reach their rightful places. How would villages and communities survive. As for the trek, the love for adventure also infects the heart of the mule owner as much as it does to any common man wanting to trek the grand mountains of Kashmir. To such, many a horsemen just come with their mules to satisfy their own wanderlust, even though they have enough in home to sit content. They also feel happy to walk the trails, to climb , to eat and to make merry in the paradise along with other visitors from far and wide. I have known horsemen who sang greatly of their folk songs and entertain us in the bonfires , at the cold chilling nights in depth of mountains.
In many emergency issues , trekkers are stranded on the high passes of kashmir , not feeling good and their health might deteriorate. Their is always high altitude mountain sicknesses or they might have a cramp, or twist or any medical issues. This horsemen act as saviours then. I have seen them walk ten kilometres transporting the luggage, and then again comming back, to fetch the trekkers on the mules to safely cross them over. That is the kind of intensity and value of the life they lived. And regretfully I have seen , trekkers not even tipping them anything even after so much they have done for them. Quite a funny world we live in, the more we eat , the more we want to keep eating. Yet , the horsemen live in peace and smile, far from this selfish social world from where most of us come to trek and climb. They continue to serve us to the best of their abilities as they have done for centuries before and shall do for years after. For this high mountains , no human innovation might be sacred enough to pass the test of times. They will fail, but the horsemen of the North will continue their traditions.
It is of no surprise, that when I meet people and talk about my experiences, the incidents that include wild animal encounter, creates the best of buzz. Of all animals, tigers the most, captivate the hearts of my listeners, as I share with them my moments with the majestic big cats.
It is also very eminent , that when I talk about the tigers , my eyes glow , and a different energy vibe through my words and sentences. A lot of times , those who heard me explaining them about tigers told me " You really love your Cats, Deep! " My listeners can always feel how much I adore and worship the wild cats that forever changed my love for nature and jungles.
It is their I realized how much sins , we commit by visiting zoos and such captivity where the animals are but only the skeleton of their real image. Before you read my blog, it is earnest request, avoid visiting zoos and tourist tiger sites , such as tiger temple. I know you probably feel divine about your picture with the animal, half dozed off with drug, but it only adds to your ill karma.
Only if you see them in the wild, you will know why this felines in their natural form, and you will be able to learn about them, to love them truly.
Hands down, tigers are the coolest creature, to have walked the earth and here is why I Love Tigers So Much !
My first beholding of this beautiful cat was in Kanha national park back in 2012, when I went there to visit and stayed about a month working as a language interpreter for a resort. It is in this time, that I learnt about the beast that is adorned and feared at the same time by people. Opposite to general belief , the tiger doesn't kill unless it is hungry.
It has been seen quiet a numerous times that in playful mood they appear very casually in front of it's prey. Obviously, the prey, like grey faced langurs and spotted deers ( Chital ) , are cautious and go in a frenzy spotting their embodiment of death. Yet the tiger casually just walks by taking all the fun of being most sought after being in the vicinity.
To understand how much attention it gets, one must visit the wild forest , where other than the animals , we humans clog in our jeeps to catch a sight of the majestic cat. Every person goes into a devotion like state waiting for the tiger to appear. Photographers of most , reach levels of orgasms when the sighting happens.
Ask anyone who visits a national park , and you will see , how less I am actually bragging about the reality!
This exclusive importance comes from it's majestic way of living and the image of sheer power that it dictates. A tiger is Biggest of all cat species! Yes, I know you think it's the Lions, but go check again and you will know! I don't blame your ignorance , since maybe you haven't had the luck to sight a wild tiger yet.
With such a huge body , it is super athletic. Try imagine being a cat and catching a monkey for food! You know what I am talking about when I say it embodies power and flexibility! Also add to the fact they are solitary predators which means there are thousands of odds acting against it , when it goes for a hunt. Which is why it's success rate of a kill, is one out of ten. I tell you it isn't easy being a tiger, yet it does damn well to live and not just survive.
The hunt of a tiger is something incredible owing to the patience and persistent it performs. It takes around an average of two hours, to stalk the prey and make a kill. In the hunt , the tiger moves slowly towards the target.
The tiger is a master of disguise , which is why , if it sits a twenty metres from you calm and quiet , you wouldn't even know. With such it lays down and one step at a time moves closer. It's stripes which are brilliant in colour actually helps it to disguise itself in the grasses that it crawls through. You see , unlike primates , other animals do not have colour vision, and for that the tiger has a benefit, as most animals never see it coming.
A very wrong notion is that tigers hunt with it's speed. It is not the case. The tiger depends on it's hind legs with it's powerful muscles to lunge and jump on it's prey. In average a tiger can jump twenty yards !!!! If a tiger ever participates in long jump, it will clearly win and break records!!!
The tigers are also the cat that loves water very much. They are fantastic swimmers and generally prefers to chill in ponds during hot summer days. If you ever visit a jungle during the hot humid months , go straight to the water bodies, you will find the cool cat taking a beauty bath always.
The tigers are ferocious lovers. It has been recorded that a tiger in search of a mate have crossed hundreds of miles in average to be with their partners. With their extra smell and cunning minds they can be found directing through unknown landscapes be it hills, rivers or mountains. Many a tiger has been recorded for using the railway track as a road to move.
With more and more it's natural habitat getting lost to human civilization, it is forced to walk hundreds of miles sometimes even for a search of a right and appropriate places. It is indeed sad, that we are probably among the last generation to be able to see the tiger in wild. Unless though , we really do something about it. Which I don't think our selfish species is capable of though sadly.
There are so many things about the tiger that holds the heart and I can't simply write it all here. It is eminent that this majestic cat captured the top spot as the favorite animal in the world, beating even dogs in the public voting. I can't agree more with the opinion, as if you have seen a wild tiger in the jungle, not only will you be a devotee , but your entire life , you might be spending a good load of money trying to find the big cat in the wild.
For people who haven't seen the tiger in it's habitat might feel it stupid , that we pay so much to see glimpse of this royal cat for a minute or two or at most twenty. However, I can't justify ( at least in expressing) what it is like, to see them in wild. The only thing I can say is , how much money do you think justifies if you had a chance to see the God itself????
Hope you do see a tiger in the wild , as it is surely "once in a lifetime" experience to do before you die. And for those of us , who are already devotees of it, I hope you all get more sightings of it in your next safaris.
P.S - All pictures are mine , unless mentioned in the caption of the rightful owner. You can always consult me to plan a perfect wild tiger sighting trip! I give a money back grantee for tiger trips!
Note from the Author,
" Travel made me rich and free. Magic and miracles are true , once you wander on the roads to places different and divine. I have collected so many thoughts and stories while being a Tour & Trek guide for last seven years. Sharing with you all, those memories and stories , and wishing you all , that someday you guys travel far and wide too. I am not a great writer , so ignore my grammar and spellings, read it with feelings, and you might just be affected with the wanderlust to hit the road"