With not enough time whatsoever to go through the itinerary but just enough time to book flights and make tour payment, a travel was planned.
Into an unknown territory, with an unknown travel group, through an unknown travel company – a trip started.
Anxiety and doubts creeped in as the journey began; annoyance and fear took over the first day as I came face to face with some of the specifics of the itinerary for the next day.
I questioned my whole plan and wondered if I should have planned the places to travel myself. Then I went to sleep deciding ‘we’ll see what happens!’
And then day after day, people, and life surprised me at their best.
Our travel lead, Nick Doley, whose ways (TBH) I didn’t understand in the beginning, turned out to be one of the most natural, thoughtful leads and an incredible storyteller to travel with. He is that Bollywood character that personifies the ‘Musafir’ songs, specifically, maybe, Safar ka hi tha main, safar ka raha!
In the group of seven travelers, most of them belonging to the South of India, my emotions evolved from ‘will I belong’ to ‘they are a good bunch’ to ‘they are fun people’ to ‘I want to do more trips with you guys soon!’ over the week.
Water trek, hikes, living root bridges, waterfalls, bon fires, local food, Maggi, chai, more food, road trips, songs in almost all languages I could think of, rain, sun, moon, valleys, horizon, love, laughter – everything that builds a perfect week (read perfect life) – was all there.
Meghalaya – the abode of clouds – a place in the Northeast of India, a state that I always only learnt about for GK tests, was for the first time, a place for real for me. It was beautiful beyond my imagination revealing itself in layers through the days.
It was magical.
Some moments that I never wish to forget and that’s why I attempt to document here.
When we stopped in a village to have lunch and I got to make friends with a kid playing around. We didn’t know a word the other person was speaking but by the end of the interaction we shared so many laughs and hugs. It was inexplicably heart-warming. If only I could keep her in my pocket!
When we hiked down to a spot from where valley, rivers and horizon all came together in front of my eyes and sun rested right above my head. There, in silence I sat for several minutes and that was life coming to live with me.
When inside a cave, our travel lead (Nick) made us chant ‘Om’ – a sacred sound, it was surreal, a feeling that stayed with me for a long time after we left the cave and that continues to stay within me.
When we went to Pynthor (I am still not sure about words and pronunciation, but this is the closest version to the correct one. That, I am sure about!) and sat with a wonderful music ensemble. They played many songs in multiple languages, with instruments made by them. The leader of the band introduced each and everyone who was a part of the band with great respect, explained the theme and meaning of each song and guided us through the whole experience. One could hardly tell someone’s age but almost every member of the band belonged to a different generation. We sat amongst their families, we sang with them, they sang with us, we danced with them, they laughed with us. It was like meditation – pure, powerful, and kind.
On the way to a living root bridge, Nick took us to an offbeat waterfall, where we sat for several minutes, each of us being in their own zone, drawing strength from water and rocks. Being there in zen mode for I have no idea how long, I realised there that ‘We could all be at the same place and yet each heart would beat differently.’
Nick, James, Hap, everyone who led us, told us several enchanting stories which I would not divulge here because I would love everyone to visit the place and feel the stories for themselves.
Priya, Shanmati, Gowri, Dipin, Mohit, Umesh – You guys made this journey one of the biggest memories of my life. ❤
To travel is to know what we don’t know and to not know what we know. it’s to be afraid and alive in that order or otherwise. It’s to be sore and unsure It’s to be nice, naïve and sure. It’s to unlearn and unwind It’s to mind what we find It’s to set our hearts free It’s to be and not to be. It’s TO JUST BE.
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