A man (Vinay) sitting at a mountaintop, watching the valley beneath

Sole-Tales from the Himalayas: Day 5 – Comprehending the Journey Ahead

14th May 2022

Today is my last day at Parvati Valley. Though I wish I could have stayed longer, I’m incredibly grateful to have come to this place. I can now confidently say it was life-changing. Alone amid nature is a different feeling altogether. I woke up one last time to see the sun’s rays kissing the snow-capped mountains. It was a beautiful sight. I got ready and left the room. I wanted to return to the old man’s cafe for chai. I missed the route and went the other way, which led to the bottom of the waterfalls—on the way, I met another brown, handsome and, old dog. He followed me while I was walking on unfamiliar roads. After a point, I stopped. I did not know where it would lead me. The dog, me and silence was all that was there. I sat there looking at the steep valley before me and water gushing somewhere nearby. The dog sat next to me. Both of us did not make a sound. We just sat there in silence. Most of the dogs in Himachal follow trekkers, I have heard, maybe for food or some biscuits. But it feels extraordinary that a dog follows you and sits beside you while you are lost. It was almost like the universe telling you, “I am there”. I always wanted to feel lord Shiva and could feel him when I sat there. After a long silence, I looked at the dog and asked him if we could return. He quickly got up and started waking. I followed him until he went ahead, and I never saw him again.

A man (Vinay) sitting at a mountaintop, watching the valley beneath

I trekked back towards the hotel only to take the correct route and return to the old man’s cafe. It’s strange how we crave familiarity. The roads were familiar, and it almost felt like they recognised me. Strangely, I loved the unknown yesterday, and today, I loved the familiarity. Sometimes, I wonder; I love the unknown yet crave familiarity. I love patterns and yet walk towards chaos. I find patterns in chaos and chaos in pattern. Call it dichotomy or complexity. I fail to understand myself.

After taking the familiar trek, I reached the cafe. The old man welcomed me with a smile. I ordered a bread omelette and chai. I sat there and ate, looking at the mountains and waterfalls. Almost as if bidding goodbye to them until we meet again. A bunch of trekkers came to the cafe to eat. They were chaotic and loud. But I could ignore the noise and hear the waterfalls. Before I left, I needed to make one of the most important decisions of my life today. There is a lot of confusion and chaos inside me. I took this trip to find clarity so I can go back and be honest. The quest is on, and I am heading towards something. Hopefully something.

I walked back and stopped by at another lovely homestay cafe. I ordered chai. I Sat there watching ‘Friends’ and drinking chai. I just felt like watching something fun. I smiled and laughed. I got back to my room and packed up. It was time for me to say adios to this beauty known as Parvathy Valley. I sat outside on the balcony for some time, looking at the mountains. They look so peaceful, gigantic and yet complex. It seems so close, but it’s hard to reach. It felt like a ‘Maya Mruga‘. The clouds kept passing, and the shadows painted different shapes on the snow-capped tips. It was indeed a site to capture for life. I will never ever forget this trip. Firstly, it’s my first solo trip. Secondly, it’s the Himalayas. Lastly, it was to find my soul.

I said bye and left Tosh in a taxi, taking me to Kullu bypass from where my bus to Delhi is. The driver lives in Malana, a small village in Himachal known for its cream. He is so amazing, and his eyes are honest. People here are so lovely and innocent. The mountains have protected them from becoming corrupted. On the way, I stopped by at Manikaran. I wanted to visit Shiv Mandir. I heard so much about it and its energy. When I entered the mandir, I saw a vast Bhairava statue before the hot spring. Look at the mysticism. There is chillness all around, and there are hot springs throughout the year. It is believed that lord Shiva did his penance here and had a hot spring in the middle of the valley for the goddess Parvathy to bathe. I stood there and saw the heat coming out of the spring. The “Guruduara”, they call it, cooks rice using this hot spring water and gives it as “Prashad”. The place was filled with people but had a strange spiritual presence. I Sat at the Shiva Linga in silence. My trip is complete now that I saw him in a form that’s being worshipped for hundreds of years.

I continued my journey to Kullu bypass and took the bus to Delhi. As the car passed by the busy roads of Himachal, the mountains started disappearing behind. It almost felt like I was leaving a piece of my heart behind. I will miss waking up, seeing the mountains, and listening to the deafening silence. Tomorrow, I will be back in the city; it’s chaos and full of people.

soul searching image (vinay)

During this trip, I realised that one cannot escape life. We can take a break, travel, refuel and rejuvenate. But what’s most important is to find peace in chaos. Find calmness in our busy lives. After all, that’s where we belong.

The soul searching will continue for me as the spark has been ignited. I lost myself to find me. I’m still discovering. But the journey has started. I am eternally grateful to the universe for making this happen. Soul searching, walking onwards, looking inside – whatever name you give it, the experience was life-changing. These are notes from my heart of my first-ever solo trip. With a hope to have many more, I put a comma to this for now. Until next time, the quest continues…

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Life Awaits

I landed in Bangalore – where I was born and grew up. It’s been almost 16 years since I left this beautiful city to settle in Singapore. But I keep visiting it so often, even more now because of the industry that I’m in. The place is familiar, just like me, though it’s changed so much in the last two decades. While there are parts of me that I don’t recognise, just like the new Bangalore, there are some parts that your soul can never disconnect.

While I sit in the taxi, the wind gushes through the window; the smell is familiar, and the roads are familiar. There is an emotion connected to it. Every time I travel to Bangalore, I feel at home. The city has given me a lot, some of the best years of my life. Memories that still bring a smile to my face. First love, friendship, college days, group studies, fights, road trips…it’s timeless. I learnt the definition of friendship and love here. When I look back at the teenage years of my life, they shaped me into my 20s. Those were the best days of my life.

So now I am coming back here to explore work before I head back to Singapore to meet old and new people. I come back as a person who has lived on a solo trip. I have become a nomad, unsure if it’s by choice or destiny. All I want from me is never to forget that guy who grew up in Bangalore, never lose that innocence and connect with myself with honesty and love.

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