Youth, is that phase of life, where everyone brims with energy. When vitality is often at it’s peak, given the buoyancy and stamina of that age, we often end up doing things that we cannot even imagine attempting during the later stages of our lives. After the 40s, as the waning phase sets in, one might rarely, dare to go out on those adventures, that was once, “so much a part of you”, for you’re well aware that your body has developed it’s limitations, that are difficult to ignore.
Today, as I fondly reminisce, several instances pop out of the memory lane, that I have ventured under the sparkle and vigour of youth, years ago, whenever I had that adrenaline rush. Would certainly like to list and share some of them:
Having done this several times with a group of friends, there were times when I single-mindedly ventured out alone, in those ranges, with the stubborn objective of visiting a temple atop.
I’d like to share a memorable one here. Two decades ago, I volunteered to be a part of an abruptly planned religious trip to Trimbakeshwar, a place that is off the city of Nasik in Maharashtra state (India). The trip was organised by some office colleagues, during the middle of a rainy season, where I was doing my CA articleship in a internationally reputed firm. Some of them, in that group, were qualified Chartered Accountants, while the rest of us were in the making but all of us, young and agile, in our early 20s.
Trimbakeshwar is one of the popular religious destinations, famous for it’s ancient temple of Lord Shiva. It is said that Lord Shiva, in this temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas located in various places, across the world. The place is also locally popular for it’s nearby range of mountains and forts.
After offering our prayers at the temple, unplanned, all of us embarked about climbing up the fort mountain, Anjaneri. Now, as per the Hindu Mythology, Anjaneri is the birthplace of Lord Hanuman (our monkey god of valour and courage) and the temple atop the mountain is dedicated to his mother “Anjana”, which is how the mountain got it’s name “Anjaneri”.
We had ‘Chai’ (tea) from a local dhaaba (tea stall), somewhere before we arrived at the base of the mountain. At the base, we were alerted by some local boys, about the slippery paths ahead, especially due to heavy rainfall. They also handed each one of us, two tree stems, whose bottom side was scrubbed flat, to create a supportive base while climbing. And thus began our trek, towards a height about 4200 feet above sea level. The road quality was not so great but the poring rain was incredible highlight of our feat.
It was a steep climb, with steps made of rough, unpolished rocks, where now, the wet moss had embedded itself, making it extremely slippery and rendering it all the more dangerous. At the start of the trek, we were unaware of the associated risks and which mainly was, there was nothing to hold on either side, all along the way. We mentally thanked the local boys, for the help that initially seemed insignificant but indeed turned out yo be a life-saver by all measures, because we later on, did come across some dangerous curves and turns where one little slip could shove you down the valley, several hundred feet down. One of our friends almost did slip, but was luckily braced on time, by another colleague.
It took about 8 hours to reach the top and be back. The view atop, was beautiful and panoramic…worth all the efforts. We spent some time there, enjoying the surroundings and clicking pics. Overall, it had been thrilling, but an expedition quite dangerous.
Today, when I look back, I feel I must’ve been completely crazy to even have attempted it, though at that moment, it did feel like a victory of the brave.
Going for a walk
This was the best part of life. Those were days when I used to spend several hours, studying at home, in pursuit of various professional qualifications. There were moments when you needed to just let out and whenever they arose, I would just get dressed up and go out for a walk, enjoy those roadside chaats, Vada Pavs and Pani Puris solo, window shop, visit a temple and come back home. Delicious food unfailingly invigorates the body, while praying fortifies the soul and walking regulates your blood circulation, keeps your health and mind sound, besides your weight in check.
If I was lucky, I might even bump into an old friend on the way and we would spend half and hour to an hour chatting right there, on the street.
I used to try my hand at writing even during those days, when, it was quite a rare thing for anyone to even scribble.
The things I penned down were mostly poems and many times my deepest thoughts too. During academic years, some of my poems were published in the school memoirs but in the youth years, my write-ups were more often, a pour out of my feelings and frustrations. At that age, I was quite simple and straight in my attitude (or perhaps a simpleton??), with lesser experience of the world and consequently, less understanding of it. So, in my opinion, my writings lacked a conviction born out of experience. Besides, those were not the internet days, where information and knowledge were handy.
A couple of years later, when I became a Chartered Accountant, I ended up discarding all those write-ups, including those lovely poems, thinking that I must be really loony to even attempt to do such a thing as ‘write’. It clearly did not befit me, a professionally qualified person since who would vomit their thoughts and feelings the way I did? And what if anyone read them? What would they think about me? Of course, the advent of Facebook and other social media, completely reversified that outlook across the world, for now, this, deemed as a matter of talent and skill, is done with elan and pride.
Keeping in touch with friends abroad
Many of our friends those days, began going abroad post marriage. It was very rare and a new trend then. All those, back in home country, were always excited to stay in touch with them and curious to enlighten ourselves on all that is happening on the other side of the world .
Internet was an absolutely new concept then, unlike todays times where a quick connection is possible anywhere, using a simple hotspot. Mobile phones had not yet emerged and people rarely owned computers or laptops, making Cyber Cafés, the lords of the ring. With most of these were overcrowded, people were made to wait in a queue.
The internets then, used to be extremely slow, with the concept of downloading, not really in place. Processors used to crawl. The large desktops (replaced by the sleek ones today), would simply hang for the longest measure of time, in the process of downloading just one yahoo page, putting a real test to our patience.
Come to think of it, who even uses yahoo today? While the colorful page was an absolute delight to the eyes and soul then, it’s been honestly a decade a half ever since I myself have visited the page. Gmail has, kind of wiped it out, from the public minds. Yet, then, we would be ready to wait in the cyber cafes, even if it meant the end of the world, for those chats over yahoo messengers and orkut, with our friends, which are today replaced by a more instant Facebook or WhatsApp. The thrill of meeting your long-lost friends online, was something totally out of the world.
This was something that I proposed to my newly-wed husband, during our first trip abroad, who also readily joined the fun. The thrill of open flying, over the blue-green seas was something untasted. But if we discuss it, today both of us are somewhat doubtful of doing it with a five year old, though not really averse to the idea.
As I began earning, the first thing I did was to buy a bicycle because those were days, when I strongly believed in the phrase “Health is wealth”. I clearly preferred riding a bicycle over a scooty, because of the physical rigour it put me through. But to honestly admit, I lacked the guts as well as the road sense. Besides, traffics used to be unregulated and the concept of dividers, was just setting in, in those part of the suburbs where we lived, with all the heavy vehicles plying through the narrow roads, anytime of the day.
So if I would see any bus or truck coming from the opposite direction, I would simply get off, take my bicycle aside, wait for the vehicle to pass and then resume my ride. Funny!!! Because each time I did that, I was aware of the stir and amusement, I caused among the roadside spectators. It looked absolutely silly. But I would hardly care, for that was just me, “trying to play safe” (LOL). Well, everyone learns through hiccups. Couple of times, I even missed being hit by an another vehicle coming from the opposite side, by just a few inches, much to the horror of the onlookers. Yet, ignoring everyone, I would just take off non-chalantly.
It took me sometime, but I eventually succeeded in developing a comfortable road sense and learning to wade out of the traffic. Couple of years later, as marriage neared, I gave away my precious bicycle, to a needy shopkeeper in the neighbourhood, since I was doubtful of using that, at the suburb where I was to relocate.
There’s more to the list, but faded away out of the memory lane. But today as I revisit these, I cannot imagine being on the same spot and in the same spirit. With age, our physical confidence reduces and fear clouds the mind. Hence, I am so glad for that “never give up attitude” I had, all throughout because, it certainly hoists you up from the regular. Besides some fulfilling adventures, this dedication to my beliefs and zeal alone, conferred me with tremendous advancement in life. But at the same time, I wish our physique had continued to remain in the same zing and bounce, though, in reality, that’s quite unreasonable to expect.
Now, when I look at the exuberance of my five year old, I merely watch her, wistful and aware that she’s just taken upon me, also fully knowing that, for me, the wheels are never going to turn back. But how I wish, the same spirit and vigour continued forever.