Youth, is that phase of life, where everyone brims with energy. With vitality, often at it’s peak between ages 20 to 35, given the buoyancy and stamina, we often end up doing things, we cannot 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 you”, for you’re well aware that your body has developed limitations, 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. Some of them are as under:
Having done this several times with a group of friends, there were times when I never minded venturing out alone, with the single-minded, stubborn objective of visiting a religious place at the top.
I remember once, two decades ago, I decided 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 a rainy season. Some of them, in that group, were qualified Chartered Accountants, while the rest of us were in the making but all of us, were 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 across the world. It’s 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 incredible highlight of our feat was, the pouring rain. 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 risks associated with the climb 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 was indeed a life-saver by all measures, because we later on, came upon 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. It was thrilling, but an expedition quite dangerous.
Today, as 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 it out and whenever that happened, 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 write. The things I penned down were mostly poems, many times my deepest thoughts too. During school 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 simple (or perhaps a simpleton??), with lesser experience of the world and consequently, less understanding thereof. So, in my opinion, my writings lacked conviction. 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 such a thing as ‘writing’. 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 reads 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 pride, tenacity and courage.
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. So Cyber Cafés were the lords of the ring, with most of these overcrowded, making people wait in a queue.
The internets used to be extremely slow then, 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”. So, my take was, more than a scooty or a car, one should occasionally ride a bicycle, for the physical rigour it puts us through. But honestly, I lacked the guts as well as the road sense. Besides, traffic 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.
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. Funny!!! Because each time I did that, I was aware of having caused quite a stir and amusement among the onlookers around. Looked absolutely silly!!! But I would hardly care, for that was just me, “trying to play safe” (LOL). 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 developed a comfortable road sense and learnt to wade my way out of the traffic. Couple of years later, as marriage neared, I gave away my precious bicycle, to a poor 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. I am so glad for that “never give up attitude” I had, all throughout, because, it certainly extricates you out of the regular. Thanks to that, I could manage this bit of adventures and experiments. 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.