Many Indians grow up with the dream of going to America or Switzerland. My dreams were different. With the multitude of stories I had heard, I grew up yearning and wanting to see the Himalayas, swim in the Ganges and find the legendary Brahma Kamal that apparently blooms just once a year.
As I grew up, I got numerous opportunities to see the foothills of the Himalayas, but the land of the sadhus walking seemed illusive. And then, I saw a friend's Instagram post on his trip to Kedarnath. More than the view, his description of meeting sadhus who normally never spoke to people excited me.
In an instant I knew I had to go. I checked in with my sister and husband and they were both ready to join me on this impulsive quest. I asked my friends but all of them thought I was crazy. All except one, and that was all I needed. I quietly booked our accommodation and informed my not-so-happy parents. They were anxious but allowed me to go.
Life is never smooth, and so too our plans ran into our first big glitch. The news reported a cloudburst and missing people. Friends and family panicked and advised against my “rash decision”, but I knew there was no going back from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The week passed and I quickly packed my bag full of warm clothes. It was bulky for a four-day trip, but I knew it was essential. We got on our flight to Delhi and just as we landed, we got into our second glitch. The train we had booked to Rishikesh was cancelled and it looked like our five-day trip to trek up the legendary Kedarnath was falling to pieces even before it began.
I am a stubborn girl, and I had set my mind up to climb Kedarnath. A cancelled train was not going to stop me. I got on my phone and called 15 different taxi companies and in half an hour, I had a taxi driver who was willing to drive us there for Rs. 3500 – cheaper than 4 of our train tickets.
Excited to be back on the quest, we waited for our cab. A half-hour passed and he was nowhere to be found. By this time my sister was getting tired and remarked, 'Maybe we aren’t meant to go'. I didn’t reply. I knew we were meant to go and I was going to make it happen. I picked my phone and called the taxi driver. Thirty minutes of half-broken Hindi instructions interspersed with Tamil and English later, our taxi driver finally found us (he was lost) and we got on the road to Rishikesh.
The journey was beautiful. Winding roads, picturesque villages and dhabas that smelt so delicious we wanted to stop every five minutes, but chose not to.
We reached Rishikesh at nine in the night and made our way to the hostel we were staying at. We threw our bags off and crashed. Our bodies tired from the journey, but minds excited with the possibility of what the next day would bring us.
We woke up early and like good yogis, practised some asana and pranayama and made our way through the up and down streets of Rishikesh looking for a café that would serve us breakfast. 8:30 am was apparently too early but luckily we found one man opening up shop. We jumped in and had the most delicious and yummy breakfast with a view of the Ganges. We sang songs and danced because we knew a great adventure was before us and we couldn’t wait for it to begin.