Human beings or Homo Sapiens as we are known, derived from Latin “wise man”, are basically social animals. We live in herds, we have families and we are dependent on others for our emotional well being. This may be true for most part of our lives but as we move towards our mid life, say fifties, we also seek solitude, we crave to make a connection with our inner self. The Indian scriptures talk of this phase as Vanaprastha; ‘Vana’ means forest and ‘prastha’ means going to. This phase has been documented as the third phase of life where the human being renounces his home and goes into a forest to meditate and to connect with himself, beginning from the age of 48 to 72 ie; assuming the previous two stages of gaining knowledge (Brahmacharya) and leading a family life (Grihastha) were completed by the age of 48. But in modern day, these numbers have changed significantly and yet the inherent craving for seeking truth about one’s existence does arise by age 50 or at least it did for me!
I am a traveler and I have traveled for work as well as for vacations, and it has always been with my family or friends or colleagues. But this time around, I decided to embark on a solo trip.
I got an opportunity where I would be able to travel guilt-free; as my family enjoys the revelry of the festival of Holi (celebrated all over India at the onset of spring with splashing of colours and water) while I don’t. Once the dates were fixed, the next task was to decide on the location. That wasn’t difficult at all, as I just wanted to travel somewhere close to the Himalayas but also didn’t want to spend too much time traveling, so the place had to be close to some airport. I decided on Mussoorie, a hill station that is just 64 kms from Dehradun airport. Next I had to look for a comfortable stay. As you know by now, I am a homestay person, so I started looking for Airbnb stays and found this perfect place which is away from the hustle bustle of Mussoorie city and is surrounded by the Garhwal Himalayas. Seegreen Lodge is a small place and has only 3 rooms which meant I wouldn’t have to interact with too many people and it also had a 5 star review for its cafe so my food cravings would be well taken care of.
I booked my flight and just before I could book my stay, I discussed this place with my young runner friend (#raw.joy_) from Dehradun, exactly 30 years younger than me but already wise and a mature thinker! I was a bit anxious about my first solo trip and I think she guessed that, and insisted that I stay with her. So I agreed to spend one night at her home and that was the best thing that happened. She picked me up from the airport and took me home. I got to meet her wonderful family and have a delicious dinner prepared by her mom. I was on the other side of the homemaker role and it felt good to be pampered. After a good night’s sleep and more delicious breakfast she drove me to my BnB. It was as if she was that net that had softened my fall and then lead me to the ground safely, instead of letting me take a direct plunge into being on my own.
The BnB was better than I had expected. The room was neat and clean and the view from the window amazing. The caretaker and the cook made sure that I had a very comfortable stay of two nights. The best part was the long walks that I took in the surrounding forests, a total Shinrin-yoku feel. Got to see some amazing views at cloud end and near George Everest house and on the way got to chat with the locals. Some parts were quite steep and tested my lung capacity but the satisfaction of being able to complete the trails was immense. Also got to see some exotic birds returning to their homes just before sunset. The weather was perfect, it was sunny with temperatures ranging between 10 to 13 degrees during the day and then hovering between 8 to 1 degrees at night. Both nights had a full moon adding to the beauty of the setting. The lodge provided me with a heater in the room for the cold nights and also had hot water in the shower as well as the wash basin.
Also, my travel coincided with international women’s day. And what better way of celebrating it than with my own wonderful self basking in nature! Having the freedom to do as I will. Take decisions considering only me, not doing anything to please anyone other than myself.
On the last day, Seegreen arranged for a taxi to drop me off to the airport; leaving that place was the most difficult thing to do. I wish I could’ve stayed longer. Being on a solo trip I was expecting to do some pondering over my life and the choices I had made, but none of that happened. I was just engrossed in breathing-in all that nature had to offer me, keeping me in the proverbial moment all the while. That is when I realized that I simply wanted to be a Vanaprasthi for the rest of my life.
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