Showing posts with label expedia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label expedia. Show all posts

Himalayan realization

The problem with being a physically late blooming precocious child is that you hit middle age crisis before pimples break out. I was hardly 27 when I decided to chuck it all up and spend a month touring Italy. I was feeling like I had hit the dead end. I needed to meet new people,get inspired. Outside doctor's waiting room, traveling offers the best chance to meet new people. Inside they are all sick anyway. So I chose to travel to Italy. But after buying lonely planet guide to Italy, I was few thousand dollars short. So I settled for Youth Hostel Himalayan trekking program - Milan went out, Manali came in.

But a step into my tent, I realized my mistake. I had wanted to meet new people. Not drown in them! The tent resembled a Sooraj Barjatya movie minus Madhuri Dixit -suffocating uncles, aunts and brats. To add to my misery all my fellow travellers conversed in Hindi, a language which I didn't understand. Let's face it. The only Tamilian who can speak Hindi is - Rajnikant. In chennai, we have his cut outs not because he can stop speeding bullet but because he can speak Hindi. So when everyone was having fun, I hid in a corner reading my lonely planet guide. I had made up my mind that Italy was the answer to my problems in life.

Suddenly a small girl started singing Celine Dion's 'My heart will go on'. She would become a good singer one day. But that day was clearly far off yet. 'Fantastico! Excellante!', I lavished praise on the kid. I was so happy to hear a sentence that I could understand the meaning of. But my joy didn't last long. Some one from the U.P section of the tent started, 'arz kiya hai' and the whole tent went 'wah!wah! wah!wah!'. I have noticed this curious phenomenon - If you put three U.P people in a room, six shayars come out. There was this old person in early seventies who was the sher of the shayars or the other way round. He was on a spree that night, the next night, and the night after that and... Our trekking went like a clockwork. Morning, we would trek for a long distance. Then we would assemble in the tent. The small girl would sing 'My heart will go on'. I would say 'Fantastico! Excellante!' and then the grand old man of shers would take over. Everybody liked this arrangement but for me and the kid's father. Me, because I didn't understand a single word and the father because well.. he was just jealous of the old man.

I started walking slower and slower during the trek. I was tired of Celine Dion and the shers. But the funny thing with trekking is there is always stiff competition for the first and the last spot.
'I am guessing you don't know Hindi.' The old person asked.
'What gave away Sherlock?' I wanted to ask. But out of respect to his age I just nodded and smiled.
Then he told a sher!
'A sher about how shers go beyond the language.' He said. He seemed to have a sher for every occasion.
'But I don't think that is a sher. I knew the meaning of a word in it.' I protested.
'I see your problem. From now on, I will tell the meaning after I tell the sher.' The old man said.
'Or you could just laugh at the joke.' I said. But my suggestion fell on deaf ears.

Nevertheless we became good friends. And we always shared the last spot in the trek.
'What do you do?' He asked.
'Software Engineer.' I said. I didn't return the favour. Beyond an age you are just happy that you are able to eat, walk and tell shers, I thought.
'I am studying B.Sc computer science.' He said. I looked at him dumbfounded.
'I have twelve degrees. I collect degrees like hunters collect carcasses.' He said.
Somehow I was not able to imagine him doing anything other than telling shers.
'But computer science is the hardest. I have met an equal challenge this time. Kabir kahta hai...'
'I will teach you.' I volunteered. Anything to stop him from telling a sher.
I taught him about bits and bytes rest of the trek. And whenever he understood a concept he said a sher that expounded a similar idea. But that was far and in between. I had the bittersweet realization of how a poor teacher I was.

The trek program came to an end. On our last day, we exchanged our numbers.
'You are seventy. Why are you still studying?' I asked.
'Because I like it.' He said and smiled. I thought I got the key to what I was searching for.
'This trek has given me new life. I will definitely call you.' I said.
'Kabir kahta hai...' He started.
'Don't ruin the moment.' I said.

Back in Bangalore, traffic jams and bugs swallowed me. I never made the call that I had promised. Whenever I saw an advertisement for a correspondence course I would remember him. But nothing more. Not for ten years. But it changed last month!

'Why do you want to do M.Sc after fifteen years?' The girl at the counter asked as she took my application form.
'Because I like it.' I said and smiled.

I don't have his number anymore. So if you come across an eighty year old spewing shers and studying for B.Sc, please don't tell him about me.
I still can't stand shers.

This is an entry for the "Around the World with Expedia" blogging contest with Expedia and Indiblogger. If you like it please vote for me here