Wednesday, July 22

Saint I was looking for...

In any journey, there are many who touch our trail intimately. Deep in our hearts, we keep thinking of them and try to contact them while the trail progress on and later.

For some reason, right from the beginning of my Himalayan journey, I was keeping eyes open to see the sights and sounds of a saint whom I might contact.

As the dirty narrow lanes of Old Delhi welcomed me, I snuggled myself in a cosy hotel room. Completely furnished with all the amenities, the room was a far outcry to an arduous and tiring Himalayan trek that stood ahead of me. So, instead to resting for the journey ahead, I got out, looking for the saint who might meet me. Found none other than the curious shopkeepers who sighted a ‘foreigner’ loitering around their shops.
In a street corner, I saw an empty studio. The showcases of the studio attracted me because it was filled with empty film boxes. “It again showed the proclivity of Indians to hold on to the daily rubbish that they generate”, I thought. Soon, a young boy called me from the shop. Sitting alone with the boy, we chatted. A few minutes rolled by and this boy was confessing to me all about his family problems, business problems and love life. He was asking me for a ‘way out’ of the troubles he was facing. How can I give him a solution when I myself was on a discovery-trail?

It was evening, when we reached the base camp. Most  were  running around and making the final touch of preparation for the long days ahead. But I was attracted to the something different: the contentious ringing of a small bells. These jingles were from the small country-bells hung on the necks of the mules. Since that time, I kept a keen interest on the life and moments of mules in our pack.
Mules are integral to Himalayas. They symbolise the spirit of those mountains. Without those wonderful creatures, Himalaya would be a little poor. Their duty is that of a mountain porter. For they haul serious loads with an astonishing attitude. For me, the sight of mules tugging step by step up the mountains were fascinating. I have read one Yogi say that one got to become like a mule to be a part of great Himalayas. Frankly, during the trek, I was so fascinated by mules that I wanted to know their names, their habits and way of life. If camels are called ‘the ship of the desert’, why cannot I call mules ‘the masters of the mountains’? Cent percent sure footed, their stamina and strength belittled all my convictions about them.

Mules are great eaters. During the busy trek they are loaded with around 140Kg. of supplies on their backs. As the mules have a great weakness for green grass, they would make a quick stop when they see grass near their trek and munch them up. The beaten and grassless mule tracks bear witness to this habit of the mules. And, as the mules are unloaded at every base, I noticed how joyful they were: some of them would roll over and over on the lush green grass trying to tell us that all of it belongs to them! There are mules who bleat across the meadows announcing their arrival and presence. These expression of freedom and achievement (are they?) really touched me. How simple there life is! God’s calls is so different and unique in His creation.

Many times, I would go near a mule and touch them on their foreheads. Like to look at the adornments they have donned. Those small and intricate ornaments tells me that they are loved by their masters and looked after well by them. Often, when I go near the pegged mules, the handlers come near me and help me in my curiosity. One ‘Godawala’ (mule-handler) in particular wanted his photo to be taken regularly.

The silence of the Himalayan nights are wonderful. They are often interrupted by the jingles of the mules. Throughout the night, mules will be roaming around the camps to graze. I could feel the busyness of their mission: to fill the stomach by dawn. At night, by moon light, I would peep out of my tent and witness this grazing mission of the mules, in the cold solitary stillness of the meadows. My tent mates would make fun of me. Doesn’t matter.

Can’t I not call mules  the Yogis of the Himalayas...? Was it the  saint I was looking for?


1 comment:

Nemo said...

You possibly observed them most closely. I wonder when they used to sleep? As horses do, mule must sleep standing but I wonder when. The whole day spent time grazing and in the night they also roamed in the fields. Amazing?