“I can’t possibly write what those 10 days in the Khasi hills of Meghalaya did to me in some characters!” I told my friend Jayati who was the sole observer of the impact that freedom had on me.
It was as if my hunger of feeding on adventures and experiences, which was my subconscious fantasy as a child who has always lived under a shadow of ‘being perfect’, was finally satiated. It was 20th June when we landed in Guwahati and went directly to Shillong by road. The windows of my car were open and I sat at the window seat and the gush of wind for those 2 hours was letting me know that here, you can be who you are by undressing the layers of perfection and the layers of ‘looking good’ in front of everybody.
This was a backpacking trip organized by Insane Travelers; we had to look for a place to stay in Shillong and I had the contact of my father’s friend who lived here, I had heard about his amazing house and was greedy to stay in a home like that for free. I would have usually not dared to call him and ask for an accommodation of 7 people but for some reason, it did not matter, I guess it was the winds playing with my head.
He surprisingly welcomed us warmly to his house and yes I was right, that house was like a European dollhouse with a huge terrace that had a 360 view of Shillong. That night the 7 of us just talked. The evening passed by in a whisper and it felt as if every moment was elongated for us to enjoy the junctures that gave us joy. The winds felt cold that night, but my heart was warm.
The sun was surprisingly seen the next day in Meghalaya where all you usually can witness is the rains dominating. We had to trek to Nongriat and see the double-decker living Root Bridge. The trek was a normal 3000 steps, but the frequent waterfalls and the music they would create caused the winds to dance in a manner that we as an audience got enthralled by the art performed. Reaching to the waterfall and our homestay that was in a middle of the rainforest we spent the evening with each other yet alone.
The homestay had a great terrace; all of us were listening to the murmurs of our heads and that of the insects. For the first time in some time, my head was filled with happy thoughts of this moment rather than the anxiety of the future or the guilt of the past. The fireflies around me caught my attention and my mind wandered into the depths of gratefulness just like how they wandered around into the forests. The winds were just as calm as I was.
After the rainforests, we went to Cherrapunji where we spent 2 days in leisure. From partying at night to opening up to each other and to gazing stars from the terrace of our cute homestay those 2 days were about friendship rather than exploring the place. Though there was one hike where all 7 of us were walking down the meadows, collecting the local flowers around us as a material memory and breathing the fresh winds in. they were again talking to me, telling me how they were proud of the stillness I felt. I was happy. We saw a very beautiful sunset after that walk and the sun like all my stupid insecurities just very smoothly got set, at least for that day.
Our last stop was Mawlynnong, which is awarded the cleanest village in Asia. We hitchhiked in a truck from Cherrapunji to that village and we were so proud that we traveled like those ‘cliche world travelers’ the days in Mawlynnong were slow just like Shillong. We were again living in the middle of the forest, talking with the fireflies, eating at the local’s place and filling our stomach as well as the heart with their warmth. The winds were not talking to me anymore; I guess they knew that I had learned enough.
This trip was not filled with breathtaking adventures or with the best scenic places; this trip was filled with stories, stories of how I welcomed change inside me and stories of how the 7 of us became a family for 10 days. I could never imagine staying at places that would cost me just 200 RS per night or with my dad’s friend who I hardly know for free, I traveled and moved about just as how those winds guided me. They showed me how to say yes to this world and how to be open-minded to change and explore whatever you are and whatever you are not.
“I realized what joy means to me after these 10 days and that is the only way I can explain anybody what this trip did to me, to us.” I told Jayati at last.
This post is inspired by Lufthansa.