All great thinkers understood that if we want our life to fascinate and fulfill us, we should never abandon unspoken maxims of our childhood.
With our growing wisdom, once again when we return to childhood, the world becomes our canvas. We open up to more possibilities, more learning and imagination and the results are more magical and exuberant.
So, this summer we headed out to a quaint holiday in the quietest little corner of South Maharashtra in Satara district. I wanted to be somewhere that’s not clouded with things I possibly could do without, at least for 2 days, and a place where I could draw a landscape of my childhood.
I wanted to be close to Mother Earth. I wanted to run faster, talk to silence and eavesdrop on birds. I wanted to dance harder like these free agents. Probably all I wanted was to happily yell like a baby in an environment that has no rules… and no time line.
About 100 Kms from Pune this picture perfect place promised us to lose ourselves to the joys of childhood. We went to Panchgani. It’s a name derived partly from the 5 hills that surround it. Gani means a settlement.
At an altitude of 1334 Metres, it’s one such hill station that is delightfully quiet, relatively non-commercialized and truly quintessential. One glimpses at the architecture of the old British buildings, the Parsi houses, and the much famed boarding schools that have been in existence for over a century.
I had a life-changing realization: “You only need a few colors to liven up your life if you are content with their hues.” It was a kind of a minimalist being born.
We were at a campsite where experience is simple, basic, rugged, but well connected with nature. Before I could browse the place we read the writing on the wall. After parking our car on a narrow sidewalk we climbed a few steps up, to reach tent no. 1.
Perched on the foothills behind and overlooking a valley on our right and front, this was our home for next 2 days.
Since it was the farthermost tent of the total 10 tents in a winding fashion on the same platform in a row, we were at the dead end. The signal of nature was excellent under cloud-kissed mountains!
On entering our summer sojourn my eyes met amenities, which were the humble substitutes of luxury.
The 2 cots joined to form a double bed, a lantern on the left side table, a bunk bed for kids, and an oxygen cylinder for our safety were all that met our eyes first.
It was breezy and biting cold. The rain refused to stop. I feared the tent will blow away, but it proved its might. The sight was humble with things low on the list. We looked around for “what is there and what is not.”
The dressing area with a lantern hanging on one corner of mirror was a shockingly pleasant sight! There was neither an air-conditioner nor a refrigerator. What to talk of a TV, even telephone was not in sight.
The floor fan stood sad and forlorn in a corner. That lonesome didn’t even laugh full throated. While it served us, we could count its moving blades. And, that was the maximum speed!
It was typically an environment in its uniqueness where the most basic pieces of today’s life were missing. Kids frolicked hopping on to the bunk beds.
Obviously, we didn’t expect a wooden door. A mere zipper to our privacy was all in service. So, a bit of gymnastics was required to open an all-around zip measuring 6ft something – to head out and in. We repeated this exercise as many times as we went out.
A President of International Montessori Council, Tim Seldin rightly said, “Children have an inbuilt drive for discovery.” My daughter invented a way to lock the tent.
The gurgling sound of rain with an astounding breeze was heard in this cocoon having low wattage bulbs making the environment romantically cozy.
It rained furiously. Before it could pour again we decided to head for lunch. It was arranged near Jackfruit trees under heavily laden sky. (Jackfruit which is cooked as an exotic vegetable in the North is eaten as a fruit in Maharashtra.)
The fierce wind made a baby jackfruit fall with a thud! How often do we rejoice such simple gifts of nature? The nature bathed to its heart’s content. We waited in resort’s 7ft by 7ft office till the sky became blue again.
The food wasn’t scrumptious but definitely sumptuous. Evening tea was served in the tent. It was brought to us in an Aluminium ketli – so typical of the times gone by!
Children were excited to experience its pout! We discovered everything to our joy. It was a completely different holiday where we waited in anticipation – what next?”
The highlight of this place was disconnection with the world so you could enjoy your own world. That’s the catch!
Such holidays give you time to re-invent your relations. Even if you feel imprisoned, there is no parole! (Pun!)
Whoever you choose from your ‘contact list’ and bring with you here, it’s the close proximity – minus the most notorious pings of WhatsApp – that binds you together. All you need is to sign in your offline hangout sitting on a cemented bench, 2 humble chairs and a table to enjoy a continuous log in.
The nature becomes your computer screen.
You might start with a non-stop chat, but when battery lows down you send SOM( Short Oral Messages) then there is a time when you switch to twittering and ultimately when the batteries become too low to respond, one by one we see all leaving the group chat.
Have you experienced similar things? When one goes into sleepcation, the other follows, too. Likewise, we all drift into that direction.
Studies show we have abilities to initiate new ideas, and can solve problems uniquely if we sit down together and allow ideas to collide. No wonder whether it was Gmail, Google Earth, and its flagship AdSense program, these all grew only out of this freedom.
So, we sat there exploring the concept of MORE IN LESS and began to count the benefits of this life as opposed to what we all live in.
We chase to possess, buy compulsively and may not use the stuff at times. Some do it to satisfy their egos, others become victims for comparisons and still others, to ask for validation from strangers. We want to earn praise for a big house but don’t have ‘time’ to spend time there. We don’t wear clothes we bought 3 years ago because these get lost in the pile. Similar goes for cars and gizmos and the list goes on…
Had we bought less number, the subject of subtraction wouldn’t arise. Why can’t we live with just the basic necessities and keep our lives simple? These were a few questions that popped up.
At this creative detox zone regardless of our any project or dream we reveled in ‘less is more’ philosophy. It was a great connect!
In these hours the only dessert we had was what we fostered through uninterrupted engagement among ourselves. We unleashed a child in us and felt satisfied with whatever we had in the platter. In this never ending process of thinking and unthinking, we learned and unlearned.
That is how our calendar rolled out to the last evening. We concluded, whatever be the style of our life, finally what gives us happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment, we MUST pursue only that.
We must know where our peace lies. Whether it’s the life with humble means or loaded with richness? We must know to shape it into meaningful lasting joy. Also, we should be aware when and what, we should ward off our life.
A thick curtain of rain separated us from the mountains. It was time for hot tea and mixed-vegetable pakoras. Clouds turned dark again. This time it signaled the night.
Chatting while enjoying the warmth of bon fire embers with a rich taste of drink and delicious dinner, we forgot the impending con that lay ahead – a pathetic road condition till 5km from the resort. We slept early to head back early since children had to go back to work.
For those who wish to seek a virtuous laziness, walk meditation and complete workshop of detoxification, they must plan a holiday, not necessarily this kind, but one that lulls them into inertia.
With our sense appendages we can smell the beauty of lessons that a holiday teaches us. This time is meant only for a reunion – of family, of ideas, thoughts, and some creative detox of mind.
It was a project out of the ordinary. Here, our experience was less scattered, less harried, more present and more deliberate. We concluded, with several things to live without, one has to have a deep self-reading.
Given the option, will we resort to this style? We explored and had a majestic return…
It’s your turn, now.