It was 7 am. I opened my eyes. Blinking, letting the sunlight in. I picked up my phone. It was lying under my pillow, as usual. 36 messages from 5 conversations on WhatsApp. 3 Facebook notifications. 5 Instagram updates.
And so began just another day in the life of just another girl.
As I got dressed for work, I got a call from my boss asking if I could come in early that day.
A couple of minutes later I got a text message from a friend wanting some help to plan a trip she wanted to go on.
Another whatsapp message, another Facebook notification, my phone was getting on my nerves!
I wondered what life would be like without a constant need to stay connected with people every minute of the day.
Little did I know what one week in the mountains had in store for me.
I was to go on a trek in the Himalayas in less than 3 days. It was my first trek to Hampta Pass and I could hardly wait.
My parents were apprehensive as we were told there would be no contact for seven days. How would they know if their daughter was okay?
The reply from the team organizing the expedition was very simple. “In the mountains, no news is good news. It’s only in an emergency that the team gets in touch with the base camp, who in turn can contact the people concerned.”
Although that reply didn’t completely satisfy my mum and dad, I comforted them by painting beautiful pictures of the stunning landscapes I would get to see.
My love for nature was a gift from them, after all.
Being out of reach
Fast forward to the day I reached Manali, the base camp. I spoke to my parents and left messages to whoever else I considered important, saying I’d be out of coverage for a week.
And then our team was off.
There was no electricity after the basecamp, no charging points anywhere, so almost everyone switched their cell phones off.
The first morning of the trek, I woke up at 5 am without my usual alarm. Daybreak and a good night’s rest made me feel rejuvenated. And it was only Day 1!
My phone was in my jacket pocket. I switched it on to check for network. Nothing.
I tucked it away in a hidden pouch in my backpack and didn’t bother checking for network again.
Morning rituals done, I walked up to a rock and sat there, taking in the quiet beauty that surrounded me.
I felt a certain calmness wash over me that I’d never felt before. This feeling only increased over the next few days. It was a break that I’d been yearning for a long time.
A break that is rare and invaluable.
Far away from civilisation, I realised that even though I closely tracked what my friends did on Facebook and Instagram, I honestly didn’t care what they ate for brunch on a Sunday or where they took their latest selfie. There had been so many times back in the city when I’d be out with friends and at least 3 out of 5 in the group would be staring at our cell phone screens. I never understood this and yet I had fallen prey to this sickness on more than one occasion.
Here, I was beginning to see the beauty of meaningful conversations. I found myself introspecting and understanding myself better. I noticed that all my trek mates and I were in the present more than ever. We talked and laughed with each other, made memories that we knew we’d never forget. All because we weren’t distracted by anything else and were giving each moment our all.
I sometimes wonder, are we over-connected?
Disconnect to re-connect
It’s been a year and a half since my first trek and I still feel the need to switch off every now and then. We live a very fast paced life and I think it’s important to slow down like we do when we’re on a trek.
Observe things around you, be in the moment, spend quality time with your friends and family, not quantity time by only physically being there. For me that’s the best thing about being unreachable in the mountains.
It let’s you connect with yourself and makes you understand the importance of connecting with other people on a deeper level.