I love to write. I don’t want to become a writer or a celebrity author (especially the Chetan bhagat type). All I want to do is write. Like a chain smoker who smokes for nothing but the pleasure of smoking, I write for nothing but the pleasure of writing.
After two years of completely mundane and frustratingly monotonous work at one of the biggest IT firms in the country, I started looking for something more interesting to do. One fine day I get a call, like a drop of water on a parched paddy field, a sweet voice tells me something I wanted to hear all my life
“I will give you a job and all you have to do is write!!!”
Just imagine a situation where someone calls you and offers a handsome pay just to watch your favorite sunny deol(read sunny leone) movie every day. I was in pretty much the same state. Just to bring me back from the land of ecstasy, the voice further added
“To get the job, you must write an article that blows me off. It must be based either on your experience or expertise”
EXPERIENCE OR EXPERTISE:
I spent the next one week pondering over this million-dollar question, “Experience or Expertise”. I am a proud Indian youngster. Like most Indians and in most cases India itself, I realized that I was staggeringly average in everything I do and ever did. There is no single area of life that I could call myself an expert in. Thus my options crumbled down to just “Experience”.
Google tells me, “Experience is an event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone”. I decided to go out in search of an experience worth writing about. An experience that will be worth a reader’s time when he reads about it.
On the 26th of June 2016, I set out on a journey to find some experience with a group of faithful friends. After a lot of research, I had zeroed in on the Nagalapuram waterfall in the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border as my destination.
Mythology tells us, whenever a hero loses his path on any adventure, a voice from above will guide him with directions. In my case too, a voice guided me on my adventure. It was not a voice from above but was coming right from my phone. The world today calls it google maps.After a 3 hour long journey, which in my opinion is in itself a separate experience we reached the foothills of the nagalapuram hills. From here on our journey was to begin.
As we embarked on our journey, we heard a weak fumbling voice from behind. It belonged to lanky, old man from a small village in the foothills of nagalapuram. In a Telugu mixed Tamil that only people in the borders can speak, he told us
“If you guys are planning to take the trek to the waterfall, shall I be your guide?”
Though the thought of having a local person guide us through the forest path sounded tempting, we were quite apprehensive as he seriously did not look like a person who could trek the threateningly high hills. Looking at our reluctant faces he turned away and started walking towards the hill.
Something is better than nothing, a voice inside me shouted. I turned towards my friends and they all nodded in unison as if they heard the voice inside me and so we followed him like a whole group of hutch dogs. Exactly 10 min after we started treading along behind the old man, the dry hot area in which we started turned into a beautiful thick jungle.
In the next half an hour, our legs slowly started to feel the stress of the inclination and the effort of the struggling trekkers was visible with the heavy pants and gasps for breath. But with no single sign of struggle the old fragile man trotted along. After about an hour’s trek, we reached a place that was a real sight for sour eyes.
The waterfall in Nagalapuram is split into five levels. Five places at which the beautiful flow of the water takes a break,cuddles itself into a pond and gathers energy before continuing its sprint towards its ultimate destination ie the ocean. We had reached level 1. I bent down, filled my empty water bottle with the flowing water and took a sip. I realized that the plain tasteless liquid I have been using to quench my thirst all life long does not deserve to be classified as water at all. The water from the river with all its minerals had a taste that I have never felt before.
“Where is this water coming from?” I asked our guide
“Heaven”, he said, pointing upwards towards the hill top.
Before I could ask any further questions, he resumed his journey uphill. With a thousand questions propping up inside my head, I followed him with all my friends right behind me. The next one hour of our journey was a real test of ability. We had to do every trick in the book to get past the slippery rocks and risky narrow mountain passes. As the height increased the risk of falling escalated with it. Every step had to be taken with utmost care. One misstep could create unimaginable repercussions.
After several slips, close calls, risky jumps and of course back breaking walk, we finally reached Level 2. All the best architects of the world together could not design a sexier swimming pool. With the right depth, right flow and perfect translucent water, this was definitely a classy hangout place to spend the afternoon. But I had not come here for fun, I came in search of an experience right.
I walked up to the guide and asked him.
“How far is level 3?”
Had he restrained to a simple, “it’s too far, not reachable”, I would have stayed back and relaxed. But without uttering a single word, he started walking again. The curiosity to know what is beyond motivated us and one by one all of us left the swimming pool from paradise behind, to continue our journey to level3
Streams, slippery stones, slithering snakes. These are just a few of the hurdles we had to cross on our journey to the next level. As the elevation increased, the thickness and the wilderness of the forest also increased. When we reached a large slippery rock , for the first time in that entire journey, the pruney old guide turned back to give me a hand. When I climbed on the rock and looked beyond, a view that will never leave my mind was awaiting me. We had finally reached level 3.
I walked to the edge of the rock we were standing on to take a look at one of the most breathtaking visual I had ever seen. A waterfall gently pouring down water into a 50 ft deep pond with the water slowly slipping away like the clothes of a stripper in the other end of the pond. The beautiful translucent water exposing all the schools of fishes inside. My heart beat was at its highest, the exhaustion of the long trek disappeared. All I wanted to do was jump into the water.
It was a twenty feet dive into the fifty feet pool. If I face any rock structure underneath, I am dead meat. Though the translucent water clearly showed the emptiness of its depths, it was too big a risk. Any man in his right senses would not make that jump.
Leap of Faith
I stepped back and sat in one corner lost in the view that was in front of me. The rest of my team were busy turning their back to the scenic beauty and pouting their lips to pose for selfies. The guide walked up sat next to me. With the grace of a professional, he took out a cigarette from his pocket, emptied all its tobacco content, filled it up with well ground marijuana leaves and lit it. He took a deep drag and chivalrously offered the joint to me. After politely declining his offer, I said
“I hate this place. I came all the way through this difficult trek, I am a good swimmer and can handle the water yet I am unable to reach it cause the jump is too risky”
With the smile of a wise man and his heavily accented Tamil, he told me
“The humanly inaccessible points of nature are the only ones yet to be bottled up or patented by you, corporate guys”
The truth in the statement sent shivers down my spine before it could subside he added another surprise.
“This jump is not impossible, you can do it”. I was shocked. I knew the risk involved was too great but the tiniest possibility of making the jump excited me. Looking at my excited face he broadened his wise man smile and continued
“You guys carry too much baggage in your mind, body and life. Your commitments, fear of future, attachments to all the unnecessary stuff you own,all these things clutter your life. Only a guy who lets go all these clutter can make that leap of faith”
I was spellbound. The deep principle of minimalism preached by the great entrepreneurs of this generation was so casually explained by this old man in one remote corner of the world. I continued to stare at him. He said
“Thambi (bro)…take the leap and maybe you will realize that in life having less equals having more”
I walked up to that edge again. I looked down at the twenty feet fall. I knew I was standing in the middle of nowhere, risking my life on the advice of an old man who might be blabbering under the influence of marijuana. But I did it anyway
I went more than twenty feet deep. When I finally came out, I was a changed man. All the clutter in my mind seemed to be washed away by the water. For the first time in my life I felt thankful for everything I had instead of feeling the need for more.
When I looked up, I was able to see the old man standing in the edge looking down at me with a smile. A smile that told me that I had merely scratched the surface in understanding the mysterious ways of life. A smile that echoed a hundred times in my head shouting
“You know nothing, Jon Snow!”