My first reaction was ‘What? Really? How?’. Little did the timid staff member at the hotel know that his recommendation would be met with complete bewilderment and ignorance.
I asked again, ‘You mean I should go to the monastery to find my phone?’ It sounded truly absurd. ‘Yes, that’s what the village folk do. But go with faith.’ I nodded.
Such was the evening in chilly Lachen that at – 12, all I could think of was to go back and huddle up in a blanket. Well, only if the blankets could keep me warm.
A lost phone sending the hotel folk and the travel folk in a tizzy was the last thing on my mind after an already ‘eventful’ trip. Why eventful? Well, because jumping out of a moving car sliding down the valley wasn’t my idea of a trip, or being tripped. Pun intended.
The army comes to rescue after the sliding car incident
Talking about experiences, I’ve never really had what I would term as a ‘bad’ travel experience. Not in any of my solo travels. In fact, they’ve all been very insightful and amazing. From being given special security in Siem Reap to watching the northern lights in Finnish Lapland, from being guided on a Leech trek in Wayanad to being offered a 4 course Indian meal for free in a restaurant in Stockholm, people and places have been ever-embracing.
But this time it was different. One, because I was travelling in a group. I never have before. Two because I was putting faith in someone to lead the pack, which didn’t happen. Far from it. That’s what differentiates the good from the mediocre, the tour guy from the real, authentic leader, the one that puts his needs before the group’s from the one that tends to each one with a ‘I’m here for you’. Shortly put, a real leader is an army guy, strong, tactful, caring and one who puts others before himself.
Coming back to the lost phone, 4 of us trekked up the monastery to find the monk, the head of the village who could chant mantras and trace the phone’s existence. All he asked me was my name and my birth date. I sat there in silence for 20 minutes ogling at him, while he opened scriptures, and chanted mantras. While my right-brain was all into it, my left brain questioned if this was even possible. A while later he said, ‘The phone is still in the hotel.’ I thanked and left.
While I will keep the last bit about finding it to myself, my takeaway from the Sikkim trip was this:
- Different people and their life choices, wants, fears, truths and needs are what make stories real. Acquaintance and friendship with an amazing bunch of enthusiastic fellows was a definite take-away.
- Solo travel has its charm. And I continue to believe in its magnificence. Because you’re not time bound, people bound or confined to experience some things and leave out the rest.
- As a suggestion, it is important to know the essence of your trip and trip leader. Is it to just make some money or be really involved in ensuring that the pack has an experience they’ve not had before? Also, no matter how bad the weather or situation is, there should be no rules to ‘not go’ to other places that fall beyond the original plan. Because travel doesn’t show up in ‘fixed itineraries’, but flexibility and adaptability.
🙂 Much love!
Cowabunga mate! Until next time!