I had the most profound revelation during a long train ride from Goa up to Mumbai. It was late in the evening and all six berths in our section – three on each side – were already folded out and occupied by tired passengers. I, however, could not sleep as I was lying in the bottom bunk with my flashlight still on and the pages of Charles Allen’s book ‘A Mountain in Tibet’ still open. It’s a book that chronicles the exploration of the revered Mount Kailas and the discovery of the sources of the four great rivers – the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Sutlej. Every person depicted in this book had their own reasons for venturing into these uncharted and dangerous areas. It was either for the sake of spiritual enlightenment, geographical exploration, and discovery or for more selfish reasons such as fame, admiration, and recognition. Whatever it was, in the end, they all had one thing in common: they possessed the heart of an explorer. And on that fateful train ride to Mumbai, I realized that I, too, was in possession of it. Clear as day, then and there it dawned on me just as sudden, that I now had a purpose.
Traveling up to this point was partially something that I did because I felt like I had to do it as though I had no choice. I was drawn towards this lifestyle by an invisible force; compelled to move forward in silence. However, I never knew exactly what my ultimate goal was. There were a lot of questions, but not a single clear answer. But ever since I started reading up on all the great explorers from Marco Polo to Thor Heyerdahl amongst countless others, an answer started to form inside my mind: I want to explore the world; to truly see it and to write about it. Now, that is a purpose worth living for. More importantly, while I was on that train I became excited, determined and giddy as a kid. My heart was racing like never before. I haven’t felt this excited for too many years and I started to believe that I would never have this feeling again. But here it was and it returns whenever I read more about explorers, history, and cultures.
One of my recent favorites is the popular book ‘Seven Years in Tibet’ written by mountaineer and Tibet expert Heinrich Harrer. In the opening chapter, he wrote the following:
“All our dreams begin in youth. As a child, I found the achievements of the heroes of our day far more inspiring than book learning. The men who went out to explore new lands, or with the toil and self-sacrifice fitted themselves to become champions in the field of sport, the conquerors of the great peaks – to imitate such men was the goal of my ambition.”
I, too, was inspired early on in life by the achievements of the heroes of my day. Although, mine were of the fictional kind such as Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, and so forth. But fictional or not, I can only imagine that the effect was similar. My heroes also invaded my dreams – while I was asleep as well as awake – and I was inspired just as much by their feats as Harrer was by his real-life counterparts. The seed as an explorer and adventurer was planted in these days and it took over two decades for it to finally flourish and bloom. Now that it has, its beauty and purpose is undeniable, and it only continues to grow.
Which is why I have decided to settle in the province of Krabi, Thailand again. I find there is no better place to start my life as an explorer than in an area where one has mountains and hills, forests and jungles, rivers and mangroves, and the Andaman Sea. It is a place of a natural beauty that you can’t erase regardless of how hard you try to modernize it for touristic purposes. You can alter its surface, but the core remains untouched, untouchable and sacred to any sort of human intervention. I like to think of such a scenery as a treasure chest and my goal is to study all its gems and riches, get to know their stories, and then tell them to the best of my capabilities as a writer and storyteller.
My first ambitious step into the world of exploration, however, will begin with my trekking experiences in the Langtang National Park in Nepal. I wrote extensively there every day; about the trek itself, the mountains and the lakes, the people and their culture, the flora and the fauna, and about my own thoughts as well, of course. It is a daunting task that frightens me to no small extent. When you look up to the great explorers as much as I do you also want to live up to their example. But there is one thing that I have in common with them, which gives me the necessary confidence and strength to carry on. You see, from a distance, they often appear as figures larger than life but only if you live their lives through their own words, will you find out how vulnerable, scared and clueless they often were; that they were human after all. They are my brothers in arms and no greater honor could be bestowed upon me than to proudly join their ranks.
Now, in order to bring this declaration to a glorious end, let me tell you this: Every single word I have written in this post comes from a source deep within my heart that has been left untapped throughout the previous years of my life. Therefore, it fills me with great joy and excitement to share this source with you. Nothing I have written thus far comes close to describe the person that I truly am. Now that I know this and also what my purpose is, and with a place where I belong, one might say that yes, after all, I am finally happy.