Standing on that one ledge of rock jutting out at this aptly named place called Dev Bhoomi. It was indeed the Gods share on earth. The view from above was jaw dropping. Standing at 1800 metres height above sea level overlooking the Kullu Valley Nichola felt like she was a mighty eagle. This majestic bird soared the skies alone and perched itself on great heights to rest and enjoy the view from above. After the short break this bird would resume its flight in the open skies again. Nichola was taking her well deserved break. Todays schedule for the trek was to trek as far as you can and come down to the base camp Chatru. Nichola had enough. Spiti valley with its lay out of rocks and scarce vegetation had always been her dream to tread upon. It was a dessert of Rocks.The trek was very challenging and Nichola loved every bit of it. Big rocks small rocks rubbles of rocks loose rocks flat and rounded rocks and sharp edged rocks. She had to find a bearing between each of those to find level ground. The streams of water that flowed between these rocks was the reward for all the hard work. Splashing water on the face and taking a sip of the cold refreshing pure fresh water felt like nectar running down her throat.

She rested on the ledge and quietly watched beneath her. It was a long trek back. The climb down is actually the difficult part contrary to the believe that climbing up is tough. The knees have to extend completely locking itself. The whole body weight is rested on the locked knee and the knee joint along with the calf have to balance and counteract gravity to hold the entire body against gravity. Nichola realised this one crucial thing in life. Moving up struggling hard work was much more safer than coming down at any point in life. Her water reserve was also almost over. There would be streams beneath where she could get a refill. She decided to rest and recoup before descending. There are two very beautiful things she recalled that the group started the day with. Grace her tent mate and one of her most dearest friends started the day with a prayer. While we trek we trek together watch out for each other . Simultaneously we trek on our won at our pace and some stay together some go trek separately for a while and regroup later. Her prayer every day was that a cover of protection and faith encompass every body in the mountains. She prayed for every one every living being.

The next thing the group did was a bonding exercise and a stretch routine. It was the most unique and interesting series of stretches she did ever in her Life. She called it the Juguja drill. Well before the JUGUJA drill is described the man who conducted the drill is worth talking about. He was one of the experienced Guides. He was Raghu. Raghu carried all the forces of nature within him. He laughed like a flowing brook, gave instructions like the rumbling clouds, remained calm like the clear skies. He was hilarious always helpful responsible and very supportive. No one could miss Raghu’s presence. Raghu was very enterprising and friendly and every body loved him.

JUGUJA DRILL

Every one would stand in a circle

Raghu would say

Chin up and down

Hands up and down

Hands straight

Go down

More down

Tongue in

Tongue out

Hands on the waist

Shake your right hip round

Shake your left hip around

JUGUJA JUGUJA

Raghu would say in a tune and do the actions for the rest of the group to follow, and do the stretches , bend the knees roll them, sway their hips stick their tongue out, sway their hands , shoulders and every body part required to warm up before the start of the trek at the beginning of the day was taken care off.

ImageBeyond the body their hearts and mind would stretch to be able to face the day where the mind would need to push when the body hesitated. By the end of the routine every one would break in to a laughter and roll and sit. What a way to start the day.

As Nichola was just about thinking about the JUGUJA drill and smiling she noticed Raghu down below in the mountains. She called out to him and waved. The winds don’t carry the sound in the direction we want it to. And in the winding mountains it is possible that Raghu would have missed Nichola as in his line of vision she could have easily been hiding behind a rock. Nichola sat down for a bit realising that may be Raghu missed her. She then sat on the just enough piece of the rock to gather her bit of silence. That’s why she chose to come to the mountains to find that solace and calm which the city life just doesn’t have at all. With such mesmerising views one tends to marvel at the beauty of nature and then hear their own heart beat and breathing sounds to realise that they too are a work of wonder. And then that bit of calm and conviction helps you come back to life to take on all your responsibilities and deliverables in life.

Nichola began feeling cold. As long as you are moving you are warm. The breeze at that height made her gently shiver. She needed to move fast. Too long a gap between the treks is not a great idea , the heart rate settles the muscles cool down and resuming and getting back the tempo is a lot of work. She took her first few steps in descending. Well this was going to take long. Every step had to be placed carefully against each rock on the ground to lock one foot first before the next foot could leave the ground.

She was making progress but very slowly. Slow was good. And then suddenly Raghu came out behind some rocks and said “Hi Mam”. More than surprise she was delighted seeing Raghu. The people who lived in the mountains were very simple kind hearted and caring people their needs were very simple. Life was tough living up here from the climate and terrain. They kept their lives simple and derived happiness out of the small things in life. Nichola got that about Raghu. “Raghu I am so glad to see you, I need you to take me down to the base camp, my water reserves are very low too” said Nichola. Raghu replied sweetly “ don’t worry mam I saw you sitting up there and thought I would come up and check on you. We will get you water , there is a fresh stream down below, no worries”. Raghu now held Nicholas hand and guided her and assured her on her way down. “ smile mam, enjoy the trek” . Said Raghu “I am just concentrating on my steps Raghu” replied Nichola.

Raghu was around 25 years old, he was not too tall. Most mountain people are not very tall. Lean muscular and the mountain sun left a beautiful tan on his skin. Nichola was of the same age. Raghu spoke to Nichola about his life here and how happy he was he particularly informed him about his love. She was a beautiful mountain girl and he was planning on getting married soon. “ will you come for my wedding if I invite you? I want to throw a grand party call a DJ and have a lot of dancing”. Raghu asked? “Oh sure I will be delighted and will definitely make it” Replied Nichola. Raghu asked again” Do you have some one in your life who you are madly in love with?” Tamara smile and replied “ oh yes I do”. Raghu answered” Mam I will confess something to you, you are beautiful and very kind, in another time if we had met before I would have surely won your heart, wouldn't I? Nichola laughed” definitely Raghu”. Raghu started humming a song , this is my sweet hearts favorite?What is your loves favorite song?” Nichola started humming a tune. “ well we both sing along together when this song plays anywhere” singing laughing chuckling talking Nichola realised she had trekked quite a distance and was almost near her base camp in Chatru. How time flew . Then Raghu stopped and asked for her water bottle” come let me fill your bottle with water and you can quench your thirst’ Nichola had forgotten how thirsty she was, she lost track of time and one tough challenging trek became a breeze”. They reached the camp site.Nichola thanked and hugged Raghu . Raghu went about his work checking on every one and his duties. It was in the night when Nichola was sharing the days events with Grace that she realised that Raghu was an exemplary guide. He held her hand for physical support but the songs and conversations were to make her mind and heart comfortable and make her journey enjoyable” . He could have held her hand and got her down. But he distracted her engaged her with mundane conversations made her giggle and chuckle and made the toughest part of the trek a pleasure.

Nichola did tell Raghu that she wrote travel blogs and that she would write about him. Raghu was thrilled . “Please write about me, write about the mountains and how beautiful they are”.

On the morning of departure and end of the trek. Grace said her prayers and thanked the mountains Gods the guides the trek organisers and each of her trek mates for such a beautiful experience. Every one did the JUGUJA drill one last time. Nichola thanked Raghu he smiled and said” mam some life time how about I am the city man and you be the beautiful mountain girl, I come visiting the mountains and then we meet.”

That was the sweetest thought she could take back with her through the rest of her journey back home.