By: Seaborn Barker
Part One – Thoughts from the Mountain
2450 feet up, facing southeast, I am awed. Where I sit atop of a mountain will morph into an island in a years time because of the dam. The mighty Saryu reduced to a modest garden snake, slithering at the feet of the righteous ridges of Pancheshwar. Others have asked me how can I enjoy hiking? I don’t really have an answer. Only now, sitting here on top of my small but growing world, a word comes to mind – perspective. The idea of perspective is something that defines my life. To quote the great William Shakespeare: “Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Our thoughts stem from our senses. Right now, my sight is the source of my thoughts and therefore my perspective. Back at camp, I felt so small, dwarfed by the untamed Saryu and sky piercing mountains. I thought the river controlled the environment; now, I see that it only flows where the mountains allow it. I feel like a giant here…standing on the shoulders of another giant. That is why I like hiking, because when you reach the top, you are at your peak (get it? haha.)
Part Two – Two Questions
What brings people together? A question with many answers and even more debate. That being said, after my experience hiking today, I can say conclusively that endurance and kindness are two basic aspects of unity. As the hike progressed, so did the group’s dissent. People were upset! Genuine questioning in my leadership turned into the hurling of insults, culminating in Cooper’s expression: “Seaborn you are a ____!”. Let your imagination fill in that blank. I suppose I was asking for it when I convinced 11 other students, two teachers and three guides to embark on an incredibly steep hike in the most arid, and yet somehow simultaneously humid, climate I have ever been in. Despite the adverse conditions, I received much more than I had bargained for when we reached what we thought would be our destination. We had all been leveled by the mountain. All in the same boat, so to speak. I found that, as we feasted, we grouped not with our “friends” but with those who shared a pace. The complaints had ceased. Perhaps we were too tired to complain, or maybe the beauty of the valley had silenced us all. One thing is for sure – our shared endurance gave us each a piece of understanding of each other.
When was the last time someone truly touched your heart? For me, and I really had to think here, it was when my long time friend Bryan Floyd gave me a pillow off his bed without second thought after hearing me complain about mine. I thought for a while why this act meant so much to me. I believe that it was because without any planning, he gave me something of value to him simply because he thought it was right. Today I experienced something similar to that…I dare say it was even greater. When we were all beat and the very last bit of hiking was squeezed out of us as we summitted the final 500 feet, a farmer by the name of Hashiyar opened his home to us. A man who had no idea that we were coming nor who we were saw that we were tired and decided that it was his duty to quench our thirst. Many of us tried to give him money; each of us he refused. Now, I feel as if I do not have the words to do him and his family justice. So instead of describing my feelings, let me describe these actions. Mr. Hoshyar immediately walked us through his courtyard to a place in the shade. He, his wife and his daughter brought each of us chairs and cushions. Hoshiyar unraveled an extension cord into his yard so that he could plug in a fan. His family boiled us water for chai and before we had finished there were a variety of sodas being passed around paired with different Indian snack foods, all from his personal store. The family made an effort to create a connection with each one of us. Even Hoshiyar’s 98 year old mother made her way outside so that Lucas could practice his Hindi with her. Before we departed, he insisted we tour his farm, his final words to me were “you have a place in my home anytime.” We all became a member of a family today, all because of the kindness unnecessarily given to us.
Part Three – Expectations
I was perfectly ready to just submit Part 1 and 2 for my blog post. That being said, I felt a piece of this story was missing to tie it all together. To that point, I’ve grown tired of writing, and I can hear the river calling my name, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. This part is about trust and expectations. Mr. Pausic helped me realize the great trust I have in Praveen and our guides. Part 1 of this post was written where we assumed would be the highest spot we’d climbed. We were going to stop there and turn around. But, our guides told Praveen that another 30 minutes up there was a store, and that the climb was not so bad. It was. Either way, I had expected nothing more than a rinky-dink shop with a fridge that maintained room temperature, and a dusty shelf when we got up there. Regardless, I trusted that our guides would lead us somewhere enjoyable and rallied my comrades. There was less enthusiasm this time. For the record, many people only continued because I promised to buy them a coke when we reached the “store”. All I can say now is that my trust was rewarded by a breathtaking mountain top farm that exceeded any expectations in the group ten times over. Moral of the story: have a little faith and you may just be surprised. LOD out!