By Lucas Shelton
Looking around me right now, I see nothing but big mountains. But it’s all kinda relative to the size things normally are. Where I’m from, there’s a thing called Stone Mountain and it’s really just a big hill made of rocks. These right here, they’re 5x bigger at least. They’re huge. But these mountains also have terraces. So even though they big, they also not too big to farm. And on the hike to Dodital, which was my day as leader, it was long and it did take all day but for people here, it’s just a four hour walk. The magnitude of a place is a way of thinking about strength.
So, I was thinking, when you think of the Himalayas, right, you usually think of Mount Everest or K2 – big snowy mountains with spiky tops. But right now I’m in the Himalayas looking at mountains right in front of me that extend off into the distance and they ain’t like that. These are fertile mountains. These mountains, people are living on top. Everest, you have like a 50% chance of dying if you try to get on top. Safety be different.
Here, people prefer to hike to Dodital versus trying to summit things because the destination means something. The magnitude of Dodital is because it’s a destination that matches the power of the mountains. Lakes on the ground are alright but lakes floating in the sky are something special. That’s the magnitude of Dodital in some ways – it’s just so high and yet it’s a lake.
But Dodital also has magnitude because it’s a holy place. When I walked up there, shoot, I saw a gate, like an archway – a gateway – and then I was suddenly on the lake. Looking to my left, I see a temple with bells ringing and a beautiful statue of Ganesh. And, like, it felt like a place where Ganesh could have gotten his elephant head. I felt Dodital a lot more than I felt the Ganges in Rishikesh. I was like, yeah, this place is super holy for a good reason. It hasn’t been commodified. The magnitude of getting to Dodital matches the magnitude of its spiritual significance. It hasn’t been made easy to consume and I think for me, as a non-Hindu, that fact made it more easy to understand.
And, man, they be a lot of fish in Dodital. There’s a big magnitude of fish up in that lake. Like, I thought it was raining but they all said it was supposedly fish rising. That’s a lot of fish.
The holiness of the Ganges is obvious – I can imagine how it used to be a large magnitude. But it felt like the magnitude had been turned into t-shirts and shops for jank. And they wasn’t even any fish.
Getting stomach sick also made me think about magnitude. Like, other people who got sick thought of it as like the worst thing ever. But I had gotten way worse back in China and on other travels so I was like, this thing ain’t that magnitude. It’s just a little thing. Like, in China, I tried to go to school feeling that way. I had hope but next thing I know I was throwing up in a bag at Nanjing University. I had to get like an Icy Hot on my stomach. And here, it was a different experience. I never got too worried. I just woke up and like felt OK, just sick the first time. And we did a lot while I was sick – drive through the mountains, get to Agora, have some laughs. So the sickness didn’t feel too big because we still did stuff. Shoot, I even passed out at my mom’s house one time from getting stomach sick. And that was in America. Getting sick in India really ain’t terrible.
I also been thinking about magnitude with my Hindi. Even though I don’t know that many words (like 800 or so) and have only been learning for a few weeks, my Hindi has still had some significance. It has opened up some communication and understanding and connections. It has had a lot of magnitude for this journey. I have learned so much just from listening, watching, and trying to figure stuff out. People have understood me – not always, like sometimes they have no idea, but I think the Hindi speaking has created a lot of relationships. Just now, I was talking to some kids who really respected me because I knew some of their language. It helped me learn a lot about them. I learned from a comments section before the trip that a white guy knowing Hindi bartering would drop the price by like 1/2 or something. It’s like God Mode in a video game. We’ll see – not sure it’s worked for me. I think I got scammed in Rishikesh. But it’s possible.
I came here like, India vacation, woohoo! But because I tried to learn the language and the magnitude of things, I feel like I got a next level type experience. I feel like I got a purpose. Whereas people asking guys if they speak English using English don’t really make no sense, don’t really open no doors. Hindi got magnitude. India got magnitude. We out here.