I was on my Western India trip to Udaipur and other cities nearby. Ultimately I was so stuck with the scenery I saw in Udaipur, I didn’t feel like seeing any other city in Rajasthan. After a day of visits to the city palace, Lake Palace, there was something I was missing. I didn’t mind traveling alone; it was great. Udaipur is full of lakes,
On our way to Mount Abu, we saw the setting of a famous song in QSQT; I wished my dear friend was around to experience the feeling alongside me.
But none could match the beauty of Gurshikar, the highest point of Mount Abu, which I was about to see in some time.
The walk we took was like a walk in the clouds; literally, it was. I was accompanied by Raj and Nitin, whom I got to know from Raj. Both are from Udaipur, and surprisingly, it was Raj’s first outing to Mount Abu.
We reached Mount Abu at around 10:30 in the morning.
Getting soaked in the clouds was something new to us, and it was hard to disassemble our feelings on experiencing such a thing.
After spending few hours at the peak, we decided to go to another place called Achalgarah. Legend has it; it was the place once Pandavas stayed during their exile.
I was not feeling well since I am scared of heights. But I did ring the bell at the highest point of Mount Abu. Later, because of my condition, I was hesitant to visit the temple. But inside me, I felt, let me go. It might get better.
We were letting off our footwear, just when a boy held me and told me, “Saab, Guide chahiye.” I was not interested, and then he told me- “Saab, sirf das rupaiya.” I got a mixed feeling, “ok, It is just ten bucks,” I wondered.
Still, I was not convinced as to what made me hire him.
After our initial visit to the Shiva temple, we started our climb to the next place, the Jain temple.
The camera wasn’t allowed inside the Jain temple.
The next stop was a kilometer climb till we reached the peak of Achalgarah. It is a propensity in me to know about a person, whoever he or she may be. I make that extra effort in knowing them.
Name Suraj, 12 years of age, studying in 6th grade at a school about 8 kilometers from his house. He was our guide.
I was asking him about how he goes about his daily life-“I go to school early in the morning, I return by noon, and then I start earning by being a guide. My father earns through selling dolls, and my mom makes them. My brother also studies in the same class even though he is four years older than me”, he smartly replied.
Interesting, I said to myself.
He later shifted his thoughts towards the reality of life. He was telling, “To be good in life, it’s like climbing,” we did realize, since it was getting tough as we went up step by step—déjà vu.
He looked like a normal kid, 3 ft tall, carried an umbrella, and, more importantly, the right words to keep the tourists like us in a jolly mood even when it was a little tough physically to climb. He had a torn pair of Hawai chappals but had a good grip even though he experienced the occasional slip. His shayris were assuaging to our ears.
“Saab, life has its fun; it isn’t easy but certainly not a difficult one,” he murmured
We finally reached after a 25 min climb; we were thirsty.
Flash gave us a bottle of water and said, drink it; it’s pure. It was. Indeed, the most delightful drink I ever gulped in my life, and I did wash my face with it. I was rejuvenated. I had symptoms of throwing up previously; it went away. I am not joking.
He asked me- “Saab, are u from England?” Did I tell him, why son, am I not speaking good Hindi? He replied -“I am confused about how come an English guy speaking such good Hindi.”
I told him, I am a South Indian, and I come from Bangalore. I wasn’t surprised either when he raised his eyebrows when he heard the word “Bangalore.”
So there you are, some people still don’t have an idea about Bangalore.
Later he started talking about people’s nature how it resembled the animal food chain. Some predators feed on innocent, lucky people who escape these predators’ slaughter. Only time decides how lucky they are. But we must not feel bad for the innocent ones because it is a pleasure to lead a life, however short it may be.
Well, we had a puzzled look. Enigma, well, I heard it in history lessons in World War II chapters; this was nothing short of it.
Soon, it started raining, he said “follow me,” and he took us to a small stone cave where space was enough for four of us to cover.
This is the cave, and it was ready so that we could sit in and take shelter.
Later, Suraj took us to another cave, which was very dark, and he told a sanyasi to do his meditation inside it. Well, we didn’t want to go entirely inside.
Now few people know the fact that I have a problem with heights. I am shit scared of heights. When I realized something needed to be done for this boy, the real fear went, and I was looking down, and never before I felt like this. I was walking as though there isn’t any fear. Even on slippery roads, I was confident I would be reaching Bangalore and write an article on him. Thanks to him, I am writing now.
By now, we were convinced as to why we were here.
While returning, he slipped, and for a moment, we thought, oh god, but he is a God’s gift, nothing can stop him from reaching greater heights than the peak of Achalgarah.
He showed us his hut from the top, and we hoped this kid continues to enlighten many people in the future.
Five minutes, we were down.
It took us 25 min to climb and just 5 min to come back.
He explained-“There are short cuts and long roads in life; to learn something well, we must never hesitate to take the longer route. He asked whether we were satisfied by taking the longer route or shorter route?”
We didn’t answer that question, but we did answer it on personal terms and kept it to ourselves.
Little Buddha, I called him and destined that we were to get enlightened.
As his name tells, Suraj, his face resembled the sun’s brightness and his eyes, never seen such powerful eyes.
We didn’t want him to give money because there are poachers, one being his elder brother. We wanted to give him a nice pair of slippers so that he never slips again and continues to do the good work.
We didn’t find a shop when we got down, and already his brother started approaching us and told us to give him the money since Suraj was a kid.
We gave a 50 rupee note and told Suraj to buy himself a pair of nice chappals. We told him that we trust him, and he promised us he wouldn’t misuse the money. As soon as he got the money, his brother came running and tried to snatch it from him. Suraj slapped him, and we just groaned at his brother; he was off running to save himself from further humiliation.
All three of us looked at him for one last time; he gave a smile.
If I wondered why I chose him to be the guide, I would be a fool. Luckily I didn’t ask that question.
Off we went, and that’s it. It was two hours with Suraj, 120 minutes of enlightenment. I have heard Buddha and his guiding ways, well this time around; I saw that we all sensed it.
My trip was worthwhile, and for me, I got a sense of how beautiful my life can become. It was the attitude, and he certainly did show me a broader sense of being alive and being purposeful in what I do.
I hope in India, we nurture such kids. I am not worried about him, as he is strong enough to take care of himself. If I get a chance, I want to go back and meet Suraj; I hope to talk to him, many would have got their questions answered.
When I feel low, I know where I would get my questions answered.
Koi Mil Gaya, Maloom Nahin, Buddha zaroor mila.