On April the 24th & 25th i took a trip by myself, because all my friends were busy doing their own things to join me on this one . So went ahead and did this by myself. The train pulls away from Borivli its late as usual and now hurryingly making its way to Virar , where I meet the rest of the group. 10 mins into the journey and the air is much cooler and I’m surrounded by greenery while I listen to Jack Johnson’s – banana pancakes – This makes me hungry :P I Arrive at Virar greet the group and depart for Palgarh – breakfast at an old parsi bakery before we head out for an 1 hr jeep ride back on the road Walvanda .

We pass a local market and this one’s special because people still deal in barter system as a form of exchange for goods. On arrival at the village we are welcomed by the local tribe who are happy to great us with Namaste and with tikka’s made of haldi and red color and they adorn our heads with Nehru topis and quench our thirst with aam pani which is made of raw mango juice.

Still taking the surroundings in i observe a tiny lil fire ants nest , its a technical wonder to see leave knitted close together by ants . While we wait for the rest of the group to arrive few of us decide to have a tree climbing competition..Depika dayal made it to a good 7 ft off the ground and took the prize away. After the whole group of 24 were present we were off to visit the local villages where we learnt about their medicinal herbs and different uses and were invited inside their houses to observe the simplicity in architecture, they were hospitable and offered us lunch which even though was their basic and staple food of nachni rotis and lentils , i must say it was pretty yummy.

We got back to camp and rested in the shade for awhile..we were soon to be coaxed and lectured on Warli art which is art that mostly depicts the usual day to day routines painted with a white rice paste against a background of either cow dung or mud .It is usually illustrated in stick figures.

Interesting facts about the warli’s :-

• The warli art dates back to 10th century and is now a dying art

• The brides family gifts the grooms about 100 kgs of rice which is to be used to feed the party in attendance at the wedding celebration

• There is a special warli painting put on the outer wall of a house to alert people that there is a wedding happening therein

• Rangoli colors or paints are made from more organically grown substances like rice , grains etc.

• The peacock is the only bird drawn with an eye , nobody knows why.

After a cuppa hot chai We tackle the Sunset trek 2 kms away .Once on top of the hill we observed moments of silence to par take in an old village custom where one says thank you to the gods for the sun and for the drool worthy watermelon we were about to gorge on.The silence was impending and a perfect time to clear your thought and just be one with nature while you watch the sun going down on everything that was yesterday .

Trekking back to camp in the complete darkness was another treat to the eye . Walking alongside the highway roads only to see lights approach from afar over the heaps of dark was simply beautiful. A blazing bon fire- was waiting for us when we got back and we were privileged enough to participate along with the village in their tribal dance. The dance looks and seems very simple but i kid you not it requires great coordination and rhythm . It is relevant among the celebration of auspicious events like diwali and is danced with great zest. Its a workout by itself and then it slowly grows on you and once you think you’ve got a hang of it the tempo picks up and your standing there with 2 left feet :P The music for the dance is played by a  Tarpa instrument which is intricately made using the outer shell of a bottle gourd and then stuck with beeswax to 2 sticks of bamboo and then finally attached to a conical nose producing trumpet made of toddy tree leaves or palm leave.

We sipped on some lemon grass tea and what really was a pleasant surprise was that we received Easter eggs as Grassroutes were thoughtful enough to carry them along for the group. This was my 1st Easter away from family so it was much appreciated to have them under the starlit sky kilometres away from home it really made my day , not to mention star-gazing in a remote space away from most civilization always takes my breath away.

Simple and warm food after a long and adventurous day can sometimes feel like a kings feast. After dinner was done with it struck me that i haven’t once bothered to look at or find out all day what the time was . I hadn’t looked at my watch all day….. It felt good to be separated by the hectic city lives we live. I hadn’t had enough of the stars yet so 4 of us took off to where there was no light and yes they pop eerie in the night sky and they seem mystic and tell a different story.

After heading back to the tent and still excited and on nerve about the day that was i wrote this…

The lack of time consumption has left me separated rejuvenated and liberated

By routine chains we all are consumed, attached and tormented

And eventually we fade to dust

But tonight im not that person

I have starlight that shines so bright

I have my eyes and they leave me mesmerised

Some warm food and a place to lay my head

And visions of a journey waiting to be led

Tonight I break free from the mundanity and surrender

The bare necessities can sometimes touch and render speechless

And if you unlearn the learnt it can sometimes bring you bliss .

The next day I woke up at 5.30 put on my trekking boots ,with my camera in hand we went in search for sunrise on an uphill climb to another mountain…c’est manicifique ..while meditating in the stillness of dawn we notice the sun rising above the hay struck valleys and enhancing the trees and their silhouettes.. It brings with it a new day …

Whilst heading back to camp we had to walk through a local village where i got some awesomely beautiful shots of people in their prime , doing what they do.

My day starts with me walking from bed to my computer to switch it on and then check emails.. Theirs start with hard labour…and today was our day to help with whatever we could. Right from wood chopping with an axe to grinding wheat and husking and pounding rice to spreading cow-dung on the house floors to milking cows we did it all … I also had an interesting conversation with one  of the villagers there who told me that even though they milk cows there , the milk is only used to feed its calves since humans are the only living beings that drink the milk of other animals they don’t approve of it , They live a vegan lifestyle. .After literally working for our breakfast we amuse ourselves with a competition with slingshots and some more tree climbing.Lunch was followed by our goodbyes all the interesting people we met on the trip.

It was a great experience, a personal journey that i embarked on for myself ,to experience different things in different places. It may not necessarily be a spiritual experience, but the mere fact of seeing something different and being in a different environment other than my own ,offers my mind and soul a whole new perspective. It’s a journey of discovery of new things, new cultures, new realizations and learning’s. I believe people have different ways of discovering and embracing new things travel is mine.

View the entire album here :) https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150161478546021.300437.513911020&l=a3a9a943be

Grassroutes organizes other interesting trips , along the same lines you can get you info here – http://grassroutes.co.in/

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