I am an adventurous soul. What this means to me is that I find my leisure in adventure. The rush of adrenaline pushes me to reflect on myself a lot. Many times, this thirst for adventure leads me to act against rules and norms. Sometimes, I find my mental peace in jumping college walls at 12 in the night or just in breaking gender norms. Other times, it’s simple things like playing a game of cricket with a bunch of local kids or discovering roads less taken or even going on a blind or spontaneous date.
And by virtue of what this means to me, surviving the pandemic induced lockdown was quite difficult. There were several moments when I felt blocked from feeling like myself and my ability to reflect proactively. This was also the result of confining myself within the four walls of “home” where people have expectations from me. The scarcity of my moments of adventure made me cherish those experiences a lot more. Hence, getting out of home was of utmost priority for my well-being.
Today was one such adventure filled day where I felt at leisure and at peace with myself after a really long time. We (my co-fellows and I) were exploring the village Kataar in Udaipur, as a part of India Fellow training component: Field Immersion. Having been asked to spend the day “chilling” in the village with a given budget of Rs. 250 per person for a team of five, it felt eery and exciting to get started with the day.
Over the brief period of time I spent at Kataar, I thought that the place was calm and peaceful without a lot of visible population. It had the serenity of several waterbodies flowing through and around it, as well as that of warm people.
One of our major expeditions at the village was finding the ‘Badi Kataar’ dam. We were told that this dam is really beautiful. It was a fifteen-minute walk from the epicenter of the village where the auto driver had dropped us off. I found it interesting that a lot of the villagers who were inquisitively observing us pass by, were glad to know that we were there to explore the village. They were eager to know more about us and even helped us out with the directions to the dam.
After fifteen minutes of walking through narrow gullies, filled with curious eyes, similar looking houses, cow and cow dung, and walls with electioneering slogans, we started getting closer to the green hills and blue skies. With every step forward, we could hear the sound of gushing water and creaking crickets getting louder. We soon trailed a canal and reached the catchment area of the dam; an expanse of crystal-clear water holding the reflections of the clear blue skies floating above them with ever-beautiful hills of Aravalli range in the backdrop.
We crossed the dam and reached an area of free-flowing water, where there was a long, cemented platform to regulate the flow. The sight was so exciting that the five of us could not hold back the urge to walk through the water. Hence, we decided to do that.
Considering we were new to the village and had to go around the whole day, the plan was to just wet our feet and get back. However, halfway through crossing the platform, we realised that not getting drenched was too big a bargain to give up on. That was the best decision we collectively made that day.
The pressure of the gushing water thrusting through my shoulder and head felt like a much-needed relaxation. It was so overwhelming for all of us that the sun bathing which followed right after getting out of the water (to dry ourselves up) was filled with sharing interesting life stories and moments of self-reflection with no inhibitions.
The rest of the day was filled with a lot of discovery, local food and interesting conversations with village folks. One final thing we had to ensure was that we reached back by 5 PM. In the absence of a public transport bus, we decided to hitchhike and found an open mini-truck who offered to drop us all the way to our accommodation for free.
The day made me realise that going for cliched “fun” is not bad after all. It wasn’t the most comfortable journey, but it was a lesson that you could live the best moments in deep discomfort. The refreshing gush of wind continuously striking our faces subsumed all discomforts of the terrifically bumpy ride. The panoramic visual of the roads ahead and that we passed by, made me reflect on personal journeys of the roads I’ve taken and not taken until now.
The never-ending overarching sky carried the beauty of bringing together five separate journeys into a day of collective excitement.
All things included, a day of exploring Kataar turned into a day of exploring my feelings. It reassured my life decision and at the same time, was a much needed break which took me back to a labyrinth of thoughts that helped refill my energy cup.