Not Just a Bus Ride.

By- Raj Kaithwar, Kanpur, India

“Aap protest nahi karte?”

“Karte hai, lekin babu aakar bolte ye sab national interest mein hai”

Is travelling all about recreation and adventure or is there something more to it? The journey to and fro Kalpa, a small village – once the district headquarter of Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, changed my perspective in numerous ways. While the three day trip had various memorable, mostly mundane moments, it was the bus ride which will stick with me forever.

As a student it is often unaffordable to travel in an AC bus, it was no different for us. Although the economic factor forced us to take the state run non-AC bus to Kalpa and back to Delhi, we soon realized that although the determining factor was economic, the decision was not at all a bad one. As the engine started, the sounds, both inside and outside, of chatting, songs, wind and traffic went on to blend beautifully, creating a tune which seemed irritating initially, but was soon delightful to the ears. It is in the midst of such moments that we delve into fantastic conversations, not with others but with ourselves. This beauty of travelling can only be experienced and one never get bored of it despite indulging in it number of times.

On my way back from Kalpa, I was seated beside a man from the neighbouring village and he introduced me to a yet another joy of travelling in a bus. The joy of talking to a stranger, listening to his words and living his said experience. The details of a firsthand narration cannot be captured by the innumerable websites which try to familiarize an individual with a ‘destination’. The beauty lies in the conversations and the consequent emotions which can only be felt when experienced, not when read!

The man narrated as to how the district of Kinnaur had got plagued with the disease of modernity, just like any other place in this country. However, the manifestation of the disease was far more visible here because unlike the urban lot of individuals, the locals here were still under transition. Consequently, the traces of tradition were strong, having the ability to overpower the modern machines. As a result, a different tactic had been adopted to slowly flush out the beliefs of Kinnauris and assimilate them into the darkness of capitalism. A process in which, both literally and metaphorically, drilling of the mountains was underway with the intent of making them hollow from inside, sucking the moisture from every corner of it in order to provide water to the biggest hydropower project in the country. Such and many more accounts- this is what made my journey an unforgettable one.

Travelling and the conversations around it provide a gateway into the world of the people whom we will probably never meet again but these interactions, over food or tea or any other thing dear to you, go on to enlighten us in ways more than one. Thankfully the experience, the learning and the joy is unquantifiable and so it cannot be bought, neither by money nor by master card!

(Raj Kaithwar is a student of International Relations at the South Asian University. His interest lies in Diplomacy and International Negotiations. Photography is his passion and Raj loves to travel with his DSLR. Raj can be contacted at raj.kaithwar@gmail.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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