Neetha – Our Journey

We (Neetha & I) were both concentrating on our work items individually, of course being away. Her peculiar character of not checking messages or calls on time though annoyed me in the beginning questioning the necessity of a phone; I got habituated with this behavior. We did have a good exchange of texts and emails. She used to keep an eye on my status since I was looking out for a new job offer. This time bridged the gap between Ruthwik, Neetha’s hubby and I when we never got to speak a word in Darjeeling!

Not just this bond, the bond between my mom and Neetha also grew stronger. Mom was amazed by the fluency of language that Neetha portrayed on Telugu. They both started to interact often and had a few routine topics to connect – family and cooking!

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It was in Dec 2014 when Neetha called me to share the happy news from her end, though shocking strikes on me! She was moving to Copenhagen, Denmark to join Ruthwik who had traveled onsite for work. It was less than 20 days but she wanted to meet me before her departure. I then decided to pack my bags to meet Neetha at Bangalore before her departure. It was a pleasant surprise to meet Neetha’s mom in Jan 2015. Another inspiring model for a life time which made me realize that all MOMs are! Another good old friend from our circle also joined us, Sushant, which made the occasion even more special.

We decided to dine at a South Indian Restaurant within a short radius of Neetha’s home. While it was our turn to wait for the dining table, Neetha emerged closer and brushed me with a sigh of tightest hug and a kiss, just to ensure her sisterly feeling has been passed on since it was almost a year later that we had met each other. I for one felt the crowd had a visual treat than the one their taste buds were relishing! 😀

The night chit chats continued till the early morning aroma with the tiredness setting in. A few more funny conversations were caught with over a green tea after the late night nap! Bidding adieu was the most difficult challenge until date, but we had to do that since each other’s tasks ahead demanded our individual journeys’ start!

This was the second time we met but most contended and happy from both the ends. Time did not change the flavor of the bond through its ticking. She remained to be my Mother India (MoIn), I retained my title of ‘crazy little girl’. She had to move on to Denmark, and me, Madhya Pradesh for my Training!

The physical separation is beyond continents – how did this relation go further? Wait and watch…

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The Qualifying Character

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… It was a decisive day for me… Yes, my pain had overridden my conscience and I had to decide between the trek and my pain. A portion of my mind was with me to carry the trek forward without abandoning it after the first step, but a strong another quarter was deeply worried about the injured leg as I was barely able to move ahead, in a literal sense. Neetha gave me the support and push I lacked from within. She was literally my backbone of the trek that day and far ahead. She kept a watch on me consciously as I was juggling through the pain pinch and the trek.

The concept of Mother India (MoIn) originated from this trek since the rest of the members started iterating the fact that Neetha was care taking just like a way a mother would do to her kid. I relished that attention from a very close soul which I admired the most (still do!)

It was the final day of our felicitation when we came to know of our guide Pemba’s story. Pemba is a young boy from the Sherpa community and the sole supporter of his family in the absence of his father. He has remained to be an inspiration not just for me but many others who have gotten to know about him and his experience through the journey of life.When we (almost around 40 of us) heard his story, everyone was sympathetic but Neetha couldn’t control it on her tears. She left us all behind, shutting off her doors to be solace. Later once she could console herself, she came out to address the boy as her own younger brother.

Neetha is in constant touch with Pemba even today and the boy is all in praise of her sister when we both speak. This nature of Neetha has always made her special to me! When I think of these days when we all rush against the pillars and posts and leave behind no time for ourselves, these memories overtake as they are not so long in the past. We are in an era where love, affection and care if not expressed and extended will become extinct and take its place in the labs and museums.

Neetha and I had to bid adieu to each other as well, as it was the final day of our trek and I was heading towards my place and she her uncle’s place Kurseong. No heavy thoughts and emotional drama! A small sigh of touch from her end, and a warm hug from mine were extended when our minds did not think to see when our paths would cross again!

It used to be just a few simple text messages and not even WhatsApp or FB since MoIn had a basic version of mobile for texts and calls. Am a quick responder to texts or pings or calls, but she isn’t which sometimes pushed me off the pace since my texts if not responded, the calls would go unnoticed as well. This was because of the fact that she is far from the e-era of communication. She was (and is) closer to her heart’s era of “living the simple life”!

Don’t you want to know how this woman is expecting calls or texts from me these days when my phone goes silent, knowingly or unknowingly? Stay Tuned to relish the spice…

The Tonglu Tumling Trek

DSC_0920 All set and ready to go. We headed to our major base camp to gain a set of instructions with some food packages to carry along. We received nice gift packs filled with toffees, peanuts and sesame bars. Post waving to the next batch, we boarded the vehicle to Maane Bhanjayang, the place where our trek starts.   I came to know from Neetha that Ruthwik was suffering with back aches owing to bad spine and that he was not going to join us with the trek. Hence a trek with just me and Neetha where we could spend more time to understand each other better and strengthen our friendship. It’s a three hour travel from Darjeeling which took us through the beautiful valleys and mountains. Apart from the serene that I was relishing, I was listening through the talks that Neetha was engaged into.

We reached Maane Bhanjayang and procured a food pack to keep ourselves energized on our way to Tumling. Tumling was our base camp. It was an 11 km trek from Maane Bhanjayang to Tumling. The first day was spent with the gang of friends that I already knew from the time we started when Neetha was getting new acquaintances. I was silent watching Neetha as she indulged well in group discussions when it came to exchanging views and socializing. A chord struck hard – even though I was with my batch and Neetha with hers – I was constantly, unconsciously, watching and noticing her! It might seem silly, but a healthy watch!

It was dusk when we stepped Tumling. Through the uphill I started feeling cramps and sprain on my left knee and consulted the camp leader who suggested a pain killer and stated it should be fine. We had a camp fire that night and kick started with our favorite Antakshari (music game) and slipped into the mime game of Dumb Charades. Neetha knew a vast majority of the old songs and would sing at least a line of it which I owe her credits for.

Back in the tent I let her know of my knee sprain and was uncertain of the next day trek when she pitched in with an inspiring note of “everything would be fine and that I would certainly be able to trek” the trek was from Tumlong to Kalapokhri which is roughly about 10 kms. I started the journey the next day on a positive note and throughout the trek she kept checking on me if everything was alright with my knee. That was one of the first experiences for me, not with the trek, but with someone interested in my well being on a constant note.

My pain started to overtake me than the destination and somehow I managed to push Neetha to go with others since I knew I could be the reason for her delay if she hangs out with me owing to my pain. It got darker and my eyes felt the pinch of the knee. I managed to reach the base camp at Kalapokhri and the camp leader was kind enough to wait for me outside of our accommodation. When the camp leader was asking me of my injury, walked in Neetha to console and comfort me. Every other camp member gathered for the night’s campfire. We headed for dinner and the camp leader asked me to join him in order to learn massage for the knee with an ointment and wrap with a cloth around. Neetha took it as her responsibility that helped me realize – a friend in need is a friend indeed! I did fall asleep in comfort.

Neetha had constantly done the massaging when I fell asleep and I have no clue of how long that continued for which am really thankful, as I am to my own MOM for all the love and affection. Compassion and Empathy filled in Neetha…

 

Neetha & Co.

There was a pause to the evil smile but the chirruping continued. She did make me feel that she was friendly enough and that did not put a full stop to the discussion in the room which was about Neetha and her boyfriend, who we assumed was one since they both seemed very close during their entry to the Induction Session. As night sprang upon us and the next early mornings assemble, we retired for the day.

As everyone was getting ready hit their first morning jog, I just then woke up with a lazy smile since it was too cold. Oh Yes, Darjeeling! Tightly packed with a 3 layered dressing including a monkey cap and a pair of gloves I exited towards the road when I couldn’t get a sight of Neetha as she kick started the regime even before me. We did get a chance to meet during our jogging and the warm up sessions which is when the beauty of the mighty hills caught our sight from the rays of the emerging sun. We also saw the Japanese Peace Pagoda, St. Paul’s Secondary School (post Main Hoon Na fame) and headed for a long walk in the streets of Darjeeling. When we were back to the base camp we sent off with a cheer to a group that was headed for a 6-day trek to Sandakphu. We were back in our rooms post breakfast for some rest and then to pack our luggage just for the fact to restrict the burden to essential items and carry on. We were leaving to trek to the same place the very next day!

It was dinner time when Neetha and I met, and relished Thepla with desi mango pickle shared by a friend from Gujarat, Shristi. Neetha was very interested in posing questions to Shristi especially about her marriage to a Kannada guy when we knew of the fact that Neetha was married off when she was 23 and that the assumed boyfriend happened to be her husband 😀

Though I remained a silent spectator to that conversation, it was a shocking surprise on Neetha being married. We all retired to bed as the next day was alarming with the trek in schedule. When we woke up the next day, we witnessed Ruthwik (Neetha’s husband) heading towards our room with a sigh of hot water being available in his room which is when Neetha decided to take a head shower when we went into a serious argument since our instructors had advised us not to.

Everyone busily buried with their routine chores and the packing, I was thinking of Neetha and her character (nothing to judge) but still something to ponder upon. I started looking at her differently from the time she ignored my comments on the shower and when she did what was best to her without much worrying about what people felt or spoke and circumstances threw on her. Yes, she looked and seemed to possess a unique character – simple, yet to her own self with a way of getting things done the way she has planned or wanted them to be. Nothing seemed to bother her happiness.  One another feature that kept me starring at her was that of an early marriage that too by a tech-savvy Bangalorian girl!

Gazing at my friend in a way that’s as neat as possible, I learnt that one can stay happy if they would want to, irrespective of the surroundings and people that paint them through. Stay with me as I answer the questions that struck me hard of my friends…

Neetha – A cool introduction

One of the coldest months across all seasons being December sprinkled the idea (though not a weird one amongst a group of like-minded active sprouts) of Trekking. Oh yes, it’s not the thought of trekking that struck a chord of weirdness but the place of trekking in the coldest month – The Himalayan Terrain (Sandakphu) in the year 2013. Six friends set their foot and respective steps to the base camp and reporting place Darjeeling. A few started from Nagpur and I did from Rajahmundry and the plan was to meet at Kolkata and travel together from there to the base camp.

The date arrived when we realized the entire batch of this trekking effort comprised of 40 enthusiast participants out of which were 10 brave women! The management had allotted a single room for the women fraternity of this trek and it took us by a shock, of course not with any intention of breaking any of the mental manacles thinking of the irony of all of us getting ready at a specified time! As any other pillar to post running Day-1, ours were no lesser as we were asked to procure the medical certificates from Doctors at Darjeeling if we did not take them with us from our homes and also to assemble at 05:30 pm for an induction session.

Base camp Leader’s instructions were ringing deep in our ears that evening along with the list of DO’s and DON’T’s as we trek along. As we hissed through the chiming list that was unrolled, there walked in a young couple, quite delayed to the gathering when the strike was the girl that was so joyful and elated without a slightest of worry evading her for the delay in joining the session. Yes, you have been correct in your guessing that it is my MoIN (Mother India, if you would have ready her introductory article) alias Neetha.

The sparkle caught my eyes and ears once again while we were dining at the ground floor. Yes the same girl that was constantly talking to Ruthwik, her husband, who tried to focus munching, a little too silently in the gang of two! While we were back in our room with the hot chit-chat of the day of a girl and her boyfriend who had stepped in from Bangalore, there was a wave of air when the same girl bubbled in introducing herself and reaching out for ours!

While I had to slip away for a while to chirrup about our new companions to my mom in regional language – Telugu, with an assured heart that none around me shared the same language. Laughing my way out with my mom with Neetha besides and the topic was her! I had an attack between my jaws when I heard Neetha attend one of her calls once I was done in Telugu! I had to admit that there was nothing wrong that was conversed, though with a polite question reached out to Neetha, which received an evil smile in return – evil?..wicked?..cunning?..or just a pretention ?

Watch out!!