It was a short work week, so I decided to take some time off work and travel. Explore some of the unexplored places in the Himalayas.
My places of interest were Keylong and eventually Jispa. These two places are 20 km apart. Jispa is probably the last habitat till one reaches the Ladakh region.
I took a local bus to Keylong. By the time I reached there, it was already mid-morning. The bus to Jispa was only available in the evening.
Hiking me way to Jispa
With a lot of time at hand, I decided to walk 20 km. After walking almost 5 km uphill, I decided to try my hand at hitchhiking. There were many, many rejections of the hitchhike requests. I had almost lost hope of getting one when a local stopped his pickup truck to give me a ride.
He proactively set the expectations that he wouldn’t be able to drop me at my destination but only a little distance ahead. He was building a shack at that spot. For me, it meant short rest and covering a bit of a distance, followed by a brief conversation with kindness. He offered me water from his shack. I thanked him and continued to walk. I had yet another 12 km to cover on foot.
I continued to face more rejection from riders and drivers alike in the second leg as well. I began to think about what it was about me that made people not stop. Is it me or is it their perspective of me? Just before my mind began to spiral into thoughts that could wear me out, kindness arrived again. A biker headed towards my destination stopped and gave me a ride to my destination.
This walk and the hitchhiking were not because I couldn’t afford a taxi. It was just me pushing limits on surviving a mission that could break my spirit, break my ego of being privileged, and much more about reaffirming the abundance and existence of humanity and kindness.
Unexpected kindness and affection
The experience of receiving didn’t stop at this. The place I stayed was the ancestral home (renovated now) of a local chieftain with a historical past and the connected royal family of the Ladakh region. I happened to be their first guest of the season. The owner of the property was a retired diplomat. An intelligent, pleasant man with distinguished achievements and a great capability for wonderful conversations. We spent time together over dinner and the following morning at breakfast. As I packed up to leave, I went up to the counter to pay my bills. The property didn’t have a card machine, I wasn’t carrying cash, and the internet payment via payment apps just wouldn’t work.
Damn! It was embarrassing. The gentleman then came to me and said, “You are my first guest this season.” It was wonderful to host you. I am making this stay complimentary. Please don’t pay anything. Just come back another time. “
I swelled up, and this reaffirmed my belief that humanity and kindness exist in the most unlikely places.
What are your acts of kindness?
What are you willing to give wholly, even though it might pinch you?
What are you willing to receive without the need to repay but probably pay forward?
What are the limits you are willing to push to keep your ego in check?
Humility goes a long way!