“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” -Arthur Ashe
For Naman, an aspiring filmmaker from the small city of Ghaziabad, taking on the large mountains was not an easy task. And to believe that nothing could go wrong on such a daring journey was nothing short of madness, but maybe that is what will perfectly define him.
“Life is never straight, it’s always twisting, it’s always ups and downs”– Naman Singhal
In Search of Great Stories
In his search of great stories to tell, Naman took his first ever trekking experience, and decided to go to Roopkund at a height of 15,696ft above sea level, “because it was just more convenient”. He started this journey to Roopkund from Delhi to reach the first destination, Kathgodam. He says “All in knew was that there was a path, and I had to follow it. Nothing could go wrong with that. Well, as it turns out, I couldn’t be any wrong.” Waking up from his slumber the next day, Naman asked the driver of their whereabouts, to which the driver told him that they had left Kathgodam some 20 km before. Shocked, Naman got off the bus in the middle of practically nowhere with the assurance of finding buses back to Kathgodam here.
So as Naman says, “I now had 2 choices; to wait there and hope to find a bus back, or to just start walking in the direction of my destination. So, logically, I started walking, and then lightly jogging, and eventually running. I asked people on the way if they could maybe give me a lift to Kathgodam. I was so dazed that I started asking people if they could drop me at Roopkund. I reached an intersection somewhere and now I was so confused that I asked a guy on a bike if he could, and he asked me if I meant Kathgodam. He said he was going to a place nearby and so he could drop me. Trust me, the feeling of going downhill on a bike with such beauty around on such a mesmerizing morning, it was relieving moment.”
The Journey has Only Begun
Naman was at Kathgodam by 8. After thanking him profusely, Naman felt lucky. Getting to the meeting point of the trek, Naman found no-one there, nobody from the team was there. “Thinking I had rather arrived early or was at the wrong place, I called up my representative in Thrillophilia. To my shock, he told me that the bus left at 7:30 with all the travelers. I told him that I was asked to reach by, which I did. He hung up saying that it was not his fault that I was late. I mean, I haven’t even taken a small step on the actual trek, and this was a real low blow. I was about to give up hope when the phone rang again, and he told me that a cab was coming back specially to pick me up. And so that is how I reached right on time to meet the rest of my group, thinking now there won’t be any more surprises, probably.” He was wrong, again.
Needed Some Assurance
The next day, when Naman and team got the briefing about the trek and the kind of behavior that was expected from them, Naman got concerned about the the part where they told him what lack of oxygen could do to them. Worse, they could not take any medicine for that because it would make them drowsy on the trek, which could have turned fatal. He says “At this height, there were no second chances, no retakes. Afraid, I called up my parents, my girlfriend, and my best friend. I told them that I hadn’t come this far to die. Nothing good has happened ever since the day I set foot outside of my house. Nobody invests that much money into their own death. They all called me stupid and assured me in their own way”.
“Next day, as we started on the trek, i came to know that there were 22 others in the same group as mine from different parts of India, and a british couple celebrating their wedding anniversary. Most of them were also first-time trekkers, and I didn’t know all this because I had missed my bus, and they had had a headstart in conversations. They were talking amongst themselves as if they were friends from ages and i was the only one who was solo. But like life loves that, I was wrong.”
The trek initiated on a well built road, but then took a turn towards deep in the hills. Naman loved the fresh air and the greenery, until the trail turned rocky, at which point he had to remind himself to not look at any side, just keep going. Naman jokingly says “I was honestly afraid, because I am no athletic guy. But I thought, if I am going to die, might as well die putting in all that I have.” By the time they reached the first campsite, he hadn’t died. Within 15 minutes, things were better again. Recalling the entire experience that followed for the new few days, he says “Going to washroom in a tent, sharing your sleeping tent with 2 others, and sleeping in an uncomfortable sleeping bag on a rocky surface was what made me realize that trekking wasn’t as glamorous as I expected it to be. The cycle repeated, the trail got steeper, many gave up on the way, which was a wise choice, I must say.”
On the last campsite, the plan was to reach at 2 PM, get the needed rest, and start the trek at 2 AM. But the weather turned against Naman’s wishes, as it started raining at 11 in the night and did not stop until 7 in the morning. At this point, Naman’s group had divided into two opinions. Naman sided with the one which said that the summit wasn’t as important as their life. Talking about the moment where the rest of group went for the lake, he says “I realized in that moment, that I wasn’t the center of everyone’s universe. They were on their own journeys facing their own difficulties, and that is why, when they came back from the summit, we congratulated them and they thanked us all, recounting their experience for us. Honestly, I did feel a little angry. Why didn’t I go? Because it had rained a little bit? I mean the rain was the same for those who went anyway. But then again, I just asked myself a simple question- this whole experience of meeting these very new and very different people from different places, sharing your suffering with them and sharing good times with them amounts to nothing if you don’t reach your ultimate goal?”
“Was the Journey more important than the Destination?”