Day 2 in Langza, while cutting grass in the highlands

This life is truly underrated. I have said this to myself so many times now, that I reckon it has become an enlightenment of sorts.

Months ago, when I was volunteering with Ecosphere in Spiti I met my co-volunteer, Sonali in Manali. We were just about to start our journey from Manali to Kaza and beyond. It was the beginning of a two week journey for both of us. Neither of us knew what was in store and perhaps we were equally different people.

When I travel, I wear my heart on my sleeve. Hence I was least weary about what kind of person Sonali might have been. As the days progressed and the terrain got tougher, I began to see her as a friend. And suddenly we were strangers no more. This transition is an extremely difficult path for me. Perhaps, because I’m an introvert and am naturally bent to be reflective than communicative.

Sonali is an extrovert who thrives on a constant adrenaline rush and loves extreme and active challenges, yet emotionally balanced. In my course of getting to know her, I realised she is as reflective and sensitive as me. She may not speak your choice of words but she will listen to you as you say it.

While on our stay in Demul, there were times of extreme emotional misbalance in both of us. For reasons unknown, we had to keep ourselves busy and occupied and that is when she proposed we play the paper game of Name, Place, Animal, Thing. And even though for a short while, we were successfully distracted.

My copy of the game in Demul
My copy of the game in Demul

At Langza, her sense of humour came to my respite many at times. Even now when I go back in time and remember those jokes,I laugh uncontrollably!

There are people we need everyday and let go off even more easily. At that point when I left Kaza, I felt immense gratitude towards her, wished her the best in life and promised to be a friend forever. I didn’t know that she had become an extension to my favourite memories. Those memories would have been empty and non existent without her company.

Sonali's farewell note to me
Sonali’s farewell note to me

Last night when I met her at a bar in at sea level (Bombay), eating a fancy pizza and amongst sound and people, I had realised that we both had given life a chance. And even though, time will pass and the bucket list will be checked, Sonali will always be a part of that me which I will never let go off.

On our arrival at Kaza with the awesome Sachin

Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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5 thoughts on “Perfect Strangers”

  1. Travel friendships are so special! I have a few friends I’ve made who, no matter how long it’s been, always feel as close as they day we last saw each other. Perfect strangers indeed!

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