Monday, March 9, 2009

Standing Still - Time, You & Them

Right at the top of Nane Ghat hill, feeling the wind on my face, I smile to myself. A mirth that bubbles from inside erupts into a sudden guffaw and I look around to ensure nobody is watching me. The silliness of myself laughing alone amuses me further and I chortle with my laughter. It takes me quite a while to settle down following which I head to the shelter- a cave to join my friends. The time on my watch says 7.30 AM. What laughter clubs across the cities attempt to force within a person, I managed with ease sitting atop the hill all by myself.

All my city life, time has been the real taskmaster. In early childhood, mom would say-”Wake up! Time to get up! ”. At school, teacher would admonish “You are late; you better come in time”. As I grew up, my mind rebukes me with thoughts, like “If I am late, I will miss this bus (or miss that train)”. Again in my office, “Time Management Skill” is an important soft skill that any HR manager insists upon. Needless to say, the concerns and pressure related to time has always increased as one grew up. A constant battle to be ahead of time, takes the centre-stage in one’s life and one gets automatically programmed to be “rushed” mentally.

Belying this approach, the villager’s take on time is refreshing. In many a trek, when we approach the locals to confirm the time required to reach the destination, it is amusing to find that their concept of time is so different. Thus, one may hear the destination to be about 2 hours away and yet after walking that much another local will again convincingly project the destination to be another 2 hours further. For the villager the “two hours” represents an achievable target; a close-by destination that can be done in less than half a day rather than time calculated based on distance and average walking speeds.

Sitting atop the hill by myself, reflecting on contrasting lifestyles, I am amused by anomalies in my lifestyle. For the villagers, the sun represents the watch by which they tune their activities for the day. On reflection even we, coming from the city, also ultimately end up letting the sun determine our activities for the day during the trek. The watch becomes a mere representation of time and does not signify a threat. (In the city confines, the watch becomes a threat where the time display makes us feel short on time & very rushed).

The typical urbanite like me feels that sleeping till late in the morning is a luxury and should be done on a holiday or vacation. Yet here I am, on a holiday trip, awake by 6 AM & still feeling amazingly refreshed with no complaints. My mood would have been different had I been woken up at 6 AM in my house during a holiday! (grumpy me!). On a trek, living in the wild, the natural coolness and crispiness of the air combined with the lights of dawn makes one very contended to wake up without complaints in order to bask & feel the warm rays of sun massage every sinew of the body. Again, to hike further or explore (which happens in several trek), makes more sense during the wee hours of dawn. This way, one does not tire as much as one may feel while exploring in the afternoon with the sun beating down harshly. Likewise, in the evening, thanks to an encompassing darkness all-round, one ends up cooking early. Many-a-times eating dinner is an early affair (often as early as 7.30- 8 PM), followed by plain discussions until sleep time. (One might go for a tea or coffee in the night), Doctors have always recommended early dinner and plain rest before sleep which finds few takers in the hustle-bustle of a city. Yet, here in the trek, the body clock adjusts beautifully to the rising and setting of the sun accordingly as one retires early for the night automatically.

We often hear the adage “Time stands still”. The significance only hits us strongly when we are able to watch the sunshine or sunset peacefully. It is the direct contrast to the rushed feeling we are used to, that makes the passiveness of watching a sunrise or sunset even more striking. The peace within, comes from the temporary tuning of the body clock to the universal clock (represented by the sun) and ends up making a lasting impression. Now we know why sunrise and sunsets are so beautiful in the outdoors!