As I sit in my room at home, days after the summer school in the lap of the mighty Himalayas is over, I reflect upon the journey that was the trek to the top of the Chandrakheni pass in Himachal Pradesh. As a traveler, the journey was very different from those I’ve had over the last few years in the same place in Manali. As a planner it compels me to think about the entire process of urbanization and the pros and cons it might bring with it for not just the people but for the integrity of their cultures and the norms of the natural ecosystem that the nature has set by itself. The journey and the day to day experience in the camp, closer to the nature was a real eye opener as I found myself struggling to adapt to the ways and rules of the Mother Nature. The life in the cities over generations have broken the connection between us and the nature. We as human beings over centuries of evolution and knowledge achievement have entered this long quest of materialistic desires that we long for in the name of ‘DEVELOPMENT’ today. This long for development in its common perception for the majority, has led to the shift of the Basics or the bare minimums that are actually required to live a life of great pleasure.The settlement of Manali is going through the same transition where this perceived development in the name of tourism has had impacts on the economy and lifestyle of the people which poses a great challenge for the people to protect their cultures and the way in which they do it phenomenal.
The people and their cultures define a place. The culture of this place that is Manali is also a reflection on the beauty and the purity of the heats of the people here. For long Himachal has been a place with not big cities but with many small villages and their communities knitted together through great cultural setting. This age long traditions and culture are a reflection of the strength that the communities have against the forces which could easily eradicate them. The physiological strength of the Himalayas is a major force that protects these people from the cultures of the outside world but the fact that these are the Gods own people help them to stay the way they have always been. What makes these people Gods own people is the fact that they embrace simplicity in their living. A life that dedicates itself to nature and the pleasures of it is what makes them the people who belong to nature and therefore God.
Nature has a great way to teach us many things that we forget living in the cities. For long we have been growing up with the concept of life being compared to a race where one seeks to win at the expense of anyone. The life in the mountains, close to the nature shows how caring for everyone especially the weak, makes the stronger person even stronger. This is a life that embraces respect from the entire community and keeps them together in a knot of belief. Belief is what drives and fuels people, it is the Hope that everyone requires to find their purpose in life.
As they truly say that a person needs just three things in life to be truly happy; Someone to love (their nature), something to hope (their belief) and something to do( their purpose)