From the dead straight motorway roads leading to the city of Abbottabad to the narrowly curved and death-defying roads of Mansehra, from being greeted with the acrid smell of petrol as we took a number of gripping jeep rides that literally left me at the edge of my seat, to a trek 10,000 feet high culminating in one of the most scenic views that I have witnessed – this was the uncapped magnificence of Northern Pakistan.
Five days of no Wi-Fi, 7200 minutes of roaming around territory that was unchartered to us and 120 hours of no connection to the outer world; simply locked into the camaraderie of 3 other friends who embarked on this journey with me.
The golden glow of the sun bounced off the yellow coloured hue of my shirt. The clouds curled like cotton white ink blots, frisking past the soothing blue skies. The frosty air from the nearby mountains, coupled with the warmth of the sun proved to be a lovely collaboration, and two black ravens could be seen chasing a soaring eagle through the clustered clouds.
As I sat down on the softened, glistening green grass that was tinted ever so slightly with freshly fallen droplets of water, I stared above at the horizon surrounding my senses while the cold wind whisked me away into another realm. My black Reebok sneakers were graced with the visit of a distinctly coloured lemon-yellow butterfly that flew away in a rhythmic diminuendo. Then came another one- beige white with speckled grey wings, and then another – with a tiger like print across its wings. A ladybird visited me too, with its profound polka dots that vanished as fast as they arrived.
I fell asleep on the grass for a couple of minutes – or maybe it was an hour. I couldn’t remember – I was too lost as the warmth of the sun soaked me into a gentle slumber. I may have even been covered with some insects – but for once I didn’t really care. There were a couple of chairs around as well, but they didn’t warrant my attention when I so deeply desired to be infused amongst all that natural beauty. Leafy green colours for miles and miles, and the light from the sun bore down directly upon me rather explicitly, but I was entirely unconcerned. For once, I gave no care in the world of what was happening around me. The distant sound of the river rushing past soothed my ears in a way that is difficult to put into words. There were no network signals, no internet connections and no disturbances for centuries. It felt like an infinite blessing – to be away from the world. To be ignorant in a way that was not arrogant. I could almost swear that my soul has always craved for such a poetic outcry. It was a whole new life here – a life that I truly axed for after having escaped from all the city lights and sounds merely a couple of hours ago. It was infinite peace that would never end.
The people there were a complete spectacle too. Such integrity, such togetherness and so simple – it bore a great unlikeness with the crowds that I was accustomed to. They ate together, cooked together, prayed together, took part in one other’s funerals, and from cradle to grave it seemed as if nothing could break the bond that united them. Materialism was not even a concept. They were oblivious to it all. They ate what they grew, and they had no fear of losing anything since they had nothing to lose. There was no rat-race, no obsessive competition and not even a single aspect of greed. Money was as important as tissue paper- another commodity that they didn’t really have. They did not care whether you were an internet celebrity or a business tycoon – an actor or a musical phenomenon. They treated everyone equally. To them – all outsiders were their “guests” and were treated with the highest level of respect and dignity. No favour was too big to ask for. Those individuals symbolised the simplistic nature that the developed world has gradually grown apart from. Their clothes were so simple too- the small holes in their mundane shaded shalwar kameez was a stark contrast to my neon blue shirt and red socks. While everyone seems concerned with numbers and figures; all they take privilege in is being able to watch those scintillating sunrises and sunsets – a blend of royal green coloured coniferous trees in the backdrop of angelic white snow-capped mountains.
Crossing through those sinuating pathways of red sand, a whole new world seemed to open itself before me. It took me more than just a moment to grasp all that in. Over there – I found God. Over there, I could truly appreciate the marvel that God has created in the form of nature – with not a single pollutant in sight. This was what it felt to live. The scintillating sense of bliss that I felt right there and then had no equal.