So our bags are packed and we are ready to leave. It seems like yesterday when we entered the same room with so much excitement. Since the morning, we have been making preparations to leave, confirming bus tickets, finishing the bank work, getting a cab etc. It’s really difficult to say “Good Bye” but as Shikha says, the “Good Byes” are the opportunities for us to be stronger and to learn to let go. I guess, we are ready for that now.
Gushaini has been a great experience for both of us. We walked in with so many mindsets and assumptions and ended up learning entirely different things. We are happy that those assumptions and mindsets broke off and were replaced by new lessons for life. This place has something magical. It re-introduces you to yourself. Sitting by the river on our reflection rocks, we have spent so much time just being silent. Both of us came to realize how much in love we were with the river and how easily it soothed us down at the end of a bad day. Within a week of arrival, people around us had accepted us so well. We now know almost everyone in the village and they know us. The best part is the respect we have for each other. From greeting our beloved “Shop wale uncle” to asking numerous questions in order to understand the place, everything we did here, will always have a mark in our lives.
Both of us had never trekked much before coming here but now we are almost professionals. Pekhari, Kulthi, Manhaar, Tinder, Lakchha and Naahi, all these villages are so beautiful and while trekking we realized how blind we actually are to the beauty of the path. We learned to stop and appreciate nature.
No matter how much you achieve in life, the mountains always bring you back to the ground and tell you that there is a force greater than you and how balance is the key to everything that you do in life.
The forests, the people, the stories and the endless invitations for “chai” are what we will miss the most.
We met so many kids here who we will never forget. Aarushi, Siddhant, Himanshu, Rishi, Janisha and Joel, all of them are such cuties. We hope these kids grow up to become great people!
One of the most amazing thing that we found out about this place is the culture of eloping. Here boys and girls elope, get married and come back where the family readily accepts them. No hassle of “finding a partner”, expensive marriage ceremonies, dowry. Just run away with the person you love, Simple! Almost 70% of the couples we met here got married by eloping. It was so interesting to hear all their stories.
All my life, I have loved cooking but after coming here I learned so much more. I realized that making soap is like making a cake minus the baking. Shikha became the balm expert and now we both specialize in that. We can recognize different oils and butter just by their mere smell. We can quote you the benefits of different pahadi flowers and fruits. Now, Whenever we see some product, we always connect it to our project and I mean it’s like we are living it. This is actually a lot of fun.
Apart from all the great things that we experienced here, we will miss the food so much. Hari bhaiya’s momo, thupka, Nimbu chai and especially “Siddu” is something that we will crave for once we get back to our city. We will always feel proud of ourselves for discovering his amazing “dhaba” and making it the official eating point of “Himalayan Ecotourism”. I guess, this is our legacy to HET 😛
We will always be grateful to Stephan Anna for letting us come here and be a part of such an amazing organization. We have learned a lot from him. We met so many people who will always be teachers to us, especially Keshav bhaiya who is the president of the co-operative and one of the most respectable man in the entire district. When we had almost left hope on Pekhari, he was the one who suggested us to go to Tinder and today Tinder is a success for us. His and Anna’s belief in our work was one the main reasons that got us this far. We will always be grateful to them.
It’s hard to say “Good Bye” but it is also very important. We are a little skeptical if our work will be sustainable or not but then Shikha keeps reminding us “We are planting seeds, nothing more”. Indeed, we have planted seeds, now it’s up to the women to take it forward. Now they know what they are capable of and how much they can achieve. It’s their choice to take it forward or leave. Apart from that our beloved Tryphena alongwith the Presidency kids will be taking over this project. We hope they take it to greater heights,more than what we aspired for. For now, our role is over. Now we go back to our kids whom we have missed so dearly, who are the only reason for us wanting to go back to Ahmedabad. So, Good Bye Gushaini, Good Bye HET, till we meet again and we definitely will someday!