by Mohit Behl

Welcome to The Route Cause!

Hi, I’m Mohit Behl! It was in 2011 that I—officiating a holy union between passion and profession—decided to write for a living. And then beckoned the spirit of nature all pure and good, answering to which I hit the road and haven’t looked back since.

Now here I am, testing my limits to the lengths that they can go, and my feet to the leagues that they can travel. Welcome to my world of indulgences and its stories, which I hope inspire you to find your route.

The Beginning!

By the age of 10, I had already travelled quite a fair bit across India – Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and a few isolated escapades here and there. All thanks to my parents who just love to be out there exploring. The roots, it’s safe to assume, went deep. My last trip, rather, trek, was to be in Kedarnath in the summer of 1996.

And then there was a 15 year hold-up, during which I didn’t even get out of Delhi, which is where I was born and have been brought up by the way. While I won’t go into the details, it’s what people like to call—sadly or proudly I can never tell—“This is Life.”

The Trigger!

Cut to 2011. I had consciously decided to give up all that I’d learned as a commerce student and as an MBA post graduate thereafter. It all bored me to death and I knew I won’t be able to bear it for long. I needed something creative. No offence! And I started at the bottom, taking up my first job as a fresher content writer, writing web articles across genres such as Lifestyle, Travel & Tourism, Entertainment, Automobiles and et cetera. Just a few days into it and I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

It was in the June of 2011 (precisely 15 years after my last trip to Kedarnath) that my colleagues planned a weekend trip to Lansdowne, to which I blatantly refused. As luck would have it, I gave in and decided to go, keeping my sheer will to hug my inhibitions close to my heart aside. We left for Lansdowne the following weekend, singing songs and spooking each other out with horror stories (still less horrifying than the ordeal I had gotten myself into). We reached there by night.

In the morning I woke up earlier than usual and went out to buy something from the nearby shop. Only a handful of local people had woken up by then. Since there were not many on the streets, I decided to take a quiet walk. I kept walking. And I was changed. No, there wasn’t any earth-shattering epiphany. Just a small realisation of what I had known all along. A realisation I might have subconsciously suppressed all these years by building boundaries of assuring comforts around me. I knew I needed to be out there. More!

The Journey so far!

In the journey of a thousand miles, the last thing people need to worry about is how far they’ve come. I have but taken a few steps and there is a long, long way to go. Till step number nine hundred and ninety nine to be exact. I intend to skip the last step that is the destination.

The last few years have been extremely rewarding. As I’ve travelled more, more frequently, it now runs in my blood, this desire, to always be out there, to live, taking one route or the other and coming back with newer experiences and stories. I’ve seen and learned more than I ever had and I wish to share it all with you.

Professionally as well, I’ve learned a lot of the tricks of the trade and moved a few notches above – from starting off as a fresh blood content writer to becoming a cold-blooded copywriter in advertising. And at the same time, maintaining a balance between my work life and my travel.

How do I travel?

I make no fuss about how is it that I’m travelling as long as I know I’m going to a place where mobile networks will either be unavailable or hard to find. I’ve backpacked, driven my own car, opted for local cabs, and taken the public transport. Impromptu or planned trips, planned treks or the one that just happen to pop out at the time, I am game for everything.

I am however, averse to travelling in big groups, because more often than not, it is where your own plans go haywire. And because more often than not, my own impulsive plans dictate that I figure out things on the way. Not many are comfortable with that. And that is why I either travel solo or stick to a select group of friends, one or two, whatever seems feasible in the moment.

Although inherently a person who’s head over heels in love with the Himalaya, I’m also quite prone to slipping away to other offbeat places rich in nature or history and explore them at my own pace. I like to maintain a fine balance between leisure travel and adventure travel. I’ve trekked through the Himalaya as much as I’ve holed up at different places and experienced what it is to live like the locals. Be what they are, and you’ll see something you never have.

What’s with the mountain loving?

When breath seems out of reach, reach for the Himalaya. When everything turns upside down, turn to its valleys. When routine bereaves your life naked, grieve not an ache more. But clothe yourself with this eternity. It has been. It will be!

First things first, call them the Himalaya. Yes, the Himalaya is a group of mountains. But it is definitely not just that.

Now, those who have to ask will never get it. Those who get it will never ask. And so it seems we’ve reached an impasse. However, allow me to break the conundrum and put some things into perspective.

Perspective. You know what a giant is? This. This is a giant! Not your problem. Not your ego. Not your pride. Not your complexity. Not your house or the papers in your account. This, is a giant in pure sense of the word. Feel insignificantly small yet? If not then go see them. Go find perspective. Go find for yourself how ridiculously miniscule everything else is. Maybe then you’ll find what you’re looking for.

What is Himalaya? For some it is but a group of mountains – nameless, snowy, green, and rugged and all kinds. For others, like me:-

Himalaya is the physical manifestation of the heaven they say exists within or outside us.

Himalaya is the one thing that makes all the sense in the world.

Himalaya is a lasting remedy for the ‘Hurry Sickness’, a sickness that has chained many.

Himalaya is the genesis of many stories, myths and legends.

Himalaya is winding roads and the jungles, the clouds and the mist, the rugged terrain and the far off homes and the smoke emanating their chimneys. It is the journey that keeps you wide awake because of its inherent, easily missed beauty. And at the same time, it makes you want to close your eyes for a little while because all this is just so peaceful.

And because no matter what the season or place, there’s always that one scene that sticks out, that makes you fall in love with a thousand things, over and over again. And you begin to understand that as many times you’ll come back, you’ll always be welcomed with more and more love.

Walk. Talk. Don’t talk. Think. Think out loud. Don’t think at all. Everything can happen here when you’re in the Himalaya. All at once!

A few parting thoughts!

What’s your purpose in life?” They all ask.

Some wonder themselves.

To earn money? Fame? Money without fame or fame without money?

Nothing matters when you are in the mountains and have seen them with eyes closed. Take a stroll on a monsoon evening after dark. The rays of light escaping from a broken window, piercing through the mist that has made itself at home, on the surface, and breathing it in and out.

What’s your purpose in life?” They ask.

What’s your life worth?” I say.

Not even the rust on an old penny.” I add.

The worth of your life is around you where life still means life. Where life doesn’t mean one hundred metre dash a day. Where time isn’t measured in seconds or minutes or hours or days or weeks or months or years. Where every moment that has truly taken your breath away counts a blink of an eye.

How many seconds have you lived, then?” I end.