Rishab Dutt Sharma
June 15, 2020
March 20 was iconic for me. It brought around a chatter about shutting of Himachal Pradesh borders and Janta Curfew – a concept which wasn’t seen in decades now. My apprehensions were coming correct. The Nation was coming to a complete lockdown. This was an emergency of sorts. I was in Chandigarh at the time, and the sealing of HP borders news sent a shiver of anxiety down my spine. I packed my bag overnight, and as dawn broke, I left for Shimla. My hometown was calling me to the warmth of my loved ones and in the lap nature. The thought of family, my hometown memories, and home-cooked food brought a smile to my face even in a rush-hour like this. A warm feeling engulfed me. Soon after came the PM’s announcement of the much dreaded ‘21 days curfew’ across India. Which meant moving out of home only to purchase essential goods, shop shutters to be opened for three hours daily, along with strict adherence to SOPs issued by the health department. The non-essential paraphernalia came to a complete halt.
The silence that followed, was the first of its kind I ever saw in my 20 years in Shimla. For days together, the sight and sounds of dogs monkeys and birds were the only constants.
My initial few days in Shimla passed by connecting with friends and family, as it was a rare privilege to spend so many days at a stretch in my beloved hometown after almost a decade. Sleep, small walks, food, music, and some workout made my daily task sheet. It wasn’t long before that boredom and monotony struck me. This was completely different from my usual ‘outdoor life’ and it was becoming challenging to manage ‘time’ and ‘intellect’. Then came an HP Government notification, permitting residents for daily morning walks, physical well-being activities from 6 AM – 8 PM. This was the best news since the lockdown. Now the body and intellect had a fair chance to survive the catastrophe. And I knew exactly how to do it.
Then the usual Deliberations began. To Walk or to Run !!
Final call came from the heart’ — SIMLA ON Pedal. As my mind gave in to my heart’s desire, my whole Being leaped in gratefulness and joy! Yes, this was what my heart swooned to !!
Incidentally, this was the best Season and weather “To Ride in Shimla”. With Nature at its best, Rhododendrons Blooming, Clear blue skies, and early morning fresh shots of clean oxygen; there couldn’t have been more and better reasons, and a better Time, Than Now !!
The idea of “Early morning Cycle Rides” clicked with a few like-minded enthusiasts who were regular riders but couldn’t continue due to reasons.
The “Unanimously uttered Let the Rides begin” revived many Saddles which were earlier “abandoned in the garage”. 1st Ride saw 6 riders, scoring 14 kilometers, and there was no looking back from there. The Riders, the Scores, and the Elevation knew only one way to go — Up !!
Mind-boggling elevations (Jakhoo to Dhalli).
My Body was in a “State of Euphoria” after 40 days of Restfulness. One Week into riding our favorite hilltops, and the momentum built to 21 km on the Jakhu – Mashobra stretch. Sundays were reserved for long and leisurely rides, with less goal setting, and more enjoying the bounties of nature.
The big feat arrived at 53 km (Jakhu – Mashobra- Bikhalti – Fagu –Kufri – Jakhu). The next long ride Jakhu to Naldehra followed. Oh, And whatever else beyond the physical euphoria the Cycle Rides did, is another experience!
A fresh new perspective was born. Gallons of fresh air gave way to fresh ideas, every day. The calming effect of Mother Nature on our nerves is an experience that cannot be expressed in words.
The misery of living a mechanical routine was interrupted! Mother Nature reminded me once again “How Being One with her” is so important for my Soul. “The Catastrophe brought with itself a powerful lesson – Live for your Passions, Love for the Community, Pray for the World !!”
Ultimately, Humanity has prevailed. Nature has healed, pollutions levels are down, the sky is pristine blue, the extinct species of birds are back Home Again!
In a world full of caste creed religion, hatred has given way to compassion, malice has gone bearish on social media, and even the WhatsApp forwards are more focused on entertainment. Humanity is more profound, Empathy is on the increase, Politeness is a returning to Conversations. People who uncouthly jumped queues are now maintaining proper distance and patiently waiting for their turn. Neighbors who seldom met each other are going out of their way to check on one another more proactively. Our Survival instincts have kicked in, and we are managing fantastically with the bare minimum resources available. Not only this, but we are also enjoying this simple lifestyle. Finally, Humanity is coming home !! To what human beings did Best —- To Love, Nurture, Protect.