As the day’s light dimmed, I found myself at a stranger’s doorstep in a far-flung village in Arunachal Pradesh’s remote valleys. Rewind three years and the mere idea of going alone to the local train station at night petrified me. Yet there I stood, my 15kg backpack serving as a testament to the miles I had traveled and the person I had become. I’m Sneha Roy and I invite you to embark on an incredible journey with me, as I unveil the remarkable three years that forever altered the course of my life.
Affection to Ambition
Picture this: A middle-class Bengali family praying for 11 long years for a girl child. That marked the dawn of my journey. I grew up as the apple of everyone’s eye, surrounded by love and discipline. My early life was defined by a profound love for both swimming and learning. I embodied the archetype of the “ideal child,” dutifully following my family’s aspirations, leading me down the path of becoming a mechanical engineer and, eventually, a lawyer.
The Missing Piece
Despite following most of my family’s wishes and their unwavering support, something felt incomplete. Despite securing two degrees and enjoying a respectable, well-paying job, I felt that the void persisted. Coming from a Bengali family, we had a deep-seated love for exploration. While I had the chance to visit various destinations in India and a handful abroad with them, our typical destinations were often bustling tourist hotspots. I, on the other hand, craved the raw, uncharted beauty of the world.
From Caution to Thrills
Amid COVID hardships, juggling a full-time job and caring for my ailing mom took a toll on my mental health. I’d become so cautious that I practically sanitized an old friend before hugging him. Then, I spotted a DarkGreen Adventures post about a January trip to Dandeli. Despite my travel fears, I booked it, and it turned out to be the best decision ever. Initially cautious, I extended my stay, hiked in the leopard zone, and hitchhiked behind trucks.
Before I even reached home, I had already booked two more trips with DarkGreen Adventures: one to Gandikota and another to Arunachal Pradesh, their most famous excursion. I sprinkled in a few more treks in between, and soon, trekking and traveling became my new routine, replacing the usual weekly shopping mall visits.
Midnight Passage to Serenity
My wanderlust persisted despite the intense second wave of Covid. Amidst the uncertainty, a friend and I decided to challenge ourselves by venturing to Matheran, a small hill station near Mumbai. The regular entry point to Matheran was closed, but that didn’t deter us. We camped near a lake at the base of Matheran, embarked on a dawn trek to Matheran, and entered the hill station through one of its viewpoints, and found a homestay willing to host us. The hill station felt deserted, a tranquil haven untouched by tourists. Descending from Matheran, in the dead of night, through the same route we’d taken to ascend, felt like an adventure of a lifetime.
During monsoons, I embarked off the beaten path. Led solely by a local’s tip, I embarked on an uncertain journey to discover a hidden treasure, Sada waterfall, nestled at a remote village in Goa. As I walked through muddy jungle trails, lined by leeches, uncertain if they would even unveil the waterfall, something magical awaited me: a hidden valley, adorned with fleeting, vibrant flowers—a paradise known to just a fortunate few. And did I ever stumble upon that pristine waterfall? Well, let’s save that twist for some other day, my friends!
During those months, I saw a troubling reality: the litter and plastic pollution on once-pristine trails. In the past, this might not have affected me, but my perspective shifted as my love for nature deepened, leaving me heartbroken by the pollution. My turning point came during the Tambdi Surla trek in South Goa when I cleaned up the entire trail. I’ve since joined DarkGreen Adventures in donating steel cutlery to the locals in the mountain villages and have personally ditched plastic for over two years. While my contributions may seem small, they at least mark a beginning.
Lost and Found
Next came my ultimate adventure: Diwali in Arunachal Pradesh’s hidden valleys, far from my first trip in that state. There, the entire district houses just 8,000 souls, with each village barely counting 8-10. Armed with 15kgs, I hitchhiked through rugged terrains and uncertain destinations for almost 19 days, ready to camp in the dense jungle if needed. Surprisingly, I never had to. The locals, though few in number, welcomed me with unparalleled warmth. I, who feared public buses a year ago, now shared one truck seat alongside numerous construction workers throughout her travel through this valley. Who knew, sometimes, you find yourself in the most unexpected places?
Balancing Corporate World
Now, you might wonder how I managed a 19-day expedition while holding a corporate job. The answer is simple: passion and meticulous planning. I began planning my vacations months ahead, coordinating them with public holidays, workloads, and even my colleagues’ leave schedules. Timely applications and well-organized leaves ensured my trips didn’t interfere with my career.
Twist in the tale
Ever heard the classic line from Indian moms – ‘Travel all you want with your husband after marriage’? Well, my mom was no exception. As a dutiful daughter, I chose to marry the man I had already been on countless journeys with, including my adventures of Matheran and Arunachal. Isn’t it essentially the same idea? After all, it’s important to choose a partner who can navigate the world by your side rather than choosing a partner first and then just hoping for the best!!!