Sitting on my bed at 1am, scribbling out a tpyically last minute Italian presentation, my mind inevitably began to wander. I had been sitting here for about seven hours, and having had my brain numbed by grammar and paperwork for my upcoming year abroad, it hardly seemed surprising to me that it sought some form of escapism. I began to think: where would I like to be right now? If given the choice of literally anywhere?
Of course, being me, I overthought it. There are a thousand and one places that I am positively dying to discover for myself: Cambodia, Russia, Prague, Peru, Stockholm, New Zealand. (Really, if I didn’t love it quite so much, I would say that this travel addiction has got to stop. As it stands, there is about squat chance that my travelling habits are going away any time soon.) Or I could be sitting in the Hardwick Arms with all my friends from home. Or curled up on the sofa at home with – dare I say it? – central heating. But amazingly, not one of these places particularly stood out in my mind. Instead, I found myself envisaging the mountain of Triund in the Himalayas, where I went trekking with my fellow volunteers in India last summer.
It was a long trek up – I won’t lie for a minute. Eight hours of steep climbing with what felt like a significant proportion of my own body weight on my back. The blisters don’t even bear thinking about. Neither does the amount of chai we must have consumed en route – and yes, I am talking about the kind with an average of twenty sugars. But my gosh, was it worth it. The views were nothing short of incredible, the satisfaction immense, and the Dairy Milk sold at the top only four months out of date and hence strangely edible.
I can think of many words to describe the atmosphere at the top. Surreal would be a fitting one. We sat in – or above – the clouds, hearing the thunder below us, staring at the innumberable bright stars above us as we sat around a fire singing Hindi folk songs. When I ventured outside of my sleeping bag the next morning, I remember walking in what felt like a precarious bubble. The world around you seemed to just end, enveloped in cloud so that all that exists is within a two metre radius and beyond is just nothingness. It sounds bleak, but in reality, it was so peaceful, so safe, knowing that just for once, there was a place quite literally set apart for you in the world. Phone signals were long since gone, the internet had been left in the cafe miles below us, but instead of isolation, all I felt was a comforting freedom. In my clouded bubble, it was just me and the ground beneath me. I think that day I really began to understand the meaning of escapism.
And now the hustle-bustle of life back in the city is back with all its demands and pressures, the mountain feels like a distant memory. But if I close my eyes and remember that small, small world inside the clouds, I can continue to float into that easily forgotten memory of calm.