skiing the trees Reading Time: 6 minutes


Santosh and his friends were contemplating an unconventional winter outing. After mulling over various options, they decided over skiing in the ice-clad mountains. In the area surrounding Mumbai, snow was a commodity just heard of or watched in western movies or a few Hindi films. Exposure to skiing was a further matter. But this enthusiastic group was keen on doing something unusual. They decided on Musoorie, the place near Dehradun. Instead of going for just site seeing, they planned to try out skiing.

They gathered woollen clothing from all the possible sources since they were needed only for 2-3 weeks. 

Taking flight up to Dehradun, and a bus ride, later on, they reached Musoorie on 5th January at 10 O’clock in the night. They took some accommodation for the night.

The swing of atmospheric temperature from 25 degrees to minus 5 degrees Celsius was adding enthusiasm to their spirit.

The next day morning, they went to the skiing resort. Hired all the gear needed and joined a training center.

After a brief introduction on the skis, the poles, the goggles, the postures while sliding down, etc. Santosh and his group had a stint with the snow-clad mountains. They had training sessions throughout the day. All of them enjoyed skiing a lot.

The group gathered at the dinner table. They were not content with their experience.

They wanted more encounters with the snow, to have some more rounds of skiing. They decided to stay on and continue with skiing.

But Santosh was thinking a little differently. He was tempted to go on hiking in this area. He also knew that none of his friends would agree to this idea. So he had some plan to stray while skiing and execute further ideas.

The next day morning, all of them reached the skiing training center. They collected their skiing gear and with a little experience they had, they started skiing on their own.

Every one of them was enjoying skiing. They were tracing the tracks chalked out. Butat the first opportunity, Santosh deviated and continued skiing down. And he was on a track where none of the skiers had gone. He continued at very high speeds. He could not control his pace. He was going down and down enjoying the beauty of nature. On both sides were thick forests of tall pine trees with snow stuck to their leaves. The forest was so dense that the sun rays were not able to penetrate. After about 15-20 minutes of sliding down at high speeds, Santosh realized that he had come far away from their site of skiing. He could get some control over his speed. Just then, he spotted a person at some distance, at this temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius with ash on his body, completely naked walking away from his path. Santosh tried shouting for help, but that person could not hear him. The sadhu just disappeared in the forest.  Santosh was now getting scared. He wondered whether his decision to take a diversion for an adventure was right. He was still sliding down. But now at slower speeds. He spotted another sadhu with just a small linen cloth covering his privates, meditating his eyes closed, standing on one leg.    

Santosh reduced his speed further and somehow, came to halt a little away from meditating sadhu. Santosh put aside his poles, folded his hands, and spoke in Hindi, “Guruji,  I need your help. I am lost.”

After a few minutes, Sadhu opened his eyes. Without moving even a bit in that posture of standing on one leg and the other leg folded, he said.” Who are you?”

Santosh bowed with folded hands and said,” I am Santosh. I am on my skiing practice but lost my way.”

“Okay. There is a small village about 8 kilometers away. There you can get some transport.”

“How do I reach that place?”

“If you take the right turn and walk down, you can reach in an hour.”

Santosh thanked the Sadhu and started walking rightward which was going up, with his skis and poles in his hands,  Hardly he had walked a few steps when Santosh heard the Sadhu saying. ” But my son, you will have to hurry up. In about 10 minutes, I see that a snowstorm is coming. If you get delayed, you will be caught in the mid of the snowstorm.”

“Oh my God! Then what should I do, Guruji?” Santosh was worried.

“In five minutes, I will start for a cave that is just 2-3 minutes away from here. But its approach road is not straightforward. I suggest, you wait and come with me. We will take shelter there. After the storm settles down, I will take you to the nearby village. Probably, you will get transport from there. But now you take off your skis as we have to walk upwards”

Santosh was comforted with his words. Sadhu went into his trans again. After silence for about 3 minutes, Sadhu said,” Let us get going.” He bent down and with ease lifted the skis. Santosh held the poles and both of them started walking up the small hill. Though a bit scared, Santosh was enjoying this experience.  

They reached a rocky area. Sadhu jumped over a small rock with skis in one hand. Then he pulled Santosh up by giving him hand. Somehow, Santosh was in front of a cave which was closed with a big log of wood which the Sadhu moved and both of them entered the cave. At that moment, a fast breeze started blowing, the sky became overcast turning the atmosphere dark and gloomy. Soon it started snowing. Sadhu moved the log swiftly and closed the cave. It became pitch dark inside the cave. Sadhu moved inside and picked up a lantern and even lighted it. The entire cave was dimly lit. Santosh took out his mobile and checked for the network. As expected, the network was not available. 

There were few gaps from where the wind was leaking in. The cave had become freezing cold. Santosh wondered with all the woolen clothes on, he was finding the cave unbearably cold. But the Sadhu with his small linen was comfortable.

The snowstorm continued with its frenzy. Santosh was now very worried. After half an hour, the storm slowed down. Santosh asked Sadhu, “when will it stop completely?”

“Don’t worry, the sun will shine brightly in a short time. We will start immediately.”

Santosh was extremely hungry. He was wanting to eat something. But he could not ask the Sadhu about food.

The sadhu went to one corner and picked up some fruit that he had collected for the eventuality. He handed over one mango-like fruit to Santosh.

“Have this fruit. You must be hungry. After we reach the village, you can get lunch.”

Santosh ate the fruit. He thought there must be another fruit that Sadhu would eat. But there was none. Sadhu had remained hungry himself. Santosh felt guilty that without giving any thought to whether there was any more fruit which Sadhu would eat, he had finished the fruit all alone. He was overwhelmed by Sadhu’s gesture. Selfless! Santosh bowed down and touched Sadhu’s feet. “Guruji, please excuse me for my selfishness. I am ashamed.”

Sadhu lifted him holding both hands. “Don’t worry my son. You have not done anything wrong.”

Santosh had tearful eyes.

Slowly, after a couple of hours, the storm stopped. The sky started getting cleared. The sun was shining brightly. Time must be four in the afternoon. Sadhu moved the log of wood opening the cave. They both moved out of the cave. Snow collected was ankle-deep. Sadhu picked up the skis with ease. Santosh picked up the poles. And they started.

After a walk for a short time of half an hour, Santosh was greeted with wonderfully blooming flowers. Cobra lily, Himalayan Balsam, Himalayan Hogweed, Forget me not, Edelweiss, Blue puppies, Blue geranium, Aster, etc. plus many more varieties. Sadhu said, “The divine, many persons seek within, is right in front of you. Just look and breath in the fragrant air.” Santosh was exhilarated. He tried to memorize the picture in his mind. He took out his mobile phone and took pictures.

They came across a small rivulet with crystal clear water. It was flowing with a soft burble. A small wooden bridge helped them to cross this stream.       

 Soon Santosh could see some signs of habitation. They had reached the village.

Sadhu told Santosh to check whether he got a network connection. Santosh was surprised that sadhu staying in a cave was aware of the latest technology. Satish was delighted that he was connected with the outside world. Sadhu guided Santosh to an autorickshaw stand and turned back. Santosh was overwhelmed. He again bent down and touched Sadhu’s feet. A few tears wet Sadhu’s feet. Sadhu picked up Santosh with his both hands. Santosh saw affection flowing out of Sadhu’s eyes. Santosh asked, “ Guruji, am I fortunate enough to give some cash to you? This will come in handy in any emergency”.

Guruji said,” Haven’t you learned anything in the last 4-5 hours?”

Santosh was embarrassed.

“Guruji, may I know your name please?” with a choked voice Santosh asked.

“NIRMOHI,” he said and started back to his living place, the cave.

Santosh found out that it would take an hour if snowstorms didn’t intercept, to reach Musoorie.

With network-connected, Santosh could contact his friends. After loading the skis, poles in the auto-rickshaw, the rickshaw started to go to Musoorie.

Santosh was lost in thoughts. “Nirmohi.- the altruist. Haven’t I learned from this great person at least this much?”

At Musoorie, his friends were waiting for him. All of them were delighted to find Santosh unharmed. “Where were you? Were you not affected by the snowstorm?”

“I got diverted and lost my path. And I met a Sadhu, a saint ….” Santosh told the entire story.

After reaching Mumbai, Santosh had many more stories to tell about his experience. But he was the most influenced by Nirmohi, the altruist.

Reading Time: 7 minutes

On seeing the printed ticket, the coach attendant told Mr. Ramnathan,

“Compartment D, No.12, upper birth. Sir, can you climb up the berth? Otherwise, I will request some other passenger to exchange. Your destination Ratlam will come at 9 in the morning.”

“No.No. It is okay. I will be comfortable on upper-berth.” Seventy year old Ramnathan said. He took back the ticket from the attendant and charged towards D compartment. The attendant followed him with the bed roll. He spread it on berth no.12 very neatly, arranged the pillow in place after putting the fresh cover. Ramnathan thanked him, slid the suitcase under the lower berth and climbed up using the ladder provided. Ramnathan at the age of seventy, was quite fit and active. Being a disciplinarian he had reached the station, well in time and was on his berth well before other passengers arrived. Ramnathan realized in the side pocket of the berth, there was a small book left by the previous passenger. He cursed the maintenance staff and took out his own book from the hand bag and started reading on the night lamp provided near his berth.

The other three berths of the compartment were occupied by the passengers when the train left Mumbai central at the scheduled time and was running at full speed. Ramnathan was already halfway through the book. He continued further. The book was on Ramayan by Devdatta Patnaik. Ramnathan thought, he had read several books on Ramayan but this Devdatta had put every event in a different perspective and projected every character of this epic with different view point. Lovely. In an hour he finished the book and tried to keep it in the side pocket. He remembered the earlier book was there. Ramnathan took that book out to read and kept his Ramayan in the pocket. He opened the book. Title was “Men in Love”.

After reading half the page Ramnathan realized that was a provocative book. He threw the book back in pocket. He tried to sleep. But could not. Inadvertently his hand went on the side pocket again and he took out the book “Men in Love”. He wondered why do people read such worthless books? He actually pitied the readers. But the unoccupied mind tried to peep in that cheap story-book. His conscientious was not allowing him to read this low grade work. But curiosity was increasingly drawing him closer to the book. Ramnathan thought, he had read hundreds of books but never had looked into any such type. He thought, ‘Let me find out what ideas they put up.’

Sex was the topic this book was into. Different mehods to have sex, various ideas to enjoy it.  Ramnathan got interested in it. The protagonist was a young man exploring unusual ways to heighten the pleasure of sex. Ramnathan thought, he had such a long sex life but lacked the variety that this young man was experiencing. He was a bit disappointed that such ideas never struck his mind when he was young. This book had enriched him in this area then but was that not too late?

Ramnathan thought he was never unhappy to sleep with his wife. But he never thought over whether his wife was happy with him. He even did not have the idea that the females also enjoy sex as much men do. He did not think that they also desire to satisfy their expectations. There were many occasions when he was not interested in having sex and he did not make love. Never did he think whether his wife wanted sex. Never. Never did he give any attention to her whether she was contented. How cruel! In the days of his youth, to think over sex was a sin. To even read anything about sex was in bad taste for him. Never did he enjoy friends talking, joking over sex matters. He was very rigid and was clinging to his puritan ideas all through. It was bad!

He even never had sex without lights put off. And this book told him that light was not bad. To try out different positions to enhance the pleasure of either partner was necessary. His wife gave him two children but he completely ignored her feelings. A retired judge was found at fault.  Ramnathan felt really guilty in court of sex for enjoyment. Then he decided, after he reached home, first thing in the night in the bed, he was going to ask his beloved wife whether she was satisfied with him whenever they had sex. He was going to try out various things in bed which he had always considered bad. “Whether I am capable to enact all those things due to my age or not, I am going to take her to climax. It is better to be late than never.” Ramnathan had fixed in his mind.

With this firm decision, Ramnathan fell off to sleep.

Next day in the morning he was woken up by the attendant, “Sir it is 8O’clock. Train will reach Ratlam at right time. Please get ready.”

Ramnathan was surprised that he had slept till 8. He always was out of bed latest by six. But today he over slept. He noticed that the book “Men in Love” was in his hand. He wondered whether the attendant had seen this book in his hand. He immediately threw the book back in the side-pocket of the berth. After quick visit to wash room and brushing, he got himself ready to get down from the train. He wound-up his belongings and he put his RAMAYAN back in his briefcase. He did not even have another look at “Men in Love”.

At 9 when the train stopped at Ratlam, he got down with resolute mind and went out of the platform. His driver was waiting for him. The driver took over his suitcase and guided him to the car.

After a halt of 10 minutes, the train started. Attendant of the AC-II Tier coach was expecting a new passenger in the compartment D on berth no.12. Mr. Ramesh Mathur, aged 45 was waiting at the door to confirm his seat no. from the attendant. After the due procedure, Mr. Mathur proceeded towards compartment D. Locating the berth no.12, he decided to lie down on the upper berth. Using the ladder, he went on to the berth no.12 and made himself comfortable. Soon he discovered a book in the side pocket of the berth. Getting curious, he picked up the book and had a look. He read the title “Men in Love”. He got interested. On reading half of the first page, he realized that was a porno book. With increased eagerness, he continued reading. Ramesh was in his middle age and was enjoying sex regularly. Though with reduced frequency, he was enjoying his sex fully. He knew what tricks to use to satisfy himself and for his wife to reach climax. Mr. Mathur was very sensitive to his wife’s expectations and always saw to it that she was completely satisfied. Sometimes even if he was not in mood, if he realized that his wife needs him, he would put aside his feelings and would do everything to satisfy her. While reading this book he was trying to find out if there was anything which he had not tried out, some new ideas if he could get to further enrich his sex life.

He read the book hurriedly as he had to get off at Delhi at around 6 in the evening. He was delighted to spend his time in train with so much interesting happening. He had noted few new ideas which he was very eager to try out that night itself at home. He had an intention of carrying the book home. But refrained from it. Before getting down from the upper berth, he had a very good look at the book and he thanked it sincerely for some wonderful ideas. Mathur left the book in the side pocket where he had found it.

At around 6, Mathur got off the train at Delhi.

There boarded a young boy in his twenties. Anil Kumar Dogra. Age 25. Sturdy and good personality. While moving in the corridor, he was looking for compartment D. He entered the compartment, spotted the berth no.12. He had just a small brief case with him. He put it on the upper berth and called the attendant for the bed. Attendant hurriedly got a fresh set of bed roll and spread over the berth no.12. He asked for the ticket. “Up to Dehradun? Good. After dinner sleep comfortably till 6 in the morning when I will wake you up. Dehradun arrives at 7. Will you have dinner from the dining car, sir? We will have to place order now so that it will be served at 8.”  “Ok. I will have non-veg thali.” Anil Kumar sat on the lower birth and started reading a novel Romeo & Juliet. Very soon he got engrossed in the book. At around 8, the dinner was served. Finishing it quickly and after making the payment, Anil Kumar was in his allotted berth. He put back his book in the briefcase as he had finished it reading. Lying in the bed, Anil Kumar was lost in his thoughts. He was getting married two weeks later. He remembered his fiancée and the evenings he had spent with her in the City garden. He was happy that the waiting was coming to an end soon. His spending nights alone would be stopped and he would have partner to share his bed.

While making himself comfortable he realized a book in the side pocket. He picked it up and had a look at it. “Men In Love”. Anil Kumar was happy to read the title. How appropriate the book was for his requirement. He sat upright on the upper berth and started reading the great book that was in front of him. He started reading with full interest and was getting excited more and more after reading each line of the book. He started planning the details of his honeymoon. The book was guiding him in to the dream world and giving him ideas how to make every moment of honeymoon, memorable. He thought even 8 days honeymooning period would not be enough and he would have to extend it to minimum 15 days. He was so happy that such a fantastic book had come his way. He was reading some chapters again and again. Finally at around 4 in early morning he dozed off. At 6:30 the attendant woke him up. Anil Kumar got up, wound up his belongings and added one more thing to it, the book, “Men In Love”. He put the book in his briefcase. Got down and sat on the lower birth. The train entered Dehradun station. Anil Kumar came out of the compartment. When the train halted, he alighted from the train with a grand book with him in his briefcase and a lot of ideas in his mind about his honeymoon of 15 days.

He exited the platform and took a taxi to reach home.