Walking the less trodden path became a way for life for him. He was in love after all, with the mountains, the journey, the solitude and the path. The mountain was his meditation, the feeling of peace and oneness with the universe. Born into an army serviceman family, his path was supposed to be obvious. He was only sure of one thing, that he wouldn’t pursue a career in the Army if he couldn’t make it through the first time. There wasn’t any rationale but that was him, and it was put to test when he didn’t make it past the selection exam. Living in the social construct that we do, he went on to pursue a college degree, the beginning in a way of his tryst with the Himalayas. His friends from the hills opened the doors to the awe inspiring and humbling mountains. It sure was love at first sight. He knew he wanted to be in their presence after he graduated, he would figure out what he would do later.
He headed to a small town in the hills, opening up what was his first venture, Cafe Zeppelin. He is modest about his effort and humbly admits that his cafe was featured on “Highway on my plate”. After a successful run of three years, something in him just wasn’t content. One of those things he didn’t have an answer to. He shut down his cafe when the space he was leasing was no longer available. The next four years he describes are some of the best times in his life. The calling of the mountains was so strong that he signed up as a trekking guide for his friends travel venture, his only condition was sustenance. Doing what your heart wants and having two square meals a day with a roof over your head, what more there is to life. He trekked for four years on every trail he possibly could, the Himalayas had become an integral part of him, the trails like the lines on his hand. As an environmentally responsible trekker and guide, he always cleaned up along the trail, and ensured his group didn’t litter along the way. And most guides do the same. With time, the bags of garbage that he picked up on the trails grew. The trashing of the beautiful Himalayas was something that pained him. He wondered how it might have been a thousand years back, pure and unspoilt. The collateral damage of our progress can not be our beautiful nature he thought.
The trails were where he spent time ruminating about his purpose in life. He couldn’t find himself doing nothing when garbage was piling up in the mountains. He decided he would spend his time cleaning the Himalayas. Who would have thought one man trekking up and down the mountains makes it his mission in life.. “Healing Himalayas” has conducted many cleaning drives since last year and was formally registered this year. He realised that cleaning alone is not sustainable, it needs to be accompanied by educating the locals in the far flung villages on the mountains. Progress handed them plastic in every possible form but did not teach them about the perils of plastic or the ways of disposal. Locals can be trained but what can one do with the educated trekkers and tourists who leave their garbage behind. He hopes to work with government authorities and other organisations to bring in sustainable changes. The task at hand is huge, the vision even larger, and helping hands are few. The man who couldn’t qualify for the nations army, has made it his mission to form an army of another kind.
In his words
“I have seen , I see, I will always see you ,
I have heard , I hear , I will always hear you
My rain , my summer and every season .
My muse , my music and my musician …
I Wish the song remains the same forever and ever between me and the mountains…”
His name is Pradeep Sangwan.