Avi & Ato were the two local guides assisting us during our Dzukou Valley trek in September.
Both had distinct personalities. Avi is a witty one, takes people’s case with ease. The charm of a trek amongst other things also lies in it’s simple resources. You’ve to make do with basic means. There is only one water source at the top in Dzukou. It’s a small tap from which the freshwater is available and you can use it for everything. One girl was seeking out bottled water so she asked “Avi! How do we drink water?” Avi looked at her, made a mock bottle with his hands, put it to his mouth and did a sipping gesture; “that’s how you drink water!” he retorted. ? Another night we were busy singing songs at the top of our lungs. @purvadatta is our talented Aasha Bhonsle! We’d all simply sing one line or two, then gesture to Purva. Our funny boy, Avi, turned to Purva and said oh I get it, you’re Alexa! Hah.
Ato on the other hand is a quiet one. He will walk beside you, lend a hand when you need and pass a smile. He carries his speakers along, plays Pink Floyd as you trek and engages in conversation as he becomes comfortable with you. On our last day, I asked him what he’d want to do in life. He told me he wants to study Physical Education. Then? I inquired. Then I’ll come back to my village and teach the other youngsters. Teach, coach and share whatever knowledge I gain. I asked him what he’d do if he got a better opportunity elsewhere but he instantly shook his head, I must help my people, we have limited resources and must help each other. We need one another and that is the only way that we can progress.
The previous night we all huddled up around our last bonfire, I’d asked Avi what he’d do if he could do anything in the world. “I’ll stay happy!” he laughed. I asked what would make him happy. With a somber expression he gazed in the bonfire and said “Helping people”. “When I help people and they smile at me that makes me happy”, were Avi’s words. He said it with a simplicity, as if it was the most obvious and natural thing for him.
Human beings have so many dreams. A vision for what we want in life. And we all root for everyone to fulfill each and every one of them. But these boys, who mind you are only in their early twenties; their dreams, they left me humbled. How their dreams are weaved with helpfulness & kindness. How their ideas of happiness comes from a sense of giving back. Rooting for them to dream and do more. Rooting for us to learn a little from them too. Dream on, boys, dream on. You leave us dreaming too.