“Would I be the oldie on the trip?”, “Would I be too young?”, “Would there be people my age on the trip?”
Travelling with strangers is something that people find daunting for a number of reasons and age is a factor that comes up ever so often. To all the people out there who keep focussing on a number and thinking if they’d find company or gel with others on the group, here’s the story of 19 years old Jigar Gogri .
A few months before our Auli trip in February, a boy named Sagar would message me to check on details. Turned out he was sending his younger brother on the trip, our very own boy wonder! Now this made me think that maybe I’m going to meet a shy young boy and hah, was I in for a surprise! The very first day in Rishikesh almost the entire group kept obsessing over Jigar’s age. “Wow, you’re so young and you’ve come alone”, “Aren’t you scared?”, “You’re so lucky your parents sent you” and of course, “you’re a kid!”. Through it all Jigar only smiled.
In the week that we spent together there wasn’t a time that I saw Jigar shy away from anything because of his age. Whether it was the 2am conversations where emotions were let loose or any activity that the group took on. People could be baring their hearts or discussing flaws of the society, and, this boy would speak his mind. While trekking one girl was struggling, and, while I stayed back, so did he. Jigar would offer her a hand, throw a smile and help in whichever way, on all days.
I saw him make the closest of friends on the trip, probably more than others who had people of their own age travelling in the group. I saw him him bond with folks even a decade older than him but he just as well spoke to them and even took their case! He planned a ridiculous prank, danced and sang his heart out, played each game. I saw him share genuine affection with a whole bunch of people. And, not for a second did age matter. Why? Because it’s all about the conversations, it’s all about what you connect on, it’s all about the heart. I have witnessed this with 40 year olds on trips to even teenagers. The truth is that travelling was never about the age, it’s about opening up to the experience.