It has been 5 years since I last visited Manali. If you’ve been following this blog, you’d already know the story of that trip. And how it somewhat changed my life.
5 years later, and I have travelled to so many different, unique places across India – with different stories, different vibes and different adventures. But somehow, whenever this “winter wonderland” called Manali is mentioned – my heart just skips a beat!
Manali has never been just a destination to me. It has been much more than that.
You know that feeling, when you travel the entire world, have unique adventures, meet different people, but there’s still that one place, a city or a destination – which stays with you. Even after you come back home.
I like to think that travel has some magic engrossed within. We come back home with a part of the place we travelled to. And we leave a part of us back there as well.
Manali is a place, that I went to, enjoyed, and came back. But it came along, with me, to stay.
Now everywhere I go, Mana goes with me.
This isn’t a travel blog about Manali, why it’s a must visit destination, what’s all glowing and glamorous about it. No. This is a #HearttoHeart.
The first time I met her, I was a kid – about 4 or 5 years old. I knew nothing about her or the place. Just the fact that it was covered with snow from all over – at least from where I was looking.
It must have been a nice, family trip. But I don’t remember most of it.
But I do remember, Mana. The first time I met her was when my foot froze for a bit at Rohtang Pass. It was freezing. I was crying. And then came Mana – like a gushing wind, a breeze, caressing my cheeks – playfully. And running away.
No one saw her. Not even me. But I felt her. And it felt – different.
Now when I think about that moment, playful noises play in the background of my mind – like children playing.
Now when I think about it, I can stop the moment, replay and rewind – a million times – until I see her. With her glowing skin, glittering blue eyes, sharp eyebrows and a smile that can freeze time. I can see her – a child running playfully across the snow.
Well, it was that one moment – just the one. Then we came back home. Years went by. We travelled to beautiful places all over India from Kashmir, Darjeeling, Amritsar, Khajuraho, Mumbai to Kanyakumari, Kerala and so many others.
Maybe I forgot about Mana, while I travelled and grew older. But my heart didn’t. And how do I know that? Because we went back!
When I visited Manali almost after 20 long years, it was fascinating as a trip in the beginning. But the moment I saw those pointy Himalayas, and heard the Beas river flowing by – I felt it. Her presence. All around me.
After 20 long years, I felt – Mana.
She was all grown up. Maybe she had a life full of adventures, both good and bad, since the last time we met.
She looked pretty, her eyes still glittering, her eyebrows still sharp – like the edges of a knife and her smile – still having the power to freeze time.
It wasn’t a feeling of love, that I felt for her. It was something we humans still have to figure out about. Something beyond the universe. Maybe she – was the universe. Maybe Mana – was there for a reason. To tell me the meaning of love. And maybe that’s why, she came back – along with me.
To help me, guide me, to make me understand about life, about love and about the universe itself.