Many people have asked me on why I chose Camino Di Santiago in place of undertaking a domestic pilgrimage such as the holy Amarnath Yatra. Let me tell you a small story.
Last year while watching TV I saw this guy taking a trip… Meeting people…. Singing songs… Eating little food…sleeping in hostels… He kept saying Santiago… Camino…in the end he completes his journey and attend a music concert.(I only saw the last 15 min or so).
Next day thru Google god came to know it is the camino de Santiago.. I decided then and there I will do it. I wanted to again my inhibitions and the popular beliefs. I wanted to do it for myself, my family and above all for my country – Mother India!!
I am not saying that undertaking the Amarnath Yatra is not an achievement. It is a trip I will certainly undertake, but at a later time. It isn’t about achieving something. It’s my decision and my own thought process. While I am capable of undertaking these treacherous and rigorous journeys – both financially and physically – I would always opt for a journey where I can make myself and my country proud. I am proud to share this achievement that I was the first Indian to undertake this pilgrimage in the last 6 years. It could be more but that is what the Administrator told me at the start of the Camino.
I have to say it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Very difficult to put into words what the Camino can do for you on a physical, mental, spiritual and, if appropriate, religious level. I’ve met all types along the way but most of us had one thing in common. We were undertaking a life journey to work through something.
Whether it was life change, personal challenges, a physical challenge, an adventure, needing a break from obligations, every single person I met had a significant purpose in being on the Camino. Or as we all said ‘Our Camino’.
it became a very personal journey for everyone, even when we were sharing it. I spent days walking with the same people, days walking alone and meeting new people along the way and days listening to my music, wanting to be completely alone with my thoughts. Some days I was convinced I’d taken the wrong path, with no other soul, let alone pilgrim in sight!
The countryside of Spain is amazing and to see it in this way all the way walking was constantly rewarding and surprising. My photos just don’t do it justice at all. While some days were beautiful walking along gorgeous Camino tracks, there were others that were mentally challenging. Walking an 18km stretch (that’s 3-4 hours) without a town in the pouring rain.
Walking through La Meseta that is completely unsheltered from the elements and feeling the burning sun always at your back. Walking along pathways that seemed never ending and unchanging. Walking days near tears as I thought of my family – my mother and father, my wife, my lovely kids, my brother and his wife, my friends. I used to remember them all. Other days sharing personal things with near strangers and then there were days where I met the most inspiring people.
A young guy walking from France. An 87 year old man on his 20th Camino. A family walking with their father who suffered from Parkinson’s and was raising money. A man who walked 12 Caminos in 12 months. And the crazy ones who had been walking for months from Austria, France, Italy. Even one guy who had been walking for a year and by the time I met him he had been to Santiago, turned around and started walking back.
People walking to face challenges in their lives. Divorce. Death. Kidnapping. A life change of sorts. You name it. We were all there. And the most amazing thing of all, we were all the same on the Camino. Rich, poor, young, old. No matter race, religion or language, none of it mattered. I walked with a 66 year old millionaire, a 21 year old guy walking with his mum, a 16 year old girl walking with her dad.
A man with a physical disability, just to name a few. Or simply people who were physically suffering from the woes of being a pilgrim. Blisters, bad shoes, swollen feet and ankles, bed bug bites and more. And overall it manages to put a little perspective on things as no matter the challenges, everyone pushes on. The camaraderie and empathy is quite unique.
It is fast bonding and easy talking. Its only 4 weeks but for all of us, we agreed it felt like a lifetime. The mood was very sombre and mixed when we finally made our way into Santiago.
I believe one of the biggest challenge for me was to live for 40 days without Indian food. I am a strict vegetarian and I love my desi food – Rice, Daal, Baati, Kheer. I couldn’t find any on my whole journey. It was a struggle everyday but it was worth. I know when I am back, it will all be there waiting for me. This is what the Camino is all about. You learn to let go of few things which are dear to you, you learn to forgive and above all you learn to appreciate what life has to offer you. Live each day to the fullest – Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – this is for me the gist of this wonderful Journey.
I will remember this journey for the most amazing friends I made on the way. They come from all over the world and now they are my extended family. A truly global family I am so proud of.
My message to all is – we should learn to challenge traditional way of thinking. Get out of the safe zone and challenge yourself. To do the impossible. In India we are bound by so many societal pressures of opting for a career in safe heavens like a Doctor or an Engineer or a Government Servant but I for one has not been bound by these pressures.
I always choose my own path. When I started this company, so many people told me it won’t succeed in a tourist place like Udaipur where there is no scope for an I.T company. They asked me to go to a safe place like Bangalore or Hyderabad to undertake this initiative. At that time I heard my inner voice and opted for Udaipur and you can yourself see what I made out of it. My company Fusion Outsourcing was awarded the best MSME from Rajasthan by the Govt. of Karnataka last year!!
Thank you all and I would strongly advise to take this wonderful journey when you have a chance.
This article is also contributed by Nicole Pazaky and Himkar Dubey