Off The Grid

People often ask what sparked my interest in the great outdoors and why I like to disappear off the grid.

I grew up in Bombay (now Mumbai), India’s commercial capital and a sprawling metropolitan of unimaginable proportions. When I was 18, I joined a group of friends on a hike. It was the peak of the Indian summer (105-110 degrees ). We were young, restless, and foolish. Our destination was a remote mountain area, about 14 hours away along unmarked trails and rugged terrain deep in the hills of western India. We found a local villager who had heard about the place and offered to take us there.

There are three things I remember of that day – the awe inspiring beauty of the great outdoors, the sheer mental determination we had to draw upon to reach our destination, and above all the unassuming simplicity of the villagers we met along the way including our guide, who opened their simple thatched huts to us with food and lodging and expected nothing in return.

More than two decades later, I try and teach these same values to my kids. On one of our recent backpacking trips in summer, my ten year old son jumped into a cold mountain stream, pointed to an organized chaos of rocks, twigs, branches and mud, and explained to me how beavers build dams. He did it with words, gestures and expressions that I had no idea he knew and that no class room teacher would ever have the privilege of witnessing.

In the city, you see from heaven to heaven what man has made. In the country, you see from heaven to heaven what creation has made, and life and it’s values the way they were meant to be.

That is why I periodically disappear off the grid.

Shirish Vaidya