* The dream-child moving through a land * – Poem in preface to ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll


The OutdoorPersons (OP) series brings you a post written by Shari Khanolkar. I have known Shari since she was a little girl, since she came in as the youngest group member in an adventure camp that I had arranged for her parents and their friends in the Western Ghats). Like most children, I found her to be comfortable in the outdoors from the word go. Due to her parents, she has been walking in the hills off and on. She is twelve years old today, and these are her thoughts.

(The OP series is my attempt to explore the everyday person who has stumbled upon the joys of outdoors and undertakes activities where ‘what you might lose seems out of all proportion to what you gain’ (https://outdoorpandit.com/2021/03/23/comprehending-whats-there/). These people are not necessarily famous or have remarkable achievements that get talked about. But they do light up the sky once in a while like meteors that streak across a purple sky, quite often unseen and unadmired. Each outdoorsperson has their own ‘deep play’. The OP series is homage to that individuality and an attempt to have colourful characters blaze across our skies.)

Over to Shari:

When I’m in the outdoors I feel like I’m at home.

Nature appeals to me like nothing ever has, I don’t know why and I don’t know how but it’s just like we connect or we are somehow really similar.

I fee​​l like I have an unbreakable bond with nature. It seems to not only comfort me but at the same time fascinate me with its beauty and leave me wondering how it makes me so happy.

Outdoor Leadership, NOLS, Shantanu Pandit, Outdoor Pandit, outdoorpandit.com

I still remember how I was introduced to the outdoors. My father is extremely fond of wilderness and loves hiking in the mountains just as much as I do. Like many others, I don’t quite remember each and everything from my yesteryears but I do know that my father introduced me to many of his friends and acquaintances who were trained in the art of mountaineering and later on accompanied us to most of the hikes that we did.

When I was four years old my parents and I went rappelling at Fort Rajmachi with a group of a few friends of my father and some of their relatives. It was a terrifying yet exciting feeling as I swung down into the valley with nothing but a few ropes to hold me from falling. Of course, there was my father’s friend with me since I was very young at that time. I still look back at that trip and most of the time smile not realizing it when I think about all the wonderful memories that I have with nature and the outdoors.

Absarokas, Rocky Mountains, NOLS, NOLS Course, Shantanu Pandit, Outdoor Pandit, Outdoorpandit.com, Outdoor Leadership

When I was 7 years old, I used to be envious of my friends because I thought they have larger houses and more fame in school. But as I grew up and as I speak, I realize that I am richer than any of them because I get to feel the grass under my very feet as a velvet cushion, the sunlight as my very own gold, and the plants as trees as my own home, my huge, loving and comforting home. When I feel the rich soil under my feet and reach out for the blue sky like it’s just a grab away, I enjoy each moment of my life and each moment I spend with nature enlightens my heart more and more. The only thing that I longed for when I was younger was friends, but I see now that I have an amazing friend with me, a loyal, kind, caring, and trustworthy friend. And this friend will never betray me, and will always take care of me. Because this friend is nature.

I recently realized that I don’t need people to be happy, I just need the wind going through my hair, the sunlight touching my face, and the soil squeezing through my toes to be happy. I know that I must be grateful, grateful for those who love me, those who help me, but most of all I should and I am grateful to nature. 

Absarokas, Rocky Mountains, NOLS, NOLS Course, Shantanu Pandit, Outdoor Pandit, Outdoorpandit.com, Outdoor Leadership, Lightning

Nature not only consists of plants and trees but also the creatures that live in it. Each tree, each plant, each insect, and each animal has life in it. It has a mind, a body, a spirit and each one is different from the other. But what connects every creature on earth is that we all need nature to be alive. We depend on it for, water, food, air and I think that that is something to be thankful for. 

As the years passed by I began falling in love with nature more and more, the bond that I once thought could not get any stronger gets stronger with every passing minute. 

Finally, in the last few years, I have found a new way a new perspective to love nature. Now I have started enjoying climbing trees a lot and lucky for me I have a few trees in my surroundings that are just perfect for me to climb.

Each morning the moment school gets over I almost swallow my breakfast and hurry down to the trees as fast as I can. 

Especially since the lockdown I have been feeling hollow, like a part of me is missing but now that I get to be in the outdoors again I’m rejuvenated and I have found myself again. 

The outdoors brings me inexplicable joy and if anything ever restricts me from being in the presence of nature I don’t know what I will do.

I trust all of nature and I know that I am conjoined to it forever.

I am glad I asked Shari to share her thoughts on this blog.

There are quite a few things that stood out for me from this piece of writing. E.g., ‘We depend on it (i.e., Nature) for, water, food, air and I think that that is something to be thankful for’ and ‘…now that I get to be in the outdoors again I’m rejuvenated and I have found myself again’. What leaped out at me from the text was the turn of phrase: ‘…reach out for the blue sky like it’s just a grab away’. It straight away reminded of me of the quote that I had selected for the souvenir magazine that we had come out with prior to going on our expedition to Mt. Kangchenjunga in 1988.

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp

Or what’s a heaven for?

– Robert Browning

For OP Series-2 by my son Meghan who occasionally wanders in about in the outdoors click here

For OP Series-2 by my friend Dadhi who has mountaineered & hiked all his life and now is in the middle of gradually doing the Appallachian Trail click here.

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