He says “India is one of the freest countries I have ever been to. I can do anything I wish to, which of course shouldn’t harm people around. I have lived in caves for a month or so many times, doing Yoga, Juggling and Rock-climbing. And no one ever bothered me or tried to intrude my spiritual exercises.” These are the words of a guy from Newcastle, UK. A lanky guy, probably in his 40s. He was wearing a red shirt and a pair of pyjamas. He had a long braided hair which was not cut in the last few years and could give tough competition to any of the local ladies of Hampi. He looked really sad and gloomy and all he wanted to do was to drink for the rest of the day as it was his last day in India.
Paul and his friend Harry, have been doing Rock-climbing for the last 20 years, in Hampi, Karnataka. It took me by surprise when I saw their book about rock climbing which was published back in Germany (Harry’s native place). It has every minute detail about the rocks in Hampi, highlighting the points to use for climbing, their local names of the rocks and very detailed maps of locations. They practised this day after day, month after month and year after year before they could gather all the efforts to shape into a book. That’s all they have done in almost half of their lives. It’s not everyday that you find people whose easy passion is to climb rocks, it requires one to be very light in weight and possess very strong hands to get a good grip. I asked Paul whether he had given up on some rocks because they were too difficult to climb. He said that a couple of times it took him 20 days or more to climb a rock and he finally conquered them by falling and climbing for days. But now, he could judge it in the first few days if it was at all possible.
Of late, I have been reading and thinking a lot about the philosophical side of life, and taking a cue from there, I ask Paul a question I keep asking myself, “Do you think it’s worth the amount of efforts and time you have put into this?”. He said “ Yes, very much. I am really happy being here and climbing rocks. Hampi is heaven; and I have been to Himachal, Rajasthan, the Himalayas, Uttarakhand and many other quieter places in India. But Hampi is different, it feels like home. I don’t want to go back to U.K. I want to stay here and I am trying to find a permanent solution to visa issues. For that I have to get married to an Indian girl, and yeah, I have been into relationships”. Well, I second his thought about Hampi and it was an entirely different experience for me spending four days there in its magical surroundings. There is so much natural beauty around that I have never seen at one place. I could walk away every morning to sit near a lake for hours and could see no one far across the miles. The localities are so lovable and caring, that you would never get any awkward feeling of being an outsider and the locals invite you for food and tea with all their heart.
Paul loves this place so much that I could sense the sadness in his low voice. He looked like a hippie, but for me he was a true artist who was trying to survive with his skills of juggling and rock climbing or perhaps he was just seeking happiness into the wilderness here. He is happy to offer his help to people who are willing to learn his art. But there are only a few people who are interested and mostly local boys, who are actually very good at it. People presume that he is doing it for money, but I wish people could see the passion inside him. Alas! That such a plethora of knowledge about the nuances of Rock-climbing was published back in Germany and not in our own country, where it all actually started. I hardly see and read about people learning and doing rock climbing in India, though it’s very popular in the US and Europe. But at least, we can get inspired from his success story and feel proud about the incredible country we have been born and brought up in.
Those who are interested may check the link of his book and order if you wish-