"Please come to our village, it's called Danser!!"
When my partner and I were waiting for the bus to Dandeli, we met Zeeba, whose family has been woodcarvers for generations, and apparently the whole village is basically made of carpenter families. We connected well straight away, and we decided to go see them after visiting Dandeli.
On the way to Danser from Dandeli through authentic Himachal villages, one woman came to talk to us in her language and gestured us to come to her house. We arrived at her home, she offered us tea and parantha while all the villagers came to look at us, one after another. While we were there we somehow communicated perfectly with everyone without having any common language.
Sincere efforts in trying to understand each other make people communicate perfectly, much more than being fluent in the same language without the attitude of trying to understand each other, creating a conversation in which everyone speaks but no one listens.
As we arrived at Danser, we walked around to see the village, photographing women chatting by shop corner, old man smoking, curious children, houses with intricate carvings... Then, Zeeba just appeared in front of us to pick us up. Apparently, the villagers saw two foreigners walking about and the word spread in 10 minutes, so everyone knew that we were here!
Zeeba took us to one of his family houses to show us the carving they make and invited us into their "sacred" second floor, where I couldn't step in Dandeli because we were considered as an outcast.
I was so happy to finally sit by the balcony, just like the locals do every day, to look over the usual life of the people living here. I lived like a Himachali, watching the day go by, learning stories of their children, of their neighbors, which makes them feel close to each other.
After the tea break, we had a little walk up to a sunset point. On our way he showed us a colorful and unique temple his family made, he told me such a detailed carving style can be seen only in this village. Zeeba being so proud of the skills passed down from his family made me respect him so much.
In recent years young generations started working for big companies in many countries including India, and it is making us lose skills and knowledge inherited from our ancestors. We ignore the precious knowledge that we could learn from our grandparents. Like my grandpa was a tailor but I didn't learn even simple sawing from him...
In India, we can still see skilled people working with his dad and grandpa, like shoemakers, painters, barbers, farmers, instead of a society just made of corporations and consumers. As a traveler in India, this is one of the most authentic things to experience and I hope this culture won’t be lost in the sudden shift to westernized capitalism.
For the dinner, the whole family came and just looked at us while we ate. First, one girl brings us water, the other one a bucket, so we can wash our hands on the spot, and the next girl brings a towel for us to dry our hands. They treated us just as ‘Atithi Devo bhava’, meaning ‘guests are god’. In return, we made a juggling show that made the family go crazy!
It's easy to receive while traveling because many people want to help travelers. But then it's nice to give back something to the community that helps us, to sustain the balance of giving and receive by putting efforts by making people happy wherever we go.
Himachal Tourism: The next morning, as soon as I woke up Zeeba came in with a full smile and excitedly told us: ‘Let's go to the top of the tallest mountain where you can see China!’
He told me how amazed he was when his dad told him ‘the other side of these mountains is China’. Being next to Zeeba was amazing, I was admiring him, thinking how beautiful a human is when they are just being themselves, full of wonder and full of excitement about everything like a newborn baby excited to explore more.
During routine life, many of us forget that life is magic, that birds flying is magic, that the trees growing is magic, people connecting is magic!
In a little chat, while making a smoke break, Zeeba told us that he has a girlfriend. They live in different villages and they don't see each other often, but when I asked him if he wants to get married to her, he said "of course! next year when she finishes her school!"
Thoughts on relationships came to my mind...
As I always travel, my relationship starts when I start traveling with a man I'm in love with, making me learn many different sides and moods of one human being. So, it's difficult for me to imagine that one gets married before spending some time together, knowing only one side of her millions of faces.
It seems like marriage is like this in some places, it's a partnership of creating family life, the roles are divided, and the love grows slowly while creating something together, whereas I would create something with people who I naturally connect with and if it feels good together it becomes a partnership.
I came back from my thoughts when Zeeba asked us ‘When do you guys got married?’
‘Ummm...’ I and my partner looked at each other...
We loved each other, connected deeply, but actually we knew this trip to Danser was probably the last place we would spend our time together because things were changing and I wanted to stay in India, while his heart was longing for a new destination.
For me traveling is not only a vacation but it's life itself.
The destination my heart calls for is a true path, something that we cannot compromise for another person. Unless someday I meet someone who I can share “our” true path.
And for us, it's more important to let the life of each other flow than blocking our own magic flow only to stay together. Also, no promise or future plan, because plans create an expectation, and it limits the unlimited possibilities that we have.
I don't know what's happening to me tomorrow, the future is just a mystery.
I let the Universe unfold the perfectly woven never-ending life stories, and I just keep dancing the manifestation of life.
I tried to explain, but then I thought the concept of starting or staying in a relationship knowing it's not lasting longer might be strange for him, so I decided to keep this thought inside me and just said, ‘we don't know', with a smile.
In the morning we left, I saw an old man smoking while his wife was cooking in the kitchen. Seemed like they don't even need to talk to communicate. This is also a beautiful way of living, to have a person that one can fully count on as a life partner. Such a partnership makes us grounded and gives us a sense of safety and comfort.
With Zeeba and his family waving at us forever until we turned the corner, we left to Kasol, to pick up our bag we left there, and to start my own journey again into the unknown.
Walking and hitching from Dandeli - 0 INR
(If you are coming from any other parts of India than Thachi Valley, you can get to Bali Chowki by HRTC bus then you can take a cab or hitch to get here directly.)
Food and Accommodation
Provided by Zeeba’s family 0 INR
There are two small dhabas that serve maggie, noodles, bread omelet and chai at the beginning of the village.
May this day be filled with love, peace of mind, and freedom to be yourself.