Paulo Coelho once said,”If you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

I couldn’t agree more, especially considering how we had cancelled our trip to Leh and then re-planned it. It is truly a once-in-a-life-time experience!

I had mentioned in my previous post about how despite being excited about the trip, we were apprehensive about the group tour. I’ve never traveled with a group of strangers and I prayed hard that we get like-minded people so that it would help everyone get along well for 9 days. You never know how one person could spoil the atmosphere for the rest of the group. However, when we landed in Leh we had other things to focus our attention on. Our network was apparently good enough to send SMS and make calls however there had been an issue with the Data for a week. That meant no Social Media, mails or TripAdvisor reviews – basically any kind of contact with the rest of the world.

Opting for a digital detox voluntarily is one thing but being abruptly cut off and asked not to speak with Google was slightly heart-wrenching, that too on a holiday. When I’d gone to Kashmir a couple of years back my Airtel Data did not fail me, so I assumed the situation would be similar. With a slight trepidation, we decide to take things slowly as they come – why worry about a problem even before it surfaces, right? I intended to make the best use of the digital detox vacation.

Now, coming to the reason that prompted me to write this piece in the first place:

What would you do while you wait for your car to pick you up?
What would you do when you have 7 to 8 hours ahead of you to reach your destination?
What would you do when there is a snowfall and the roads are closed and you’ve to wait for 2 hours?
What would you do while waiting for dinner to be served?
What would you do while you when the organizers arrange for a campfire when the temperature reduces to 2 degrees?
Would you pick up your phone to help you pass time?

We’ve all been using our smart phones as a way to help us pass our time. So, it is natural that if anyone was in any of the mentioned situations, we would go for our phones on an impulse. If you’re someone like me, you’d immediately reach out to your kindle (High Five all you bibliophiles!). But given that our phones were practically useless apart from setting alarms (we did not have connectivity for 3 days) because using it for songs/movies would rapidly drain charge and we there was a limit to how much we could rely on our power banks, we (all of us in the group) did the only other option that was in front of us – to talk with each other.

Though we had some difficulties acclimatizing to the low oxygen levels, it seemed to me that all had no trouble talking about everything under the sun, 24 * 7. We made small talk while waiting for the car to pick us up. We were a group of 15, so we spoke about our backgrounds, interests, family and then about what all of us did (hobbies, not work!) during the long journeys. We had people to vent out our frustrations when we couldn’t make it to a destination. We had someone suggest that piping hot Masala tea at Khardungla pass – about 18000 feet – would be something to talk about with our families and friends. A 2 km uphill walk during a snowfall was made easier thanks to 11 people pushing each other to take the next step. We could share jokes on the hilarious typos on the menu after we ordered our food and listened to others share similar experiences. We could play dumb charades around a campfire, unmindful that the temperatures were dropping lower than what we could handle. We could talk to our driver and our tour guide and listen to them talk about the local culture and learn so much about the Ladakhi way of life.

A month ago, we were complete strangers yet it looked like we all knew each other well, got along well and had a wonderful time together all because we got a chance to speak with each other. It was a week of revelations for all of us, to be honest. Though access to the Internet was restored a day before we left, we realized we didn’t need to keep staring at it all the time and the human beings around took more attention than all the fancy gadgets.

Human Beings 1. Smart Phones 0.

But that got me wondering about how the group dynamics would have been, if we had access to Internet during the entire trip. I’m sure things would have been completely different and I wouldn’t have known anything about others apart from their names. People always exaggerate about how we are obsessed with phones and avoid human contact. That’s a tad too much, but I guess that the camaraderie we shared earlier wouldn’t have been around.

Do we need our phones to be forcibly hidden from us to make contact with others? I would like to think the answer is No, and we aren’t that bad. But when you have time to spare what would be your first option – to talk to the next person/stranger you come across or to simply pick up your phone?

Image Courtesy : Pixabay