The Mountain Walker Diaries: Of Abhinav Kaushal and Human Bonds

I have always admired people who have an uncommon affection for animals. Not just people who have pets and farm animals, or those amazing souls who dedicate their lives to rescuing destitute animals. But also those regular folks who just have a quiet, unspoken understanding of all living beings. They have a bond that goes beyond affection and love and sympathy … they have empathy, a rare and core emotion that enables them to connect without being bounded.

Traveling with Abhinav ‘The Wayfarer’ is an education, a blessing and a gift. It’s a blessing because he is one of only three people I know with whom one can travel and he will be there if you need company and you won’t notice he’s there, if you don’t. He’s unobtrusive and intuitive about what constitutes company.

It’s an education because he rests and walks and climbs and feels and thinks … all at once, seamlessly. He knows a lot about the Himalayas, what he doesn’t know he asks and learns, and much of what he doesn’t know, he just accepts.

It’s a gift because he is connected to the whole world. The whole world. The birds, the trees, the people, the animals, the river, the wind, elders, children, the shopkeeper, the hotel manager, the tempo driver, the road-worker … the whole world. I believe he truly sees God in everybody, every living being and all matter. He’s the kind who breaks his only roti into two – one for himself and one for the birds or a fellow traveller or a hungry animal who happens by.

This video is from our visit to Dhankar Monastery in Spiti. It was snowing heavily and we were walking slowly to the Monastery and then this lonely dog just got up from its resting place and walked up to Abhinav, silently talking to him and Abhinav just knew he was lonely and hungry, mostly lonely.

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