From my first trip to India, I felt that the stars were lining up to help me realize my dreams. I met Prabhu, a young man from Pondicherry, passionate about reptiles and collector of old English motorcycles.
He invited me to participate in a hike, along with three other of his friends, which he organized in the Western Ghats of the South, the richest protected ecoregion of India, covered with evergreen forests. I passionately love the forests, these mythical places where I feel most in communion with nature. For three days we criss-crossed these forest paths, all our senses awakened, attentive to all the demands of this majestic environment.
Early in the morning, we could observe a family of wild elephants a few dozen metres away, or a species of big zebus looking for food.
A group of frightened macaques with sharp eyes, followed our path. In the distance, within sight, a tiger seemed to leap into the undergrowth over a rock, an appearance too fleeting for our taste.
I was ecstatic in front of a small shoot that would become in a few decades a magnificent tree of about twenty meters like its endemic congeners of the region. This tropical ecosystem filled me with unspeakable happiness with its epiphytic flora particularly rich in wild orchids.
In the evening we stopped in the surrounding villages where the kindness and authenticity of the villagers helped to keep me in a feeling of euphoria.
The next day, we entered the forest a little before dawn, the fauna and flora were waking up.
Those of you who have already experienced waking up in the middle of the forest have probably felt the same exaltation caused by the abundance of life of those moments.
At the bend of a path, as if out of nowhere, but in reality emerging from the foliage, a Sadhu* appeared to us. After a faint sense of fear, we greeted each other.
He explained to us that he spent the night in the forest to collect certain leaves, seeds or bark at specific times and showed us his collection. Then he showed us a small shrub, stooped down and broke a piece of apparent root, a blood-red liquid flowed. According to him, this root was used to prepare a remedy to purify blood and was also effective against painful menstruation. He told us about the virtues of many other plants he found in this part of the forest, which he considered a sacred reservoir of medicinal plants. I was impressed by his knowledge, I was thirsty for this knowledge which would allow me a few years later to create an innovative range of well-being care.
*Sadhu : a person who has taken a vow of poverty renouncing all social and family life to dedicate himself to achieving fusion with cosmic consciousness through meditation, yoga or mantra recitation