Hey there, lovely souls of TheSamiksha! It’s Portia here, and I’m beyond excited to take you on a deeply personal journey – one that’s filled with twists, turns, and a whole lot of soul-searching.

Picture this: a young journalist, fuelled by dreams of making headlines and chasing stories in the bustling streets of Kolkata. That was me, fresh out of university and ready to take on the world. For years, I hustled and bustled in the corporate rat race, chasing deadlines and rubbing elbows with the big shots. But amidst the chaos of deadlines and office, there was a tiny voice in my heart yearning for something more always – something real, something meaningful. Yet, I still had to find out what it was. Life was good as it was and it remained ordinary with some small achievements both personal and professional to celebrate every now and then just like anybody.

And then, in the blink of an eye, everything changed. My world came crashing down with the sudden diagnosis of “Cancer” for my dearest father in 2013. I was working in Mumbai back then and still get chills by just thinking about that unfortunate day that started to change my life. Then, a bit less than three years in 2016, came the blow of the loss of my beloved father just one week after my birthday. His passing hit me like a ton of bricks, leaving me grappling with grief and questioning the very fabric of my existence. In those dark moments of despair, I found myself soul-searching like never before, desperately seeking solace and purpose amidst the pain.

It was during this tumultuous time that I stumbled upon a flicker of hope – a tiny beacon of light amidst the darkness. A memory of my father, with his warm smile and kind eyes, dedicating his final days to teaching underprivileged children in a makeshift classroom. That memory sparked something deep within me – a burning desire to honour his legacy and make a real difference in the world.

And so, with a heavy heart and a determined spirit, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery in late 2020 that would lead me to the farthest reaches of the Himalayas. The winding roads, the majestic peaks, the crisp mountain air – it was as if the universe had conspired to lead me to this remote corner of the world: Komic, the highest village in the Himalayas.

But let me tell you, dear reader, the journey was far from easy. Leaving behind the comforts of city life, I found myself thrust into a world of extremes – extreme cold, extreme isolation, and extreme challenges at every turn. And yet, amidst the harsh realities of rural living, I discovered a warmth and resilience in the hearts of the people of Komic that would change me forever.

One aspect of this journey that stands out to me the most is the power of community. In the face of adversity, I witnessed the incredible strength and solidarity of the people of Komic, who welcomed me with open arms and embraced me as one of their own. Together, we forged bonds that transcended language and culture, united by a common purpose – to create a brighter future for the children of Komic.

Through blood, sweat, and tears, we built a free boarding school from the ground up – a sanctuary of learning and hope amidst the harsh realities of mountain life. And as I look into the eyes of the children of Komic, I see the flicker of hope that ignited my journey all those years ago. Their laughter, their curiosity, their resilience – they are the true heroes of this story, and they inspire me to keep pushing forward, even when the road ahead seems daunting.

So here’s to embracing the unexpected twists and turns of life’s journey, and to finding a home in the most unlikely of places. Thank you for joining me on this wild ride, dear friends. Together, let’s continue to spread love, light, and hope to every corner of the world.

With love and gratitude,

Portia Putatunda

Founder, Planet Spiti Foundation

Finding Home: A Journey from Corporate Confinement to Himalayan Heights

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