Apr 21, 2014

A Walk in the Mountains Part-II

Read Part-I first. This is not a non-linear narrative!

Day 2 began with glorious sunshine, as brilliant as Wodehousian prose. The mist had cleared and the mountains were visible in full glory. Thanks to, as I came to know later, a mysterious chant by my friend. Did you know that, before the mountains were mapped and explored and their summits conquered, the British geologists once speculated that the Himalayan mountains were a volcanic range because of the white plumes constantly rising from the top of the peaks? Well, I could see the snow capped mountains, I could see the plume of white rising from the top, and I could see the golden rays of the sun kissing the mountains. It was much more surreal that what a person with my limited ability with words can describe.

Even though I had risen at 5.30 am to catch the sun-rise, I found that the sun had beat me to it. I had heard that people in the North-East are early risers, and the sun seemed to have joined their gang. But it was still cold, way too cold for my comfort. In spite of being wrapped up in my heavy jacket. But the chill in the air, I now believe sitting in warm Mumbai, added to the magic. It was time for the most important activity of the day.

*Queasy people, skip this - Don't say you weren't warned. Others, select the text to read*
Now, I don't know about you people, but I am quite fastidious (almost Sheldon Cooper-ish) about my morning bowel movements. If my morning dump happens without anyone disturbing/ hurrying me, I feel at peace. Any issue there, and I end up feeling literally crappy all through the day. I am also quite particular about water in the loo, and have cribbed enough times about some hotels being too posh for me, what with their fancy toilet paper and water-less loos. Now, camping in the open has its perks, with glorious views, starry skies at night, fresh air and the general upbeat atmosphere of 'being outdoors'. But it was one little drawback. There is no shit-pot. 

Apparently, they dig a hole in the ground, cover it up with a tent, and expect you to go do your business and wipe. Put a little sand on top of your output, so that it is ok for the next person to use the tent. No water since the hole in the ground would get too messy.

Well, the trekker's hut had a loo (with a bucket, mug and running tap water!), and so, I decided to use it for the day, before I truly became part of the uncivilised wilderness for the next couple of days. It was the most blissful dump I had taken for a long time. I came back to find that the yaks had no compunction about doing their business in the open, since I nearly stepped on the dung and was only saved because mist was rising from the warmth. I always thought 'big steaming pile of shit' was a metaphor, till I saw that.

*Queasy people, welcome back. The subsequent paragraphs are hopefully not as shitty*

Day 2 was planned to be a more difficult walk than Day 1, and hence I was advised not to try any heroic stunt like carrying my own backpack. My shoulder and back muscles agreed, and we started off at 9 am, deeper into the trail, in the middle of bamboo forest, with rhododendron, magnolia, daphnia flowers greeting us. The climb was steep in some places and our progress was a bit slow. We eagerly took every possible opportunity to click some snaps, partly because the views were so compelling, and partly because every photo-op was also a chance to rest. The legs were slowly realizing that they were being tricked into a longer walk, and had started to protest.

Against the advice of the tour leader, I had also chosen to carry my heavy jacket with me, and that beast was wearing me down. Soon, I was questioning the wisdom of agreeing to come for the trek, and muttering "I am too old for this shit" to myself.  Thankfully, we took a break for lunch, in a pretty meadow, surrounded by mountains on all sides. Sandwiches and hot soupy noodles. And I took the opportunity to rest a bit.

 Pic Credit: Mansi, the lady who can create magic with her camera.

Unfortunately, the rest period was shorter than I would have liked, and we set off for another long (about 2 hours?) walk, climbing most of the way.

The tour leader did not help things by pointing out that this was a very, very easy trek. It took us two more days to realize that he was very, very liberal with his use of 'very'. Well, all I can say is that I was not very, very amused by that.

Walking for long stretches of time can lead to very, very weird discussions. I don't exactly remember how it started (maybe it had something to do with the day being Ram Navami), but soon we were debating whether Ram was a North Indian god, and whether Krishna was a West Indian god and who really qualifies as a South Indian god. I didn't think of this then, but on reflection, given his complexion, his general party attitude and his way with the ladies, I think Krishna qualifies to be a West Indian (of the Caribbean kind).

Thankfully, before we could allot any more geographical restrictions on the gods, they decided to hurry us onward to our camp site! The mist had re-enveloped everything (or probably, my friend was not chanting the mantra properly) and we settled into the tent for some chai and cookies. After some more time spent chatting on various topics, including ethics in the medical profession these days (thanks to the doctor), we settled in for the night.

I slept much more soundly, partly from being very, very tired, and partly because, well, I do have a clear conscience!
PS: One post for each day looks about right. By that logic, this would go on for at least 3 more posts. If I have the energy and enthusiasm for it.

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