10 things: the Himalayas

I recently picked up “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson (Hilarious book btw!) – about the author’s hike on the Appalachian Trail in America; and just 10 odd pages down I got the feeling I wanted to go to the Himalayas again! The whole trek right from planning the itinerary and shopping for trekking shoes to sitting on a train to Delhi and finally standing at the Biskeri Top was a great journey and such a wonderful experience – yet when the author describes the hike, I feel there was so much more I could have done and even though I am extremely happy to be in “Civilisation” again, there is so much I miss….so here’s a “top 10” and “bottom 10” list (not in any order) of notable things at the trek

Here it goes…

10 Things I really miss about the Trek:

  1. Sheru and Gabru – my friends would describe me as “not much of a dog-lover” at best! But when a dog doesn’t come barking at you, doesn’t lick your ankles, guards your tent at night when you’ve heard stories of terrible bear-attacks and when it even shows you the way when you’re lost; you are bound to grow fond of it!

    Sheru

  2. Sleeping on Grass – And opening up your eyes to such beautiful scenery!
  3. Being on the rocks by the stream – the sound of flowing water is really music to the ears – I could spend hours together just sitting there watching the water make beautiful patterns while flowing through the intricate maze of rocks.
  4. Playing the guitar at the top of a hill – A (heavily) detuned 5-string(yeah, one of the strings was absent), 11 other friends, lush green trees enveloping us, wind blowing into our ears, and Himalayan Songbirds cooing – the perfect opportunity to JAM!

    with the 5-string

  5. Rock Climbing, Rappeling – gives the Mission Impossible II feel!
  6. Unofficial Camp-Fires – there is a “strict” rule against burning firewood at camp-sites; but when certain “unknown villagers” light a fire anyway, the whole place gets lit up with song, dance, jokes and more song (which continue till the fire’s out, the torch batteries are dead and you realize you’ll have to sleep at the end of the tent if you enter late)
  7. The Trekking Songs and War-Cries – The trek wouldn’t have been half as fun if it weren’t for the constant singing and screaming that was involved in it. “Yellow Submarine”, “Strawberry Fields” “In my Life”, “I can get no satisfaction”, “the Lion sleeps tonight”, “country roads” all formed part of the playlist. Not to forget the “Oye Oye Oye O O Aa” and “Hara Bhara! KEBAB!”
  8. The first 15 minutes after reaching Ratapani – Though this topic can make for a separate blog post altogether, the 15 minutes were special as I still remember everyone’s reactions – on being alive! Joy, relief, happiness,all extreme emotions ; and the best part, everyone was so happy just survive the hailstorm, that they were freely expressing their feelings – no pretending, no putting on a mask – everyone was exactly what they actually are in those 15 minutes!
  9. My Walking Stick – My constant companion during the trek, adorned with the symbol of peace (and Rock’n’Roll) crafted on one side and the initials AST (for Alexander Super-Tramp – inspired by “Into the Wild”) on the other. Sadly our time together was short-lived as the mountains took back what they gave (I lost my staff while sliding down the snow!)
  10. Lunch Point– Want to have the best Maggi in the world? Heres what you do
    1. Register yourselves for the Himalayan Trekking expedition
    2. Climb rocks, grass, snow and muck to reach Lunch Point (gasping for breath)
    3. Order a bowl of Maggi and eat your Packed lunch in the meantime
    4. Finally eat the bowl of Maggi

    Trust me, Maggi tastes the best atop the Himalayas after you’ve woken up at 2 AM, climbed endless miles and especially after you’ve tasted what they call “Packed Lunch

10 Things I don’t really miss:

  1. Fire Fire! Camp Fire! – because of some stupid YHAI tradition, at every (so-called) camp-fire, we were supposed to scream “Fire Fire! Camp Fire” (somewhat on the lines of “Fire in the mountain Run! Run! Run!”) and much to our irritation, some people actually did! And after all the din, the camp fire turns out to be nothing but a tiny fluorescent bulb! The worst part the FD tried to justify it by cracking silly jokes like “it is actually bulb-fire, hehe” (and expected us to laugh at them! Again some people actually did laugh!)
  2. Field Director, Dty. Field Director – they were a real pain in the rear with their incessant yakking, wannabe army-ish ideas and really really illogical rules (like can play football only with your slippers on!)
  3. Taking a dump! – For those used to the luxury called a “toilet”, the camps offered a rude shock: there would be none! So you wake up in the morning have your tea and with all the pressure built up, run to a “sh*t-worthy” area, find a secluded space and give back to nature! As some famous poet has rightly said, “the world is our toilet!”

    Leora! my saviour!

  4. Holding the tent at Nagaru – a surprise awaited us as we entered our camps at Nagaru – the Camp Leader peeks in and says “we need you guys to hold the tents at night! You know really strong winds are blowing and there is a chance the tent might fly off!” We came to know later on, that winds blow at 70-80 Km/hr and 2 tents already flew off the previous night!
  5. CreepyGuy1&2 –  Two people with a tendency to strip and bare at the sight of ANY waterbody, but more importantly, their urge to talk/interact/borrow toilet paper from/with a person exactly when he is trying to clear his bowels or even worse, come and s**t next to him!
  6. The Night at Ratapani – after the Hailstorm incident, we got a real “survivor” experience….though most of us were happy we were there, the truth hadn’t settled in very well with some others – people still panicking and getting fidgety, someone in our tent submitting to a wall and not responding to anyone, someone saying “Mujhe Ghar jaana hai bas (I just want to go home)” repeatedly, someone fussing over a sock (our guess was  mountain madness) and worse of all, one of our team-mates got extremely sick – with the prospect that he and his brother might not be able to complete the trek at all! Didn’t make for a good night!
  7. Cow on the Road – Imagine you are hiking on the mountain on a path wide enough for only one person. Further, a Cow is behind you; you wouldn’t know because their feet hardly make any noise and unlike cars – that honk in traffic cows don’t do that either. Instead they charge towards your rear! Knowing this, imagine, you turn around and find the cow’s horn inches from your butt. This is precisely the “grave danger” I was in during one the climbs. And not just I, 3 of us had our asses handed over to us (quite literally) by the same cow in a matter of seconds!
  8. BreakFast – I hated breakfast for two reasons –
    1. We had to get up and out of the sleeping bags at 6:30 AM (sometimes2:30 AM)
    2. The menu was: Aloo ki Sabzi + Paratha
  9. Packed lunch –  Hated Lunch for two reasons:

    1. We had to get up and out of the sleeping bags at 6:30 AM (sometimes2:30 AM)
    2. The menu was: Aloo ki Sabzi + Paratha
  10. Dinner – I hated dinner for mostly one reason:
    1.   The menu wasAloo ki Sabzi + Paratha

* On a lucky day, we were also served Chowmein and Chole Bhature – full marks (and a big thanks) to the cook for that!

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