I can still recall that day after Tungnath trek and coming to the campsite..
It was pouring rain and so cold. This is not your typical monsoon rain in the plains. These were the Himalayas and we have no choice but to bow down to it.
I remember keeping the poncho out on the tent, soaking wet and couldn’t get into the tent as that would get the whole area wet.Shoes were wet, socks were soaking wet, clothes were drenched,very very cold.
The others were slowly coming in, taking their time. We were tired, exhausted went through a journey and to come back to soaking wet rains was not our idea of comfort.
My tent mates Omshree and Manvita had yet to come. I quickly changed into the last bit of dry clothes I had and just wrapped myself up on my side of the space. It was so bloody cold. The body was now feeling the exhaustion of the trek. The layers of bed rolls would take time to warm me up.
Omshree walked in soaking wet. We were all shivering, kind of a numbed shock with the turn of weather. This was the last day at Chopta. How could this happen??
Tomorrow we would be packing our bags post breakfast and heading in our own ways. Not Now! Not when we all have bonded like this.This was exactly what was happening inside me.
I was disappointed, weary looking at the dark skies, continuous rain lashing on to us. The other girl Manvita also joined us.
You can imagine how gloomy it is when we are cooped up in the tent and it’s only 11 am in the morning.We can’t get out, can’t talk to anybody, can’t share our experiences or even enjoy the mountains.
Manvita blissfully snored her way into sleep while Omshree and myself were chatting. I remember us sleeping intermittently and when we woke up we would start talking. I could see fear in her eyes. It was her first ever out in the wild trek with her fiance Mayank. The rain was lashing on the tents with no hope of stopping.
But in that process something happens. We shared quite a bit. She discussed her life in New York, how she was getting married to Mayank this year. And we laughed out loud when she said, we lived together while staying in New York and our families had no objection to it but India Hikes has!
Which was true because when a couple come together, they can stay together right? It reminded me of a boys only girls only hostel here. It’s like Guys this side and girls the other side! 🙂
I remember through the day we had a miserable feeling, that feeling of no way out. We were cooped up in the tent. The food we packed for the summit, we just couldn’t touch it.
When the team announced that lunch was ready, we didn’t get out. We skipped it and stay put, it was that miserable.
To wake up suddenly, realize you are in the tent cooped up in this weather, the body is numb, can’t move much and again flop back on the carpet was depressing. We had 3 layers of covering on us and still it was cold.
At one point I think around 4 pm or so I heard Pankaj shouting Swapna !Swapna! open the tent! I opened it and saw he got us some snacks from the kitchen tent in the pouring rain. Some Cheese rolls. We were feeling like deadwood and so numb that we didn’t hear any call for Chai . So thankful to him for thinking of us.
It was the most delicious roll I tell you as we gobbled up it up. It taught me the value of food,to respect it, to respect things that are not in our control. To let go.
I mean what one can do under such circumstances? The weather in the midst of Himalayas showing just a little bit of it’s element and we were all helpless. We had no choice but to keep quiet and be thankful we had a shelter over our head to keep us warm.
Around 5ish or so, we were rounded up by the team leaders in the dining area tent to congratulate us for completing the trek with certificates and all of us had to speak our bit of the experience. Two people stood out..
One was Krishanu who became very emotional as he recalled how his son thought it was stupid of him to take on a trek like that. He was a grandfather, retired from work and he wanted to do this. And when he thanked Kishore whom he considered as his younger brother now, for his help, I welled up because I saw what it meant to him, I saw how he was hanging on to Kishore and he protected him. It was an overwhelming moment.
Second was this amazing Rockstar Raghu. A cool dude and truly can take the tag of Rockstar but here is the difference, no arrogance, just softness and a big heart. He is the kind of person who lets things be, let people be. And what a voice he has.
I would hear a beautiful voice singing every night somewhere in the campsite and I came to know he was the one. What a soulful voice, the voice that can bring out the pathos and intensity inside you.
So when we all urged him to sing , he sang and boy how he sang…
A beautiful medley of Hindi and Sufi songs mixed so beautifully and I was watching him as he sang. Eyes closed, coming from his heart with sincerity and passion. Felt lucky to be a part of this group, this energy, to actually experience something like this.
I also remember Bhim quietly giving me a bag of chocolates to give it to the staff from all of us and not to say its from him and he was very clear about that!
It stopped raining a bit and we were rejoicing! It was almost dark but we were so happy that we could actually get out of the tent. Things like this make you truly appreciate every little aspect. Would we have rejoiced like this if we were back in our city? in our daily routine??
And then we started dancing, bonfire or not, we didn’t care anymore. Bhupinder and Manojji started playing Garhwali songs and we grooved to it with them! The joy in their faces were unbelievable as they danced. Even Pratap joined in.
Then Bunny joined in, Omshree joined in, the Ahmedabadi gang of 4 joined in and it was super fun because we all learnt how to dance the Garba! Yup the famous Gujarati Garba, a traditional dance during Navratri.
Omshree was super sweet as she patiently showed us how to dance and we got it! Round and round, circle and circle 🙂
Then the Ahmedabadi heroes danced with gusto and here is what makes it more memorable. They said give us any song, be it trance, pop, English or whatever, we can dance a Garba to it! And they proved it. A Sufi song was played and bloody hell we do a Garba on it! Genius!
I remember Pooja joining in, then someone else joining in, then Ridhi moved a bit, and it was fun because we were just happy to be here. Mayank and Amit were recording the entire madness and in between when a Tamil song played, Amit danced full on 🙂
But I guess when the Himalayas say something loud and clear you have to accept it. It started pouring again, really bad.
I remember Pankaj, Jogen, Omshree, Mayank and myself sitting in one tent, all 5 of us talking till 9.30 pm. We all skipped dinner.
It was time to sleep and Omshree and myself just jumped into our spaces in the tent. It was getting bad, really bad. The winds were super strong. Let me tell you that Thunder and Lightening in the mountains is something else.Totally something else.
Raw,Wild, uninhibited out of control thunder and lightening.
It feels like it’s right next to you and coming for you and there is no escape. You are fully aware of your limitations and helplessness. That’s when you realize you are nothing but a mere mortal that can be Poofed away in seconds.
All that stuff you build your ego with where you come from becomes a Big Zero.
Those tags, material wealth, so called achievements, desires and pleasures you proudly hold on to is a BIG NOTHING.
Himalayas tell you who you truly are.. And you realize it, feel it, painfully, achingly, and your ego is below ground level. Way way below than you can imagine.
The whole night was sheer torture at least for me and Omshree. The sound of thunder makes you think the earth is going to collapse right under you.. Manvita our tent mate in between us was blissfully snoring and we were like how is she able to do that?Here we both were listening to every sound of the Himalayas and staying awake.
I remember we didn’t even sip water because who had the guts to get out and use the washroom that night?
There was something Metal, something big clanking hard towards Omshree’s side of the tent, we woke up with a start and were too scared to go out and check. This happened the whole night. We could sense that some tent got ripped off and some stuff is being hurled around due to strong winds.
I saw Omshree’s scared eyes as she said, ‘ Will we come out of this alive? I feel this is the end’ . It truly seemed like that. The winds were so strong we were shit scared the tent will blow off. It would take just a few seconds to end it all .
Just one landslide and we would be all gone.
I remember thinking that if this was the way to go, so be it.Better this way than any other way.Imagine being in the mountains experiencing what we experienced, what else was left?
Human desire is endless.. there is no limit to it and that’s where misery starts.
We were awake, waiting for a glimpse of daylight..