As we woke up groggily in the morning, Neha asked if I heard voices outside, someone screaming/talking loud and honestly I thought it was a dream but yup there was someone out there last night.
As we made our way to washing up and getting ready, we came to know it was the older lady, yup the same duo who were a little distant from the group. Sumita- that was her name was following a ketogenic diet plan of only protein and no carbohydrates while trekking.
All that fad worked in your daily life but not in the mountains, it was gonna screw you. She didn’t have lunch properly and skipped dinner and by early morning she felt terrible.
High altitude, no food in the stomach and the panic attack, she just wanted to go back and so when she woke up Imroze, the first thing he did was give her some sweets and within 5 minutes she was ok.
This experience taught us all so much. All that fancy diets, workouts lifestyle comes to squat when you are up in the mountains. It takes all that shit out from you and you got to respect your body and give it what it needs. None of that high protein/vegan/keto whatever works there. Nothing.
We got a chance to see Nanda Gunti early morning again and it was crystal clear, we had no idea then how up close we would get to see them later in this trek..
As we were finishing up our breakfast and getting ready we heard lovely music from Indian Ocean and Jim Morrison’s songs and as we turned around it was from Imroze’s phone! Wow, this was a revelation and any guy who had good taste in music had our respect and Imroze was slowly redeeming himself 🙂
What was also refreshing for us on this trek was that we could play music on our phones, sometimes while trekking and in our tents. There were no strict rules on it. The cool thing about Imroze we realized later was that he had not many hangups.
Then I heard Imroze talk in Telugu to one of the Kannada boys. Yup one of the guys was from Andhra and he had tagged along with his brother and his friends. Eventually he would be the only one who was way better and social than his friends. And yup Imroze was from Hyderabad.
Vinayak asked as to why we retired early as he and Mr.Singapore and Harsha were listening to music under the stars. This man had great taste in music and was a true Rock fan.
It was refreshing to see someone in their 20’s not hooked to EDM/Trance crap. I mean to know Indie artists like Jose Gonzales, legends like Led Zep, AC/DC was impressive. It was always good to meet another Rock music junkie.
It was time to get a head on. We would be crossing the forest and Manojji clearly mentioned that no way anybody should go ahead without him.
There were 3-4 trails and people have got lost here so we had to keep on the path and follow the line. The forest foliage was thick so there were only patches of sunlight, we had to cross the forest and then make our way to the first stop – a Bugyal (meadow)
The meaning of a meadow redefined it for me when I saw it for the first time in the Himalayas. And this one was going to be extra special. We would be stopping at as Imroze put it ‘ Windows Screen Saver perfect Bugyal’ , from there we would finally reach another Bugyal – our campsite.
We trudged along the forest with ascents, not as steep as the day before but tough nevertheless. we were picking up altitude, going higher and some trails were not even there, Manojji would make his way through it.
We saw Neha huffing and panting and walking slowly, was she feeling breathless? She was not on Diamox, the tablet given to counter Altitude Mountain Sickness. But yes she was getting tired often and taking pit stops.
Bhim and I would watch out for her. Nag was soaring ahead, he was at ease. There was no doubt in our minds that this particular trek was a tough one. But getting tired and breathless every now and then was something to watch out for.
We had an able assistant Kuldeep among us. While Manojji would lead ahead, Kuldeep made sure everyone made the cut safe and sound, he would be the last one always.
As we went about discussing as to how to make Nag look mysterious and what can he do to get the girl of his dreams, he laid out a line to an unsuspecting distant lady 🙂
Yup the younger one of the two women was walking sometimes ahead, sometimes behind but keeping her distance.
And at one point Nag and she started talking and when we rested a bit, He said a line to her. First he complimented her saying You are beautiful and while she smiled he laid out the next one. The sun is shining so brightly and I have a feeling you are responsible for it or something like that.
Her look changed from smiling to shocked and we were trying to control our giggles! Nag was a sweet guy who still had to practice the art of flirting. Later we did say to him, Great line but wrong woman man 🙂
I also got a chance to chat with Mr. Salman Khan fan – his name was Subham, his ‘Maasi’ was one of that Delhi couple duo. Within minutes of chatting he started asking me about smoking and smoking ‘up’ and where could he get stuff. I firmly told him, look if you try any such stuff, anytime during this trek, you would be thrown out.
As we slowly crossed the forest that’s when we saw the first clearing, way up was a Bugyal, we were still crossing it, the big one with our major first stop would be an hour later but just the sight of this was beyond words.
Imagine seeing different shades of green and I mean different in front of you, you feel the urge to just lay yourself on that ground as you see the clear blue skies and puffy clouds with this beautiful light green Bugyal sloping up! What a sight!
Then Imroze smiled and said wait till you reach that major stop, I don’t want to spoil the surprise but its truly Picture Perfect! There were pretty flowers here and there surrounding it and we couldn’t wait now to see what was next!
And boy when we walked up with Imroze telling us to come up faster, we were zapped, truly zapped! Surrounding you, like totally taking you it’s arms, the warm beautiful sunlight hitting you. It’s… what can I say? Words fail me when I go back to that moment.. Captivating Ali Bugyal…
Endless meadows, sheep grazing on the other side, the sound of the bells of the mules and you feel like this Bugyal is yours… You can be anything, you can do anything right here.. You are in silence, you are just zapped..
We just threw our packs, our trekking poles and lay flat.. Sunlight hitting us, this world seemed like ours truly..
There was noise, voices behind us as there was a Dhaba(again!) on top of the meadow and the usual gang were hogging, taking pictures. We moved away to where we could be ourselves, in silence.
It was easily a one hour stop but it seemed timeless. We were walking, taking it in sometimes, sometimes just sitting and breathing in all this and lay flat with sunlight and skies above us as we looked up.
Then Bhim played an awesome collection of The Beatles. I remember dozing off, in this lull, in this beautiful slumber where I didn’t want to wake up.. Bhim was snoring away to glory not bothering about the mules walking by so close to him.
Finally it was time to go… Walking along the Bugyal is something else, totally something else.. You feel like rolling on it or just be there forever..
We were so away from it all, so away.. from family, responsibilities, complicated lives, everything.. This was simple, just plain and simple..
Finally we were reaching our next campsite.. and I must say one of the prettiest ones so far.. Bedhini Bugyal, and we could see our yellow tents and permanent sheds. This was huge. There were lots of tents on either side all by Indiahikes. There was already one trek team who had started a day before us.
We were made to do the mandatory stretches while Mr.Singapore gave us a dose of his ‘Pranayama’ breathing with his heavy gasps and wheezes.
We took our tent as usual and Lo what did we see? Just as we opened the flap of our tent we had a wonderful view of the mountains and when the skies cleared up, we could probably see the Magnificent Trishul! What a sight!
This by far would be the most comfortable campsite and we would be spending two nights.
There was warm bright sunlight and perfect weather for a campsite like this.
I realized sub consciously how weather plays such an important part in our lives, on our emotions and moods and nothing is more direct as the Himalayas which can turn into any weather within minutes.
Neha was feeling tired but her mood was uplifted after resting a bit. We had a good 2-3 hours in the sun. We couldn’t sit in the tent so we made our way to the center where Imroze, Vinayak and a couple of others were chilling.
As we started talking to Imroze, we realized he was a nice cool guy, maybe it took him time to open up and maybe his so called cockiness was his own mechanism to deal with stuff ,who knows? We all have ours too right?
I truly believe that post Bedhini Bugyal, Imroze opened up to us.. He was a cool guy to hang out with and again no hang ups on playing music in our tents.
The evening started getting chilly, quite cold with some drizzle. It was an open clearing, so the air would hit us directly from the mountains. And oh the sunsets and the clouds.. What a beautiful evening it was when we looked up..Those colours and the clouds, it was as if we were on it..
Everybody wanted to retire early it had been a long day.. Bhim and Nag decided to look up to the stars and while Neha and I chatted we heard Pihu’s voice in the next tent, yes the same 12 year old, she was staying with the distant two women. Well at least she made an inroad with them…
Just as we thought we will drift off to sleep, we heard Bhangra music, by who else but Mr.Singapore, Delhi Couple with their nephew and a few others dancing outside. I didn’t know whether to admire them for their bravado to do this in cold or just get irritated.
Tomorrow morning we would do a stiff climb to get acclimatized to higher altitude, from here it was only going to get tougher and tougher..