We got out of the jeep and were totally in awe of the surroundings, a 360 degree view of the huge mountains up close and that glacier.. Were we dreaming? That’s exactly how we felt..
The stone homes looked enigmatic and there was no one there. Manoj went up to the deserted village to check if anyone came back yet. We meandered, walking around in a daze.
Then out came one, then two. Yup just two men giving us quizzical looks. Manoj knew one of them. He was Gambhir Singh, he used to study with Manoj at Dharchula school and he was truly Gambhir with no smile, just looking at us, while the other guy was smiling but silent.
We introduced ourselves and asked them if we could stay here for the night? Anything can be arranged? We just wanted to explore the mountains and spend some time here. And slowly they warmed up to us.
It looked sunny but it was still cold and it was afternoon, so Gambhir opened his Dhaba and the other guy made us Hot Maggie noodles. Manoj joined in and we three were so hungry we just slurped the noodles.
I saw a PCO/STD booth and badly wanted to call someone to say Hey guess where I am? That one crazy phone call! But alas! it was not operational.
As we started chatting, they informed us that the village was still empty. There were only two other guys, Gambhir Singh’s father who was the Sarpanch and Santu Singh. The women and children with the live stock would start their journey back here in a week’s time or so. We were so glad there were at least 4 of them.
We spoke passionately about the Mountains, where we came from and we spoke wholeheartedly. We were very happy to be here and we told them that.
In no time we all became friends, yes,the inhibitions in each one of us just went away and by this time Manoj had become really close to us. So we asked him, can he stay back? We would love to have him with us .We can explore tomorrow morning up and beyond the village and the meadows Gambhir and the other guy was talking about and then leave for Dharchula in the evening.
Manoj by now didn’t require much convincing 🙂 He smiled and said Kyo Nahi? On our way towards the village he had seen that his savari of Army Jawans had already been picked up by another vehicle, we saw them crossing by so he said there was no point in going back empty handed and he needed a holiday too 🙂
The other guy with Gambhir Singh was nicknamed ‘INDIAN’ yup, they called him Indian because he preferred a certain brand of rum that was called Indian! Another name they called him was ‘Chura Liya’. I don’t know what’s the reason for that name though!
And get ready for this, They were all a big fan of Allu Arjun! For those who were lucky enough to not know this Allu Arjun, let me initiate you. He is one of the popular heroes of Telugu Cinema, a whatnot mass hero, and to think of all places I had to hear that the whole village loved him. All his movies were dubbed in Hindi and he was pretty popular this side! For God’s sake, Hyderabad and Telugu Cinema was haunting me here too!
Bhim told me that I should somehow get this message across to Allu Arjun that he had a huge fan following in Uttarakhand and honestly I do want to tell that midget hero about it!
The way we all warmed up to each other was incredible I tell you. I doubt if we would have been that open and free back in the cities to strangers. Here there was no suspicion, no mistrust. The people of the hills are wonderful and I only hope time and again that nothing should taint their genuineness.
Then Gambhir Singh (I called him Gautam Gambhir 🙂 ) told us he had a surprise and off we went with him, walked up to the village homes and he took us to this stone home and inside past the dilapidated rooms, deep inside was a snooker table!! Yup snooker table of all things! A proper room at that! We laughed out loud. Who would think of all things, this would be there in the most remote of places!
Bhim, Gambhir, Manoj and Indian played Snooker while I watched,laughed and played Hindi Music to motivate them. It was fun to watch them, chatting up and I could see Bhim enjoying himself thoroughly! Who would think we would end up doing all this at 10,000 feet altitude? 🙂
After almost two hours we took our backpacks from the jeep and were led up to the topmost area of the village. There was just silence. All homes were traditionally locked with a cloth and iron paddle like the olden times. What a backdrop the village had. The Mountains and the stone homes were dazzling.
No matter how much one treks, the huffing and panting always exists . So we huffed and puffed all the way up on the incline to our room. It was a beautiful stone house and the moment we saw our room,we were delighted. Two comfortable beds set up step by step and a small window and everything inside was traditional. It was very welcoming. We were happy and thankful that we had a shelter for the night and we truly felt this was luxury.
We asked about wild animals and they said wild animals come when no one is in the village so we asked, so will there be wild animals in the night here because there were only 4 people now, almost empty and they only smiled and said Na Na! It would be a little scary to answer Nature’s calls outside in the night but we had our head lamps and that was good enough.
After throwing our backpacks in the room, we decided to go for a stroll outside the village, just walk ahead and see where it takes us. Manoj was going with Gambhir and Indian to get some firewood for them, it was going to get pretty cold.
We started walking along with no one in sight and absolute pin drop silence. It seemed like even the Mountains and the wind wanted to be still.
We kept walking until we saw a small clearing, we climbed up to it and sat on top of a big rock. We were blissfully happy and you can see from our pics how much. We were joking, laughing, sometimes just silence, solitude, one doesn’t need to communicate in words, it’s just there. We were taking it all in.
It was almost 4.30 pm and in the Himalayas one never knew how everything could get suddenly dark. So we slowly started our walk back and looked up to the mountains and the dense forest up there, who knew what all animals were there?
As we reached the village, suddenly Bhim pointed me to something behind me and what do I see? A little rascal of a puppy, so happy and ecstatic he was bouncing towards us! Like All the way down almost crashing towards us 🙂
Oh Gosh, I can still feel that furball! He was a hardy stock, coming from mountain dog breeds, he was just a few months old but he had such character and individuality! Nibbling on our hands and feet, he was seriously happy seeing us! Some new humans smell finally in this deserted village! He was yelping in happiness and he ran up with us as we went to relax in our room. And his name? TIM TIM 🙂
He took turns in jumping from my bed to Bhim’s bed taking all the pampering and belly rubs he could possibly get and Boing! just like that he ran out again! I so wished he could stay with us for the night and hoped he would be inside some room at night. He was an easy prey right now being so young.
Gambhir and Indian brought us Hot Chai and Manoj joined us with Santu Singh. We all sat on the bed and had a great time. We chatted about our lives, the village and everything light hearted, it was all Masti!(fun). It tells me always, there are no barriers or boundaries really, we complicated humans screw it unnecessarily.
So what was the plan tomorrow? Indian would take us to explore beyond the village and he said you have no idea what you are going to see tomorrow! Usually locals didn’t like outsiders to explore without their permission but he could manage because there were so few of them here anyways. Gambhir also said he might join us, we insisted he must. We had become such a tight group.
I asked about TIM TIM and Gambhir said it was his puppy and he always keeps him inside the house for the night. Thank God!
It was pitch dark by 6 pm and we were huddled in the room, they had a solar lamp which they gave to us. They brought us hot dinner at 7 pm and I mean hot in steel tiffin boxes. Rotis, Rice, Onions and the most delicious Dal I tell you! We hogged, like really hogged and wiped it clean.
They told us to be ready by 7.30 am the next day, it was going to be quite a long trek. It will take a whole day and we had to start off to Dharchula before it got dark. The routes looked dangerous in day light itself, we couldn’t take a chance. They would wake us up at 6.30 am.
It was only 8 pm but it was late night mountain time so we wanted to rest up and maybe pinch ourselves to see if this was real? The whole day felt unreal, the way it went. The journey, the village, the people, Tim Tim and to know that we were going up towards the mountains tomorrow, close to the Glacier! We didn’t expect we would ever do that!
As we lied down, Bhim and I were chatting and we decided to play Antakshari, yup just two crazy persons but here is the glitch, we would play Antakshari only to 90’s Hindi film songs, Yes Sir! It was hilarious as we sparred on songs, halted, sang badly and slowly drifted off to sleep.What a day…