We said our goodbyes to Gambhir and Indian, we were lingering on, looking at the village, the vast mountains, that mystical glacier way up there.. And of course TIM TIM who was yelping and jumping.. That little fellow was circling the jeep as we were about to get in. Gambhir held him while we waved and started our journey back..
We kept on looking back, looking around and looked at each other incredulously, did it really happen? did we really experience this all?
Bhim exactly said what we were thinking, No dude, this cannot be the only visit, we have to come back here again.This was more than a promise, we knew we would be back here..
Manoj started playing his songs, the 90’s Hindi songs and drove along. I remember we stopped at this route which was gushing with waterfall coming from the glacier. Bhim got down and took a video of Manoj beautifully maneuvering the vehicle on the route with the water splashing huge on both sides of the jeep.
Our initial plan was to go to Narayan Ashram. This came up when I read in a Backpackers forum about it. I had no idea about the ashram nor their Guru, just that if one were to request for a night’s stay, they would never refuse. It was also supposed to have one of the most scenic views of the mountains.
Through the forums I thought that Narayan Ashram was on the way to Dharchula and Manoj could drop us off. But he told us that it was a detour from Dharchula and it was a 46 kms detour! We had only a few days left before our train to Dehradun and we also wanted to spend some time at Hawalbagh for a day as our train was from Kathgodam.
Manoj showed us the route to Narayan Ashram as it was running parallel to our route till it made a detour, even towards that side no one had come back to their villages and most probably we wouldn’t even get a vehicle to come back to Dharchula. The ashram would have to wait for another day..
We weren’t disappointed at all as we were filled to our heart’s content about the wonderful experience we had, it was time to head back to Dharchula. In the meanwhile Manoj I guess got a good sounding from one his work colleagues as he took two days off, so he had to pick up one teacher who was also going to Dharchula. He asked us if we would mind, we were cool with it.
The gentleman took a good 45 minutes to get ready and get into the jeep and was quite hostile to us initially. It was a surprise to us considering the kind of love and warmth we got from everyone, well I guess that’s balance in life.
He just couldn’t believe that two city folks wanted to stay in a village, he interrogated and shot questions at Bhim and Bhim in his cool way answered politely. But he was pushing our buttons.
Manoj kept on forgetting Bhim’s name so Bhim gave him a clue, He said my name is in one of the names of the Pandavas. Poor Manoj was scratching his head and wondering so Bhim casually asked the teacher, Sirji, Aap isko bataiye na Pandavon ka naam( Sir am sure you can tell him the names of Pandavas)
The teacher until then who was boasting about how he taught all subjects from grade 1-6 fumbled and mumbled and retorted back at Bhim, kya aap meri pareeksha le raho ho?? (Are you examining me?) He became very defensive! Bhim laughed and said Nahin Sir, aap teacher hai na, aap to bata sakte ho (No sir, you are a teacher you know the answer) It was a genuine assumption.
The teacher’s ego got a bashing I tell you, he was respected in the villages and we could see people bowing to him and I guess he was not used to anything other than attention and subversion, so he meekly said, Mein to abhi 49 saal ka hoon jee, ab sab kuch to yaad nahin rehta..( I am getting old, I don’t remember everything) Ego is Ego, city or mountains. He became softer towards us after that.
As Manoj dropped him at the outskirts of Dharchula, the teacher wished us well and invited us to his village, to drop by and ask for him when we would visit next time 🙂
We had decided by then that there was no point in staying in Dharchula the next day, we were gonna take off but where we didn’t know. Regardless, Manoj said he would come at 8 am directly to the guest house and put us in a vehicle.
The guest house manager and assistant were smiling when they saw us, they were very happy knowing we had an amazing time.
Bhim said why not go back to Hawalbagh tomorrow and stay at Innisfree? Arjun also would be back by that time and it would be good to spend some time there. We were more than happy to go back and share our experiences! We knew Lyat would be delighted in knowing more! So Bhim called Lyat and thankfully a room was available.
So far, until now, nothing went as planned and Thank God for that! If not for our bad planning, instant decisions, detours we would have never experienced all this.
The next morning Manoj promptly came in and put us in a vehicle. And here is the thing, we learnt another big lesson too.
So far it was a smooth awesome experience one after the other but something has to balance it out right? to get us back to Reality? And that happened in the form of a Nepali lady nothing like the sweet Ira Devi!
She was sick and coughing loud and so Bhim kindly put himself next to her blocking me from her saying you already got sick and I have more resistance towards such stuff. But the journey from Dharchula to Pithorgarh was sheer torture 🙂
She harassed everyone and I mean each and everyone in the shared jeep including the poor driver. She would shout, scream, suddenly get off and take nature’s calls, sometimes in a temple premises! She demanded water from us, demanded the driver give his Chewing tobacco. It was proper bullying. It was hilarious and excruciating at the same time 🙂
She asked Bhim about me, Wok kya lagti hai?
( Who is she?) Like outright, and Bhim finally couldn’t take it and asked Aap ko kya?? And Bhim has this hoarse strong voice, so it would boom! But no, this lady laughed loud, we couldn’t help smiling either. She taught us a truly wonderful lesson, balanced us quite a bit.
Through her we came back to reality and accepted it. Journeys are like that, aren’t they? Especially in the Mountains, they tell you life is like this always. You cannot expect everything to be smooth. It levels you.
Finally we got off and this time we gor a cab just for ourselves from Pithoragarh till Kosi Bridge. Lyat kindly sent the car to pick us up at the bridge.
It was raining throughout our journey amd it continued to and the whole landscape was beautiful. Hawalbagh was lush green and as we entered into Innisfree we saw Julia running towards us with that awesome warm smile 😊It was good to be pampered again by her 😊
We didn’t get inside the room, just left the backpacks and sat at our favourite place, the Verandah while the Chai and conversations kept going with Julia and Lyat.
Arjun and Deepta were supposed to come that evening to Innisfree but Arjun was dead tired and not well at all. Driving from Delhi to here was no joke. They would see us tomorrow.
It was a beautiful evening as we continued our conversations with loads of food 😊