It was a beautiful morning as we woke up and got ready for our trek. Bhim and I had one tent and lots of space to keep our baggage and our stuff lying around us, that’s the advantage of having 19 members 🙂 Nirvi and Pooja had their own tent too and I remember Kashif shaking his head as the rest of them were 3 in a tent.
Bhim’s throat was a goner and he was feeling feverish, Himanshu gave him some pills. We had a long 11 kilometres to go but the good thing was the climb wasn’t hard this day and we would be traversing some of it using the road, walking along on an easy moderate 11 km trek with short climbs.
As usual we had one of the mountain dogs follow us all the way from Dhaula, it looked like she was used to it, yet my thoughts went back to the Bhutiya of Har Ki Dun running behind us in a jeep and I hoped she wouldn’t do the same.
The scenery was changing and so beautiful, the greenery the vast mountains and we had the lush blue Rupin river cascading and going the same way we were.. The colours of the river were electric I tell you..
One could hear the gurgling waters as we crossed small bridges, surrounded by the vast mountains. The mountains were lush with coniferous trees and it made our trek so enjoyable. I remember Bhim and I recollecting that this must be the first trek where the first day was pleasant and easier than the other treks we did.
I noticed that the whole group was not in a hurry, not in a rush, yes some of the lads forged ahead as usual but still the energy of the group was pretty much serene. We still were not knowing nor talking to everyone. I do remember that we chatted mostly with Kiran and Kashif that day.
Kiran was from Bangalore and a Kannadiga so right enough Bhim and him were talking sometimes in their language and slowly it came out, Kiran had a whacky sense of humor and he would joke at the most inane things and we would burst out laughing. His humor would get whackier as days went by!
I remember playing songs of the Beatles, The Doors, John Denver on my phone and Bhim keeping the phone in his pocket as we trekked. We spoke about the concept of love, how it’s so labelled by everyone, why can’t love be just love? Why can’t I say I love you without the tag of ‘like a friend’, or ‘like a bro’ ‘like a lover’, why? The Mountains did get out something in us, to be true to ourselves without any tags or labels.
Aaah.. The Mountains.. what was their effect on us that made us just be.. Slowly silently they crept into your consciousness and never left.Was it their silence, their resilience, their kindness where they opened up to us and gave so much without us realizing it?
Slowly we reached the outskirts of Sewa village, we could see the scenery changing, lush greenery and we knew we were almost at the border of Uttarakhand. Tomorrow we would crossover to Himachal.
Today we were camping at the Tea house or as it was called ‘T house’, we were shown our rooms, all dormitories and we made our way for the usual lunch and tea. Bhim was having fever by now and decided to rest up after food while Himanshu took us for a short walk to a beautiful temple in the village.
It was the temple of ‘Karna’ the oldest brother of the Pandavas in Mahabharata and just like all local temples there, it remained closed until there was a festival or procession.
Himanshu shared some experiences of his treks to Annapurna Base Camp and Sandakhpu Phalut. What stands out for me is his description of the view of Macha Puchare in Annapurna and the pics of a view of the clouds enveloping the mountains below in Sandakhphu.
At that time itself, I made up my mind to try again for Sandakphu next year. I had a history with this trek where I had to cancel it twice and this time I had to make it happen.
Himanshu pulled in Bhim to come and join us for games outside, a little away from the tea house, sleeping inside the room would make him feel even sicker. It was a fun game telling our nick names with our real name and remembering others names! I do remember Cherry on top(‘the top’ added by Kiran of course), Kaju/Carrot Kashif, Poo for Pooja and so many more. This was an ice breaker, by now we knew most of their names.
We were also joined in by two other guys Divyaj and Nandan who were boarded at the Tea house, they were doing Rupin Pass with Kushluv their guide and Himanshu told them to join us until the 4th day where they would go ahead on their own.
The real ice breaker happened when we had to play a game that was called Two Truths and One Lie. Yup. 3 statements had to be made by each person and the rest had to guess which was that one lie! It was super fun as we played some of it outside and when it got dark we continued after dinner.
And that is when we truly met the 6 ‘Sarala Birla’ boys aptly titled by Kiran as they belonged to the Elite Sarla Birla Academy in Bangalore. So when it was their time to play this game, Advaith spoke about taking his BMW car, taking it for a ride and loading it with booze without telling his parents, Neel blowing firecrackers outside airport arrivals and calling his 3 mind you, 3 drivers or Vishwas’s dad owning an helicopter! We all went Whaaat???
Here we were discussing some kind of shitty serious stuff and these were privileged lads! Talk about First World problems! After that we always called and ragged them as ‘Sarala Birla’ all the time and they took it very sportingly.
Another hilarious one was when Karna spoke about him getting pissed drunk in a pub and proposing to a girl and right at that moment his dad Mihir walked in! He immediately diverted his statement! We roared in laughter and told him to repeat it in front of his Dad 🙂 They were a cool Dad Son combo I must say.
That was when we all opened up to each other. The formality flew right out of the window, the baggage we all had started shedding away, we were getting lighter, we were getting to be open with each other.
BTW did I mention that Bhim got married that night?
Yup he did. To Pooja, with a Mullah and a witness to boot! The best part? All they had to say was Qubool Qubool Qubool(I accept) 3 times unintentionally! Didn’t get it? Well Kiran being the notorious guy he is made Bhim and Pooja say that word 3 times by way of a question and Kashif said his last name was Mullah so there it was, a wedding happened! Poor Pooja kept laughing nervously saying I am engaged already, No No! 🙂
So there it was folks, 19 of us who came together, just like that. Barriers melting, Walls breaking, boundaries no longer existing and we were all in this together as a team.