As we bundled up in the jeep we started talking about our experiences, treks, what we did what we didn’t and more..
There was a huge traffic holdup in the town for atleast an hour as there was a gathering, a ‘Mela’ where people from surrounding villages all decked up dancing to blaring Hindi and punjabi songs in open jeeps/ trucks and were heading there. We were stunned by the spectacle, the crowds thronging to this huge Mela by the river bank spread out far and wide.
Everyone in the jeep had a lovely story about choosing this trek. Priyanka gave up her Durga Puja holidays, worked overtime at the office and used those leaves for this trek.
Kinshuk I feel was on a soul searching journey where he combined the trek, tracing his father’s roots and a cousin’s wedding together.
Saikat did his basic mountaineering course, having an army father, lot of pride and respect for what he did and had trekked the tough Goechala. He wanted to explore more of the Eastern Side of Himalayas, it fascinated him.
What interested me most was Darshan’s narrative. He was hanging a painting of ‘Om Parvat’ and his father mentioned he should go there. That was his trigger, he thought of doing Annapurna Base Camp then decided to start with the moderate Sandakphu Phalut.
Now guys when I say moderate understand what moderate means. It is in comparison to other Himalayan treks. And this is one thing I have learnt and continue to learn through whatever little I experienced.
Each trek is different no matter how many tough treks you have done. Time and again Himalayas shows your true self, tells you that whatever you might have experienced before,it will not be the same again…
As we exchanged notes, shared experiences, I observed how Kinshuk had a keen sense of humour but not in telling jokes kind of way, his observation of a situation, a circumstance, an example, it came naturally to him.
What I would observe later also is that when he really was serious and meant it seriously, everybody thought it was funny and always expected him to be funny throughout.. An intense person, carrying his heart in his sleeve, he was an eloquent writer and yet kept a part of his self only to himself…
We stopped for lunch and we met some of the trekkers we briefly met at the station. The Chennaities. My first impression? Formidable! Pravin with his big personality, handlebar moustache and a laughter that could cause landslides! Revathi had this strong indomitable presence and ‘don’t you dare mess with me’ energy which I was taken aback initially but would later know how first impressions means nothing when you get close to them and know them better, in fact you realise you have so much in common. Sujitha had a calming presence, kind eyes and a smile. One could feel relaxed just being with her. Writers,Motivators them all.Their fellow passengers were Sunil now living in Melbourne and an extremely quiet guy Suvadeep- more on this guy later!
As we were nearing our destination with a brood of chickens in a basket on top of our jeep( Yup!) we stopped for a couple of Indiahikes team members who hitched with us. One was a dynamic guy Ram who had just finished leading a trek in Chattisgarh. As I started chatting with him, I asked him so are you our trek lead? He said I wish! But no it’s Tanmay.
I was like say what?? You mean Tanmay? as in Tanmay Bain??I screamed as others looked at me in surprise. Oh no not this guy, not this bugger!
What can I say about this chap? He led Har Ki Dun last year and I had loads of adventures not always great ones thanks to him.
Now before I venture more, do read my Har Ki Dun blogs and you will get an idea. He is a dynamic trek leader but he carried his distractions with him and I hoped it wouldn’t be another Déjà Vu moment.
As we reached our destination and made our way down to the guest house, there he was smiling and waving. I gave him a hug and said how is this possible man?? Not you again! He laughed out loud.
I will not go by a minute to minute account of what we did but let me sum up as to who caught my attention that day at the intro/ meet up.
There was a sharp featured intelligent tall gal sitting with her siblings. Unique, they all stood out from the rest. She was Manal.
Then there was this absolute free spirit inside, open and told us about her struggle and weight loss journey from 80+ kgs to 60+ kgs through sheer determination, that’s Bhavana.
There was also a quiet curly haired gal with really beautiful eyes whom I felt initially was with the Bangalore girls gang of Bhavana’s and more so because a couple of them were also curly haired, but she was from Chennai- Her name? Ishwarya.
It was a long day and long evening with a bunch of interesting people.
I got out with Priyanka and took in the crisp chilled air, temperature dipping, it was dark as we sat on the steps while Kinshuk, Saikat and Darshan joined us.
We were all set to start our trek tomorrow morning…