Bamboo Forest, Music, A Scare & A Chaiwala- Part IX


We started trekking saying goodbye to the magnificent views. Today was another 16 kms and this time we would be descending most of the time until the final steep ascent to Gorkhay for an hour.

I used to fear descents like hell but this time I don’t know why I whizzed down for the first couple of hours. I was descending so fast that Priyanka asked me if I had wheels on my feet today. I was truly enjoying it this time.

Most part of the trek would be going through thick bamboo forests also known as the bear zone. Saikat’s obsession with yetis and bears was unbelievable and every single time he hoped he could get a sighting of one until someone reminded him that bears hibernate in winter 😊

We still hadn’t reached the bamboo forest area and at one point besides Manal and her siblings and a few others there was no one behind us.Where were they? Bharatbhai told us to be silent and he shouted for the others, his voice echoed but no response. There was a detour to this area and people could have missed that detour.

Bharathbhai and Subashbhai told us to stay where we are and rushed up and after 30-40 minutes they came back with the group. Tanmay forgot to take the detour and they walked straight ahead to a village, it took them quite some time to get back.

Now we made our way through the Bamboo forest and it was ethereal and enchanting. It was like walking into this dreamland, into a Disney movie or let me stretch your imagination and say a Little bit of The Hobbits kinda thing!Fresh to old snow, slippery to smooth we kept on descending crossing the thick bamboos. The four siblings were surging ahead with Doofy and her mum going back and forth and showing us the way.

And couple of times I slipped on the old snow and nicely fell on my butt and Yasin- Manal’s brother laughed and asked if I could do that again so he could take a pic! We laughed out loud 😁

The descent completely took a toll on Priyanka’s knees and she was getting slower, she was cursing for not having enough strength on her knees and it was taking a beating. That’s descents, strong knees or not, it does take a toll on everyone.

Darshan and I were chatting about dogs. He was an absolute dog lover,I could see that. We were talking about Rottweilers,Dobermans, the misconceptions people had on these breeds.We had a similar background as in living outside India for years and moving back. Like me,he was also mulling whether he should continue staying here or move out of the country.

At one point, we reached a beautiful clearing filled with bamboos surrounding us and Bharatbhai told us to take a break saying we were pretty far off, the other group behind were walking slow. We had to wait.

It was lovely sitting with the others until the big group caught up. Tanmay was with the last group and it was click, camera, lights, action so we started moving again.

From the bamboo forest I don’t remember how and when we started the steep descents,this was going to continue for a long time. Saikat was with Priyanka so I knew she was ok so I started moving ahead just behind Manal.

I don’t know how we got talking about music but finally I found someone in the trek who had similar taste in music! From the Doors to The Boss, From Nightwish to Disturbed, Queen’s lyrics to Bon Jovi. We shared our love of music, bands, iconic songs, the Red Shirt – Remember that Manal? 😊 It was such a joy. Where was she all these days? From the 60’s to the indie bands, we were chatting and the descents seemed tolerable now. It was refreshing and it felt good!

We shared quite a bit of other stuff too. Our lives,the previous treks we did. Details that really mattered in a trek.The synergy of the group is important and everyone has to be looked after and given attention to.

We were continuing the descent, there were no concrete signs and we had to look for arrows pointing the direction drawn on the mud. Then it happened. There was no one in front of us and behind us was Bhavana a little behind. Where did the others go? A big group of 22 and all were scattered.

I looked behind and got worried about others, how would they know the way? Bharatbhai was in the front with Manal’s siblings Darshan and Kinshuk,Subashbhai was in the last being the sweeper. Where was Tanmay?

At that moment we panicked. Should we stay? Should we go? Go where? Manal kept shouting Hey guys! waiting for a sound from either side. Nothing. We tried a few times, nothing. We could see no one behind us either. Did we take a wrong turn? This was not a linear path, it was zig zag and daunting.

We went back a bit and searched for signs, it was so eerily quiet it gets on to your nerves. Then we saw the arrow on the mud,we side stepped it and hoping others would see it,we continued. After quite some time we heard a voice so Manal called out again and sure enough we heard Bharatbhai’s voice far away.

Once we descended towards the clearing we saw the valley open up and it was massive! We were still in Nepal and there was this small village right in between the valley.

The scenery was spectacular. Rosy red cheeked kids were running about, there was a huge football ground and houses dotted around giving it a pretty picture. I went inside the Chai shop and saw Kinshuk, he offered me some really tasty snacks. He looked very tired.

We came outside and sat facing the ground. Darshan, Saikat, Kinshuk and Priyanka joined and we had our packed lunch adding some junk food chips and mixture we got from the shop. I guess it was time to have something spicy and oily instead of the usual healthy food.We were done with it! Tanmay promised we would have chicken for dinner and we were all salivating!

Post lunch,Tanmay announced there will be a cricket game for all the boys. We were bored and tired so Priyanka and I were lazing.

Manal joined us holding Doofy. A big dog from the village was after her so Manal held onto her throughout. Doofy exactly knew whom to go to. Anytime a dog bullied or chased her, she jumped into Manal’s protective arms. It was going to be heartbreaking and very tough to let her go.

We continued our chat.I have a beautiful memory of it. She was a big fan of THE BOSS and I played some of his songs and Dire straits songs while we spoke. She had rescue cats she adopted and shared stories of them. There was hope in this world..

At that moment some kids came towards us and Priyanka engaged them in conversation. She was so good with children,she talked and laughed with them and children know instinctively whom to warm up to.

After one hour we were told Chai would be at a different shop not far away from here and from there we would ascend to Gorkhay.

We wearily carried our backpacks and reached the Chai shop. Kinshuk was on fire! His eyes would brighten up, he would call us – Hey Swapna, hey Priyanka, Rabbit soup?? pointing out to the rabbits, then to the chickens then to anything that was not human! 😁 We were all hungry and I guess delusional!

With the Chai came what would be the most enticing vision we girls had in the past 7 days, The Chaiwala!

Read on 😁



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