Well we didn’t have any spirit waking us up at night although sometime during the night I heard snoring next to our tent and at that moment I realised there was no one in the tent, as it was the same damaged tent Bhim, Showmik and Navadeep vacated to go up. But it was all my imagination because in that quiet still night, snores could be heard across the tents😊
It was going to be a long day towards Baniya kund. We would be completely trekking through the forest and we had our packed lunches with us to eat sometime in between the trek. Tirth mentioned this could be one of the few times Syalmi campsite was so calm. Usually it would be very windy and chilly. I was really thankful considering the if’s and but’s we felt in the last few days.
There would be lots of ascents and descents but by this time our bodies got used to the punishing trail, honestly even if we didn’t get adjusted, we had no choice but to keep walking! But yes like yesterday, even more so, the trail was beautiful and mesmerising, we were passing through a dense forest and all we could hear was the sound of birds, smaller waterfalls, flowing waters, it was paradise in every way.
Dharmik would keep lamenting and smiling at the same time, Pata hai kya khaane ka man kar raha hai? Pizza!( What I feel like eating right now is Pizza), then he would moan about Biryani! Yup being a Hyderabadi we all are obsessed about Biryani and Dharmik was a Pakka Hyderabadi boy at that.
He was a Gujarati jain but truly was a part of one of the older families that were from the city generations ago and a part of it’s heritage. His Telugu was Deccani and I loved it! For the uninitiated let me explain , older families and generations in the city speak Telugu with a mix of Urdu in it and a dialect that is unique to Hyderabadis. Listening to him talk felt like home. It was a comforting feeling.
Sorry for all the Andhraites and others who migrated to Hyderabad, I mean no offence but like every region in India, generations of families living in a place is very different from the migratory folks that shifted to the city. The culture is very different. And one should appreciate it’s uniqueness isn’t it?
We kept asking break kab ayega?( when will we take a break?) and it did happen in spurts. Meanwhile this beautiful region had so much to offer. At one point we reached a nice clearing. Tirth was in touch with the campsite checking the situation. There was another team that was in the campsite because they couldn’t summit Chandrashila so they actually waited for a couple of days before they did it that morning.
It was headed by ‘Tanmay Bain’ and I raised my eyebrows. Yup I did. Why you ask? Well he was my trek lead for Har Ki Dun and Sandakphu and he is one of the senior most guys. I will sum him up, what he is personally, ‘Womaniser’, flirt’, ‘show off’, ‘ has no barriers or boundaries’, ‘predator’. If you think I am being harsh well I had experience of two treks with him and I had enough. And I had told him on his face that he is seriously stretching my patience.
And before you think he tried anything on me, no way, he targets young women, who are naive, gullible, insecure and feeds on it. Of course I didn’t tell any of that to Tirth when he mentioned that Tanmay knew I was on his trek. In Sandakphu I still remember, me, a friend Manal and a few more got lost in the forest because this chap was busy talking up a female he targeted! And let me put it bluntly to whoever reads this because I truly don’t care, I complained to Indiahikes about his behaviour. And he also came to know it was me who did it. As I told you, I don’t care.
Honestly I could have revealed more to the team considering what he did during Har Ki Dun was unforgivable, distasteful and put a lot of them in an awkward position. He could have been fired! But yup I gave him benefit of doubt for a few reasons that time. One he was young, these guys are up in the mountains, there is no relationship, no intimacy nothing, and it’s natural to get attracted to someone who is trekking. But during a trek they lead, which is a responsibility, they have to make sure everyone is safe. But not once, he repeated it again in Sandakphu, although this time the ‘targeted’ gal made sure she kept a distance from him, taking in only the attention and nothing else.
Why I am mentioning this is because with the #metoo movement a few years ago, it’s time a lot of women speak up and say as it is. It is time. 10/10 women will tell you, I guarantee that they have been sexually harassed/teased/ molested or forced to do stuff they were not comfortable with. And this man did that during Har Ki Dun, to the point I didn’t know if it was consensual with that girl. Sure we can laugh it away, smile it away, maybe the girl liked the attention, but he crossed all lines during the trek. The other trekkers were newcomers and they had no idea what to say or do and just went about it. But I was a solid witness to things happening in front of me and I should have not kept quiet and that’s a mistake I admit.
Anyways moving back to the present, when I heard the name I told Bhim, man I don’t ever want to see this guy because I want to punch him! Bhim was the only one who knew about the entire story because right after that trek Bhim met me at Kathgodam where we began our own adventure trek. I spoke about him in detail to another person, Riddhi, Well, Karma bites ass and it did that day! More on that later 🙂
Pushing those thoughts away I moved with the rest and finally the break happened. There was plenty of time to relax, so we decided to play ‘Japanese whispers’ it was such a fun game. With the regular group of Bhim, Navadeep, Riddhi, Tarang, Anuj, Dharmik, Showmik was Tirth, Pankajji, Satish( our guide) me and a few others I think. But essentially the above would be the group hanging together all the time. The ‘Family’ maintained a distance as usual and Rajesh the wanderer was lying down peacefully.
So this game was to sit in a circle and whisper anything to the next person, now that person not only had to remember what he heard but whisper something new to the next person. So each one of us had to remember what we heard! And after that was done, one person would ask anyone a question, any question, and he would have to say the sentence or word that he heard! It was hilarious! And so timely!
It was uncanny because for every random question asked, the answer fit in perfectly. Pankajji’s whisper to Satish was awesome. Because when Satish was asked, What will you tell your girlfriend? He blushed and replied Pankajji’s whisper, ‘Aao kabhi haveli pe’- I can’t do a literal translation but yup it was like a proposition to a woman 😁 For me the best was Dharmik’s whisper to Anuj. When someone asked Anuj, what is Tarang’s best memory? Anuj replied ‘HALDIRAM’🤣🤣
How quickly and swiftly we bonded in a matter of days, and that’s the amazing thing about trekking. It’s a community alright. A tight knit community that knows there is always someone equally crazy out there like you and you feel home ♥️
We were already hungry, now eating bits of snacks given by friends, munching on we would keep moving until we reached this beautiful water bed. Filled with rocks, deep into the jungle. Fresh flowing water coming all the way from the glacier. We had a good break there. Tirth told to follow and I did, he pointed to a favourite rock, his favourite spot and here he said one must do push-ups and dip their face in the cold water 3 times! I took Navadeep’s help, as he held my legs and I dipped my face three times!
The adventurous few followed behind. Bhim took a video of Tarang doing it, and all I saw was his white sunscreen brighter in the water doing push-ups 😁 Dharmik and Anuj did it too. Then we started splattering water on each other! Bhim, Tirth, Riddhi, Tarang, Anuj, Dharmik, Pankaj and me. It was super fun! We were soaking wet and super happy. What else did we need? I remembered a line from a 90’s English movie, where a girl tells a guy, ‘Nothing is free in life’ he smiles and says ‘Love is’ 😊
Then Tirth gently told us to sit quietly and take it all in. In silence, this moment, this place, just be with yourself. And what happened was indescribable. A strange sense of peace and blankness. The few of us were so far away in every way from the rest of the trekkers. We were sitting in our own spot and yet so connected in our silences. Moments like this happen few in a lifetime…
To be continued on Monday ♥️