Before I start off let me tell you that this is blog is going to be longer than usual because that afternoon/ evening had so many moments, it would not be fair to omit it! So here goes!
As we reached the campsite and put aside our bags, we had a pack of mountain dogs called Bhutiyas greet us. They had so much fur and were so fluffy and truly friendly. They were a part of the shepherds group and protecting their flock and were used to seeing people at the campsite. They got so much attention as each one of us were clamouring to pet them.
Tirth told us to assemble in a circle and told the kid Akhil to guide us for stretching. I was quite amused by it. Maybe it was Tirth’s way of getting this kid out of his shell and out of the shadow of his family. Let’s say it was more like an exercise session than stretching. It was still good except that Naveen the coach was irritatingly interfering with the kid’s instructions and being rude to him. Bhim mentioned to me before that this chap was challenging Akhil to run on the trail, and being aggressive towards him. A 14 year old doesn’t need that kind of ‘motivation’.
I remember Tarang, Anuj and myself were giggling all the way through hearing the coach’s instructions to the kid and the family head, the father telling him to do this and that. At one point Anuj stopped and said Mere se nahin hoga, yeh cool down session hai ya exercise??( I can’t do this anymore!) 😂
After we did that, we saw the previous trek batch with their trek lead and sorting out trash and putting them in recycling bins! God forbid! It was that Tanmay! Gosh what are the possibilities that I got to meet him thrice. Always with treks in Indiahikes it’s rare to get the same trek lead twice, and here I had that fellow twice and to see him again! Surely god was punishing me for something.
I quietly pointed him out to Bhim and asked so? He said bluntly, dude he is ugly as fuck, what makes him think he is irresistible to women? Because folks, that’s exactly how he would tell people, in my previous treks he would boast about how women found him handsome, his hair, his eyes on and on.
I was near the wash area, when I met him face to face, it went like this, Hey Tanmay, Hey Swapna, a cold handshake and done. I looked at Riddhi and asked, She was like, he thinks he is attractive? Gosh he looks like, she used a Hindi word I can’t recollect but I remember laughing hard.😁
Kidding aside, I moved away and got in with our group. The Indiahikes team managed to collect loads of trash in bags besides our own eco bags and all of us collectively divided the trash in recycling bags, landfill bags, plastics and glass bottles. Once when we were done we were told to take our own time and relax a bit.
It was drizzling, on and off gently. We went into our tents, changed into our thermals and layered up for the evening. Riddhi picked up the right tent for us. It had a beautiful view of the mountains and it was finally a flat surface for the toilet tents, no balancing acts required! One tent was totally free and Bhim jumped into it saying I am sleeping alone, it was a luxury. He was a super tall guy and now he could sleep in any direction he wanted in the tent.
The weather was getting sunny to cold to drizzle and again back to sunny within minutes. I decided to lie back a bit, be flat and used the sleeping bag as a pillow, Riddhi too joined in saying this was nice. Riddhi had a nice habit of usually playing music and reading on her kindle before sleeping at night and I got used to it. She would play it softly while I drifted off to sleep. We were chatting until something happened.
It was Anuj, he was calling out my name, I opened the zipper of the tent and asked what? He said can you come out for a minute? I said what? He kept saying please come out for a minute, I came out and he hugged me tight and said I like trekking with you. I was a little shocked! The shy Anuj who rarely spoke a word, was always with his friends Tarang and Dharmik, just smiling away, he did this? Until I heard laughter from the other side! It was Bhim, Dharmik, Tarang! They were playing Truth or Dare and his dare was this! 😁
They told me to join in, and I did along with Riddhi. We wanted to include Tirth and Pankaj too, we kept calling them but they were busy in the kitchen. And what happened then was the most amazing ridiculously sequence of events. So a water bottle was placed in the centre, and we had to spin it and whoever it stopped and pointed to, would have a choice, truth or dare.
All of us chose Dare because we wanted to do something whacky. Tarang’s turn came and his dare was to go to Showmik with a flower on one knee and tell him, seriously, this is what he had to say, ‘ Your ‘thing’ is beautiful’!! And you know what I mean! Showmik was very tired, and Tarang kept on calling him out and he was like no ya, what is it? So Tarang said, at least open the zipper of the tent and yup he went on one knee and said it exactly as it is. And Showmik’s reply with a smile was, ‘ Why? Have you seen it ? 😂
Next came my turn and these buggers made me do stuff that could have got my arse kicked.They told me to go to Satish K, the competitive yoga chap, hug him and tell him he is handsome! I was horrified! I was like dude, his wife Kayal is gonna murder me. In front of the wifey?? But then I chose dare and I had to do what I had to do. So gingerly I went to his tent and kept calling him, Satish can you come out for a minute repeatedly. He was like ha? Hey this is Swapna, can you please come out for a minute? The tent zipper opened and his wife peaked out perplexed. I muttered with all my courage and said Not you, Satish And the moment he came out I hugged him tight and said, ‘You are Handsome’. I was shivering because I was waiting for the wifey to come out with a knife, but this chap was shivering more, shocked that a woman did this to him. He smiled but his His whole body went stiff as if he got electrocuted!
The next one according to me was the highlight of the trek and that was Riddhi’s show totally. When it was her turn, I told her, Tell Tanmay to his face, YOU ARE NOT GOD’S GIFT TO WOMEN and this gal walked towards the team camp site where to our amusement he was busy brushing his teeth and washing his face. We followed her. And this cool gal walked towards him nonchalantly and asked, Are you Tanmay? I am sure his attention perked up seeing a young attractive gal asking him. He said Yes? She said it so well, I have to tell you something, You are not God’s gift to Women! He was shocked, he went, Sorry? What? She repeated it, You are not God’s gift to Women! OMG! The way his face fell and his ego got crushed. We all burst into laughter right there in front of him. He composed himself after sometime and said, I know from where this is coming from, it is Swapna and tell her it doesn’t bother me anymore’. Well, well, well, it did bother him before did it? My day was made!
It was Navadeep’s turn, the other trek group that did the summit was still around and so we challenged him to ask that girl from the group for a cup of Chai and have it with her and I think her husband or someone was with her. For all his naivety Navadeep was super intelligent, he eased into it by introducing himself and saying since she did the summit and wanted to know more about it, can she talk about it while having Chai with him? Nice and so smooth, she agreed!
Then came Bhim’s turn and we decided he had to dance. Riddhi chose such a masala cheesy item number and he had to dance with all the lewd moves. The video is in the blog so watch it! Ditto with Tirth who joined in, his dare was to dance to another item number. Both the videos are in the blog for your viewing pleasure. Well we got our ‘item boys’ of the trek!
There was a super quiet intense looking guy with Tirth and we came to know he was Jo, the official photographer of Indiahikes and he would join us for the summit tomorrow. Poor Dharmik, His dare was to kiss Jo on the lips! The guy froze and said No, No way! But he still ended up kissing Jo on each cheek! 😁
Now when I think back about the stuff we did, we were so uninhibited, we were free, there was no judgement nothing, we went with the flow.
Then we decided to play Truth Game, only truth. This time besides the usual gang, Jo, Pankaj, Rahul from the kitchen team whom I knew from previous treks joined in too. While I will not reveal what all we asked and told each other even though I remember everyone’s bit, It was truly special with lots of laughter.
The way we confessed about each other, truth and nothing but the truth was something I don’t think we will do it again. But I will tell you one thing about our Gujju boys Tarang and Dharmik, because all they did when they went to Bali was eat, drink and sleep! When we asked why didn’t you do anything? They said well, how would we know if it was a girl or one of those lady boys?? So true!
The three Musketeers a.k.a Tarang, Anuj and Dharmik were 20 year old boys with quiet a bit of innocence in them. I wouldn’t compare them with a bunch of equally fun 18 year olds Bhim and I met during Rupin pass trek where we nicknamed them ‘Sarla Birla boys’. The shenanigans and the experiences they had in life could shock a lot of older adults 🙂
It was snack time and we saw Satisk K, the yoga guy with his wife walking towards us with the rest of the family. Bhim was laughing and said now that man knows he has another option, look at the way the chap is coming here confidently. Satish C, his friend had such a wit about him he said, when she was calling out Satish, Satish I wanted to reply that she is calling out the right name in the wrong tent!
After all that fun was of course the reveal of the ‘schedule’ for tomorrow. Tirth said we are going back to sleep early, by 7.30 pm. 12.30 midnight we wake up and come to the kitchen tent and eat our breakfast and then take our packed lunches and we get moving at 1.30 am. It would take us 2+ hours to reach Chopta, then an uphill ascent to Tungnath temple, and to be at Chandrashila summit to see the sunrise, by 6 am. Yup that was it. A continuous stretch of walking from 1.30 am.
We layered up with our jackets, windcheaters( in case of rain) as if we were going to the trek right now and slept and that’s how it’s done. Pretty much everything is sorted and kept aside except wearing shoes. Tirth would keep checking in every tent if our backpack was packed with the essentials. There is a great sense of discipline that happens while you trek. You become very organised, because you have to be up to the task at any time.
As he came inside each tent to check our oxygen levels which is mandatory because we were at a high altitude, he remarked I don’t think we will move until 2.30 am considering everyone is so tired after the long day. Boy would he be surprised!
Let me tell you I cannot sleep on summit day, I just cannot, so I intermittently would doze then wake up and that’s how it is. There were a few hours left, just four and half hours to go and the clock was ticking.
What happened on summit day according to me was a perfect example of the resilient human spirit.
PS: Check out our ‘Item Boys’ dancing videos below 🙂