The driver who had dropped us from Chopta to Baniyakund was the same one who had picked us up from Dehradun to Sari Base camp. This man had an attitude from the very beginning.
That evening he kept murmuring, all of us should be ready by 6.30 am as near Rudraprayag there would be a barricade in the afternoon. And this man wouldn’t stop and keep grumbling, Tirth assured him that this team was pretty punctual.
It was morning and it was time to go. We were set. Tirth would go back to Sari base camp. We made our way out of the campsite. It was really tough trying to move away from the campsite… My heart was throbbing, I would miss this place the most. The meadows, the mountains, the sheep and cattle were grazing early morning ..
Why are goodbyes so tough… I am telling you, with every step I felt heavier. I didn’t want to go back to the city, to the din, to the constant cacophony we are subjected to every day.. No, No, my heart was sinking.
I remember telling Bhim in the morning, the feeling of doing another trek was strong. Bhim said he didn’t feel that way at all, he was happy with this one. I thought, I am going ahead and booking another one the moment I am back in Hyderabad. No way was I going to spend my birthday in a city or in a beach, nothing, it was going to be the Himalayas. It was very clear. Little did we all know that we will be cooped up in our homes as I am writing this.. And it has just been a month since the trek got over and how it changes!
We got into the van and sat in the same seats. Just the original group as it is. The driver was very rude to Pankajji and the team for delaying. It was not their fault because the entire kitchen team was packing up and they were carrying the supplies back to Sari. As the van started I saw the beautiful white mule along with the other mules being taken towards the meadows by their master. The same white mule that stunned us with it’s beauty as we walked towards Baniyakund for the first time.. Life goes on.. It was difficult for me to reconcile to this reality. 💔💔
We made our way out and the driver kept going until Pankajji and others who were with us got off at a point, they would go to Sari. We told Tirth goodbye with a lump in our throat. A 22 year old with the wisdom of a Wise Zen Master. I was going to miss him and his energy. I told him I was already following him on Instagram and we will be in touch. Such people are rare to come by and if I could be the free spirit, even a little bit as he is, that was enough for me.
I was living my 20s all over again through my life now in my 40s. My 20’s were about responsibilities solely towards my much older parents, their needs, their wants. And I am honoured by it, because they were my life. They were my number one priorities, always. There is nothing like a sacrifice because it’s a choice you make, and when one makes a choice all that sacrifice bullshit goes out of the window. I wanted to be with them and I was with them. Now I was free, in a way their passing away made me fly more, made me want to explore so much that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. Their deaths taught me to value life more and not to waste one more moment. So yup I am living my 20s now.
We were oscillating from chatting to snoring off to getting lost in our thoughts. It was all bitter sweet. Also once we were moving towards the plains, our exhaustion, tiredness and of course the ‘no bath’ for 5 days stink was sinking in too 😊
One by one we were nodding off to sleep and awakened only by the arrogant driver’s driving ‘skills’. Many times that arsehole missed causing an accident. I was seething. What is the fucking point of chanting’ Jai Sri Ram’ and god and all that when you are being a solid dick??! Dharmik and I saw a couple of times where he was missing hitting trucks by an inch because of his reckless driving.
When we reached a resting point for breakfast he was having another attitude about shutting the door of the van. Bhim gave it back to him solid. What was his problem?? Bhim shouted back, why are you angry?? Now should I be angry and shout at you because you nearly missing hitting trucks with your driving??’ Immediately the man became a mouse and smiled and says , Na Na aisa nahin hai, ( it’s not that) Bhim told him ,look stop creating a scene, nothing is gonna happen to your precious van.
There was a cute puppy that belonged to the owner of the breakfast place, Bhim was trying to give it some mixture, I told him if you really want to give him something, get some milk. Promptly Bhim asked for milk for the little fella and paid for it. Anuj became the protective dad saying milk doesn’t suit puppies so dilute it with some water and so the ‘surrogate dads’ for the moment- Bhim and Anuj did just that and watched the little one have milk 😊♥️
It was getting hotter as we were descending. Our masks were back on and we felt stifled by it. A week of freedom to this. Enroute we were suddenly stopped. Why? The cops said one of us didn’t wear a mask so we had to pay a fine! We were like huh? Everyone wore masks and the ones who wore it were lying face down and sleeping. It was that driver who didn’t wear it and blamed it on us again. Navadeep paid the fine. This was life, this was goddamn life and routine we were fed up of, we were so happy up in the mountains away from this trash called human beings..
Bhim and I got down before the police chowki. We didn’t need to get into town. I had booked a private apartment in Tapovan area. It was a vibrant area with cafes and the views of Ganga was beautiful. Saying goodbye to the group, we would meet up with the gang for dinner later, we made our way towards the lane where our apartment was. There were rapid Antigen test centres placed by the government nearby. We needed to get one too before we took our respective flights back home but we would worry about that later.
The apartment complex didn’t disappoint us. It was luxury. We needed that hot shower and yup some food. Because of the Kumbh Mela happening in Haridwa,r a lot of spiritual organisations and groups were in the apartment complex. Read that as rich and well fed, sometimes over fed Delhi, Punjab and Haryana Aunties and Uncles who wanted an instant dose of spirituality. We were blinded by their bling and ostentatious behaviour. All the cars had only the above states license plates. Yup, they so conform to the stereotype folks 😁😁
We ordered some greasy indian, read that as North Indian Chinese food and watched tv for sometime. I remember us watching old movies and commenting on the filmy dialogues and laughing loud! I totally enjoy those moments. Bhim and I really don’t need any reason to laugh, we look at each other and burst out with telepathic communication 😂
It was only a matter of hours before we would meet the gang. Bhim checked with Tarang if anyone was awake but our man was already on his way with his friends to the cafe. So was Riddhi who was staying nearby. Navadeep was staying in another hostel and he would join in. We called Showmik but I knew he would not join in, his purpose was fulfilled. He did the trek plus he was a family man through and through, what would he do with a crazy bunch like us? 😊
We finally met the gang. Dharmik was unabashedly having panipuri, virus fear or not, he was enjoying it. All of us looked so different in our clothes. Well Bhim and I didn’t look that different because even our casual clothes were trekking t shirt, pants and shorts, while others looked good in their casual clothes. All city bred yuppies 😁
We had fun over lots of pizza and pasta, talking about Haldiram, Tarang and the boys checking out beautiful girls egged on by Bhim 😊 We kept on eating until we couldn’t take it anymore. Bhim was commenting on a weird guy who looked like as he described a ‘Baobab tree’ called the upside down tree while Dharmik felt one chick in that group resembled Mia Khalifa while Riddhi didn’t see the resemblance at all! Now when I think of it, it didn’t even cross our mind to get a group pic and that’s when you know you had so much fun. Those moments belonged to us and not to be shared with a ‘smiley pic’.
Tarang, Dharmik and Anuj were going for an early morning bungee jumping and river rafting and they would move on to Mussoorie and spend some time before heading back home. Riddhi would leave for Bombay soon. Navadeep was leaving the next day as he had work from Monday. And us? We would be in Rishikesh for another day and do what we loved. See Ganga Ma and go with the flow.
It was time to bid adieu.. With lots of hugs and smiles we got into our auto. My heart was sinking again and so was Bhim’s. We kept a brave front of ‘phir milenge’( see you soon) but when? We didn’t know.. There is this thing that happens in every trek. You might get along fabulously with everyone in the trek but only a few would remain with you life long and with every trek I did, I had those few. With this it was obvious whom we would be in contact with throughout ♥️♥️
As Bhim and I sat in the auto, Bhim sighed, Man I am gonna miss them terribly.. Isn’t this love?
Until Tomorrow.. 💙💙