The way I remember and I want to remember really is that journey to Bhangeli base camp, an excruciating long journey crossing Uttarakashi but it was also my observations of the people travelling with me.
Darshan was the only person I knew because we met when we trekked Sandakphu Phalut- West Bengal Himalayas that borders with Nepal in the winter of January 2019. He had gone through a lot the past year but even more so when I met him in 2019. A loner yet very friendly and warm, him along with 4 of us became what we called the ‘5 Musketeers’ during Sandakphu. Those were fun times and seriously among the cacophony of that group that was, I found Darshan to be very calming holding his camera and taking pics. He also had a love for dogs.
There was also a shared loss. He came back from Canada for his ailing mother who was suffering from cancer, 6 months he gave himself in India he said and it has been 6 years.. Same with me, I took a one way ticket from New York to take care of my father in his last stage of cancer and never went back. Ironic how lives change drastically.. We both were displaced in our own way, home was where? It was India but also there..
As Darshan and I got into the tempo I looked at the various trekkers around me, the vibe itself told me this is going to be good, there was an air of ease around. I clearly remember a gal walking in all smiles. Kavya, her energy was effervescent, bubbly. A 20 year old gal, way mature beyond her years, fun and let me tell you, very caring and compassionate. I would completely enjoy trekking and pacing with her later on.
Then there was Korak, a bong with the calmness and a vibe that was cool and would show resilience from the first day of trekking itself with his torn shoes and no soles. I enjoyed my convos with him later in the journey and realised how much we had in common.
And of course a gal after my own heart, Gayatri, a South Indian like me, a strong woman, an experienced Trekker from Chennai and I felt so happy to see that she had her own life and passion beyond the usual. A proud mother of a 10 year old son and 7 year old daughter, she trekked and how! She did Annapurna base camp solo in April this year and I was inspired. We instantly connected. It was also because of a similar South Indian background. Sharing our love for food, language and humour! Let me tell ya, this gal made me laugh out loud every time! As she put it well, we engineers know how to make fun of ourselves! Her comments were priceless throughout! We used to goad each other every day with jokes, food, and the line, ‘one more day to go’ 😊
Then there was Shourya- befitting his name, he was the strong silent type from the word go, never letting out a word throughout our tempo journey. From Rajasthan, he was a polo player and had horses! And handsome and rugged. He was reserved and later on he would talk slowly, softly smiling. He was keeping a distance at the pick up location until one more walked in like a storm! Who you ask?
Sarvotam! Yup that’s the name and I swear I can never forget that name the moment he came and introduced himself to us. It was unique and beautiful. I have a knack for remembering names and details but his name stood out and as he mentioned later, they named him after his grandfather. And the only guy who went ahead and broke the ice with Shourya from day one. How you ask? Fellow smokers! That’s the thing I envy in them, He promptly took out a cigarette and soon enough both started chatting over a cigarette as we waited for others to turn up at the pick up location. Damn it! do they have a radar that they can seek out fella smokers? 😁
Then came in Deep, quiet and reserved initially but later on as I trekked with him, he was so much fun with his comments and jokes! From Rajkot, Gujarat and coming back from Canada after his studies last year, he was building a business and working on it. Gujaratis right? To tell you honestly, there has never been one trek where there was no Gujju! Never! Not that I minded, they were fun and shared food! The only exception to this trek was that for the first time there was no one from Bangalore!
Then came a force, a nonstop talking force! Gosh how do I describe this handsome guy?? Abhishek Rawat! Homegrown Garhwali boy walks in with another guy, who is very quiet btw, and then goes about talking to him through the whole journey. The other guy was Devraj from Bhopal whose life would change with this trek, open up things inside him and make him confident and bold, he would come into his own.
And as for Abhishek, what can I say? he turned out to be the entertainer for the group and also the way he helped and cared for everyone. He was a true blue Uttarakhand boy from the hills. Just an example, Darshan has major motion sickness and no pills could alleviate him from throwing up, so he was made to sit in the front. And as he dosed off, Abhishek noticed his neck was tilting so he quietly offered me his pillow to place it around Darshan for comfort. These things matter a lot you know? It’s instinctive and comes from the heart.
So here we were, one part of the group in a tempo, the rest were in another tempo. And as we stopped for breakfast and then lunch we stuck together, not really interacting with the other group in the tempo, it was almost like we made our own family but no, fate was not meant to be that way. We would mingle, laugh, have deep conversations with the others, through our treks and pacing, through mud, slush, rain and injuries.
The other group was also distinct through a fleeting glance. There was a couple, Jayesh and Manisha, a Psychiatrist Vrinda, a group of boys Dhruva, Vaibhav and Mohit and a tall handsome guy Ramendra. Let me add here, this must be the only trek where I saw a bunch of good looking guys of all the treks I did!😁 And beyond the looks, were their hearts and minds, open, soft, pleasant and true gentlemen.
So you met the people? Shall we see their pics? Here goes!
To be continued tomorrow ♥️
PHOTO CREDITS TO THE PICS BELOW – DEEP, KORAK, KAVYA, DARSHAN, RAMENDRA, DEVRAJ, MANISHA