Thursday, August 11, 2005

End of the Trek. Taali to Auli/Joshimath.

All right…so that’s it. Today was the last day of our trekking. We woke up at 4am and found that the mule’s men had started a fire and so went upto the fire to get some warmth. We were sitting around the fire with mule’s men and they told some stories about their villages and how they all believe in offering a “bali” to the Goddess. Sandeep listened to them very carefully and asked some deeper questions to understand their sacrificial system.

After tea and breakfast, John and Sandeep gave some tip to the mule’s men and clicked couple of photos with them. We started for Auli at around 8am.

We had to climb till Gorson top which we had already done on the rest day, however, this time around we knew the trail and took to it. We started climbing slow and nice and Sandeep and I were the first to reach the top. After everybody reached, we started our descent towards Auli. Sandeep was at his usual, asking some logical puzzles to the gang; and then explaining to the kids how to have a crack at such puzzles. I was myself puzzled with his puzzles and started sympathizing with the kids; what a show off this Sandeep is.

Ater descending down for about couple of hours, we reached to a beautiful meadow. I have seen such meadows only in the Bollywood films and till now I have always believed that they shot them in Switzerland. Wow!, why do they have to go all the way to Europe when they (the Bollywood producers and directors) can get the same effects by shooting right here in India.

We hadn’t put on any warm cloth and were feeling very cold but nevertheless we were enjoying the cold weather as well. We had lunch around noon and after that we reached to Auli at around 3pm. At the GMVN guest house we had some tea and then Arvind pointed towards a place and asked us to descend down till there . It looked like some kind of a rest house painted green all over and it did look very far off. I thought that he was planning to con us into trekking till Joshimath. We were at the end of our trek and very truly quite tired.
Finally after a long haul we reached to that point from where a Jeep was ready to take us to Joshi Math. Sandeep’s mother called up on Arvind’s cell and we talked to her and told her that we all were safe and sound.

We went to Joshi Math after talking to the Mule’s men. It was really very painful to say bye as we had a good time with them.
After reaching Joshimath,we had bath. A HOT bath after 9 days. I am unable to explain this feeling. Again I say, it was exhilarating.

We strolled around in the bazaar in Joshimath. From the bazaar, we called up my parents and Sandeep’s Parents. Sandeep wanted to have a shave and he was so desperate that he nearly jumped onto the seat in the next barber’s shop that we saw. We went in for a close and clean shave and he got clean shave. He later told me that he was mildly surprised when the barber told him the cost. It was 6 Rs. Backhome in Bangalore, he would have readily paid 15 bucks plus tips for this service. We had some really horrible Samosa and some really good tea in the market before coming back to the hotel.

Sandeep was all very happy throughout the evening and now I know why. It was because of the dammed TV in our room. We watched TV for a while and then went to the restaurant for dinner. We came back to our room at around 8pm and finally I went to sleep. I finally fell into deep slumber and it was already 8 days when I had actually slept like this last.

All the while before going to sleep, I thought about our trip. What is it about this Outdoors that makes you feel like a queen. You definitely don’t get the best of all luxuries. No hot water, no warm covers, hell not even soft beds to sleep and snuggle into. So what is it?

Well one learns about lot of things, one gets to see, understand and appreciate the hardships that the people from mountains undergo. How people spend their lives in difficult situations. Take for example the people we met during our camps near Ghuni and Jhinhi. We could see that these guys didn’t have any proper resources. In winters, the route between the two villages closes because of snow and so they only have to work in the summers and they gather all the necessary things for winter.
In the villages we hardly found any school and even if there was a school in the village, there were hardly any students. But the struggle for survival and not just survival, the struggle to compete, the struggle to prove, the effort to achieve is still there. And that’s what makes the clock tick.

Out doors gives you a good kick. We always learn how to survive in difficult situations, how to fight hardships and believe me, I am a changed woman after this experience. I have begun to understand life in general, and I am not bluffing. Watch this space next year for an even more romantic, exhilarating and soul touching anecdote.

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