Monday, July 02, 2012

The Roopkund Condrum - Part 1

This is first part of a series of posts I would be writing 'documenting' my experiences of the Roopkund trek from 9th-14th June 2012. As I said 'my experiences', so everything in these posts is from my perspective. 

Day 1:

As the trek started with a descent, I wondered why the trek guides have not given any tips about how to walk down on a slope without hurting one's toes. I remembered the advice given by YHAI trek leaders during Sandakphu trek that one should try to put the heel first to avoid damage to toe.

Earlier everyone had lined for trek poles. Some knew the importance of these aluminum frame sticks with springs, while some took them just because everyone else was doing so. Every gram of extra luggage was left at base camp. Every other gram of luggage was on the backs of either humans or animals. (I was carrying my rucksack but what seemed like a real weight was my camera bag which kept on slipping from my shoulder. Talk of 'albatross hanging around neck'.)

The first day trek was described as difficult. Not because it was considered difficult by the guides (for them nothing was difficult, and that is totally another matter!) but because people had to get accustomed to trek conditions. And accustomed they got, not only with the terrain but also with the amazing fact that how much ever time or distance remaining, according to our trek guides the distance was always one or two kms which could be covered in only 10-15 minutes!

I have a problem with all sorts of 'treks'. Apart from some really far-flung places, almost all the trek routes are used by natives for their daily movement. And when you see local people walk these 'arduous' trek routes with ease, all your bravado goes out of the window. So while we huffed and puffed our way on the slopes up and down in our Quechuas, Woodlands and Weinbreiners some or the other guy comfortably crossed us wearing nothing but canvas shoes!

But on first day, such thoughts were the last to cross my mind.

My rucksack being a sophisticated one, didn't have an easy mechanism for keeping water bottles. It was made for 'hydration packs' which I didn't have any clue about till this trek. Ignorance was a costly affair as to drink water continuously (which was mandatory to avoid dehydration) either I had to stop, keep down the rucksack, take out the bottle, drink water, restore the bottle, wear the rucksack again and continue or just ask a fellow trekker to take the bottle out, drink water and ask him to restore the bottle. I chose the simpler option and for my entire trek Lalit was to play this role.

Didina is a tiny village, according to plains standard. Didina is a pretty big village, according to hills standard. It was to be the final homestay for next few days which meant beds to sleep on and a loo to attend nature's calls. Predictably much of the talks that evening and next morning revolved around movement, of the bowels, that is. For the first time I heard words like 'business' and 'duty' being used to describe the 'process' and appraisal terms like 'meets expectations' and 'below standards' to describe the 'outcome'!

However more than a 'performance' which could be rated as 'meets expectations', what gave me particular pleasure was that we took gully cricket (read: if ball goes in that area directly, it’s out) to a whole new height (pun intended, 8050 ft above MSL to be precise!) The minor fact that cricket was being played on the slopes of a hill, which happened to a terrace farm, caused no sweat on anyone's forehead (on second thoughts maybe it was due to the nice weather). Only hiccup was that the boundary behind the wicketkeeper happened to be a dry naala, and when ball would fall in that drain, someone would have to go down the drain but not before cursing the bowler with some 'parliamentary' swear words. Suneel got some of the mystery from his more famous namesake (Suneel Narine) and neither keeper nor Lalit would know why the ball would go in that drain with amazing regularity in his over.

While a few of us roamed around the village in search of something or someone to shoot (to apply Chaitanya's tips about how to shoot people!), the majority junta played dumb charades and after some usual fare, Mohit and Ankur would enlighten the gathering with their vast and deep knowledge about cinema which transcends linguistic and cultural boundaries. And thus all the Kannadigas, Telugus, Hindis, Marathis and Paharis would appreciate the enactments of those little gems named ‘Haseenon Ka Kabeela’ and ‘Gabbar Ki Shadi, Basanti Ki Suhagraat’.

The meals at Didina were something to write about. Local flavors ruled the roost as curries of a native variety of kidneybeans (rajma) and a local fern called 'Lingoda' was savored by everyone. Vikrant later confessed eating a little more than he would and his dietary excitement had nothing to do with food being tasty. 

(To be continued...)


Vikrant said...

Well, the little more proved to be too much and my 'business' performance went way below expectations. Had a hard time that day and the next.

lalit said...

Nice one.. to begin with..

Vinay said...

Good one Abhishek...waitin for the rest of it

Chaitanya A said...

Good one :) totally agree with the "albatross hanging around neck" issues!! :)