A place I didn’t know about. A place I’d never trekked before. I place I’d never heard of before. Till papa told me about it. Aaaaaand, I choose to trek that!
One of my mountaineering course friends was going to France for two years (academic commitments, and all that) and this trek was my goodbye gift to him. The monsoon was receding. It scarcely ever rained. But the nature was blooming with love and swinging with joy. And in it, so was my heart. We all met up at Thane station at around 6am, and took the train to Kalyan. At Kalyan we met the two stunning show offs I’d mentioned in my last post. From the station, we took a long bus ride to a village called Kushivli. From there on, we just asked the route from a villager. The night before, papa had given me a vague idea using geographical landmarks. ‘There will be three crossroads, always take left’, ‘if there is an option or diversion, keep taking left’, ‘there will be a thumb-like rock on your left, you’ve to traverse it’, ‘the rock is called Ganesh, traverse it till it comes to your right and you then leave it behind’, ‘you have to walk through a V-col’, etc. His advice might not seem very helpful, but you know what? It was. Through out the route we were like, oh okay we did this part, this is next. And it led us straight to where we were supposed to go.
And it was so beautiful. We crossed a few rock patches and some small waterfalls. My friend’s water bottle went over the waterfall at one point and then had to be retrieved. Some two and a half hours later, we were at a small clearing almost at the top of the mountain. A little shrine and a sadhu sat there. We unloaded our bags and took a little rest. The very nice sadhu gave us some black tea, and then told us that the actual view was a half an hour walk more. We took it upon ourselves to do just that. And it was so worth it. The view, the walk, and the cold cut cucumber. Friends, nature, and peace.
I’m sure mountaineering counts as a skill. Well, it is a mix of multiple skills that makes it one humongous sport.
I did my Basic Mountaineering Course this year in the summers, and I definitely learned some skills.
How to tie knots. How to rappel in different ways. Rock climbing holds. How to pack a mountaineering rucksack evenly. How to wear a harness.
How to walk without looking up. How to lead people through a route. How to not cry though your body is aching and is telling you to give up. How to march on even though you have period cramps, a heavy rucksack, and no oxygen. How to sing your way through pain even though you have no oxygen. How to sleep in a sleeping bag. How to save water and food. How to understand who will be willing to help you even though there’s nothing they would get out of it.
How to help people without expecting anything in return.
How to live every moment.
How to make friendships and experiences and memories.
How to live.
As a part of the mountaineering training that I underwent in Darjeeling, we were shifted to North of Sikkim to train in the Sikkim Himalayas. We took buses from Darjeeling to a place in North Sikkim called Yuksam (this is where we would trek up to base camp from). As weird as it was, all the height that we had landed on when we came to Darjeeling was lost to Sikkim as we descended to almost sea level. Which was ridiculous, and irritating, and hot. So hot. We were very comfortable in the Darjeeling cool, breezy weather that was stolen from us in the Sikkim heat. We literally rolled up our pants and sleeves as we got down in Jorethang for our lunch. We went to this restaurant called Big Belly and ordered a mismatched lunch of parathas, momos and thukpa. When we were returning, we went to the same place again. From Jorethang, we stayed at a little village called Yuksam, where our buses abandoned us with only our feet as the only means of transportation. For five days we trekked up to the base camp. For seven days we trained at the glacier. Two days to come back to Yuksam. And in all that time, we were in North Sikkim, experiencing different parts of it and almost at the border of Nepal. Often we had the guts to look up from our trekking path and watch the surroundings, and we couldn’t stop being astounded every time. The scenery was pristine, the mountains majestic and the snow impeccable!
North Sikkim? Definitely something you should visit…
People usually visit Matheran on long weekends during the monsoon or winters. And I didn’t quite do any of that, as usual. I went in hot summers, just for a day. As it often happens in trips like these, everything went wrong. First, everyone was tremendously late. Which is quite alright if you are tuned to the Indian Standard Time. Second, we boarded the wrong train! Reason for this foolishness- the person who was supposed to know which train we should be boarding told us to climb the wrong train. Apparently, he was in the illusion that the wrong train was the right train, and so we had to wait for over an hour at some random station, return to where we began, and take a new train. We wasted over 4 hours in this nonsense. Then we took a car up to Matheran, walked through a deserted hill station that was out of business in this heat, and sat somewhere to eat Biryani. Biryani which had long overshot our budget, and wasn’t digested by our tummies due to that very reason. Then we walked around some more, singing the song Pompeii by Bastille (I had the very feeling that they portray in the song), then just took random pictures in the camera to immortalize the amazing journey we had survived together. Then we decided to take the toy train back to civilization. Except the toy train that we thought would take an hour to reach down took around 3 hours. The time we reached Neral station was the time we were supposed to reach home, and the girls started panicking. Most of us had lied at home about where we were going. We were supposed to reach home by 7, and there we were at the toy train station. We rushed to the non-toy train station and caught the earliest train possible. We jumped into the train, and made all kinds of plans to con our parents, in case any of them asked where we had been. Plans, plan Bs, back up plans, all ready, we left for home. And our parents didn’t even care.
The conversations of this trip stayed in our whatsapp group, the photos shared and then saved somewhere in the corner of the phone’s gallery. And then we just stopped the mention of this trip, a bad memory.
At least the next time I go there, I will know the mistakes that I don’t have to repeat.
I think it’s finally coming true. I’ve heard my dad’s stories about his time trekking the Himalayas. I’ve seen ‘Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani’ where they go for a trek to Manali. I’ve also seen the Bucket List (the movie where everyone as well as me got the idea of making a bucket list) where both the men are buried on top of the Himalayas. So I’ve been wanting to go to the Himalayas for a long time. I couldn’t believe it when I read the mail! It was just an idea that my dad presented- my nine year old sister and sixteen year old me on a Himalayan trek. Just the both of us. No mom. No dad. No caretakers. Only the two sisters. In the Himalayas. With a group of other people. For ten days. As soon as I finished IB (International Baccalaureate) and came back home from boarding (that’s around June). So yeah, I went on a shrieking spree that gave me the undivided attention of all my three room-mates for two complete minutes. Then they finally came over and slapped me so I could get speaking instead of shrieking. ‘Spit it out!’, they said. And so I told them all of the above, jumping around like I was on a pogo-stick the whole time. And they joined me in too. So it was basically four people huddled up and jumping up and down in excitement. I hope it comes true. I really hope this comes true!