In the last two posts, I’ve talked about my experiences in Devabhoomi. I argued in the last post about the shortcomings of photographs, and then gave a supporting example.
I don’t deny the importance of photographs. A picture does speak a thousand words. But words themselves have their own significance, and it’s important we keep our words close and not let them get lost in the maze of pictures that we’re bombarded with nowadays.
Here are some things which words cannot do justice to:
Standing at the edge of Parvati river was our base camp, and this was the view of the mountain we were gonna climb. Just looking at it snapped us into euphoria, and if you think that this looks fabricated, cliched, straight out of a picture postcard and so on, you’re not alone. We thought so, too.
From the base camp, we proceeded to higher camps and were put up in tents like these which were located in some clearing in the forests. 10-12 people shared each tent. The tents not only provided for some much needed warmth and protection during the night, but were also witness to some of the most insane, mind-blowing BC I’ve ever seen.
Finding a suitably well-hidden, clean and level spot behind some rock or tree in the mornings was one big ordeal. Here I am suggesting a possible alternative to our group members.
I had climbed this ascent bare handed till about the highest point you can see in this pic, when I was ordered down by our team leader Sanjay Ji. I was proud of my climbing skills, till Ravi (the little pahadi boy beside me in this pic) ran down this slope. I repeat, Ravi ran down this rock. Quite a humbling experience.
This was Zirmi, a paradise nestled deep in the hills. The place was so enchanting that Suneja and I went on to explore this bhaloo-infested valley unarmed and on our own. While climbing back up, I gave Suneja the scare of his life.
Also, this was the place where I got the biggest craving for poetry I’ve ever had. I literally rolled on the groud, beat my fists against rocks, recited one of my self-composed poems to a lady and grabbed a girl by the shoulders and made her listen to some Yeats I remembered after assuring her that the poetry wasn’t intended for her. I could have killed for some Wordsworth or Yeats then. The high wasn’t quite settled till I finally scribbled about a hundred lines of poetry, sitting on a rock which provided a view of the artistry of the clouds…
And while I was writing, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one bitten by the poetry bug. Sitting on nearby rocks were Pradeep and Vishal, scribbling away to glory.
As we took our first step in the snow, our hearts filled with apprehension and overflowed with reverence. The pure whiteness of the snow told me that this wasnt an ordinary place, but a ‘Bhagwan ki Jageh’. I’m not particularly religious, but the shouts of ‘Har Har Mahadev’ spontaneously escaped me as I started walking up this patch. Others around me followed suit, but no, the valley didn’t reverberate with the sounds of our ‘Har Har Mahadev’s. Rather, our sounds just got lost in the vastness of the surroundings.
This stone structure is a ‘Monument of Estranged Love’ created by the humble villagers. The guide told me that if someone who has got estranged from his love prays with a true heart and places a stone on this structure in her memory, God soothes the agony of both the ex-lovers’ hearts. I’ve never had a love which I could get estranged from, but I nevertheless said a prayer and added my stone to the pile. Maybe it’s still there.
The picture shows (from the left) myself, Pradeep and Vivek.
At the height of 15000 feet, only 60% of the amount of oxygen that we normally have in the plains is available. Walking in itself is an ordeal. Here’s Doley Ram, carrying more that 20kg of load on his slender shoulders. And he does this everyday.
Not everybody who comes from the city for a trek in the hills is used to the hills. Kishore just got the life scared outta him while rappling down a slope.
A unique experience we had during the Sar Pass trek was sliding down a hill slope sitting on a piece of polythene.
Here’s one of us, probably Vivek, sliding down a slope.
You are bombarded with snow flakes from all sides as you slide, and it’s impossible to prevent some from entering your shoes. A 4 hour trek to the camp in wet clothes and shoes follows the slide. As Vivek reached the camp, he was in no condition to walk any longer. (click on the pic to fully appreciate the contours).
A trek is only as good as the company you have on it. Here are some of the wonderful people I had the pleasure of meeting on the trek. (From the left) Pratham, myself, Shobhit, Rohit, Vishal, Pradeep, Nishant, Vineet.
And finally, a lot of thanks to YHAI without which this trek wouldn’t have happened. And as for the wonderful friends I met, well, it was a pleasure. I’d like every trek of mine to be with the same set of people. Wish it were possible.
And yeah, for the people who were there on this trek, guys, just one last time…
SP 16, BALLE BALLE
Baaki saare, THALLE THALLE!