Kedarkantha Trek – A Himalayan Adventure (1 of 5)

The Long awaited trek begins (19 Dec 2016)

At the Bangalore airport… slowly recovering from a stress attack after realizing that I had forgotten my jackets–not one but two of the out layers that are supposed to keep me warm during the cold Himalayan trek. After an hour of fighting and struggling with stress chemicals, a hot cup of chocolate and my ‘take-charge’ wife’s protective force field, I started to realize (again in my life) that you cannot plan for life. You have to take it as it comes, think quickly, act with a calm mind yet with a sense of urgency. It is a wake up call that the Himalayas are going to be anything but predictable.

At the Bangalore Airport
At the Bangalore Airport, Ready for adventure

Let’s roll. Or shall I say let’s climb, trek, survive, etc.

32,000 ft in the sky (19 Dec 2016)

In the flight having hilarious conversations with Chanchal, we both realize that perhaps we make those sitting around us curious, insecure and awkward. We laugh a lot, whisper weird observations in each other’s ears and just do not act prim and proper–we are a riot.

Our Pretty Airhostess – Take that!

You know what! I even made a sketch of an air-hostess’ face (well my impression of it), gave her stoner eyes, two buck teeth, mismatched nose sides, and all of this on a bag of snacks that she would collect back as garbage. Why you ask! Well, she was trying to act over smart, refused to collect our payment via credit card and was giving us unwelcoming cold looks. Indigo Airlines – you guys were once always on time, with a super polite staff that was trained for great customer service. Now you are just another airline without any loyalty program. Here you go Indigo Airline shit-smacking air hostess.  

We also realised that the Uncleji sitting next to us was a grumpy, spilling over to the middle seat (my seat) ‘unapologetically’ kind of person. Well, we thought it was best to think of him as someone who could hold on to our chewed chewing gums in his wide-open mouth until we de-boarded. We both are sticklers for not littering and we were not sure if we had tissues and the chewing gum could use a new home.

Yes, very mature of us. Thank you.

Well, it is two of us fighting the impending Uncle- and Aunty -dom.

The airport stress is easing out. One from the two jackets left at home, the three laps at the airport security due to metal hooks in my trek shoes, the total smudge of ink on my boarding pass and of course the fact that Chanchal’s spectacles broke just 500 meters from home and we had to turn back to pick up another pair and still forgot everything is now only a matter of hilarious banter.

Coming to TRAVELS of life (19 Dec 2016)

How much do we keep our senses open nowadays? The ubiquitous cellphone, bluetooth earphones, the kindles, the iPads and all the smart-nothingness around have killed the true essence of travel.

I am travelling like an oxidizing metal sheet, slowing corroding at the surface, mingling with the local moisture, turning red, changing hue and over time becoming one with everything around.

Give some and take some. To become wiser, respectful of things you encounter and engage with; leave a little of yourself behind and take some of those you meet and keep moving. Untie your prejudices, expand the circumference of what you call ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’, Include more, exclude less. As you keep doing this, the conflicts reduce. You become ‘fuzzy’–rights and wrongs merge in.

Everyone’s point of view becomes yours too. Maybe this is what rising above rights and wrongs means.

Chanchal ‘accuses’ me of, being so ‘fuzzy’, even believing wrongs to be rights. The gift of an open and expanding mind is you become far-sighted. The details of standpoints become blurred and wavy–until you cannot distinguish one from the other.
The action-packed evening in Dehradun (19 Dec 2016)

We reached Dehradun airport in the evening and instantly could feel the nip in the air. So different from the comfortable Bangalore weather. We had booked Hotel Siddharth Residency near Dehradun railway station for staying the night.

The cab ride from Jolly Grand Airport to our hotel took us over an hour and we shelled out 1000 rupees. We were racing against time. At least one heavy jacket had to be purchased before the shops shut down. We reached Hotel Siddharth Residency and checked into our room. We must say it was a very well maintained budget hotel — for about 1200 rupees a night this was worth every paisa. Both Chanchal and I highly recommend those wanting to stay the night near the Dehradun railway station to check out this hotel. Great service and awesome food.

For purchasing the jacket, we were directed to Cliff Climbers on Paltan Bazaar. Double thumbs down. The shop had overpriced stuff and the shopkeeper knew we needed a jacket badly and had inflated the prices. An average jacket priced at 8000 rupees and better ones around 10000 rupees.

We decided to try a few more shops and quickly found a shop that had a good jacket (much better than the one selling at Cliff Climbers) and bargained it down to 2800 rupees.

I knew I may not freeze to death. Suddenly, I had spring in my strides and with that we went about exploring the Dehradun evening in the busy streets near the railways station.

When you think of street food, the northern part of India stands tall. On the streets of Dehradun, we went nuts grabbing a bite of anything we could lay our hands on. From Jalebis to moongfali (peanuts) to chikki to gajjak. While the weather was cold, the people were warm. Our interactions with most of the vendors reminded us of our childhood in the city of Delhi.

We came back to the hotel with a sugar rush and recorded a video that road-mapped our trek ahead. If you are planning a Kedarkantha trek, the video will give you a good idea of how your days will be paced. We were lucky to have a Uttarakhand map at our hotel.

We finally called it a day. What an action packed one!

Also read: Kedarkantha Trek – A Himalayan Adventure (2 of 5)

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