Husband gave me a look of, "Simran,ja ji le apni zindagi" when my train chugged towards Dehradun and he took a flight to Chennai. I chose mountains to beaches. Spouses should give space to each other, literally!
Invoking my muses Mridula, Shivya nath and Writer's Block and many others I broke an imagenary coconut and unplanned my trip. I have decided to take things as they come. I had to go to Uttarkashi, but how, when and duration of the stay was not decided. Even return tickets were not booked.
Dehradun is home which does not recognise me now. Roads are better but Lichi orchards and canal are missing. Visited my college, met a dear friend who is teaching there and roamed about the Pultan Bazar, Astley Hall nand Rajpur Road, places Ruskin Bond mentioned in his award winning novel.
Travelling in mountains is a nightmare for those who suffer from motion sickness. My Uttarkashi trips are enjoyable, thanks to the good roads and the car my brother arranges for me. But he looked at me disdainfully when I asked him to drop me at the trekker (an 8 seater vehicle) stand. During the ride I got to hear Garhwali songs which I didn't like at all. I wished he had played the ones I love. I begged the driver to play Kishor Kumar or Asha songs, but no luck. I enjoyed half of the journey, had tea, but after that the sickness began. I regretted for not listening to bro. Looking at the brighter side I thought that no dashing young man would have offered me a toffee if I were travelling and puking alone in a swanky car.
Mountain air cured me immediately when I got down at my stop. I crossed a bridge over the Ganges (Gangaji, this is how my people call her), walked a km with my backpack to reach home.
Hiring a cab and going somewhere was the only way, only if I could have a local guy or a girl for the company. I thought of the travel writers/ bloggers who paint an alluring picture of a place, garnish it with engaging anecdotes. It was intriguing that how they get right people in the remotest places who take them around. I could only pray to God, specially Shiva who was not away from me even for a second while I was loitering in the market. He was on the signboards, temples, names of the institutions, on the cars windscreen and behind the trucks. He has fulfilled my silly and na-jayaz wishes then this one was at least sane.I reached home and got a call from a relative that he is going to Harsil for a day for his official work and I could accompany him If I wanted.
I landed at a training centre for gals. The expensive woollen shawls we buy from the swanky showrooms were being made here in the cold and dark room. On the way I walked through a steep trail. I didn't even bring my shoes. I stood on a large clearing. It was a helipad, which was used during the great cloudburst at kedarnath to bring the people to safer places.
I was given an hour or two to explore and enjoy while my godsent relative finished his meetings. I was told to go straight and cross a couple of bridges and I would reach the market place. I again looked for someone to accompany me. I was chided that the distance is not much. what if there are some wild animals on the way. But I met only pretty local girls and handsome army guys who happily clicked pics for me.
I passed by the Wilson Cottage and Bridge. Pahari Wilson, who married a local lass, had brought apples to Harsil. Walked for a while and I was at the quietest market I have ever seen. Two-three hotels, a general merchant plus woollen shop, a bank with an ATM that was all. A cemented pathway
lead me to the orchards full of green and red apples. I walked further and there were lovely neat and clean pathway and houses. At the diversion stood a post-office. Later I was told that this post-office was there in the movie which made Harsil famous. I turned back and to the market and looked around for an eatery. Had momos at a lil restaurant with local girls and boys. A boy was ready to be my guide and take me to a 3km walk upto Mukhba. I was told there were meadows and the famous waterfall under which pretty Mandakini bathed in the movie. But lo, the car was waiting for me for the return journey.
On the way back a co-passenger, who was known to my host took me to a village which had 2-3 scattered houses among the apple orchards. I met a family who lived in a typical pahari house. One of the daughters had a very different accent.I got curious and she told me that she got married to a guy from Haryana six years back. Many other girls from this area are married off like her. Had heard about the sex ratio going bad to worse in Haryana, but saw that they have to come so far to look for a bride. I felt relieved when she told me that she is happy. She took me around an orchard which was sold to a contractor. My craving for plucking an apple was ignited, but she told me contractors always keep an eye. The apples have become forbidden now! But she did pluck and gave me one.
Chaurangi khal is 30 km away from Uttarkaashi. 3 km uphill walk took us to Nachikta taal. The cab driver and his pretty wife proved to be an excellent company.
While climbing a lovely trail I found blood on my toes and thong slippers. There were tiny leeches which were swollen a bit after sucking my blood. after a while they vanished. It took an hour to reach the top. And when I looked down there was a big lake. It was a lovely site, but I found it a bit overrated. The fish in the lake entertained us . A sadhu lives there in a tent throughout the year. He was chatting with the forest guards. Before going we offered him some fruits and money which he refused politely. I thought of the Pundas of Sangam at Allahabad and Pushkar who almost snatched my wallet.
September was never so cool before.