“Jaate the Japan pahunch gaye Chin, samajh gaye naa! “
When I hear these lines from a Kishore Kumar hit song, I invariably think of my crazy, little adventure that took me to Pindari trek
Almost two years had passed since I did my last trek. I did come up with a plan in July for Valley of Flowers but that didn’t work out very well. I guess, people from my social circle had been so busy (like me) that they didn’t have time for such activities. Finding people for treks has always been a task and to add to that, my tendency of working for long hours hasn’t helped at all. Absolutely no time to find / convince people for new treks!!
One of my relatives, Mr. Surendra Dighe (Nandu mama – for me) is a part of a youth development oriented NGO called “Jidnyasa”. He is a patriarch in the field of trekking and highly respected among trekkers. At a family get-together I found out that he was organizing a trek to Rupin Pass. I decided to join him. This was his personal trek with his friends, which clearly meant that an oldies gang would be there to give me company. Wow, what an interesting idea!!! “Anyways, I would rather bear that boredom instead of sitting at home or in office” I thought to myself.
Rupin Pass is a tough trek and I was very much out of practice. But I love to face such challenges. I was quite excited about doing photography as well. I was so eager to show off my camera kit which included my new Lowepro camera bag, lens and a tripod.
Our schedule was from 18th to 29th Sept and as usual, I was working late on 17th. At around 10 pm, Nandu mama called up. He broke the news – The trek was cancelled as he had high temperature and none of his friends wanted to do this trek without him. I was like WTF (of course I didn’t say that). For a moment, I went completely blank. Canceling a trek plan was no big deal but canceling MY trek plan which was so hyped among my friends and relatives was really going to be a big embarrassment and disappointment for me. Moreover, my office leaves! I wasn’t too sure when would I get such a big break later. Another thought of colleagues laughing at me was very upsetting as well and what to do with all the ticket bookings that I had done with so much of efforts. Oh, all these thoughts were hovering over my head. This was so frustrating and disheartening!! .
I picked up the phone and called up Nandu Mama again. I tried convincing him for a lighter trek like Valley of Flowers, which his oldie goldie gang could do. He assured he would try his best to convince his gang and asked me to wait till morning with a hope that he would recover by that time!
Here, my packing was still not done and at midnight, I was browsing the internet, searching for new trek routes. I hated myself big time for all the mess that was happening and especially this habit of last minute preparation.
I came up with two – three itineraries that might fit into this schedule. Next morning I again rang up Nandu Mama in a hope of some good news but unfortunately the lady luck still refused to smile. Nandu mama was still unwell and his friends were not willing to go for any other trek, instead, they were prepared to bear the damages. But I was not! I collected the contact numbers of these people (the gang). Now I was acting too desperately but I had to.. I had very little choice and time left. “Oh God, how can you do this to me!!” My mind was becoming more and more melodramatic!
I had no idea who these people were, all I knew that I had to convince them anyhow. Apparently the oldies were not so old. Three of them were in their 50’s. The fourth one, Abhijit was of my age. Nandu mama was quite sure that Abhijit would have no problem joining me for this trek. Out of the three, there was a couple – Mr. and Mrs. Ganpule, which meant that I had to convince only one of them to join the trek. And the third one was Mrs. Swati Kulkarni. She was a housewife and somehow I had this gut feeling that she would be a kind hearted lady and very easy to convince. I called her up and in a very soft and pleading manner, I narrated her whole situation, my problem and my dire urge for an Himalayan outing. I explained her the scenario on the job front and how I was living without my parents (they were in Singapore). After a lot of pleading, she finally assured me that she will talk to her husband and friends about this and will try her best to make this trek happen. I kept the phone and I was already on cloud 9. “YES!!! I have it in me Mann!! my convincing skills are so damn good !! I thought to myself. This really energized me. After ten minutes, I called up Mr. Ganpule. He was a straight forward guy. He clearly said – “I had a conversation with Mrs. Kulkarni and to be very honest I don’t want go to Valley of Flowers because it’s a very very easy trek” .Oh My God! This guy didn’t want to do Rupin Pass because it was too tough and Valley Of Flowers was too easy for him!! I was not the one to lose hopes so easily.. I persuaded further – Please, look uncle, we can come up with a midway. I will get all possible permutation and combination of treks and routes but lets at-least board the train”. Trust me, I was completely aware that it was a kind of ridiculous statement but at that time, I couldn’t come up with anything better. Thankfully, he sensed my desperation and he said he will constructively think of some alternative. But WHEN!!! Time was fast running out. It was already 11 am and my train was at 4 p.m.. When will he decide and when will I pack up. This was my race against time and I had almost given up on these people.
By now, I was quite certain that I was not going to office rather I was determined that I would be going on a holiday. Then I thought, how about going to Singapore? I have a Singapore visa, I work for an online travel agency (btw, I am software developer there). I can easily get tickets. And this would be slightly expensive than my Himalayan trip as I had to pay for the tickets. My dude brother lives there… moreover, during that period, my parents were enjoying their vacation at his place. I would get to play with my adorable cute niece Ananya and also it would be a pleasant surprise for my parents too (I knew they were missing me). Singapore is ofcourse a great place to explore (Although I already had explored most of it but I wouldn’t mind a second time). So I called up office to block my tickets for any cheapest flight at night or next day morning and they did that. Blocking is just holding the seat for a specific time it expires after that, nobody has to pay for blocking ticket .I was not very excited but slightly satisfied with the thought that I was at least going somewhere. I desperately needed some sleep as I was quite stressed since last night, but soon Mr. Ganpule called.
He was like “Rima, Mr. Kulkarni (Swati Kulkarni’s husband) has just returned from Pindari Glacier trek in Kumaon Himalayas. He said Pindari trek would fit very well in our itinerary. It’s a moderate trek and KMVL (kumaon mandal vikas nigam limited) organizes treks for a min of 5 pax. So we can try calling them and check for availability. the only thing was that we would need to pay them in advance”.
All of a sudden, I started feeling so well and charged up. But we were running out of time. It was already 12 and our train was at 4 and my packing wasn’t still done. But by God’s grace, this KMVNL agent in Mumbai stayed in Kulkarnis’ colony. Wow, what a small world!! I was loving this mess. Soon, urgent calls were made to the Head office of KMVNL and seats were booked for us. He really did us a favor because this meant that we didn’t have to bother about transferring money instantly, we could pay him later.
Now there was a spring in my feet!! I was very much excited!. Singapore? What Singapore!! Himalaya rocks any day!! Finally by 2 p.m. my sack was ready. As usual it was very heavy (Wonder, why I can’t be a light traveler). I just tried lifting the sack and to my horror it tore!!!. Aahh!! Why can’t God have some mercy on me! I have had such a terrible day and now this blow! I had no other option but to buy a new one. I knew a guy in Dharavi, who makes good trekking gears. My train was from Bandra so he was the best option to go for. I quickly packed everything and left the house with my luggage, went to his shop, purchased a new full size frame sack… Unpacked the old one…packed the new bag… took a rick… Got stuck in the traffic jam (nothing unusual, having faced such a day already, I was mentally prepared for any chaos… Finally, I managed to board the train just 10 minutes before its departure… hussshhhh I was finally going.
All of us were late in-fact. We got to know each other in the train and laughed a lot over things that happened since last night. Well the elderly gang was not at all bad. I had a great time with them throughout the trip. And now, we all have become good friends.
Well, you must be wondering, I talked a lot about this preparation but haven’t even started talking about my Pindari trek. To be honest, that chaos, that uncertainty, that excitement, and those anxious hours that I spent were as enjoyable as the actual trek was! Somewhere deep down, my mind was enjoying every bit of it. My crazy urge and that never ending wish to visit Himalaya again and again proved to be too strong.
I am sharing the pictures that I took in Pindari. They would speak about the place itself.