This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan.
The cars reach TRC. Madhu gestures Swami to get into the car, like he always did when they went out for long drives in Niket’s car. Swami gets into the car carrying luggage in his lap – he curses the organiser for arranging such a small car! No sooner does he curse them, another trekker – Chris tries to accommodate himself in the seat! The gang laughs at Swami’s luck. They all are thrilled to have Swami along, ‘We never thought you’d spend money and come for the trip Swami!’ provoked Arpit; Swami hopes the trip is worth the money he spent coming to India.
Chris is a travel blogger from Moscow, Russia and has come to KGL trek with his girlfriend Sara who is in another car. They’ve been travelling to different countries since last three years and this is their full time profession. They raised money for India through crowdfunding. Kashmir is the first state they are covering. Post that, they are going to travel to various other places over six months.
They reach Ahadoos on the banks of Jhelum river by 2 PM. Ahadoos is famous for authentic Kashmiri delicacy called wazwan – a multi-course meal of 36 items to be eaten by 4-6 people. It was the impact of the Moghul invasion in India; the art was then passed down through generations – it’s a preparation of lamb, chicken served in various gravies along with a large plate of rice called tarami. Vegetarians didn’t have any option other than Paneer Butter Masala.
They sat on two tables – one for the paneer lovers and other for the Wazwan adventurers!:P
Sandesh observed the way the 36 dish wazwan was presented. It was tempting; but extremely huge – 8 people would be required to eat one wazwan. Cancelling the third order of wazwan, they started binging on the two already placed on the table. It had to be completed by 14 people; Nisha wondered if the task could be accomplished. Sara and Chris tasted it – both had tears in their eyes due to the spices. As everyone laughed at them, they themselves started encountering the same problem a little bit later!
The vegetarians were happy when paneer came – though it was an only option, it was hot and tasty; and more importantly, they were hungry. They had ordered properly based on number of people. Niket didn’t like it much, but he binged on it; wondering what would they serve on the trek. The lunch concluded with Kahwah, a special Kashmiri tea with cardamom and almonds. The sweetened taste of Kahwah soothed the hot mouths after the spices. Those who still felt the food was spicy, ordered phirni.
Everyone huddled back into the jeeps to complete the three hour journey to the base camp in Sonmarg.
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