This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan.
As they walk towards the base camp carrying their backpacks – the first timers get an idea of how the trek is going to be; Sandesh is carrying his tripod, a bag of camera gear and his backpack; he has paid for offloading the backpack, but the mules aren’t available today, this patch has to be covered by everyone on their own.
They meet their trek leader Vivian at the base camp. Twelve tents have been arranged in a semi-circle and on side there is a huge dining tent. Beside it is the tent for cooking. Washrooms are at a corner away from the circle. Everyone drops their backpacks in the center of the campsite and huddle to listen to Vivian.
Vivian welcomes everyone to the trek – he introduces himself and his love for trekking. He then moves ahead with the instructions for the day, ‘You have to choose your tents and sleep in groups of three. Girls and boys to sleep in separate tents. Sleeping bags have been kept in dining tent. Everyone should pick up one and remember the number, so that they can use the same one throughout. Around 7 PM, soup will be ready – so keep your bowls ready. Dinner will be served at 8 PM post which you can sleep. You have to wash your own plates and spoons’ – he points to the area for the same. ‘As you guys settle down in your tents, you’re supposed to bring the doctor’s certificate and sign up the no liability agreement and submit them along with your original identity proof to me. Without these documents, I cannot allow you to come on board’ He breathes deeply giving the participants time to understand the impact of the instructions.
People move to catch tents; deciding room mates for next seven days. Arpit, Niket and Swami move into one tent, while Madhu and Abhi settle in the one next to theirs. They share their tent with Chris. Documents are collected and verified. Swami is still going through the list of caveats for the last time – his hands tremble as he signs it.
They have tomato soup which is piping hot. The climate is pleasant, about 14 degrees. The sun has set and dense clouds cover the sky; soon it becomes pitch black. Everyone proceeds towards dining tent for dinner.
Niket, Arpit and Swami have decided to use one plate only so that only one person has to wash the dish in turns. Madhu and Abhinav also have the same arrangement and so do many other fellow engineers. They eat rotis and local sabji followed by dal and rice. The food is decent, given the constraints. Since Arpit and Madhu came up with the idea of trek – they are given the opportunity to first wash the plates. 😛
They go out towards the demarcated area. There is complete silence in the darkness – Arpit contrasts it with the noise in the lit dining tent. He switches on his head lamp and allows Madhu to go first. The water is chilling – Madhu cleans the plate as fast as possible and moves towards the tent. Next is Arpit’s turn; he grabs the water jar and splashes it on the plate – the water is indeed cold; but hey, its Kashmir! He applies the soapy cake and cleans the plate vigorously; happy with the result he gets. ‘Can you please flash some light here, I’m not able to see how to reach there’, a voice comes behind him.
As he turns around to notice her, his headlight floods Ruhi’s face. She instinctively tries to protect her eyes from the burst of light.’Oops, sorry!’, he says defensively. Arpit moves the direction of the head lamp by tilting it down so that she can see the way. He stands beside her as she washes her plate with the help of his light. She shrieks as the cold water touches her skin, and then lets out a surprisingly loud laughter. Arpit remembers his resolve of January 2011 – to avoid getting into problems by staying away from girls.
To view the next post, please click here.