This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Day 2 is the longest day in terms of distance to travel – they have to cover 12 km in 8 hours. It is an ascend of 2 hours to reach Nichnai Pass (from 11,500 feet to 13,500 feet) post which there is a descend to Vishansar lake (12,000 feet). Sandesh has gotten up early at 5.30 AM in order to capture a time lapse of the first light reaching their campsite and morning activities. The sky is clear; there are no signs of clouds – hopefully it’ll be so for the night too and the milky way shall be visible.
It is pleasantly cold at 11,500 feet. Arpit removes his toothbrush and paste to brush; he gargles some water in his mouth and the cold burst of freshness paralyses him! Should have brought a mouthwash instead, he concludes as he watches others use Listerine. After a moment, he feels toothbrush is better as it connects him to the place – and makes him realise how alive he is.
Chris and Sara are interviewing the kitchen staff and donkey owners on their go-pro for their travel blog; asking various questions about the mountains, their history and how do they make a living. They had heard about Kashmiri Pundits and their conflicts with Muslims over claim of Kashmir. As soon as they ask the question, they realise they are walking on a double edged sword as kitchen staff are pundits and donkey owners are muslims. Vivian gets a sense of what’s happening and saves them all from witnessing another fight on the same topic.
They gather around the centre to have aloo parathas and get their lunch packed; Niket and Madhu have joined Tarun and Karthik for pre-warm up session. Tarun has got a lot of fan following post the night of music yesterday. Dashodh is explaining the way to Raunak – they will begin with crossing a small, almost dry rivulet near the campsite and climb up the mountain going towards the other side to reach Nichnai Pass.
Kanishka is wearing everything in purple colour today (Previously it was pink) – She has taken painstaking efforts to buy all her winter clothing in matching colours. She is the only girl in the group (and probably in the history of Kashmir Great Lakes trek) to have brought a lip-stick and mascara on a trek. Getting ready like a typical Delhiite, she clicks some selfies and later catches hold of Madhu asking him to shed light on how did he become part of the gang.
Madhu looks around; they still have half hour to begin trekking at 7.30 AM and he might as well use the time to share his story; it feels great to relive those college days.
When I joined VJTI from Indore, I had no idea what was I signing up for. I didn’t have money to pay for engineering fees and was not going to join the institute, had it not been for last moment arrangement of funds by my dad. As I boarded a train from Indore to Mumbai, I was travelling in general class without a reservation with only one thought in my mind – I’ll never ever be in a position where there is shortage of money. I have seen the other side of the country and know how difficult it is to manage without money. Fortunately, my parents supported my education and I’m grateful to them for it.
I was staying at a distant relative’s place and had joined a part-time job to remit money back home; as a result I never was able to attend college other than on Saturdays. On those days, I used to sit in the last bench and try to understand what is being taught with the help of Abhinav. That’s how we became friends. Abhinav and Arpit used to sit in the end, bunk classes and even go out for partying; but their concepts were clear. They helped me understand subjects on weekends once they got to know my situation and shared their books with me. That’s how I became the fourth person to join the gang – Niket would at times pick me up in the evenings and we would all go out for long drives. They were the first friends I made in Mumbai.
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