When I was preparing for my trip, my father asked me, “so beta are you going with friends?” and I said “no papa, I will make friends…” and to think how prophetic were those words. The characteristic giggles and selfies started even before we met at the airport, thank god for whats app. A group was created and all were excitedly putting in their whereabouts and as some of us were taking the flight from Delhi, the breaking of the proverbial ice started at the gates itself. A couple of minutes into the conversation, Rama was coronated the wise one, and with a mop of silver hair and signature wisecracks the title sat very well on her. Then there was Doc Geetha, and a doc on board gave everyone a secure feeling…as is lag raha tha pahad chadna hai bhai. Sheela in her inimitable style and beautiful smiles looked very friendly and also no nonsense. Like Mala told her, “very corporate”. While Bindu’s laughter echoed all around and Hema enjoyed all the mirth. In waked Ipsita with her small big bag, I mean small for being the “only” bag and big if you think carry on. And compared to my largest suitcase this one looked as if holding only “bare essentials”.
Our buddy Tanya from WOW played really elusive and none of us could guess that she was on the same flight. She very nicely let us all create ruckus while waiting and when we asked her later why she didn’t respond to “who all boarding from delhi?” on whats app replied, “ah well, if I had then it may have become formal so I let you all introduce yourselves and that made my job easy!!” Hmmmm….smart kid huh!
The half hour flying time flight from Delhi to Dehradun got an hour late after boarding, and that meant we missed our lunch at Padmini Palace which sounded pretty palace like and instead ate daal chawal with mix veggies at a Dhaba. AH well…we met the rest of us at the Doon Airport and settled in the tempo traveler taking some random positions that actually became almost fixed throughout our journey. The 5 or 6 hour journey was pretty much like ass whipping and leg cramping at the end of the day but chalo koi nahi abhi toh pahad chadna hai.
As the journey and days kept progressing we kept finding each other and ourselves more and more. The first round of comedy was always trying to remember names, so Geeth used to scream out Anubhaaaa when I was right next to her thinking that Bindu was Anubha…and she took a long time to get over it but thank god before the trip ended. Shalini was actually Shailini and the one who couldn’t sleep any of the nights except one when she had slight fever. Tanya the “little buddy” was the youngest of us all and with a very solutions approach, managing 11 headstrong women is no mean task!
Poor Abhimanyu, our guide on the trip was a soft spoken guy who used to either blush or avoid us hearing loud conversations. He was inspiring and I guess had good experience too in how to field the queries pretty well. However, it always seemed to me that he true to his name was in a chakrahvyu of women with no escape for the next couple of days.
The camp site provided for a lot of laughs too…my question to Radhika was always, “kitni dandi hai” which meant how strong is the signal on her BSNL phone cause that was the only network working. Yeh airtel ki ladki ko koi batao bhai…like I said I felt pretty much at home cause I don’t get a signal there too. Mala was always smiling and had everything in her arsenal from dirty jokes to band aids and much more. Dipti the other kid on the block was the quite one, never hungry and nibbling on food after everyone had finished.
Some of the hilarious moments came after every trek cause trek pe toh hum pahad chad rahe the na. saala saans hi nahi aati thi hansi toh ….the camp were luxury tents with attached bathroom, albeit the slope, that always made it an act of balance to sit on the pot. Everytime my very nahane dhone waali (I am opposite) roomie kept her shower gels etc on the seat they would invariably tumble down. I don’t want to get in graphic details as to how we managed!
The camp after the first trek from govindghat to ghangaria looked like a spa, with all the ladies half pants pulled up till knees getting massages done. Eeww at 200 bucks just for the claves it was a pain literally and yet unavoidable kyonki yes you guessed it abhi toh aur bhi pahad chadne hain. While I shared my affirmations with the group, Ipsita shared her observation of how laughter yoga in her park was done, Ha Ha, Ho Ho, He He….had all of us in splits.
Post each trek the care takers were the ones who used to be most bullied, “bhaiya hot water…”, “bhaiya 2 cups black coffee(1is too less for me)”, “bhaiya maalish walaaa”, bhaiyaaaaaa….. I am sure they must have heaved a sigh of huge relief after our departure.
After the valley of flowers, the camp turned into a mini dhobighat, with all wet clothes hanging along with the colorful flags in the camp. Wow the waterfalls, the moss laden and lush mountains, frothy clouds, pink sunsets and wet pants furling in the wind.
Rama with her two poles used to trek with focus and Sheela with no poles had a ramrod straight back a small pouch on her back and surety in her gait. Radhika was the determined one, always self motivated and inspiring others. Bindu and Sheela stuck together and Hema used to be with them or on her own. Sheela after the treks wondered out loud how could Bindu chatter so much while climbing, so I guess that means Bindu babes you rock girl! At one point in the trek, Sheela and Bindu chose to negotiate one shortcut which was a little rocky and kind of tough and while they were doing all of this, Hema emerged from the normal route wondering what these 2 were doing?! And these 2 were jaw drop…and then rofl…you know what I mean. I am unsure if they told Hema this ! On the VoF trek while we were all scattered Shailini made friends with another group too and after the previous days trek wondered how she was so charged with the horsepower to today come first and went far off. On the last day too she was fueled and all charged up and came back down much ahead of the rest. In turn, making more friendships and knowing more groups.
Many hilarious incidents happened and one of them was, the horse Geeth took to Hemkund Sahib, that was named Hema. And Geeth would go on and on describing her attitude and gait and how she was so competitive that she always wanted to be the first one ahead. Now we also had Hema in the group and at one time when we were all sitting in and chatting Mala whose horse was towed with Geeth’s Hema said, “Hema shat on the way…” and in the split second before it registered, I had weird visuals…as did Geeth…and the rest of us…before bursting out loud…please don’t ask me to elaborate now. At Ganga arti also when they started singing hey Maaaa….our thoughts turned to our own Hema who was oblivious to all the natak happening around and got told later. By the way, she was also the star of the last day as it was her Happieee Burdae…and yes we had all come down in one piece and yesss…celebrations were double cause ab toh pahad chad chuke the!!!!
All said and done, it was one of the most beautiful experiences and we will all remember it ever so fondly, having experiencing it together. Though we all may have experienced it our own way, and added our own flavour to the group, one thing is for sure, my words did prove prophetic. I made friends. The testimony to all of it were the wet eyes, promise to remain in touch and tough to sa Goodbyes. So long girlies...Group Hug !
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