More than a month into the planning, and finally it was all set. Dodital Trek in the Uttarkashi District, Uttaranchal. Mallik had organised most of the things, from tickets to a checklist for things to carry. The epic journey was to begin with ‘August Kranti’ train for Delhi on 7th Jun 08.
7 Jun, morning I was online, idly browsing, I had watched a news on TV stating Gujjar protests had led to train disruptions on the Western line. Little did I know that it would directly affect us. Mallik came online
apni train cancel ho gai hai
Great !!! Even before our journey started, we were finding solutions to the problems. Frantic phone calls to Mallik, Vj and a decision of a flight to Delhi the next morning was made. In the evening, Rajoba, Vj, Mallik all came to my place to stay overnite, so that we could leave on time for 6.10 flight.
What follows now is a sheer binding of all my log entries in a notebook which served as our diary for the trek log, accounts, miscellaneous calculations, and every other thing that a notebook can be put to use.
Day 1, 8 Jun 08
3.00am, Rajo’s phone alarm !!, after that Vjs nasty alarm tune !! It sounded like Chimps, Orangutans communicating with each other. Only those who get up to that tune @ 3 in the morning can relate the irritation that we had with it. Its the earliest I’ve ever got up. All tried and most of them succeeded in shitting, I did not (Not a good sign when you have a long day ahead!). We were heading towards the airport in a cab by around 4.15, wondering how the trip, trek is gonna workout. At the airport Amey was already waiting for us, a few minutes later Nikhil too made his appearance with just a big college bag ! All of us had spent the last night packing our 60 litre + backpacks, while Nikhil seemed to have just put things in place just before leaving in his 10 litre – bag with a sleeping bag dangling.
6.20, Take off, we were into the cool mumbai air filled with clouds. I was in shorts so was Vj, the other 4 in a better attire. The A320 3×3 was pumping AC’s cool air with a bit of show like that of dry CO2. Vj was the one with a window seat, dressed in black shorts (I now know why shorts are called shorts!), T shirt and cap. He was constantly muttering usual non-sense staying true to his nature, The kindof overweight Vj reminded us of the Gujarati overgrown fatso running in shorts, colorful wear, constantly muttering. At the window seat Vj tried to keep his leg on a bulge of the fuselage below and kept saying..
इस में बस की तरह पांव रखने को नही है !!!
Ne and Vj putting our hairy legs on display.. was not quite an ideal sight for the visitor making through the aisle. Shortly, there was a lady’s phirangi voice blabbering Hindi regarding the flight, it was heavy put on accent, like a desi trying to fake an American accent. Soon that voice had moved into English, that too it lost fluency! To that we commented..
साला हिंदी बोलने तो होता नही चले इंग्लिश बोलने
A relatively fat airhostess was with the phone, doing all the talking, assisted with a shorter air hostess and a hunk. The time passed by with all of us chatting, commenting.
We landed in Delhi around 8.30, booked a pre-paid taxi for Rajeev Chowk. Outside even for the pre-paid taxi, the cab-drivers were jostling to get the first visitor in their cab. At rajiv chowk there was nothing we could eat, being a Sunday, all shops were closed and it was just 9.30. We decided to go to New Delhi station via the Metro. When we entered the underground entrance to the station, there was a routine bag check going on. We were spared with our huge back packs as they had been tagged by the airport security, and the seal wasn’t broken either. At the station we managed to eat some low quality dhaba, the food too prepared in ‘sarson ka tel’ or mustard oil. With something inside our stomach we headed for India gate in a rickshaw. It was hot and humid at India gate @ 11.30, we had our first pics and our first perspiration of the 2 Week long trip. Mallik as usual found a tree to climb at the adjacent park, Rajoba followed him. Soon we were kids playing Frisbee in the park with the local kids too joining in. After a cool nimbu paani we left for the Nizamuddin station by local bus transport. 12.30pm and it was already so hot that none of us could think ahead. We decided to have some refreshments in a refreshment-self-service-cafe-shop.
Around 2.30pm , Mussoorie Express started to lead us to Haridwar. It was extremely humid, reminded me of the Mumbai heat. We tried a few rounds of ‘Rami’ until it was too hot for us to enjoy and we just went to sleep, I was lucky enough to be in the middle tier. I was at the gate for almost an hour while the small stations moved by. We reached Haridwar around 8.40, it was dark. We didn’t expect VT like surroundings, but atleast something better. However we were to find a place for the night halt, Vj knew about a Gujarati Dharamshala and we headed into a lane where every single board was in Gujarati, I felt I was in Rajkot and not Haridwar. At the Dharamshala, Vj communicated with some fellow with loads of attitude, like he owned that place. But we were lucky enough to find a room that had 6 beds and cost us only Rs.80 for the night. It was almost free! We freshened up and then headed out for food, Gujarati food was waiting for us. We had a big thaali around 9.00 and when we came back at the room, the electricity played its games. It was around 10.30 when the electricity was still behaving like a sine wave when the day long heat and journey took its toll and we were all deep into our sleeps.