Sunday, December 25, 2011

Everest Calling - Shopping at Namche Bazaar & the Final Preparartion

The Everest Bakery at Namche was one thing we all knew we did not want to miss. As soon as we reached Namche, we went to the bakery. The stuff that I and a few others were looking for - apple pie, apple crumble, we found at the bakery opposite Everest bakery. They were yummy. Mmmmm....
I would have loved to taste everything on the glass shelves but they cost money. Everything you touched cost 200 – 300 Nepali Rupees!
I decided to try some more on the return visit.

The tailor was found finally. I had been looking for one. The pair of black pyjamas I had bought from a heap on the street had not survived the 3 hour trek from Lukla to Phakding. Why, it had not survived the stroll I had taken in Lukla market, I think. When I asked a tailor (the only one in the market) to mend it, he had said, he would take any clothing that had been tried. It had to be washed and then given to him.
There had been one tailor in Phakding and it was already getting dark when we got there. I did not feel like going to him. He had probably closed shop.
So it was that the tailor in Namche did it for 100 Nepali. I haggled and he actually did it for less – 90 or so.

We all had come prepared for the trek. Our bags were full. But there’s always more. Especially when you headed for Mt. Everest.
Six of us entered a shop to buy what they call a poncho. It’s a raincoat of good quality. They came in a few colours. When I tried a bright green one, someone commented this was a Pakistani green, so I settled for a light sea green. Green is my weakness.
The guy at the shop was an the old man. We had assumed he would give us discount for 6 raincoats that we were buying in all – for he had given some discount for one poncho bought yesterday by one among us – was it Fazeel?
But he refused to give any. We were surprised and annoyed. ‘You gave him discount for buying one raincoat yesterday, and now we are buying six of them and you will give no discount!’
‘Yesterday we became friends and something happened and I got carried, I can’t give you discount’ said he waving a hand in dismissal. It was amusing, his innocence, his naivette.

The way we had been spending money, we realized we were not carrying enough. It had been only three days and we had spent so much. We looked for an ATM.
ATM was closed.
The only way was to swipe a card in a shop and take cash from the owner for a fee of 12 percent on the amount of transaction.
Thanks to Amit. I had a few thousand Nepali more.
Only the 500 rupee note that Fazeel had, had the picture of Nepal king on it. I exchanged it for mine. Hoping I would not have to spend it and take it home for collection.

We returned to the dining area of Himalayan hotel.

Initially, we had decided to tell the other team that we had actually seen Everest and to describe it vividly, making them real jealous but once we had the snowfall, we no longer felt the need to resort to Everest. We told them about the snowfall and believed that we made them jealous.
Apparently, they all saw the scalp of a yeti in the monastery at Khumjung village.

The dinner consisted of Hakka noodles with 3 pieces of capsicum, 3 pieces of carrot and 1 shred of cabbage, no salt, momos with potatoes for filling, a vegetable roll and soup. The soup was good and when I asked for another bowl, Nar Bahadur told me off with a wave of hand.
He also scolded me when I asked him to get me tea in a fresh cup. He had wanted me to gulp down water in my cup so he could pour tea into it.
Narayan, another guide, compensated by offering me a spoon with a flourish like he was offering me a rose. And a tea bag too.

Hot water shower was an adventure in itself.
It cost 300 rupees, for 15 minutes. They said, after 15 minutes they turned off the tap, or there was some automatic setting which turned off the gas heater or something. This was scary. The one next to the dining area was occupied. When I requested the proprietor, he took me through a long corridor behind the dining area to what seemed to be a luxurious room with an attached bathroom. He showed me how to operate the gas heater and left.
Once I locked the door and was all by myself, how would anyone stop me after 15 minutes?
With the local folks here grudging every glass and every mug of hot water for the last 2 days, this bath was godsend. When I heard the rapping on the door, I panicked for I thought someone had noticed that I had crossed 30 mins, but when I came out, I was told my roomy was missing me badly. I had the room key with me!

I dried my hair near the Tandoor while conversing with the chief guy who was leading the ‘All Women’s Expedition’ from Indian Air Force to the summit of Mt. Everest. There were eleven women in all plus some men assisting them, seated opposite us on the other side of the Tandoor. All eyes surveyed them in awe. The chief talked about the rigorous training the team had gone through for a year at various places including Siachen, the coldest place. They had scaled lesser peaks in preparation – 17000 ft, 24000 ft, etc. Some women had postpone their marriage plans and some women, their family plans. He talked about the year 2005 or 2006 which had been a very bad one. The weather had been violent, stormy, and so many of them had died. I wondered why people took such risks. Was it worth it? Was anything under this sun worth this beautiful life?

Diamox. I am not someone who likes popping pills. But that night I found myself in a dilemma. Diamox is a blood thinner and is supposed to be consumed in the mountains. It thins your blood and helps in achieving balance with the outside low atmospheric pressure in high altitudes. It is supposed also to help you cope with low oxygen levels. If you have low BP you are not to have it.
I had been to the mountains before and never used anything. When I found myself with 3 or 4 of these guys who all advised me take one, I dilly-dallied for a while and then popped half a pill. Half a diamox.
A costly mistake. I did not know it was a diuretic. I should have had a good night’s sleep before the arduous day ahead of me. Instead I woke up 4 or 5 times in the night to use the bathroom, dark, cold and a mile away. I heard a book has been written about the simple art of saying NO. Now I know why.

A friend was had been sniffing at something when we had began our trek that morning. Upon asking he said it was camphor and it supplied oxygen. Oxygen or not it surely smelt great. I decided to buy a packet of those from a store the next day.

And I did. Only, upon opening the pack and inhaling the white ball with closed eyes, all ready to savour it’s flavour, I realized he had sold me naphthalene balls.

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