Thursday, March 29, 2012
Everest Calling - Machermo to Phortse Tanga
As I said, when we were about to leave the Red Cross Centre, a member of our group dropped to the ground.
And misfortune began…
The guy fainted. He vomited too.
He was fed immediately and he puked again.
The unrelenting medical staff fed him again and he threw up.
I don’t trust doctors completely.
Feed someone soon after they have puked! Giving the already strained stomach some more burden.
Whatever happened to “listen to your body”?
Had he been given only electoral or glucose, perhaps things would have turned out differently.
He should be carried back to Dole right away, said the doctors. It was dark. A porter would carry him in a basket on his back. He would use a hand torch. Someone among us gave him a head torch.
It was dreadful to even think about the prospect. To have to be carried by a porter along that trail, colder than in the morning, darker, the winds stronger… and to think of the porter’s plight…such a pity.
People started falling ill, one by one – headache, nausea, loose motion.
I threw up.
But had the sensibility to refuse to take solids for that day against the insistence of all who seemed to believe in the doctor’s advice.
I sipped small quantities of electral water.
I did the Sudarshana Kriya sitting in front of the Tandoor praying that I would not have to return to India without sighting Everest at Kala Patthar.
When I opened my eyes looking for my share of Dal that I had kept aside for having after the Kriya, it was gone. Perhaps for good.
The Red Cross doctor who had given the afternoon session peppered with humour, was summoned to attend to the grave situation. She was seated in one of our rooms and we saw her one by one.
I was not asked to take diamox because I had none of the AMS symptoms. In fact, she told me the examination was expensive (it was a simple examination) and I should go for it only if I had the symptoms. I liked her honesty.
I took more electral, rested for the night while many others retched like their intestines were coming out.
That night was the first time I slept in a sleeping bag.
It was cold to the touch and getting into it slow and formidable.
I liked it in a way because I didn’t have to tuck it to preserve heat as with a blanket. But I did use my shawl of 2008 to cover my face and chest.
Loss of water. Loss of health. But the bigger loss was loss of morale and confidence.
The really sick ones wanted only to go back alive from the death valley. Who cared to see Everest?
It the afternoon lunch that did us in. Noodles, potato wedges, pasta, refined foods...
We had become thoroughly bored of the food by then and had been nagging our tour guides to give us tasty interesting food.
What ensued was a change of plan. We would go back to Doley and from there on, take a different route, the Everest highway – this had been the plan B.
Had we had some buffer time, we could have rested a day until acclimatization was complete and stuck to our original plan.
I almost decided I would go back. I even dreamt that night that I would reach Delhi early and leave to Rishikesh, then to Khirganga to give Arun Babaji a surprise…
The next day when I had descended a few 100 meters and all was well, I hoped I would be one among the people who would make it to Kala Patthar and Everest Base Camp. When N (a member of our team) prophesized that only half the people would reach Kala Patthar and EBC, that people would start falling out at each stop, I hoped that I would be among the ones who would make it.
The next day we were back at Dole for lunch.
I could not stop wishing we had been on our way to Gokyo instead.
On the way back we were joined by a member, the youngest in the team, who had fallen sick on the way to Machermo and stayed in Luza.
The breakfast that morning at Machermo – some sweet rice porridge with a few pieces of dried coconut felt like ambrosia. Really.
Reaching Dole, feeling fit and fine, I ate some spicy Haldiram snack wondering what would be for lunch, back to square one, back to worrying about taste buds, like nothing had happened in the last 24 hours.
I and Ravi were the first to reach Dole. Reaching, Phortse Tanga in the evening, I smiled a sad, wan smile, as we were asked to take a turn to the River Resort.
We met the one who had survived the night journey on the porter’s back.
We ordered chocolate pudding and apple roll.
In the night, I and many others had hot shower.
All was well.
The light fixture in our room that night.
I was back to taking pictures.
So all was well again :-)