Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Walk in the Mist

It was still raining. But we had to get going.
We put on our ponchos (rain coats), the few of us who were left after the rest had marched ahead.

What followed was one among the most beautiful walks of my life. The walk through clouds.
You could see a hundred feet ahead but no more. Beyond that all world was mist.

The poncho that effectively wrapped me made it difficult to take out the camera. To add to it, I was running out of memory.
But I did take a few pictures.
Having taken one picture, when I walked further, I saw that the new scenery before me was more beautiful and I thought, may be, I should have captured this one instead of the previous one. I told you I was running out of memory.
As the clouds enveloping us started thinning, the change in the scenery became more dramatic.
In the valley below, we could see tops of conifer trees all round, rising from a soft bed of mist.

The mountain beside us, on the other side was golden from the rays of a westward sun. When we reached the bend and walked around it, we saw a blue sky and green golden mountains.
That was the first time my friend, N, who had been until then, pleading me – to stop taking too many pictures, for God’s sake, and that too in burst mode, and walk fast please, it’s getting late – asked me to slow down and enjoy the walk. I was relieved. How I wish that walk had lasted longer.

Finally, we reached Namche.
As we entered our hotel, the same one we had left 2 weeks ago, I thought, how soon it had all come to an end.

That evening, we pooled in money towards the tip to our porters and guides – the unsung heroes who were not beasts but had carried our burden just the same, all along.
The travel guides recommend 10% but we left 5% - 2400 Indian rupees.
I gave away my remaining 500 rupee notes, shed my weight and transferred my burden, once again, to those porters.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Everest Calling - Tengboche to Namche

The walk from Tengboche to Namche was the walk through clouds. But that came later. We walked till noon and stopped at this place for lunch.

We had our lunch but the rain would not let up. Our singing began and went on and on but the rain would not let up.

Just outside our building, on both sides of the street was this beautiful spread of jewelry, mostly semi precious or ordinary stones, but beautiful ones, by which sat Nepali village women, occasionally speaking of the specialty of their wares – it is difficult to find a stone this size, this is pure silver, etc.

As I picked up the pieces and examined them, it started raining and all the wares displayed on makeshift benches were immediately covered in blue plastic sheets. The pieces I had selected were carried to a shop and I was summoned there for further considering my purchase.

I bought a necklace made of a deep blue stones. Ink blue. With a matching bracelet to go with it.
And I bought another beautiful necklace made of sandstones.

Much to my surprise and relief these women accepted the Indian 500 rupee notes, the ones we had been worrying about as the days of departure came nearer.
I had hidden them in my bag alright but I wondered how rigorous the checking would be. I had not known then that the whole security act at the airport was going to prove to be a joke!

So I expended one note or two there.

As I put the jewelry in my bag and gave the notes to the women, wondering if it was a good bargain, one of them read my doubts and assured me, ‘Hum log aise nahin hai, hum achhe log hai – don’t worry, we are not like that, we are good people’.