NJSays

Jumbled Mumbled Words


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Old Alone

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Image courtesy:- Boykung/FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

When I’m old and when I’m grey

Will I be alone or will I share

My life, the remaining few years of mine

With someone I’ll proudly say he’s mine

Will I remember the days gone by

And tell stories of my husband and I

When, where and how we met

Why him and not anybody else

Will I look at pictures and smile at myself

Remembering the past and cherishing the days

Where we were young and having fun

Like a typical couple who’s in love

If I do then I have a wish

That we love each other and do cherish

Our moments and times spent together

And promise that we’ll never leave each other

©NJ


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Trekking in Ladakh (Part III)

THE RETURN JOURNEY

DAY FOUR: - Skiu to Chilling to Mahey Guesthouse

L and MN left real early in the morning since it was the toughest climb yet of the trek. Wishing them luck and waving goodbye to them, we breakfasted on toast and eggs. An hour later, we left too. Assuming my legs were fine, I started the journey by walking.

Leaving Skiu and getting on our way to Chilling.

Leaving Skiu and getting on our way to Chilling.

A couple of hours later, I chose the horse. The remainder of the group continued to walk which resulted in me moving ahead. You could see the concentration and effort made by the horse to ensure that he or she didn’t topple you off and at the same time go downhill carefully. One of the cooks was guiding the horse and since it was to be a long journey he suggested we keep each other company by talking instead of staying mum.

The long route to Chilling.

The long route to Chilling.

So in a strange way we had our own little conversation about my life in a city, his life in the hills, how he could recognize each and every mountain etc. To prove it, he pointed a mountain to me and said “that is how we walked the day before.” Of course I couldn’t recognize it. I told him so but he just smiled shyly. He also showed me a few interesting things like the black sand and various other mountains. It was a fascinating journey with a cook and a horse.

About 45 minutes later, we reached the Zanskar River. The only way to cross this river is by sitting in a wooden box. There are a maximum of three people on each side of the river pulling and tugging the box (with people sitting in it, mind you) across the river. The strength required to do so was massive. The men you see pull it, well; I guess the mountain air has some sort of magical powers for those scrawny sized people to be able to pull the box with ease! There was another sort travel mode available too. My horse guide pointed out this triangle sort of thing where only one person could go across and there was no one to pull it but you had to do it on your own. I was stunned because I thought the adventures were supposedly over but I was so wrong.

The mode of 'transport'.

The mode of ‘transport’.

What's a little water... even though it is the size of a massive river!

What’s a little water… even though it is the size of a massive river!

He looked at me and asked “would you like to travel in that and wait for the others on the other side of the river?” Cheeky man, I tell you! I politely declined saying that I’ll wait for the others first. Dropping me off there, he went to get SK who had begun to struggle again. About 40 minutes later SK appeared and looked calmly at our mode of river crossing. I wasn’t panicking but I definitely found it a bit amusing.

Not just one but TWO modes of 'transport' available.

Not just one but TWO modes of ‘transport’ available.

Soon enough the others reached huffing and puffing and also surprised at the way we had to cross the river. It was excitement plus nerves combined. The feeling was indescribable. There were quite a few people waiting to cross the river so we just sat and rested for the lot to go ahead. It was a funny sight actually. Some of the locals were actually swinging on the triangle one! Our unanimous vote went for the wooden box. Safer, you see. Of course, the horses went via a different route. You can’t expect those giant beasts get into a tiny little box that could carry a maximum of two people.

Once everyone baring us crossed over, we sent our tents, sleeping bags etc. with one of the cooks first. Next, SK with a few more luggage items (so that he could help in pulling us across). By this time there were just our cooks on either side to help pull the box and it was easier said than done. Equipment sent my sister and I got in next. Neither of us was scared but I sure was hoping we weren’t heavy for the poor guy doing the pulling. He was an extremely scrawny guy and I was praying that we just flew across!

Once the box moves from the starting point, it sets off easily in a slightly downward slope, stops in the middle for a minute because the rope is extremely long and the guy at the other end has to really tug and pull on the rope in a swift manner. As the loose rope reaches the level where you have to really heave the box it becomes rather hard to do so. You could see the strain on the guys’ hands and the concentration on his face while doing so and all I can do is commend him. We’ve crossed the river safely and my sister and I profusely thank him.

It’s R and SB’s turn next and the whole ritual starts again. Last to remain are RR and the second cook. In the end it was R.R. and the other cook to cross the river. From here on, it’s a 4 km walk until and unless we could procure a lift from a passing vehicle for eight people and their luggage. Our cooks (now guides) asked us to wait for some time hoping to stop a passing truck that happens to be going to the same destination.

The other side of the river.

The other side of the river.

Around 20 minutes later, our luck worked. Post lunch we set off on what was to be an extremely bumpy ride. The truck driver warned us, of course, of the bumpiness, considering the whole path wasn’t much of a road. So we braced ourselves and enjoyed bumping along the way. SB, who was sitting right at the entrance of the back of the truck, was literally bouncing up and down like a rubber ball! It was quite comical and we all had a hearty laugh.

31 Inside the truck

 

 

View from the truck.

View from the truck.

40 Inside the truck

44 View From the truck

Although our journey was now via a truck, it didn’t take anything away from the view. The mountains, the river flowing across the way, the blue sky… a peaceful and warm sight to behold. Few hours later, we reached the familiar Leh market and knew we were now minutes away from the guesthouse, from hot showers, hot teas and a warm bed.

©NJ

You can read more about Ladakh in another post of mine, Ladakh Adventures.


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Trekking in Ladakh (Part II)

DAY THREE: - Yurutse to Gandala Pass to Skiu

View of and from the camp.

View of and from the camp.

View from our campsite in Yurutse.

View from our campsite in Yurutse.

Brushing our teeth and washing our faces using the ice cold stream water running near our camps was enough to wake us all up. Toast, eggs and tea helped us with the cold though. Thus nicely fed and warmed up we set off for the steep climb. As we climbed further it started getting colder and tiring. SK who was having knee problems yesterday made the right choice by taking the help of one of the horses. Considering the walk was a bit tough on the knees, it was the best.  Following R’s ’50 step’ formula we continued on our way.

 

A Marmot 'hole'.

A Marmot ‘hole’.

 

The view to reaching Gandala Pass.

The view to reaching Gandala Pass.

For company, apart from us humans that is, we had rabbits and marmots scampering about and even yaks, although they preferred paying attention to the little of food they could find than us. Soon even our horses caught up with us along with the cooks. Just to show how cheeky they can get, one of them even ran up a hill, yes, RAN up a hill like a mountain goat or something. To top it off nicely, he sat on a stone, covered his face with his cap and promptly dozed off waiting for us to reach him.

We were now reaching Gandala Passfrom where the descent started.  The last few steps were really tough. It was difficult to breathe normally what with icy winds blowing across your face making you sniffle. Our guide was waiting for us and kept encouraging as we got there. Finally we made it and the beautiful surrounding was our prize.

Reaching the top.

Reaching the top.

We took a 10 minute break and began our journey downhill. The change in view was drastic. It went from mountains and greenery to as if walking through a desert. My sister’s knee was now giving her even more trouble. Finding it a little easier walking downhill than uphill, our guide and I walked off ahead knowing the others will soon catch up with us. As I walked on further, I noticed SK walking instead of on a horse. Catching up to him I asked him, “why did you get off the horse?” knowing very well that walking downhill can worsen his knee pain! The brilliant man says, I felt good enough to walk so got off the horse and let him go.”The result is that now if either my sister or he required the help of a horse, he/she has probably reached Skiu, our campsite.

View from Gandala Pass.

View from Gandala Pass.

Scores of Yaks grazing lazily.

Scores of Yaks grazing lazily.

20 view from the pass

R, taking a break.

R, taking a break.

Well I continued on my way all the while looking back to ensure I haven’t lost sight of anyone nor have they. Passing through a rocky pathway I twisted my ankles and thus joined the ‘injured party’. Unfortunately I didn’t have a bottle of water with me resulting in me feeling parched. Luckily I had some candy on me. Sucking on that I now limped on. I noticed SK was now having a really hard time walking. He started feeling a bit light headed and fuzzy. I couldn’t help him if he fell or something so I forced him to take a break and sit down on a nearby rock. Walking a few steps ahead I tried to see if I could spot our lunch campsite. I did. But it was still quite a distance away.

I heard voices and turned my head to see my sister and the others catching up to us. Heaving a sigh of relief, I told them about SK and we took a few minutes break. The others had water with them too so we all quenched our thirst and after about five minutes went on our way. Finally we reached the camp and sat down feeling exhausted and thrilled at the same time. RR, Sb and the cook with a horse were there too which surprised me for I thought they would have moved on far earlier. Anyway, today’s lunch consisted of chapattis with jam spread, a mango, chocolates and a cube of cheese. Most of managed to have something from that lot but just like yesterday, SK barely ate anything. We took a longish break of fifteen to twenty minutes and finally left to reach our night camp.

The way from there was tricky and long. Our guide said it would take us at least four hours to get there. Hence just the twenty minutes break at our lunch camp. Five minutes into the walk my sister’s knees were hurting her bad and so we made her get onto a horse for the rest of the way. She was very reluctant at first and quite terrified too. But she managed and I am glad she did. The walk was tough for the rest of us too. SB and RR went off ahead while R and I gave SK moral support as he limped his way on. Our guide gave us just one tip – follow the stream. And so we did. But just as we crossed the stream there were stones all over the place making it very difficult to find the route. So we started looking for horse shoe tracks and footsteps.

We were sure those would lead us somewhere. And it did. We caught up with SB who for some reason was waiting for us. The continued walk was a really long one and we began to wonder if we were on the right track. We didn’t come across another soul for ages and we kept hunting for footprints to guide us through. With my legs beginning the process of giving up, I started muttering nonsensical stuff in my head as an encouragement. We were now desperate to reach the campsite before darkness hits.

Finally we spotted our guide and a helper walking towards us, each holding onto the reins of a horse.

SK got onto one of the horses and I got onto the other. The campsite was still quite far although according to horse trotting standards we reached in half an hour. I dread to think how long it would have taken if we had walked. Once at the camp, we all sat down feeling exhausted whereas the cooks came around handing us mugs of hot tea. We happily lapped them up.

After a while I tried to get up and that was when I realized the extent of how bad my legs were hurting. It also meant cutting the trek short and returning back. With some help in the form a massage from L and some muscle spray, my legs did get marginally better. Enough to make the return trip. Continuing further would mean that we had no choice but to complete the entire trek. This was the last spot from where we could, if we had to, return.

I’ll always be thankful to L’s massage for that helped me at least walk a bit the next day. However the difficulty at that moment was walking from our tent to the dinner tent; which was a mere ten steps away. All in all most of us had decided to head back to the guest house the next day except L and M who looked like they skipped all the way to the camp!

Discussing about next day’s journey over dinner, we finalized on L and MN going ahead with the remainder of the trek and the others returning back to the guesthouse. Post dinner, I hopped back our tent with the help of my sister. On the way I just happened to look up at the sky and marvel at all the stars when I saw a white light streak by. For a minute I didn’t understand nor did I register it. It disappeared within a second, from the sky and from my mind. Back inside the tent, I popped a painkiller and we girls chattered a bit. Finally we all lay down in our respective sleeping bags and that’s when I recapped the ‘streaking’ light and wondered – “could that have been a shooting star that I just saw? It might have been! If it was – well, that is one of the best medication to take my mind off the pain.” With that thought, I slept.

©NJ

Link to Part III.


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Trekking in Ladakh (Part I)

Day ONE: – Spituk to Jingchan

While waiting for our guide, we breakfasted on eggs, toast and tea. D, our guide, was already present and sitting there. We just didn’t realize it.

After hurried introductions and some initial bad vibes from our guide we set off to pick up the 8th member of our trekking group, MN and get to the starting point, Spituk, of the trek. The rest of the guide team was ready with the horses and waiting. The cook was ready with our lunches all packed neatly.

With the heat bearing down upon us we began the trek. Talking, laughing, enjoying ourselves, we went on with complete gusto. Since the whole area was barren of trees, the direct sun was a bit killing; though the cool wind made it a decent compromise.

5 On the way

 

SK and R walking along the track.

SK and R walking along the track.

If you look closely, you'll get to see a bunch of people 'scattered' right in the middle.

If you look closely, you’ll get to see a bunch of people ‘scattered’ right in the middle.

Up in the sky we had encouragement in the form of a ‘muscle’ cloud and down below it was in the form of people screaming with glee while river rafting along the Indus River.

Motivation from beyond...

Motivation from beyond…

The river gave us company for almost the entire day. Walking along the mountain with the roar and rush of the river below gave a different kind of thrill to oneself. With the wind blowing hard and cold, I soon began to have a runny nose. Not really good when the sun’s hitting you but the wind blows cold! LL, poor girl’s cap flew off her head and played ‘catch me if you can’ with her for a few minutes. She ran to catch it, it flew away further, she ran to catch it again, it flew further away again and so it continued. Eventually the wind gave her a break and she grabbed her cap before it changed its mind.

Nearing the river for our lunch break.

Nearing the river for our lunch break.

We stopped near the river bed to lunch on cheese bun sandwiches, a pear and some chocolates. RR even dipped his feet in the river to ease his leg muscles. Post lunch we left to reach our first camp site which was a few hours away.

All hyped on the food, we all walked within our speed limits resulting in some going further ahead than the others. The air gets a bit thinner making you really work your lungs out with every breath you take.  Taking breaks whenever required to gulp down some water or much on some chocolates, we reached our campsite by mid-afternoon.

Reaching our campsite.

Reaching our campsite.

This being my first trek, having to sleep in a tent was exciting for me. Hot water and tea and biscuits awaited us as we got there. As evening neared, the wind got colder. So those hot cups of tea helped us quite a bit. DAY ONE didn’t do much damage in terms of aches for most of us. SK suffered from a bad knee and SB from shoe bites but that’s the lot.

With a stream running near our campsite, it literally felt like we were living right there with nature and enjoying the comforts it provided us. A lovely steaming hot dinner and some laughter around a campfire and DAY ONE was over. With a good night’s sleep remaining, we all were looking forward to tomorrow which was to be a day of climbing. Since we were to leave by 6:30 AM, without further delay we went to sleep.

Our campsite

Our campsite

DAY TWO: - Jingchan to Rumbak to Yurutse

Today’s climb was exhausting. It made us restless every now and then and we stopped to take frequent breaks. Well most of us did. LL and MN zoomed off ahead. The only advantage of the frequent breaks was that you could really admire the scenery. It’s not that you couldn’t otherwise but to be able to stop and actually take a look around with a dazed look is something different altogether.

Taking a break and admiring the view.

Taking a break and admiring the view.

10 On the Way

For example, we saw these prayer flags at various places. This was unusual, you saw them often. But the uniqueness of it was that they were tied from one mountain to another. Tying them from one tree to another or one pole to another or even from one house to another is understandable and you can imagine it. But from one mountain to another… that’s new to me.

SK, with his bad knee, started to limp real bad now. So my sister and I gave him company and we trudged along with the breaks in between, munching on fruits and chocolates etc. Today’s lunch consisted of a boiled egg, a banana, cheese sandwich, chocolates and some dried fruits.

Following a tip given by R, we would walk 50 to 100 steps, take a minute or so break, walk another 50 to 100 steps and take another break and so on. It actually helped us from gasping with the low oxygen levels. It helped most of us but SK was now not only struggling with his knee but his want for breaks were coming sooner. This resulted in us slowing down quite a bit but we gave him words of encouragement and helped him along the way. Our guide (yes, we had a ‘guide’) had gone off ahead and was patiently waiting for us. R and my sister went off ahead to send him to give SK a pep talk. Thankfully it worked and we reached Rumbak, where R and my sister were waiting. We sat there and lunched on the sandwiches and eggs.

Nearing Rumbak

Nearing Rumbak

On the way from Rumbak to Yurutse.

On the way from Rumbak to Yurutse.

33 More yaks

Reaching our campsite.

Reaching our campsite.

Since we were a bit slow, getting to the campsite was delayed. Walking ahead and sending words of encouragement to SK, we soon reached our campsite, Yurutse. With a view of Yaks and mountains guiding us and giving us their own version of encouragement, DAY TWO of our trek was done. LL and MN were already there. SK was so happy to see our campsite that he ran the last few steps towards it. I went at the same pace and reached soon enough. RR, huffed and puffed his way to the site and went straight to the dinning tent and promptly lay down. Sitting out there and enjoying the view for a few minutes we too entered the dinning tent and had our mugs of hot tea and biscuits trying to drive away the day’s exhaustion.

My toes began to hurt a bit so as a precaution I massaged it and applied some balm for the next day’s trek was to be a really steep ascent AND a really long descent. In other words, a long, long day. Since dinner was quite a while away, we all went to our individual tents and to enjoy some well-deserved rest which is when I realized my sister was in pain. Her knees began to ache and were causing her a lot of trouble. Her knees started to ache all of sudden and she was finding it very difficult. Since SK was having the same problem, I asked him and R for help. With the advice of applying some balm and a pain killer, I went back to our tent.

Dinner was served and we had some piping hot vegetable soup which was a blessing for at night the temperatures really drop making you wanting to cuddle into your sleeping bags. Some hot parathas along with the soup filled our tummies and warmed us. We sat chit chatting about the day to while away time. Soon it was time for bed and waking up to the next day’s ascent and descent.

©NJ

Link to Part II.

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