It is 2 November, 2020 today. Late at night I was having a conversation with Uday and Siddesh. A con call. I happened to ask Uday where would he go if he had to go right now. He was prompt and it didn’t take time for him to think. He said Kedarkantha, and it was that then. The plan was to depart the next day and I had no tickets booked.
The next day, I went out for a lunch at Madira and Mimes in Powai, you have to use sign language to order food, Great right?
While back home, I still was not at all thinking about booking tickets. The next day was a visit to Decathlon store at Worli in Atria Mall.
Got the stuff, while heading back to Gateway in the Cab, I booked the tickets. The train from Mumbai to Delhi, Delhi to Dehradun and the same in reverse. The train was supposed to depart the next day at 5.30pm. Well planned! :p So I left my home 5 minutes late not sure If I will get the bus which would eventually take us to the Landing Jetty and from there a Ferry to Gateway of India. Well, I did manage to somehow get on that bus. After reaching Mumbai Central, it was crowded heavily and I was sure to be contracted by COVID-19 yet somehow I did not. When you travel alone there is always a fear of you sleeping peacefully and not being able to enjoy the journey as much as you had planned to. But what if the real journey is sleeping and dreaming about better things than you could in your house? Woah wierd. My confirmed seat happened to be the left upper berth. Which kinda is okay as you can keep your stuff as well as sleep peacefully without waking or disturbing any other fellow passengers. Whenever I see people from different culture etc [Drama approaching] Suddenly I feel more Indian, it does give you a feeling of ‘Damn this country is huge and diverse’ That day was a little extended, also I was thinking despite covid-19 people still travel like normal and stuff which was something different.
The TC came and announced at 7pm that the train will not go via Kota, Rajasthan and it will take another 3 hours to reach Delhi which meant I was going to reach Delhi at 11am the next day.
The next day arrives, but Delhi doesn’t, BECAUSE the train was not 3 hours delayed it was 12 HOUUUURSSSS delayed. Man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But this helped me later.
So I did book a Bus using RedBus mobile app and had a while for shoppping in Delhi. So I got some extra stuff from Old Delhi market and also Decathlon. Then I went to the bus stop and well there was magic 🌟🌟🌟🌟. It was an usual night at Delhi Mori Chowk, didn’t seem like covid-19 pandemic is the current ongoing situation. While running through different places from where the bus to Dehradoon departs I met a guy called Kaustubh, we had a confusing conversation at the start whether we are for the same bus because the details were confusing. I quickly withdrew some cash in case I was unable to at Dehradoon. A guy then took us to some confusing place and there we met a trio(2 girls, 1 boy). We all 5 teens or young adults whatever you say started having conversations and realised things are a bit weird, and we had to be conscious at every second about everything. It was 11pm, 6th November,2020
We got into the bus and the guy instructed Kaustubh to sit in the middle row, he was cramped and felt suspicious for everybody around him… that’s what he told me on whatsapp while we were in the bus. I sat at the second last seat and the three guys sat at the last one. As a familiar person comparatively I told the girl behind my back to keep an eye on the guy sitting besides me as he later turned out to be the kingpin of the terror group from that bus.
I started talking with the guy sitting besides me because I had no other option, he was smelling foul alcoholic like crazy. He asked me what is my name and where I am from and he cracked few jokes about what he knew as Mhatre’s are havaldars in old Marathi movies. He went on to tell more about himself and I got that guy pretty engaged into the conversation and tried to befriend him. Worked.
He was travelling with his two brothers and a bag full of Rum and Whisky. The water bottle holder on his seat had a 250ml Rum. Driver decided to take a halt for refreshment and folks got down. I had a conversation with Kaustubh and he described his state when we had got down keeping an eye on our stuff from the glass windows. The driver honked for couple of times, we got on and the bus departed, it was around 1:30am, 7 November. I said to nobody that the guy beside me and his three brothers on the other seat were missing but had their bags in the bus. Well, what do do. The pain of losing your belongings in a bus would still be more painful than losing so much of rum to myself and less disturbance till Dehradun. I informed the driver, he pulled the bus. These guys followed and had a good fight with the bus staff. After a while this guy was called by the driver to sit besides him as the punishment for something more he had done.
The Magic: It was 2am. The girl behind me and I started a conversation. She was 5.4, and fit like anything. She had a great confident voice. She had the prettiest haircut. For the next 3hours we talked about everything from her admission into an institution, upcoming plans, family, upbringing and relationships to my relationship, reason of my trip, Mumbai v Delhi, and why she guessed correctly that I am from Mumbai. We also had conversation about the home base. Well a real 3 am friend. She was completely into music, I asked her suggestions for good artists and well had heard to many of the ones she said. She was going to the Beatles Ashram. We had a lot in common. Also got along with her group of friends and started making fun of her, which is the most generic and common thing guys do……. though this time it wasn’t intentional. It was 5:30am and we reached Hrishikesh.. she as well as the drunk guy besides me got off. We exchanged a stare and I missed to ask her for her mobile. She said she does not use and social media after which was a silence of 10 seconds. I missed. Had I asked her for mob. She got off the bus with her friends and waved me bye. Well I was stupid but this was something fast which had me got discussing with a stranger my problems and It was placed just perfectly in my journey so I could happily enjoy the rest of the trip without any presence in time back. 1 point to magical happenings and negative one for my stupidity.
I got down at Dehradoon and Kaustubh had more to go. I waved him bye and reached the bagpacking hostel I had booked. The hostel was not too far from the main city, but my drop point from the bus was. After reaching, I met a guy at the hostel, he came here for a NDA exam and was already studying.
After researching a bit, there was no direct way to Sankri, the base village to Kedarkantha. So few guys I met when walking back to hostel from the Dehradun railway station whom I asked said that it was just yesterday when they had been to the Kedarkantha summit, I was happy and asked them what to do, we discussed and they suggested why don’t you get a moped or a bike and go. I just did that and went. The riding experience from Dehradun to Sankri had been crazy.
I started from Dehradun at 6pm and estimated to ride till 1am and reach Sankri. Also made an arrangement with a Hotel that I would arrive at night and that would be probable. But it was hard to constantly drive bike in the mountain ghats which was a valley for Yamuna river. The temperature drifting around at 1 degree. I somehow managed to reached Purola and took a halt there as a local instructed me that, a night before a Leopard had been spotted on the way to Mori, so better not to risk. I slept at around 12am and woke up in the morning at 5am and left from Purola to its only petrol pump which was not open .. For which I waited and the guy who was supposed to turn on all the machines came to me and said It will take an hour more so instead to get it on the way as the local people have it. On the way took a halt for a cup of tea and some bhajiyas… The ride was anything but beautiful. It was the most serene solo riding I have had ever done till then. Camera doesn’t even 10 percent justice as it was also the temperature the birds and the breeze. After a while driving in the Ghats, valleys for a while and an overnight imprompt stay ar Purola I reached Sankri and went a bit ahead of the entry point. Locals there were cooking dal made by the milk of goat. Well I had to drank that obviously.
When I reached Sankri I met the guy, ‘Pradeep’ with whom I had booked a room earlier and he aid the next batch of folks are going to go with mules and etc. But I ignored him as I wanted to o alone. Then at the exact entry point of the trek there was a lodge newly being built and was able to srike a good conversation with the carpenter. He gave me a total understanding of the whole trek and I also asked him If only I could park the vehicle and stuff my belongings in one of his rooms. He agreed.
I geared up and started treking with a Ramfal in my one hand and trekking pole in another. After 20 meters I was already exhausted. lol.
After a kilometre.. I met Saurav which later went on to be my guide with whom I did a kilometre more and reached Juda ka Talab. Saurav was a school boy who failed or atleast faked to me because of all the three times he told me different things. I met more guys and herewith was with them for the whole. They shared their food with me from now on else I had my own utensils and all kitchen setup with me.
I would probably do injustice to describe the whole summit journey here. We left for the summit at around 2:30 am from the Base camp and reached just at the time of sunset. I will be honest it was tough at the time. But it was us first five guys who opted for the slightly tougher route. The horizon was anything but a magnificient gradience of soothing colors which kept on widening and brightening. It was cold and very very windy, we didn’t feel our faces as it felt frozen. If you tried to speak anything it was a lot of efforts. We somehow communicated and for a while but with the sunrise came our hope and comfort in that temperature where we could be more comfortable. After we had descended almost at the end, I met Alok.
Alok is a slim thin, happy and very adaptive to the group of people he was within. He was such a charm person to have a conversation with. He heard everything I said about business i said for the past 2 years and upcoming 2 years. He did give out good suggestions too. He was super interested in stargazing and astrophotography as well.
After we decided to meet at Dehradun Station, I left on the same moped I had came from and team B left in a vehicle they had booked with the package. And we did meet, ate Crazy kinda Kebabs and it was a good wrap party. We waved each other bye and guys left from bus, train and airport. I had my train in the next morning and due to covid they didn’t allow to stay in the waiting room so I booked a Room in the nearby Jain Homestay, it was actually exciting more than how I am making you visualize. The next morning I departed and here I was at Delhi and took some more time, but yeap eventually reached Mumbai, Gateway and home.
Trust me the whole journey was magic. I was going through the craziest low of my life probably and here I was running away to just be with myself and nobody else, yet I realised however mindful you try to be, in the end you need people to complete the story. Be it newer ones who don’t know whats up with you or the ones who know the 100% yet choose to be with you to help.
Grateful to everybody who were a part of the whole journey.
They guy in train who looked after my luggage and took my photo, Kasutubh, Akansha Bisht, Uncle at Parola t 11:30 am, The guys who helped me ride in the dark by assisting with their 4 wheeler headlamps, They guy who looked after my luggae for 4 days,Pradeep, Ladies whom I had a conversation with whom I gave a lift, They guy who gave me the scooty Uncle sam who showed me Char Choti and took a lift from me, They guy whom I met at 8pm in the dark Mussorie while going to Sankri, Saurav, Alfaz Ansari, Adarsh Garg, Karan Lama, Shreekanth, Saiprasad, The guys at riding solo, They guy who was my bus partner, Akansha’s friends, Priya, Alok, Amey.