Deoriatal and ahead

People at the marketplace in Ukhimath were busy in their work, cursorily looking at him and then carrying on their routine. Karan though that it would be possible to get an accomodation at the temple, asked for the way and was guided to a stairway descending down from the market. There was a clinic on the way, where he stopped to ask a lady regarding places to stay, and if rooms were available at the temple. She got shy, smiled and said Yes, and looked the other way. He continued his walk and reached the temple. A dharmashala was adjoining it, where he was asked by a man, ‘what do you want?’

‘Can I get a room to stay?’

‘How many people?’

‘I am alone?’

‘No rooms for singles.’

‘I am a doctor and came to visit Ukhimath as Kedarnath is shut in winters.’

‘Come lets meet swamiji.’

He took him to a ‘swamiji’ who was in his thirties, and a typical priest, with a priest belly. All the rooms were vacant, and he gave a room to Karan after verifying the details.

‘Rs 300.’

Karan never expected this amount to be paid for his stay at a temple. He said politely, ‘Swamiji, in the register, people have paid Rs 150.’

No, that is for Kannadas and Maharashtrians. But you can pay Rs 250.

‘Okay, so now whats the use of displaying my marathi skills?’ he thought, and took out the money. The room was clean, and he had not come here to stay indoors. He took a bath, his first ‘cold water bath’ in the hills, and went up the way he had come, to reach the market.

He was hungry, but since it was already 2 pm, he was thinking of the earliest transport to Saari, the village from where the trek to Deoria Tal starts.

‘Saari ke liye to ab koi gaadi nahi hai- there’s no vehicle for Saari now, aap personal gaadi kar lo.’

‘Yaar student hu, personal to nahi kar sakta.’ The best thing about being 25 is, that you can also be a doctor when you need things to move ahead, and a student when you wish to get concessions.

Realising that he would have to wait, he roamed around, has food and returned.

‘Sir, woh jeep walla saari jaega, uski savaari udhar wait kar eahi hai.’

He realised that a jeep was going there to pick up people who were there, and Karan sat in the jeep, alone. The driver was in no hurry to move, and he dozed off, until a sound woke him up; he saw three guys near the jeep, in a hurry to depart for Saari. They were from Delhi, IT guys, going to Deoria tal. Finally, the jeep moved, as travellers exchanged pleasantries, and shared the journey plans.

These guys were to stay there in the night; he had to return to his room. On getting down, he saw a Pune – MH12 registered bike.

‘This must be an interesting guy who has driven down from Pune, would be great to meet him.’

Negi ji was the camp organiser in Deoriatal, who catered to the demands of trekkers. The people whi were to depart by this jeep were still uphill, and there was a chance to return by the same jeep. Negi ji told that the biker guy was  up for the past 3 days.

Karan waited for none, and started his trek to uphill. This was the first day, the first trek, adn he was in a hurry. Half way, he saw the family of three who hired the jeep, coming down.

‘I have to leave on my own, lets see.’ and he continued moving.

‘Bhaiya, aap to thak gaye,’ said one among the three garhwali women who were also walking up. ‘Hum to roj do baar upar jaate hain,’ another one chipped in, the third one offered a malta to eat.

Kunal was coming down after three days in DeoriaTal, singing an old song, ‘koi humdum na raha, koi sahara na raha.’

‘Must be a lonely guy, but yes, this is the one with the bike,’ thought Karan.

‘Thodi der baithoge,’ he said to Kunal, tired of walking uphill.

‘Haan zaroor’

‘aap Pune se ho?’

‘haan,’

‘bike lekar aaye ho wahan se’

‘haan’

‘maine bhi wahan se MBBS ki hai,’

‘accha’

‘abhi aap kahan jaoge’

‘dekhte hain. Yahan se Chopta, fir Tungnath, Chandrashila.’

‘Mujhe neeche tak chood dena, main abhi aata hu. Yahan se main Ukhimath jaaunga’

‘Thik hai, main 30 min wait karunga, jaldi aa jaana’

Karan went uphill with double the pace, and reached the lake. This is said to be the lake where Pandavas were asked questions by the yasha when they came here thirsty.

The first sight of lake was disappointing. It was a small pool of water, with reflections of the Himalayas. From here, was seen the snow-covered ‘Chaukhamba Peak’. Sitting by the lake gave him some rest, but after clicking a few snaps, he thought of going down.

‘This is not what I came here to do, I am just checking off items from the list, and clicking pictures to prove that I was here,’ this thought troubled him, but there was little to do there, and he returned, running down the mountain slope, and reaching within 20 minutes.

Kunal was sitting on his bike, tying his bag to his bike. The jeep had left, as expected.

Karan was happy that now he could be dropped till the road between Ukhimath and Gopeshwar, from where there were greater chances of finding a vehicle back. After waiting for 10 minutes, it was getting dark and Kunal said that he would drop Karan till Ukhimath. Realising that this was the only practical way out, and he would have done the same, Karan sat on the bike and they stopped at the tea stall near the temple for tea.

‘Why dont you stay here, I have a room.’

‘I want to see the sunrise in Tungnath, so will have to go. also, I want to be alone tonight.’

‘Okay, but still if you do not find an accomodation there, come here. Alright?’

‘Alright’

With this, Kunal departed and Karan returned to his room.

‘I am coming back,’ Kunal called him on his mobile.

‘Thats great, see you at the tea shop.’

Karan realised that Kunal was a nice guy.

They talked about spirituality, and why they were in the Himalayas. Why Kunal spent 3 days at Deoriatal, and what life is. They planned to get up at 4 the next morning, to depart for Chopta, 30 kilometres from there.

 

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