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Insanely Inane Thoughts

If fate doesn't make you laugh, you just don't get the joke.

When Nature Calls - Part I

I have been meaning to pen down my thoughts for quite some time.But only now have I found the time and the inclination to do so.

I was quite excited with the fact that I would be able to get up,close and personal with the great Himalayas.I was going in with the naive notion that I would be wading through snow while lugging along a rucksack ala Vertical Limit.So I packed in some warm clothing and set off towards the station.

Billy,Rushabh,Vikram and Vivek were already at the station.They spotted me first and beckoned me over.The first thing that struck me was the fact that all four of them had rucksacks while all I carried was a carrybag and a suitcase.I soon found out that Billy and Vikram had bought their rucksacks just the day before.I would have to wait till Doon before I could lay my hands on a rucksack.We talked for a bit while we waited for Tony and Gollu to arrive.The train rolled into the platforn and we decided to wait in the compartment itself as the heat was getting a bit intolerable.As we headed towards the compartment,we bumped into Antony.It turned out that he had been waiting for us on the platform for quite a while.The six of us boarded the train and soon Hardik made his much anticipated appearance.As we settled down and made ourselves comfortble,the train started off with a jolt.Finally we were off!!

The train journey,in itself, was quite eventful.It was going to take us a day to reach Delhi from where we would take a bus to Doon.So we had to make sure that we kept ourselves entertained.For most part,we fit the bill of brash,unruly teenagers travelling all by themsleves in the train.The only time we resorted to sane antics was when we felt the urge to sleep!

To keep ourselves entertained, we bought two deck of cards on one of the stations.And the only game we played with all sincerity was Ass! We were distracted now and then by our heatlhy neighbour who felt it fit to scratch his privates in full public view.We contemplated his primitive behaviour and let our imaginations run wild.By the end of it,we were laughing till there were tears in our eyes.Other than this,we were also entertained by one co-passenger whose inimitable accent(gujju) brought down the house.At one time he was discussing the cricket score with us and it went like this :

Him : "Woh Sohaib hain naa,ekdum phast daalta hai.Par Sami sabse eccurate bowler hai.Aur jab meina suna ki Patel open karne aaya,I was socked!"

Let me tell you that he wasnt the only one who was "socked".

Soon it was nightime and I retired to bed while the others continued with the game of cards.At around 1 am,I woke up with a start only to find out that they were just settling into bed.However,we continued to rib ourselves till one other passenger got up,looked accusingly at us and headed off to the loo.Only after that did the laughter die down and we went off to sleep.

We reached New Delhi station at about 11:30 am the next day.New Delhi station isnt for the faint-hearted.One has to be on the alert all the time as the possibilty of getting ripped off is exceptionally high.You are constantly badgered by taxi wallas to get into their taxi.Once you have managed to bustle past them, it is the turn of the rickshaw wallas to badger you.So the best recourse is to shut up your mouth and keep walking straight.The moment you open your mouth,you are in trouble as these people are quite glib with their talk.They might even be able to persuade an eskimo into buying ice.

Some of us had to make telephone calls both local as well as long distance.While we were at it,Vikram ,gollu and Rushabh tried to find us a vehicle to get us to ISBT.After a lot of haggling,they settled for rickshaws which would take us to ISBT for Rs.60/-.Myself , Billy and Vivek fit into one rick.On our way we saw Red Fort.Billy was so taken in by the Red Fort that he started taking pictures over the hood of the rickshaw.It was quite a funny sight.

All of us made it ISBT in batches.Apart from Rushabh and Antony,all of us could find each other at ISBT.We set off looking around for the both of them while on the lookout for buses leaving for Dehradoon.Pretty soon we found them both.One of the touts managed to capture our attention with what we thought to be a reasonable offer.Though it was only till Roorkie,we thought nothing about it.The bus itself was uncomfortable to travel in.Soon two ladies found out that they hjad been charged exorbiantly for travelling upto Roorkie.Infact one of them explicitly stated that it was taking them more to travel from Delhi to Roorkie than from Hyderabad to Delhi.All of this kept us amused till we halted for lunch at an unique place.It proclaimed to be a Resortant and it was 0 kms away!

After a decent lunch,we prepared to board out bus when one of the ladies asked us how much we had been charged for the trip.When we spilled out our figure,it turned out to be on the higher side.Ermm...actually it was almost 200% the actual price.Feeling cheated,we alighted the bus and tried to talk to whoever was in charge.Turns out that these people just drive the bus while the touts in Delhi fleece innocent customers like us.So there wasnt much left to be done and we meekly got into the bus and made light of our situation as laughter is the best medicine :|

There was another couple who had been conned into the bus and they suggested that we ride onto Haridwar before getting off as it was closer to Doon.We readily agreed and got off at Haridwar with them.Bad move as the kumbh mela was in full flow and traffic from Hardwar to any other place would take loads of time.We called up Pranav's place and his dad suggested that we got on a train to Doon.While we were at it,some drunk came upto me and asked with a blank face "Kya aap Nepali ho?" I was astounded that I could ever be mistaken for a Nepali but gamely told him I was.He seemed to accept it at face value.

We hurried to the station as there was a 7:30 pm Jan Shatabdi to Doon.We bought platform tickets and waited for the train to arrive.It chugged in half-an-hour later.We were supposed to buy tickets from the TC in the train but since no one came to ask us for tickets,we didnt bother to get one.Finally we had our own back.

Another weird thing that happened was that a small kid(age~10) was staring constantly at Antony while we were playing card games in the train.This totally freaked Tony out and he hid his face behind a small cap he had brought along.

We reached Doon around 9:30 pm.Pranav and his dad waited for us at the station.While Gollu went off with Pranav on his scooter,the others fit into the car.On the way to Pranav's place,we got to see Mussorie by night which is a beautiful spectacle.Other than this we also saw the Clock Tower and Kumar's (which is the best sweet mart in town).

Once we reached his place, we freshened up and had a light dinner.After dinner we poured over maps to see the path we will be taking to Tapovan and made a checklist of stuff which we needed for the trek.Once we were done with that,we thought it was best to hit the sack but not before Billy entertained us with his "supporting" sidekick and his version of moulin rouge.

It was quite early when I got up.The sun had just risen and it made a pretty picture.I allowed myself to bask in the early rays of sun.Soon the entire household was afoot with the daily chores.Shower,breafast and going off to Mussorie was the plan.

Buses ply from Dehradoon to Mussorie for nomimal charges.We decided to try out the buses.Pranav warned us that the roads would be long and winding and some of us may feel sick.If that was the case for a hour long trip,we were in for trouble when we took the jeep from Rajpur to Gangotri.

The bus we took was rickety and full of people.Yet the driver went along at a fair clip.The roads are pretty long and winding.But the view one gets is quite astonishing.However all this was lost on me as I battled hard not to purge on Vikram who was standing next to me.No,it wasnt something he said or had done.Just plain old me getting sick.Fortunately (or not),I wasnt the only one feeling the pinch.Even my friend ,Mr. Android, showed the human tendency of experiencing nausea while travelling.

45 minutes after the first warcry had been sounded,we reached Mussorie.I got off the bus, a bit disoriented but thankful to be on steady ground again.We had to walk upto the highest point in Mussorie and according to Pranav,it would take us nearly 4 hours to do so.We set off to the vantage point negotiaitng narrow roads and loads of mules.On our way ,we would stop at shops to check the score.India was doing well at 419/4 when we last stopped for the score.We had a lead of 190 odd over arch rivals,Pakistan.Thank heavans for minor miracles!

We passed by Mr.Ruskin Bond's place.My overexuberance ended up with me calling out to Ruskint.Not in such polite terms but as "Eyyy Ruskin".This sent everyone scurrying over to safety while I waited expectantly."Must be the age..", I thought to myself as I caught up with the others.

We left the bylanes of Mussorie far behind as we trudged off to our final destination.It was quite tiring for the most of us and I started to dread for the lack of fitness I was exhibiting.Gollu sheth was usually the one lagging behind.Apparently,small breaks in our journey broke his rhythm and he had to start all over again.Funny guy.

Pranav explained to us the flora and fauna Mussoorie had to offer.We examined himalayan oaks,ate wild berry and rubbed ourselves crazy with the stinging nettles.We did so as the remedy was handy.Stinging nettles are always found with the "Doctor" plant growing next to it.However one must be cautious when handling these nasty creatures as they do have a fair bit of venom in them.

While all of this was happening,we ended on the doorstep of a chaiwala.He used his rooftop to show off the snowclad peaks via powerfull binoculars.Seeing so many of us,his business sense took over and he tried to coax us into using his binoculars.It was an unusually clear day and one could make out the peaks in a distance.We took some pictures but most of mine turned out to be dismally poor as one can hardly make out the purpose of those pics.All of this perturbed the gentleman who by now was getting desparate to rip us off.

"Peaks ko dekho...itna clear day bahut time ke baad aata hai."
"Arre uncle,agar do-teen din me bhi peaks itna clear hoga,to aap hum logon ko us peaks par naachte huey dekhenge."

Not used to such flippant replies,he sauntered back to his shop tryng to please the customers he already had.

Moving on,we came across a cemetary.It was an old one and all the babus from the Raj lay buried there.The setting of the cemetray was surreal as it was surrounded by huge conifers through the canopies which sunlight pilfered through.The quiet around the place was befitting.I moved on feeling somewhat subdued.

I forgot to mention that Billy had his moment with the camera.After having put the roll in the camera he went around clicking like mad.However,after taking 40 odd pics,the roll refused to rewind.Sensing that something was amiss,he checked out the roll only to find out that it had not been placed properly.Being the only one around him,I was treated to some rich language that one wouldnt forget in a hurry.

We reached our check point for the day which happened to be a grocery shop.We bought some cheese that they are quite famous for and enjoyed it thoroughly.The cheese had the right texture to it.When I popped a piece into my mouth,it almost melted away instantaneously while managing to leave a creamy taste.I must say that the taste was quite sublime.We also tried out the Vanilla coke which was as good as "Vakau."

Once again,Billy had his moment.When we were at the shop,we spotted two harmless phirangs. One of them had an Abercrombie and Fitch tee-shirt on.All of us remembered Thomas and were sniggering away quietly when all of a sudden Billy screams out "Abercrombie and Fitch men...."Luckily for us,it incited no response on their behalf.Maybe they are used to pesky teenyboppers like us.

Lunch was at Pranav's Grandma's place.When I say place,I mean an Inn.It was a quaint little place with that homely feel to it.Lunch was quite sumptuous.After having had our fill,we set off to met Pranav's aunt who lives not too far away from there.We reached there to greeted by this enormously friendly sheepdog named Meru.He looks quite menacing at first,but he is as friendly as one can be.While there,I cracked another pufftabs.....

Billy(to pranav) :"So you call it the himalayan sheepdog?"
Me: "He isnt the only person who calls it the himalayan sheepdog Billy."

It may not sound so funny in retrospect,but all of us broke into peals of laughter at that time.Soon we met his aunt.She too is an ex-xavierite.After exchanging pleasanteries and small talk,we set off as we still had loads to do.Pranav had to walk the dog,so we waited while Pranav,Vivek and Rushabh along with Meru went about the walk.The others sat down by the road and talked everything about nothing.The road we sat on was narrow and led to various residential complexes.I was sitting there with my arms spread when all of a sudden, a car pulled by and almost ran over my fingers.I retracted my arm in the nick of time...otherwise this memoir wouldnt have existed.Looking at the car incredulously,I turned back shaprly to see if anyone else had noticed my brush with the car.Only Billy had.While I was recouting my tale,Pranav et al made their re-appearance.After he dropped off the dog,we caught a bus back to Doon.

Again,I felt slightly unwell during the trip.However I think I was better off than this one individual who was puking away to glory over the window.Not only did he have time for this,but in-between pukes he made hurried phone calls and recieved some too.It was from the same dude that we got to know that score,India were 600 all out with a lead of 350+.Not bad at all!

We reached Rajpur around 5:30.I spent sometime watching the match.In the end,Pak ended the day at 40-odd for 2.India seemed to be on course for their elusive series victory away from home.

Later in the evening,we went about checking out the tents we had to take away for the trek.All seemed to be in good order and we had fun while setting up the tents.

It was dark soon and we had early dinner(compared to yesterday).After dinner,we played Ass again./However I felt quite sleepy and decided to call it a day.The others continued playing.It seems that once play was over,Vikram had to be driven away from our room by Billy.The tactics he resorted to do so were primal noises of pleasure.But while all of this was happening,I was dreaming of the promise the next day had to offer.....
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