Sunday, September 27, 2015

Digha,West Bengal

        Once in a while there comes a trip where most of the things go wrong.For me a trip to Digha Beach in West Bengal was one such.Now I wouldn't like to make this post all about what things went wrong.Let me just recount the trip as it happened.

        I wont bore the reader with the details of the trains I took to reach Digha, suffice to say that I took a few.I reached Digha at around 10am. Digha is a very popular beach resort for the kolkattans and the people living nearby.It was evident with the huge crowds at the station.I had to push past families with children and grandpas in toe,groups of teenagers with headphones the size of a mango,women with huge shades that almost covered their faces.It looked like everyone was in groups.I was the only one who was alone there.Nevertheless I made my way over to the groups of Hotels nearby and entered one.I asked for a room.They asked how many people.I said One.They said No room.
This story repeated for a number of hotels.Finally one guy told me the reason.All the hoteliers in Digha had been instructed by the Police not to give rooms to solo travelers.This was because a few years ago a number of people had committed suicide in Digha.I was dejected.No, not by those suicides but by the fact that I was not getting a room.I went to a nearby kirana store,Had a cool drink and pondered over my options.I decided that somehow I had to get a room.I couldn't roam around with my rucksack.Just then I saw a rickshawala.I went over to him and asked if he could arrange a room for a single traveller.He said yes, he knew of one hotel which accommodates single travellers as they had 'special' permission from the police,whatever that meant.

So I boarded his rickety old rickshaw and off we went gliding along the crowded narrow roads of digha.It was a hot and humid day and it wasn't helping me.He took me to a hotel somewhere deep inside a narrow street and fortunately it was decent and not some ramshackle hovel that I was expecting.The hotel demanded a hefty sum for my stay and on top of that he told me to call my dad in front of him and tell him of my whereabouts.This was a precaution they took for every single traveller.I had to patiently explain my dad about the whole situation.That was embarrassing.The rickshawala too demanded a huge sum but a bit of a bargaining bought down the sum a little bit though the final amount I paid was still a lot.

All this drama took up a lot of time and by the time I got out of the hotel room to go to the beach it was around 1 pm.I decided not to have a dip in the ocean and decided instead to treat myself to a good lunch.I went to the beach strolled around a bit and then went to a restaurant.I had good seafood here and tried the famous Hilsa. I didn't like it with all its fine bones that makes it difficult to pick them out.

After that hearty meal my spirits rose a bit.I walked back to the beach and went far away from the crowds.I found a secluded portion to the right of where everyone was and sat down for a while.The waves rolled in and out.The sun overhead was very bright and soon my tshirt was drenched.I sat here under the shade of a tree for an hour and left around 4pm.I had a train to catch at 5pm which was to take me to Kharagpur from where I was to catch another to Raigarh to be in time to catch the bus to Tamnar at 7 30am.I had to go to office at 9am.So I departed at 5pm from Digha.Barring a few hiccups at Khargpur station where I got nothing decent to eat for dinner I reached Tamnar without any major problems.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Roopkund Trek,Uttarakhand. Descent and Day 5 (Pathal Nachni to Wan)

After the very tiring and mighty exciting ascent to the top we started our decent at 1 30pm.The return journey was equally tiring but one difference was that wherever it was possible we slid across the slope of the mountain.Durga would go ahead and gauge the slope and how safe it was.Then he would slide across and reach the bottom and wait for us.He was helped in this by the porters.This way we made many slides across the mountain.This made our return journey exciting and also sped it up.The sliding was not without its share of risks though.During sliding it is completely up to you to control the speed with your legs.If you don't occasionally slow yourself down you can pick up a lot of speed.An alarming speed If I may say so.At this speed it is very difficult for the catchers at the end of the slope to catch you.If they miss you and you slide away,there is every possibility of you going all the way and smashing on the rocks below.Durga assured me that in case he misses he will coming running after us and catch us.He said he could run faster than our slide over the slope.We saw this in action when durga and one of the porters missed bhanu when he slid down.Bhanu was sliding away at a very high speed.Durga sprung into action as soon as he missed bhanu and started running after him.Sure enough the way he ran he covered the distance very fast.As soon as he reached near bhanu he grabbed him with his left hand and when both were sliding together now he struck his ice axe into the ice with his right hand.This bought both of them to a halt.We were mighty relieved.My heartbeat went up when they first failed to catch bhanu and came down only when durga stopped bhanu some several metres down the slope.There were no more scares during the rest of the journey.
       We reached Bhagubasa at around 3 30pm if my memory serves me right.We stopped for a very short break.By this time my nose and lips were a mess.My nose was sunburned and my lips were broken in many places.I got talking to a fellow trekker who was eating maggie there about his experience at the top. At the end he pointed at me and told his friend ''look this guy is wearing lipstick''. We all laughed.I took a pic of my face then just to check it out later. On top of all this I was wearing two spectacles.One was for my eyesight problem the other was common sunglasses.And they were both at two levels.So to complete the picture I had broken lips,a sunburned nose and two pairs of spectacles.I was looking mighty funny and I knew it.I didn't care though.Nobody did actually.Nobody was there to look pretty.
      In bhagubasa we learned that the other three members of our trek group satya,angkan and nitesh already departed for pathalnachi in the afternoon.So after that short break we moved on eager to reach pathalnachni before dusk.From bhagubasa to pathalnachni we trudged on mighty tired without much talk.We finally reached our destination at 6pm.I was the first to reach and as soon as I reached the camp I slopped down on the ground.We had some snacks and an early dinner.All four of us who reached the top slept very early.We still had some trek left for the next day so we slept early.

      Next morning after a hurried breakfast we started our trek to the village of wan from where we would be getting our vehicle to Haldwani.This was now a race against time as we were running behind schedule and had flights and trains to catch.The return journey always poses a different challenge from the onwards one.Since we were going down we had to take care not to quicken our steps and restrain ourselves.Also a lot of stress goes onto the knees.Bhanu already had a bit of a knee problem going on for the duration of the trek and now he was under a lot of pain.He had a bandage which he wrapped around his knee and carried on.We finally reached the village of wan in the afternoon.It was stunning to say the least.The quaint houses nestled along the hills presented a very beautiful and romantic sight.Satya who was feeling a bit dizzy vomited in one of the streets.A kind passerby offered us some water which satya gladly accepted and drank.
At the centre of the village our vehicle was waiting for us and as soon as we boarded it we took off.We went to our original point of start the village of Lohajung. Here we took our belongings and had a bath.This was after 5 days of no bathing.Refreshed and rejuvenated we got ready for departure.We bid goodbye to Durga,aman,rahul and other members of the GIO team and thanked them for the wonderful service they provided us.They shaped a memory for us that will remain with us for our lifetime.
  PS-From Lohajung we reached Haldwani at 1pm in the night from where we took a taxi to take us to Delhi.We reached Delhi in the morning from where we split to catch our respective trains or flights.Bhanu,abhishek,arun and angkan all missed their flights and had to make alternate plans.Only satya and myself boarded our train as planned.