By now we had thought of returning and waiting at the base camp a million times. Apu even thought of returning back to Mumbai as he understood that with me, he would have to keep doing such crazy things. But at that time, a couple crossed by us and asked, "How far do you think this is?" Like the guide Bhaiya, Apu said, "bas isse ke aage" (right behind that stone).
The couple stayed back and chit-chatted, "What time did you guys start in the morning?" We replied, "9 am."
The husband said, "Oh, at 9 a.m. We started at 11 am and see we have reached your level so soon. " He proudly brushed off his shoulder.
At that very moment, Apu looked at me and said, "Bro, they must be older than us, right?" I said, "Yeah, years older." And then the realisation struck us. We looked at each other, picked our bags and sticks, folded our sleeves and raced our way to the top, neck to neck with that couple, huffing and puffing. But it was insult enough to get us. And once we reached the top, it was all worth it.