I have lived all my life in North India. As a lover of nature, I enjoyed trekking in Himachal and Uttarakhand. Every season, I would take a few leaves from office to go for a small trek with my friends.
However, last October, I got transferred to Mumbai. I missed my friends, all of whom were in Delhi, and the good times we had together. After taking a month to settle down, I started to look for places where I could take a small hike in nature. A colleague of mine told me about Sandhan Valley. I did my bit of research and decided to head out immediately.
The next day I was in Sandhan, trekking through the narrow stretch of the valley with a group of fifteen co-trekkers. As I stepped on the boulders, memories of my last trek in the Himalayas re-surfaced. Sandhan Valley however, was nothing like that landscape. The valley is an enclosed space, surrounded by high vertical rocks. The trail is a bit of a maze with occasional obstacles in the form of slimy gravel, unannounced streams, sudden showers and tapering outlets, through which one has to find their way out into the open landscape.
Lost in my thoughts, I was trekking on my own. My chain of thoughts was broken by the trek leader's call for refreshments. We stopped for lunch after having trekked for about three hours. The organisers had prepared a nice lunch prepared by the locals. The platter consisted of thalipeeth (a multi-grain pancake), thecha ( green chilly chutney), misal and kokum sharbat, with some bhakarwadi to munch on after the main-course. I had never tasted most of these dishes before, but was surprised how these tasty dishes were unknown to Delhi.
I was about to finish my lunch when a pretty girl standing with a plate in her hand asked if she could sit with me.
Meg was on this trek alone, and was not very comfortable joining others who had come in groups. We were happy to find each other's company. Soon enough, a few minutes of polite conversation turned into a discussion about life, universe and everything.
"Do you like chocolates?", she asked
Meg took out a KITKAT from her bag and offered a finger to me.
We resumed the trek together. At this stretch, we had to trek through a foot-deep stream that flowed through the valley. Meg was quite experienced at trekking, and she had no difficulty setting her feet against the current. I was very cautious about the slippery rocks, and was trying to catch up with her. By this time the sun was directly over the valley shining right on us. The dampness of the feet was countered by the gentle warmth of the sun.
The stress from hiking wore away as we indulged in a lively banter all along. We reached the second base of the trek as the sun was setting, set up our tents and dozed off quickly.