With familiar strangers

1st Mar 2018
Day 1

In Delhi metro when a co-passenger whom I hardly knew suggested me to go to Kasol, after over hearing my conversation with my friend, in next 30 minutes I had booked my ticket to Kasol and next morning I was in Kasol.

But I was so shocked and disappointed looking at the town when I got down the bus after an adventurous travel on hills by bus. It looked so ordinary like any other towns. Meanwhile, I saw 4 youngsters who were in the same bus walking down. I ran and asked them about the place. I was not ready to accept this is Kasol. They said "yes, this is Kasol. But we are going to Barshaini which is 5 kms away from here which is more beautiful" and went. I was confused as I was only heard about and mentally prepared for Kasol. After few minutes, one among them ran to me and asked whether I want to join them. Without giving second thought I accepted their invitation and started my adventurous trip with the four youngsters.

We took one more bus to Barshaini and trekked for 3 more kms from Barshaini to Kalga up the hills to figure out our stay.

Kalga is a very small village on the hills and villagers offer cheaper and beautiful rooms for travelers. The place looked heaven to me. Surrounded by mountains with snow, chilled whether, Chaman Bhaiyya's time to time hot tea and snacks served with full of love and care and some weed. Exactly what I needed at that time in my life.

In the night my fellow travelers announced that they are planning to trek Kheerganga the next morning. I said I would like to join them. Kheerganga was 13 kms trek which takes nearly 6 hours. I was not prepared for trekking at all. I did not have shoes to walk on the snow, not enough clothes for cold, not even socks. Still I was ready.

I wore all the clothes which I had, nearly 4 layers, borrowed socks and gloves from others, bought a stick to trek and decided to take risk to trek in my rubber shoes. We started early in the morning.

The way to Kheerganga was dangerous. A minute of distraction could be life taking. The way was narrow, you could only see mountains around you and in the deep down Parvathi river flowing calmly. No water stations or snacks shops for kms. You could hardly see another human being on the way.

This was my first trek in life. It was a moment of realization to me. You develop a strange kind of trust on you and on your capabilities and also on your body. The motion should be in one direction and you have to keep going. The moment you stop or change the direction suddenly, you will definitely fall in the underworld. The trekking taught me the balance, and trust.

Kheerganga was indeed beautiful. You could see only snow around you and mountains. I had never seen such huge mountains in such a shorter distance. Night we had to stay in a dorm kind of set up due to freezing cold and raining with all strangers who looked familiar to me with music and chat.

Morning I went to take bath in natural hot spring pool there. They say its a holy water. That itself was mysterious to me to find a hot water spring amid the snow. I was taking bath and suddenly snow fall started! You experience heat from the pool and the snow on you! This seemed real heaven to me.

I like to believe mysteries. This was mystery to me. Totally planned for me.

With this strange experience I headed back to Delhi. I gifted my stick with my name on it to one more traveler in Barshaini and asked her to pass it on. May be still the stick with my name on it is in Kheerganga helping familiar strangers.

Photo of With familiar strangers by Medini Kelamane
Photo of With familiar strangers by Medini Kelamane
Photo of With familiar strangers by Medini Kelamane
Photo of With familiar strangers by Medini Kelamane
Photo of With familiar strangers by Medini Kelamane
Photo of With familiar strangers by Medini Kelamane
Photo of With familiar strangers by Medini Kelamane
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