Again, it was not a trek that was at the top of my priority but as it came like a combo offer, I opted for it. Also, it was a not a difficult trek, I could invite my friends too. They could pass the fitness tests. As usual there were few in contention but only Aarthy signed up at last. The confirmation story went on till the last minute.
Day 0 - An interesting night
I had a good night's sleep the previous night and woke up late around 9 AM. I wasn't very tired but had severe body ache as I had not warmed down the previous day. I was worried whether I'd be alright before the trek starts. With these thoughts I went for breakfast and had fool proof Aloo Paratha and Chai. There isn't anything else which is filling and healthy for the morning.
I checked in to GMVN dorm but they said people are to be coming there so gave me a room. Reading 'Love in the time of Cholera' alone in a cold dingy room wasn't helping at all. With each part around fifty pages I struggled to read the heavy novel. I first dozed off post breakfast, read, went for lunch, read again and the cycle continued.
The hotel staff asked me to take the dorm again as none had come. I was relieved as it was warmer. There was one more bag inside. It was that of a French man from somewhere near Paris. He had a story to tell. He had stayed in India for around thirty years and also an avid traveller, he seemed to have travelled to most parts of India and also talks Hindi. He had come with two friends of his who stayed in different room. He told me how he loves yoga, about his one-year sabbatical to travel India, how Pakistan was a beautiful country but within half an hour's talk how they'd ask you to convert to Muslim. It was fun talking to him. He seemed to have done the whole Gaumukh Tapovan trek in three days and come back. He also seemed to have taken bath in ice cold Ganges originating from Gaumukh glacier. He told me that police asked about permission to go to Gaumukh which he had not obtained. With all these stories he kept me busy that evening.
After his evening yoga I went for dinner along with him and his two friends who were planning to go to Har Ki Dun. After giving some inputs to them on how to plan for the trek we returned back. He insisted on paying for me and got angry when I paid my share. He told, "After all India has been so nice to me, I've to do at least this much." Thank you, India.
The fun part starts post this. While we returned, there was one more guy in our dorm. When I was checking for my water bottle, I saw it near his bed. He told he had taken it for some purpose. He was from Haryana and had few buffalos it seems. He had come there for an official purpose along with his superior. He told how he's used to having milk and ghee of buffalo, so without all that, the cold weather wasn't suiting him. He had pre planned for the trip with drinks, miked with Pepsi and offered me too. FYI, alcohol is banned in Gangotri. He asked me whether I'd have 'cool drinks'. I politely declined.
By this time the French guy had already slept. But the Haryana man was fully awake and told stories of how powerful he is, he lifted the cot, hit the wall and did all sort of antics to show it. He also struggled to explain it in English for the French man so I was forced to be the mediator. He told even though powerful he couldn't have flat stomach like the French guy, he told me to ask what he eats. I of course didn't. The French guy was excited seeing him. He just asked one question, whether or not it appealed to him, it appealed to me. Post that we slept peacefully. The question was, "you exercise so much for your body, what exercise do you do for mind?"
Day 1 - The Assembly: Gangotri (10,055 ft)
It was the day I was supposed to meet my trek mates. Around fifteen of them. Before that in the morning I literally did nothing. The Haryana guy and the French guy had already checked out so I was all alone in the dorm. Had an argument back home which spoilt the mood and also helped me in passing the time. That took whole of the morning and I sat thinking of all the unnecessary things and spoiled my mood further.
With the book getting harder to read and no interest to watch any movie I decided I'd rather sit idle than do anything. I was trying to call Aarthi every now and then but the signal was bad for both of us so we couldn't connect. Having roamed the streets of Gangotri 'n' number of times there wasn't anything better to do, so went to Birla Dharamsala for my re-entry. As usual the unfriendly room boy didn't let me check in my room so was waiting outside. With weather getting colder and the hotel owner seeing the plight of me, he allowed me to get inside a room.
As soon as I checked in the room, the other people came. Aarthy was her usual self. It was a relief to see a known face after a long time. I guess the feeling was mutual. Along with her came her girl gang and the father of one of them. In my room a couple of youngsters along with a senior entered. I had kept my bag at the single bed but the person who came later occupied it. There was an air of excitement and quickly we met our trek leader who made haste with checking of our certificates.
The list of people goes like this...
JP - Senior most brother
MP - Second brother
Mayur - And the last of Gujju brothers, Trimurthi's, who were always together. Didn't have much of a chance to mingle with them.
Sachin - The person who occupied my bed, from Hyderabad, nice guy.