A Himalayan Trek - Part 1- Ukhimath

This was my first foray into the Himalayas wielding a camera. I find that not having a camera slinging on your shoulders enhances the ability to enjoy the journey and also not look like a goddamn tourist. But as fate would have it, just before this trip I got a camera and I thought I might as well use it. Also I had a travelling companion for almost the entire duration of the trip, a break from travelling solo.

 What is the tangible result of undertaking a challenging trek in the Himalayas ? What can you expect to show friends and family when you head back home ?

  Here it is and it's definitely not a pretty sight  !

Not a pic from the morgue but a foot selfie depicting 3 busted nails

I'm sure you're dying to know where I have been and what I've been up to after seeing this selfie. So let me begin the tale..

 After a tearful parting (from her side) from the the Poha Maniac I left Rishikesh for Rudraparayag early morn on an empty jeep. An uneventful journey to Ukhimath from Rudraparayag barring a 5 minute spat over Rs.5/- between a passenger and the conductor. I jumped off the bus a couple of kilometres before reaching Ukhimath at the beautiful GMVN Guest House.

View from GMVN Ukhimath

R, who had already checked in early morning was chilling out with chawal, dal, roti  discussing the intricacies of sthithaprajna with the Manager. Let me introduce R , my travel companion for the weeks ahead, a Tamil Iyer settled in Bangalore, a Type A personality who delves into disscussions on the Gita, Yoga and other unmentionables at the drop of a hat to anyone remotely interested. He's a genuine seeker, unlike yours truly , who meditates regularly and takes his sadhana quite seriously. But apart from all that , he's basically a nice guy.

Our hut for the night !

If you ever get to go anywhere near Ukhimath make sure you spend at least a night at the GMVN Guest House. You can sit on tha lawn and just gaze unendingly at the mountains. It's in a quiet area with breath taking views of the Himalayan peaks and walking distance of the famous Omkareshwar temple.

First kiss of the sun

Kedar mountain range visible from Ukhimath
It's to the Omkareshwar temple here that the murtis of Kedarnath and Madmaheshwar are brought every winter to be worshiped. The temple's undergoing renovation now but the inside compound retains an old world charm that transports you back in time.

When we visited the temple in the evening, there was already a family from Kerala inside the premises. A panda took them inside the math  in the temple premises. We followed close behind. In the shrine room of the Devi, he proceeded to ask them for 'oil money'.

'Give me money for oil for worship of the Devi and I'll pour it in your names!'

I have noticed that remarkable funny things happen inside temples. History was repeated as the head of the family(HOF) was forced to dish out a sizable amount by his Devi fearing wife.

After pocketing the cash, the panda then told them to leave as it was time for arti in the main temple. As they were leaving, the incredulous HOF remarked to the panda that he had not asked for their names.

'Ah, Yes, I forgot! Tell me your names !'

Before they could finish telling their long South Indian tongue twisting names he rushed them out.

'But wait you didn't ask my name..', one of the group members spoke up bravely, 'It's Unnikrishnan'.

'Maalum hai Maalum hai, ab aap aarti mein jao' . They left us in the room with the bemused Devi.

The main priest of the temple is from Karnataka, a tradition from the times of Shankaracharya. He was the main reason R headed to the temple. R with his inexplicable talent for extracting useless info had found out that the priest had two daughters of marriageable age . But alas, he was unable to get their darshan. The temple's a quiet charming place with the unique presence of having a prowling guard who looks as old as the temple carrying an equally antique gun ...

The flute playing divine cowherd on the temple wall

Inside the temple compound

Old age charm

Dilapidated math building inside the temple

Main tower of Omkareshwar temple

Temple premises

GMVN garden. Just to balance the gross effect from the 1st pic ! ;)

To be continued...


She feels shy she says,
When my gaze wanders into her syrupy sweet chocolate eyes,
I  fantasize her darkness melting in my mouth today,
Only to hear her say,
"What?!! Just blink or look away,ok?"

Get lost !

By the time you are reading this I hope to be lost in the Himalayas, lost in the beauty of the mountains and the forests, not in an ‘Into the Wild’ way. But right now as I’m typing these words, I’m lost in the ‘lungi dance’ as its blaring from a wedding reception from an adjacent ground! Not something you would associate with Rishikesh, right?

I once managed to lose myself in Munnar. This was years ago when I was just out of college. Amma (my mom, not Ms.Jayalalitha) had arranged for me to stay in the Government Forest Guest House. Don’t ask what I was doing in Munnar, a honeymooner’s paradise, alone. I’ve always been strange that way….The next day after arrival, I went for a walk to this obscure lake I heard about. It was ‘just’ 4kms away. Piece of cake I thought! There was not a soul on the road, I kid you not. There were houses of plantation workers on the way. Maybe because it was a Sunday there was hardly anyone even outside the houses.

Finally I reached my destination after much wandering about. It was heaven, a beautiful deserted lake and a small house by the side which was locked. I spent quite some time just sitting and enjoying the silence and the view. I believe I even dozed off for sometime. Important point to be noted here. I was not carrying any food or water. Insane you say? Absolutely! Maybe I didn’t take into account the Sunday factor or that there were very few shops on the way, all of which were closed.

I decided to explore some exciting scenery on the return leg of the journey and soon I was lost. I was in the middle of some jungle without a clue on how to get out, on the verge of collapse. I’m sure that was the day that I really prayed sincerely for the first time in my life. It was nothing short of a miracle that I managed to drag my sorry ass to a bungalow and begged the guard outside for some water. Finally after 8 hours of adventure I limped back to the Guest House. Hot tea was waiting which I gulped down and threw up within 5 minutes.  I had cramps in my legs and I couldn’t move for a couple of days.

But it was a moment of enlightenment. I realized for the first time that I was hopeless with directions. It still holds true that I’m hopeless with all things spatial. I suck at reading maps. Even if I go to the same place 10 times in 10 days, I’ll still make wrong turns and get lost. Yes, a good handicap for a vagabond!

At present I’m trekking in the Himalayas for some weeks. I hope the Munnar experience is not repeated as there won’t be any fancy bungalows where I am headed.

Actually when I sat down to write, I wanted to write about something entirely different. Yes I’m a much disciplined writer that way, I do tend to get easily lost in the labyrinths of my mind. It also reflects on the number of posts I have managed in 10 years!

The Poha Maniac

I just stepped out of a solo retreat, a silent one. I like to do these once in a while, sort of balances the energies and you feel centered and refreshed. A friend of mine was very gracious to let me have his apartment in Rishikesh for the purpose. So here I was all alone in a 2BHK  2 steps away from Ganga eagerly awaiting the  days of yoga, meditation  and enlightenment.. There was just one other apartment on the same floor and it was occupied by two women in their 20s, working for a 5 star hotel in town, my friend informed me.

So I got my provisions for 10 days including, rice, vegetables, oats, cereals and my favourite, poha ! I was looking forward to my cooking sessions as much as the retreat. On the first day early in the morning as I was stepping out of the flat for a walk by the river, I saw one of my neighbours coming up. Dressed stylishly in a salwar kameez she looked to be returning from her night shift in the hotel. This girl was a looker from top to bottom. Alas, being on silent mode, I couldn't greet her.  Damn it!

That didn't matter too much coz she just walked past not even acknowledging my presence. Oh well the babe must be tired, I thought. We met again a couple of times with the same indifferent look from her. I think it was the third day of my retreat when I heard the bell ring as I was in the kitchen making poha. Now who could that be at 8 in the morning? You guessed right folks, it was the lady dressed to kill in a stunning salwar suit clinging to her freshly bathed body and water dripping from her hair. Without the help of pranayama my breathing stopped and I guess I was pretty close to Samadhi.

The first thing I did was to pinch myself. I mean us spiritual types get visions and all that so just wanted to make sure that this was the real thing. The femme fatale had a shy yet dazzling smile and she kept on looking expectantly behind me into the flat. Was she maybe looking for my friend I wondered? She introduced herself and that’s when it hit me. I’m in silence! Shit! Shit! Shit!

Should I just forget about this silent sadhana and just deal with the present ‘present’? In my mind I had already removed her clothes and we were in bed. But how the hell am I going to make love without making a sound? This God damn silence! Maybe it would be an amazing experience who knows? So there was this devil/angel war going on in my mind. My mind was in total turmoil. Should I open my Goddamn mouth or not , that was the question.. Believe me there was never any moral dilemma about whether to have sex or not ! And how's seduction possible without speech eh? So i had to break the silence , so my thoughts went.

Finally, the angel guy won. By a very narrow margin. I put my index finger to my mouth with a smile indicating that my lips were sealed. Maybe it was the expression on my face or the angle of the finger but the shocked look on her face told me that she thought I was asking her to kiss me. I reassured her. She relaxed considerably when she learned that I was in silence. I wrote my name down for her.

She closed her eyes tilted her head back and inhaled deeply. Her breasts literally rose a mile, I swear !

“V?”, she deep throated my name huskily, making me gulp down about a gallon of saliva. God, this was easier than I thought it was going to be… My mind conjured up naked bodies and acrobatic poses that would have put Vatsyayana to shame. There was only one bedroom with a double bed but the sheets were slightly …

“What is that amazing aroma coming from your kitchen?”
I was jerked out of my fantasy world by these words of Deep Throat.

For the first time I was glad I was in silence. She pushed past me engulfing me in her scent  and entered the kitchen where the poha was on a low flame. She removed the lid from the kadai, inhaled again and took a little taste.

“Oh it’s divine” she purred once more. Her facial expressions made my mind race to the bedroom again. “I love poha” she deep throated again.

“More than moi?” I would have asked sarcastically if I had the power of speech. Now I understood her sudden appearance and interest in me. The aroma of my cooking would have reached her flat and caused her to jump out, wet hair, clothes and all. The slutty glutton !

The poha maniac returned the next day and in a few days time I didn’t even bother to lock the door. She would stay till lunch sometimes just sitting or chatting away. She confided that she was a bad cook and was much too tired after her night shift to do any cooking anyway. What exactly do you do on the night shift I wanted to ask but like I said before it was a good that I was in silent mode. I think she found the idea of a guy who would feed her, listen to her without a murmur not passing judgments or comments liberating.  And all this without sex ! How much better could it get for her?!! As they say men give intimacy for sex and women give sex for intimacy. This went on for the whole retreat. I know guys, I was getting a pathetic trade off but I dare not do anything coz when she dug into that poha  she had a maniac glint in her eyes that  seemed to say “No man can come between me and my poha!“