Monday, February 18, 2013

Ancient Pilgrims Trail in Himalayas Part II


Return from Binak Khal was 6km downhill and we arrived back at Budha Kedar at 3PM. When we entered in our room we were shocked to see The Great Khali doing push-ups on the floor. Next to him were his bag and a big milk container the same kind that milkmen use to deliver milk in the streets. Then we saw a broken bed in our dormitory. Then we realized that it was not Great Khali but some equal caliber hulk of some sort. As This Pehlawan finished his push-ups and he shook hands with us and we introduced each other. Pehalwan explained us about the broken bed that he was doing some sort of exercise on the bed and bed broke. He promised to the hotel owner that he will fix the bed upon his return. He was going to Kumud and then to Uttarkashi to take part in the wrestling competitions (Inami Dungal) there. He was a very prudent man and wanted the prize money badly to purchase a buffalo in his village.
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Trail to Binak Khal


Pehalwan removed a small rubber pipe from his bag and begun poking it in his throat and begun making strange faces and noises. Then he rushed to the door and disappeared, we could feel and hear the whole wooden stairs pounding with his weight. He returned after five minutes and filled a plastic mug with milk.
“Want milk.”
“No thanks.”
He drank 3 mugs of drink, more than a liter.
I asked him, “Bhim Saab, why you poked the pipe in your throat.”
He explained, “To induce the vomit. I must win this competition to buy my buffalo so I induce the vomit, then I ran outside to vomit off the milk I drank before I begun my dund-bethaks.”
“My Dear Sir, but why?”
“So I can drink more milk.”
“Why vomit off the milk and then drink more.”
“Man, it is very difficult to explain anything to very educated people.”
“I say, we are not very educated.”
“You are not very educated?”
“Not very educated.”
“You mean you are not tenth passed.”
“Well, Pehalwan Saab, my mother was the school principal in that same school.”
He began laughing.
He replied, “Well, Master Ji, when we throw up, only water comes out, body retains most of the power that milk contains.”
Pehalwan begun calling me Master Ji.
“Bhim Saab, it is not possible. Much more happen in the body, after you drink something.”
“See, so you are very educated, Master Ji. End of discussion.”
“Come come Bhim Saab, when you drink milk and body adds many things to it. On the long process, body must recover that all; those salts and acid etc. Throwing up is not a good idea.
“So you know more than me? MASTER JI. Come with me and I will show you the puddle of my vomit. You can see there is mostly water. My body took most of the stuff that milk had so I remove it off to make room for another liter. I must win this competition to buy my buffalo.”
I gave up arguing. Going down to look at his vomit was not a good idea anyway. I changed the subject.
“From where did you get this much milk?”
“My sister sent is to me, her village is near here?”
Soon Pehalwan became our friend and was kind of happy that he got company for a very long and hard trek at the following day.
“I am going out to find and eat Punarnava,” he declared.
“You mean, Punarnava, The Herb.”
“Yes, it is difficult to find it here at this height and I must go before it gets dark.”
“Can we come to eat Punarnava with you?”
“Yes Master Ji, you can come with me.”
Views
Near Budha Kedar
We took the village street, crossed the village and walked on the sheep path in the V area between two rivers. After about a kilometer he begun searching the herb and as he found first plant, showed it to us and then ate it up. We also found some plants and we too ate up some leaves. It tasted like mild black pepper. Then he started filling it up in his pocket for future use, we also found more and gave it to him.
“Why you eat punarnava?”
“It is liver tonic, it makes you very hungry and you can eat a lot. This restaurant man charges 40 rupee for eat all you can so why not get our money’s worth of food.”
I affirmed, “Yeah man, tonight we three will clean him up.”
He had a bray like loud laugh showing his sparkling shining teeth.
He again took out that rubber pipe form his pocket.
He said, “Come see my vomit and then you will believe me.”
“No thanks.” We walked away from him and sat on a rock by the bubbling river. Views were great here. We were in lush green valley and in our north were snowy peaks behind Blue Mountains. We were in between two rivers. Fresh air, noise of two rivers and serene views were very soothing.
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View of Budha Kedar
Pehalwan Ji were now doing more pushups on a large rock in the river. We split from Pehalwan and crossed the river and took a hike on the mountains at our left side (West). For the last 3 days we were drinking country liquor (mostly homemade) and Harish was not eating much food. He was complaining about the inflammation on the surface of his tummy. In the hope that Punarnava may cure him so on the way we looked for more Punarnava and ate more of it and also saved some of it for Pehalwan Saab.
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View of Mountains in the north of Budha Kedar
And that night indeed we cleaned up at the restaurant. We three, we ate all the rice, all the subzi and most of the toor daal they had. Restaurant owner was bewildered, I was bewildered and my friend Harish was also bewildered. Restaurant owner didn’t complain, they cooked more rice for us but added about half of bucket of water and salt in the remaining cup of daal. We were prudent too and we didn’t complain but ate more rice with that saltwater. We also ate all the aachar that was lying in little cups on all the tables.
As we entered in our room, Pehalwan set up alarm on his cell phone for 5AM and went to sleep. I and Harsh took another long walk at night on the main road towards Ghanshali by the river. It was moonless night and visibility was zero so walking was getting dangerous so we returned after 2 kilometers. In the room, Harish mischievously altered the alarm on Pehalwan’s phone to 7AM because we wanted to wake up at our own luxury and Pehalwan was to badger us to begin our walk early.
“Views
Binak Khal
At 7AM, Pehalwan’s phone woke us up. Pehalwan was still sleeping, he didn’t budge on the loud alarm on his own phone that was near his pillow. We thought he will wake up after second alarm so we left the room for a morning walk in the mountains. We returned at 8AM. Pehlawan Saab was still snoring so we went out to take a bath at the river. When we returned, parothas were ready in the restaurant and we went in the room to check on Pehalwan, he was still sleeping and we woke him up. He looked at the time in his phone and cursed himself. We packed our belongings and came down to the restaurant for breakfast. Pehalwan drank the remaining of about 2 liter milk and did another round of pushups and went away to throw up. Then he took a bath at the same ghat by the small temple and joined us for aalo parothas.
I jokingly suggested to Pehalwan, “how about Punarnave parothas”.
Pehalwan became alert and his eyes shined up. He said, “How come this idea never ever, never ever, came to my mind.”
We asked Restaurant owner to add punarnave in our parothas. Nodding and smiling he said, “I though you were in some sort of competition that who eats more. Now I get it. Well now you are going to rob someone at lunch time. I am lucking that you are leaving today.”
So we ate Aaloo-Punarnava parothas and I paid him some extra money for last night’s food.
To be continued.

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