Monday, February 18, 2013

Ancient Pilgrims Trail in Himalayas Part V

We had some rest while walking down the steep trail on the ancient pilgrim’s route from Kedarnath to Gangotri.
Views from the trail
We resumed our walk and passed several brooks and waterfalls. We were going down very fast due to the steep terrain. Now we were feeling hot and were wet with sweat. Finally we were almost at the bottom of the mountain and path crossed a very scenic brook that was crashing straight from the mountains. After the bridge of this brook an unpaved road begun and we saw our first vehicle, a tempo. It was a perfect place to take a river bath in a perfect river in the green valley full of deodar trees. Area and river was very clean that is somewhat unusual in India. We all unloaded our gear and entered in the cold waters.

There I mentioned to Pehalwan that his mustaches are unbalanced. He ran out of the river and went to the tempo and saw his face in the side mirror. He was very image conscious person and returned in tears.
“Master Ji! Why you didn’t tell me this before. That whole village must be laughing at me.”
“No Pehalwan Saab, nobody noticed your mustaches in the village. They only noticed your huge hulk and that is it.”
I offered Pehalwan to correct his moustaches and he agreed. We had a small mirror and scissors. I tried to balance his mustaches but now they were unbalanced in other direction. So again I tried to correct the problem in vain. Finally he looked like Charlie Chaplin and he suggested me to just kill his moustaches. So his prized moustaches were gone now. Pehalwan shaved his face and at the place of his moustaches there was a huge white patch now but he didn’t blame me. He looked very funny without mustaches. He offered to give us a massage on that river saying that he was a massage specialist. When he was single, he used to give massage to people on the ghats of Haridwar. I agreed, he had a mustard oil bottle and begin giving me massage. He was brutal, he caught me by my ear and twisted it till I heard a loud tick, it was not over and he twisted my ear in the other direction till it clicked. Then he twisted my other ear and then my nose, and then my jaw, and then my eyebrows, then my neck, my each arm, each finger’s each joint and ……. so on and on. I was begging him to let me go for God’s sake but he didn’t let me go. I was stuck in his vice like grip. Harish was watching it all in a horror. Finally that hell ended and massage was over. I walked away from him to access the damage and to count my broken bones but it took me a while to realize that I was in my best shape and felt lightened. I felt very good after that massage and suggested Harish to get one but he declined. We took more bath and I washed off that oil from my body by soap. When I saw Harish was in water, I grabbed his leg and yelled for Pehalwan who came running and grabbed Harish, dragged him out and begun giving him massage. Now it was Harish’s turn to scream. After Harish was done, Pehalwan asked us to give him a massage and we jumped upon the opportunity to take our revenge. We did our best to take it but he didn’t budge. We climbed over him, jumped over him and practically we beat him up but he was only smiling.
Then we washed our clothes, it was such a pretty place that one looks for an excuse to just be there. Pehalwan was a mountain man and he claimed that he never enjoyed so much on a river in such a way. He claimed that we have changed his attitude towards enjoying the rivers. We spread our clothes on the bushes and they dried up in barely half hour. Pehalwan was busy doing his pushups. After we left the valley of Budha Kedar, we didn’t not find any Punarnava.
We sat by the river and enjoyed just being there. Kingfishers were diving in the river to catch the fish and other birds were also visiting the river for a bath. It was noon and suddenly we were not alone. A band party walked down a trail coming form the mountain opposite to the one we came from. They were all dressed up in their band uniform. Each was carrying his musical instrument. They were about ten people in the party, burdened with tremendous load and bathing in the sweat. They stopped at the river and looked at the Pehalwan in amazement.
“Rustam-E-Hind ki Jai” one shouted.
“Dara Singh Ki Jai”, other shouted.
“Jite ga bhai jite ga, yeh Pehalwan jite ga.”
They all shouted while undressing for their bath on the river. They knew that there were inami-dungal in the Uttarkashi at Sunday. When they entered in the river, at that time we were almost ready to leave.
River where we took bath
Kumud was now 2 kilometers on this motorable road. We arrived at the first tea shop on the outskirts of the village and ordered tea.
Tea shop man said smilingly, “I have something else for you.”
“A lock without a key. Tislam-tala”
We laughed, so that lock again came back to us.
Shopkeeper said that Vikram’s horse brought this lock and Vikram also called him on phone. It was easy to recognize you because you will be two men and a Pehalwan. I saw you from the far away and knew that it is you. The reason Vikram sent that lock to that very first road was that there was a bypass trail from here to the road to Uttarkashi. Vikram assumed we may bypass the village so he sent the lock to the very first shop before the path splits.
Near Kumud
Near Kumud
When the time came to pay for the tea and buns he refused to accept money. He said that the tea is on Vikram. We insisted in vain. As we resumed our walk, same tempo stopped near us, whole band party was on that tempo. Village was still one kilometer so they offered us the ride to the village and we hopped in the back along with the crew of “Sonu Master Band”. Matador crossed the bridge of a large river and village begun. In the village there were posters all over advertising Inami-Dungal in the Uttarkashi.
Area near Budha Kedar
Matador stopped at the Sonu Master Band’s HQ, in the middle of the village market. First Band Party disembarked form the vehicle and as we jumped on the ground, they surrounded us and started playing their band. Mr. Sonu, head of the band party asked us walk in the market towards a Halwai shop and we obeyed. Whole village became alive with the band. Our procession walked about 200 meters to the Halwai’s shop there we stood surrounded by live band. Suddenly many kids appeared and they started dancing and crowd gathered in no time. Then two local pehalwans came, one was the son of Halwai and other was a durji (tailor). They first touched Pehalwan’s feet and then they touched my and Harish’s feet. We were very embarrassed and wanted this to end. Whole mountain village was watching us. People came on their roofs, and people above came out on the ledges to watch the circus.
Band eased but crowed began their slogans.
“Dara Singh ki jai.”
“Jite ga bhi jite ga. Dara Singh Jite ga.”
“Rustam-E-Hind ki jai.”
“Mahan-Khali ki jai.”
Finally band stopped and a tea party was arranged by both local pehalwans. Everybody including band party was served tea. After the tea, to our relief the band party left. Crowd was still gathered outside the shop. Both local pehalwans were honored by a great Pehalwan’s arrival in their remote unknown village. They were also going to Uttarkashi to watch the dungal but they were not great enough to take part in the tournament.
River by the village
River by the village
They both or rather whole village now believed that prospective winner is in their village. Rustam-E-Hind. We (I and Harsh) were assumed, his secretaries. After the tea, we were served poori and subzi. Both local pehalwans offered us to stay in their village for a night but we insisted to go to Uttarkashi. In the different circumstances, I loved to stay in that village but now we were celebrities here everybody was staring at us. Junior Halwai (the pehalwan) negotiated a jeep for us to Dhanturi from there regular public transportation was available to Uttarkashi.
View of Uttarkashi from the mountains
To be continued

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