Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dinner in Hanumanchatti (Yamuna Odyssey 8)

Ganges Yamuna Trail

Uttarkashi and Thalan (Ganges/Yamuna trail 1)
Uttarkashi to Agoda (Ganges/Yamuna trail 2)
Agoda to Dodital (Ganges/Yamuna trail 3)
High altitude meadows of Himalayas (Ganges/Yamuna trail 4)
Lost in the leopard territory (Ganges/Yamuna trail 5)
Lost in the mountains again (Ganges/Yamuna trail 6)
Arrival in Hanumanchatti (Yamuna Odyssey 7)
Dinner in Hanumanchatti (Yamuna Odyssey 8)
Yanuma Dreams (Yamuna Odyssey 9)
Hanumanchatti to Kharadi Falls(Yamuna Odyssey 10)
Yamuna in Barkot (Yamuna Odyssey 11)
हम भी मिले थे कभी जमुना किनारे. (We met by the river Yamuna) (Yamuna Odyssey 12)

A jeep is ready for downhill, since Briana wanted to go to Barkot and then to Dehradoon. I ask her but she refuses to leave.
Anyway today jeeps are only going to Kharadi Falls due to the landslides. From there people make other arrangements. My back is paining for carrying her humongous backpack for most of the walk. I am happy to get rid of her.
But – she wants to tug along with me.
“You promised, you will buy me a nice dinner in Hanumanchatti.”
“Yeah but … arrrr ….”
“Am I asking too much?”
Same trick she plays on me and it again works.
I want to spend a couple of days at Hanumanchatti and want to visit Jankichatti tomorrow. Yamunotri temple is not open yet so I want to go to only Jankichatti and then walk back to Hanumanchatti; she wants to do just anything that I want to do.
She declares, “If you won’t let me come with you then I will follow you anyway.”
“Carrying your backpack …….”
She opens her backpack and distributes all food cans to children, who are just everywhere in the mountain villages; now her backpack is about 10 kilos lighter.
“Are you happy now?” she asks me.
“We only know each other for only thirty hours,” I try to reason out with her.
“No. For thirty lives. Moreover I saved your life several times in these thirty lives because you are prone to lose your way without me.”
“God bless my soul,” I cry, “When is the time to get lost and …. arrr.”
She laughs.
I say, “Well, mother Yamuna brought us here, we must visit her first.”
She says, “Mother Yamuna brought us here together. Let’s go say hello to her. Together.”
We are half covered in mud, late noon is sunny but sun will be going behind the mountain fast. We walk to Jamuna Mai and I take a bath in the frigid waters and she washes her face, head and arms. We dry ourselves under the sun because her towel and my loincloth are dirty. I never keep towel with me, my beloved loincloth is a multipurpose object. I use it as towel, as a lungi, as a bed-sheet, as a cover, as a bandage, as a scrubber, as a turban, as a cleaning cloth, as a gamcha and as a gathdri (sack) etc. etc.
Yanuma ValleyYanuma Valley
Now it comes to find a hotel but she has the Lonely Planet book that she reads and then she takes me to a decent hotel. Price is 700 rupee for a room for two but she badgers the manager and brings it down to 200 rupee.
Terrain from Hanumanchatti towards Yamunotri is all unstable and a ravine of rubble. Well not really, we see patches of high altitude trees like Deodar, birch, beech, Holly, Sycamore (Chinar) and oak etc. and some apple orchards – actually many apple orchards.
However the stretch of road from Hanumanchattin towards Barkot is one of the most scenic areas in the whole world.
In the room, I again cut off the top of my blisters and face severe burning pains. She also has blisters and is scared to puncture’em fearing infection.
In the evening we walk several kilometers on the road and I find a person of the same caliber of Dharma in a village on the road.
He is a Nepali.
“I am a Brigadier from ITBP,” I declare.
He looks at me from top to bottom then he focuses his sight on my poor torn and beaten sneakers. He does not believe me and also Briana is also clinging to me.
“What did you say you are from?”
“ITBP – Indo Tibetan Border Force.”
He shouts, “You are lying to Zung Bahadur. Nobody lies to Zung Bahadur.”
I shout, “Because, I want good stuff.”
“He he he he.” His bushy mustaches dangle. He has at-least 3 missing teeth in the front.
“He he he he.”
“I like you, you will get the best stuff. I have the fruit stuff – peach wine – for pretty Memsab also.”
I ask Memsab, but she replies that she never drinks.
I think: I will show her that I am from Bhatinda and she will find herself packing.
Zung Bahadur goes to his place at outskirts of the village and returns with two bottles.
“Anything else I can do for you?”
“Do you or anyone here have a flute in this village? Money no matters.”
“Money no matters?” He again looks at my shoes.
“No Sir, Money no matters.”
Let me go and check.
He goes back to village and comes after 10 minutes.
“Sorry, no flute here. But why you want flute here in this godforsaken place.”
“Listen to the roar of Yamuna Mai here, Krishna is always at the Yamuna with his flute. That’s why I want the flute, so to be a perfect pilgrim.”
Zung Bahadur scratches his head and looks at Briana and me and he mutters, “Radha, Krishan, Yamuna and Flute – arrr rrr. Yeah I get it.”
“Samzhae ke nahi.” I shake his shoulders; actually this is Dharma’s script.
“2 bottles are enough to make you perfect pilgrim,” he adds after a pause, “Samzhe ke nahi.”
We leave behind Zung Bahadur and walk back.
We hear him shouting and we turn back.
he shouts again, “Saab, how about desi murga?”
I shout back, “What we will do with a desi murga?”
“Very tasty, Saab.”
“No we both are grass eaters.”
We return with two bottles, I tuck both in my pants under the belt.
Yanuma ValleyYanuma Valley
On the way two boys are making grafts on the apple trees. I am very curious and we leave the road to join them. Both boys are studying in 8th class. I ask them if they are really grafting or just fooling around and they show me other trees those they grafted last year. On one single tree now 4 types of fruits grow. Depending upon the season at least 2 varieties ripens to ensure the success of the crop. Very efficiently they graft 4 plantlets of Kashmir Golden Apple in other trees as we watch. We spend some time to watch their technique and I tried grafting several times but none of the graft was ever successful.
Well evening is thickening and earth is large and so much to know and gain. But we have to return to our room.
We walk back to Hanumanchatti.
How many more kilometers to walk to get to Hanumanchattin?
Why bother – it is so beautiful here.
Moon has appeared after many moonless nights. Now icy mountains are shining in the moon in from of us.
It is heaven or what?
Brayna is feeling very romantic.
Mere mitua – mere meet rae …………
Huh!
I cry for my beloved flute.
I am singing the same song that is sticking to my mind
हम भी मिले थे कभी जमुना किनारे
राधा कृष्ण थे कभी नाम हमारे
मेरे मितुआ
मेरे मीत रे
Briana asks me to sing this song completely and I obey.
Then she asks the meaning of this song.
Then I remember my flute and I begin weeping.
An old man is walking behind me with his grandson, I hear him saying to the kid, “इतना बड़ा आदमी भें भें कर के रोए रहा है.”
I muffle my cryings.
We have no backpacks this time.
It is ONLY 4 kilometers.
Why bother – how many kilometers ……………
It is heaven out here.
Let’s walk along laughing, roaring and bubbling Jamuna.
Our Jamuna.
We want time to stop.
As we approach Hanumanchatti we meet the group lead by Mr. Samwal. We both are simply flabbergasted. They just touched the road at this hour. We saw this whole gang in the meadow high above in the mountains, they insulted and turned us away last evening. Although it happened at just last evening but it seem it happened long ago. They are 11 people total and I ask them about what took them so late to arrive in Hanumanchatti in this dark of evening, whereas we arrived here at 4PM even after we got lost in the mountains.
One man in their group tell, they themselves got lost in the mountains. Mr. Samwal claimed to be knowing the way but still he lead them to wrong direction. They walked to a dead end mountain. Porter knew the way but he was walking ahead of the group. Moreover they all were drinking whiskey while walking and Mr. Samwal was also very drunk. Porter waited for them at the last village for several hours and then he was alarmed and raced back to investigate. Luckily he heard the loud shouts of all ten men and brought them out of that maze of jungles.
Samwal is limping behind the group, he is in a bad shape. He slipped on snow sleet and broke his right hand that also caused more delay. He is carrying his limping hand in other hand. He is the same man who prevented us to stay around their camping area. Their transportation has not arrived because of the landslides near Barkot and they want to get to Barkot desperately because Mr. Samwal needs immediate medical attention. There is no doctor in Hanumanchatti at this time and nearest medical facility is in Barkot.
Yanuma ValleyYanuma Valley
Samwal looks at us with a apologetic week smile but Briana turns her face.
I ask Briana to look at the man’s hand because she said she was an orthopedic intern. She refuses to look at the man.
“I have nothing to do with all these shameless men,” she says and begins dragging me away from them.
I struggle hard to convince her to not to be revengeful and he needs some medical attention and at least look at his hand that is looking like a monkey’s hand anyway.
I insist but she is citing legal issues there she has no license to practicing in India and she is not a licensed doctor in UK, not yet.
She shouts at me so they all can also listen, “This man, Samwal insulted us and set us up to die there. It was an attempted murder and we ought to report this to police but police here in India does not solve any problem but only creates another problem.”
She is dragging me to Hanumanchatti and Mr. Samwal is walking behind us begging for forgiveness. His whole party is also walking behind us.
Three men from the party catch us up they all are chanting for forgiveness. They say, they were drink at that time. She cites the legal complications about her soliciting medical advice or practice in India.
Now we are in market and whole crowd is following us.
I plead to her on the name of Yanuma Goddess who is flowing very close to us.
Then I say to her laughingly, “If you don’t see to Mr. Samwal, I will kill you and how about that?”
“I guess this will absolve me from some of the legal problems that I was under the threat.” She says smilingly.
We all sit at a restaurant and she asks Mr. Semwal to spread his hand. It is a deformed mass. Injury occurred at noon but luckily hand is not very inflamed yet due to the cold weather. Or may be mountain people learn to keep the inflammation away by applying cold water on the affected area till they get medical attention.
She says, “You are in luck that you found me, otherwise your hand was never to be the same, had you waited till morning.”
Samwal looks at here with tears in his eyes. A crowd is gathering around us.
“What I am going to do with your hand is going be very painful to you, we have no anesthesia here.”
Mr. Semwal says, “Thank you. I don’t mind the pain.”
She asks for cold water and pours lots of cold water on his hand. Then she takes his hand in her hand and asks him to close his eyes. She gives a jerk to bring his hand back to the place but she was nervous and jerk was not a perfect and Samwal screeches with pain and violently pulls away his hand and it hurts him more.

Old village of Jankichatti
Briana has tears in her eyes.
She says, “Want me to give it another try?”
Samwal says yes and brings his hand back on the table. He is sweating in the cold.
He closes his eyes again and Briana diverts his attention by asking him question about his family. She whispers to a strong man in the group to get ready to avoid any violent movement by Samwal’s right arm. Two people get ready in position while Samwal is telling his life story. Suddenly she gives the hand a jerk and we all hear crackling sound. Samwal shakes violently but he is subdued by many people.
Wow! Hand looks almost normal now.
“I still need to work on the carpals, let me know whey you are ready.
I get an idea. I give Samwal my bottle that I bought from Zung Bahadur.
She cries in happiness, “Very good idea.”
Samwal drinks half the bottle in single shot and she takes the bottle away from her.
“You may hurt yourself further if you get drunk.”
She asks people to grab Samwal’s arm again and she presses and jerks the area where wrist meets the arm. Samwal passes away in pain and she applies final jerks in twisting motion and Samwal return to consciousness and screeches in pain.
She is done.
“I cannot do any better than this. Now your wrist will inflame and become 3 times larger so get to the hospital tomorrow. Most probably your hand is normal and if not then only surgery may be the option but not now.”
Medical store guy is here also and she asks him about the medicines but he has very basic and generic medicine.
Luckily I have a half the strip of tramadol 100 mg that I am carrying in my medicine bag for several years. I go to the room and bring that bag. Tablets are expired 3 years ago but she gives him one tablet and other he will take when pain may become unbearable.
A jeep comes and driver agrees to take the trekking party till Kharadi Fall village. Barkot remains only 15 kilometers from there. With some wood pieces she makes a splinter and immobilizes Samwal’s hand and they leave.
Since I promised Briana a splendid dinner so we find a restaurant, a lady is running it. I give her advance money and tell her to prepare the best of the best that she can make. She hands me a touristic menu but I tell her to make some pure mountain recipes that we will always remember. Not too many things but just one or two things with Mandwa ki roti with homemade butter. Money no matters. Mandwa is also called red-millet.
She says that Mandwa flour may not be available at this time but she sends a boy to find it. She also tells the boy to bring her sister-in-law who (she says) is considered a Garhwali Cuisine Pundit.
We are a celebrity in this little hotel town of Hanumanchatti. We return to our hotel followed by a troupe of children.
We return to our room with some snacks and soda and there I open the bottle and Thumps Up is for her.
At 10PM. boy informs us that dinner is ready.
She prepared Jholi, Phaanu, Gahat (Kulath), Rasmi Badi (Kofta), Makki ki roti with homemade butter.
Jholi:
Jholi can be made of besan or rice flour. Mix besan, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Make it into a thick paste by gradually adding water, and continuously folding it with a spatula or karchi.
Now mix the paste with Curd and water. Churn the mixture well.
Take a pan or karahi and heat the oil. Add garlic cloves in the hot oil. When the garlic turns light brown, faran, red chillies and heeng.
Immediately pour the curd mix into the frying pan. Add turmeric powder, dry coriander powder, red chillies powder and salt.
Cook till the gravy starts thickening and the raw smell of besan is gone. Let the jholi cook for about 10-15 minutes. If you are using rice flour then cook it for few minutes more. Add more water to keep the consistency thin.
Before taking it off from heat, add handful of chopped spinach leaves or chopped spring onion leaves. Cook for few more minutes till the leaves are tender.
Garnish with a table spoon full of ghee, coriander leaves and green chillies( slit apart into two pieces) and serve with bhaat (steamed rice)
Gahat (Kulath): Boil Gahat grain and add Ginger, Garlic, Tumeric, Coriander, Chilli powder and salt
Add Rice paste and cook for sometime
Temper with Cumin powder, Asafoetida and Gandharein.
Rasmi Badi (Kofta): Make rough paste of overnight soaked Gahat dal.
Mix little spices and chopped green chilies in the paste and add salt
Make medium small balls of the dough
Heat the Oil in a pan, add chopped Onions and fry till light brown
Add spices chopped tomato’s Cinnamon paste, Ginger and Garlic paste
Fry till it leaves the Oil
Mix fried balls and simmer for 2 min.
I am not a fan of creams, cheese or anything milky and Briana is same. Dinner turns out something to remember forever.
Briana says, “Simply sinful dinner. You kept your promise.”
I clap my own shoulder and say, “I always do my best. Always.”
At night Briana tell me that it was her first time when she reset someone’s displaced wrist bones and it was an educating experience.
I say, “You should be thankful to Mr. Samwal for to be available here.”
“I am. Actually I am.”
Yamuna Odyssey will continue.

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