Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mayali Pass Crossing (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 11.)

AUDEN'S COL Sitemap

1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath

Day 8
Now ghosts are gone but again shouts of Baba Bhasmasur and Biswas wake us up in the dawn.
Biswas went out early in the morning and Baba was already up and smoking his cheroot. Biswas saw a bunch of bears outside, he came running and screaming and dived on Baba whose cheroot fell and sparks spread all over Biswas’s bedding and belongings. Luckily nobody is hurt but here begins another juicy fight.
I peek put and find bears playing with our pots. Luckily we brought all the food inside the tents. Listening to the loud fighting noises bears run away. Baba and Biswas blame each other for this mishap. Then they summon me to settle the dispute, I tell Baba that we are at the gateway of Kedarnath so calm down. He begins arranging his small temple outside to divert his anger.
We also come out of the tents and there is all talk about the Bhoots that Baba and Biswas has both seen at night. They are giving conflicting and vivid descriptions of the many bhoots they saw at night. One was wearing white robe and was suspended in the air, reverse feet and sinister smile and all. Baba says that one of them ran after him before he dived in the tent and landed on Biswas.
I try to reason out with 1008 saying that there are no Bhoots.
To this Baba shouts at me -
“लो करलो बात. अरे भूत नहीं होते तो भूतनाथ कहाँ से होते.”
Biswas also agrees, “यहाँ तो भूत भी हैं पिशाच भी हैं.”
I ask, “दोनों मैं फरक क्या है.”
Baba says, “भूत के पांव सीधे होते हैं, पिशाच के पावं उलटे होतें हैं.”
I give it up guessing that now both are भूत-पिशाच PhD.
After breakfast we brace ourselves for some brutal climb to Masar Tal. Climb begins instantly along our brook on our left. Later on we discover that this same brook is fed from Masar Tal. On the way we can see Khatling glacier and all the landmarks we walked. From this height this dangerous glacier looks innocence, harmless and beautiful. Without talking we keep climbing. Our hearts are pounding. Biswas is in bad shape due to the amount of weight he is carrying.

Masar Tal



Back into the Himalayan Ices (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 10.)

AUDEN'S COL Sitemap

1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath

Day 7 and 8
————–
Day 7
In the morning we made quick tea and warmed up some leftover food from the night and wound up our camp quickly because we were restless due to falling rocks. Some rocks crashed around us. In two hours we touch the grass and bushes and we sit there and relax by the river and set up our kitchen to make lunch, weather is very nice and heavy Jackets is the thing of past now, neither I nor Briana wore these since yesterday.
As per my written notes, this general area is called as Chowki, from here here we are suppose to find various sheaphearders trails and also a bridge on the river. In this general area we are suppose to find another trail going back again in the ice mountains to Kedarnath via Mayali Pass. We don’t see any human here.
We cook both Poha and Upma and enjoy our lunch in the extremely beautifly area. We are surrounded by snowy peaks at three sides and fourth side is lush green mountains below us. We see many bears and their dropping everywhere. Much water stream crisscross this bugyal and then noisy Bhelangna River is also next to us. Kedarnath as well Ghutto both are now 3 days walk. I ask again to Biswas if he wants to go to Ghuttu but he says he wants to come with us. OK – no problem.
Place is so serene that we want to spend a night in this bugyal but first we want to identify trail going to Kedarnath. We keep walking and enjoying on the rough trail made by human feet. Time and again trail disappears and then again reappears.

Begining of the trail to Kedarnath

Lucky to be alive (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 9.)

AUDEN'S COL Sitemap

1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath

Day 6.
Without any event we wake up in the golden morning at 8AM and amazingly it is not very cold and we all are feeling better. Nobody is in a particular rush to go to the rim-balcony to check upon Baba. We make tea and then begin making breakfast.
Briana is a bit concerned she says, “First let’s do something to bring out Baba.”
Biswas says smilingly, “But he must be hungry, so we must have food ready for the poor bugger.”
It is not that we are not compassionate about Baba but we gave up all the hopes and fear going there because we won’t be able to do anything at all.
Let’s see.
It is not my character to worry about things.

A river is born

Trapped in the Khatling Glacier (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 8.)

AUDEN'S COL Sitemap

1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath


Day 5.
Briana wakes me up in the very early. She is very scared and wispers to me that some animal is around our tent and scratching it to gain entry.
I whisper back to her, “There are no animals and even there are no birds not even ravens.”
“But there is some creature, may be big foot Yeti. What do we do?”
To peek outside I unzip the tent from below and then instantly that animal pokes his head in our tent.
Briana screams very loud and I am also very scared, it is still dark outside.
Then we hear, “बच्चा, यह मैं हूँ, 1008 अवधूत. शिव का सैनिक.”
So it is Baba, inserted his head from the bottom. I wonder he is belly down outside on the snow.
Then we hear another loud shout from Biswas, “क्या हुआ मैडम जी को?”
Then we hear someone stumbling. It is apparent that Biswas ran to our tent and then stumbled upon laying Baba, his head in our tent.
Then we hear Biswas screaming and running, “बचाओ बचाओ, कोई जानवर, कोई जानवर, कोई जानवर. खतरा खतरा.”

Khatling Glacier


Auden’s Col (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 7.)

AUDEN'S COL Sitemap

1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath

Day 4
We spend night at a dangerous spot in the middle of the cliffs.
I hear the loud shouts of 1008-Maharaj: Bum Bum Bhole and we woke up.
It appears that he is ok. It is intense cold and air is thin and frigid and snow is not falling anymore. Sky is clear. As I tried to leave my sleeping bag I am instantly stung by the severe cold. We all shout to each other to check if everything is ok. Everything is OK. Snow is not falling and golden morning is appearing at 6AM.
However as I am about to leave by sleeping bag I feel intense cold and I fall to brutal shivering. I feel as I am thrown in the minus 200 degree freezer. In my childhood I had malaria several times and had shivering but this one is unprecedented and I collapse back in my bag. I want to take pills of Dexamethasone and Peracetamol but I am totally dysfunctional and moreover there is no water and everything is frozen. It is such a bad shivering that I feel I am going to freeze and die. Briana is out preparing to make tea and when she checks in the tent and anticipates something is wrong with me. She touches my forehead but no fever yet and she returns. Somehow I find dexa and peracetamol pills and the bottle of raw alcohol, because that is the only liquid I have in my access and take both pills with mouthful of alcohol. My whole body is seems frozen and I feel the burning sensation of alcohol from my mouth to the stomach. In ten minutes chills are gone but I am feeling burning hot now. Briana again peeks in the tent because everybody is out in confusion about what to do. We are stuck on the cliffs in this freezing cold.
She checks again my forehead and cries, “Oh my God.”
She checks my temperature with her ear thermometer and I have 106 degree fever. Everybody is now scared of the situation.

Final Push

Trapped over cliffs (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 6.)

AUDEN'S COL Sitemap

1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath

Day 3
Intense cold wake us up at very early. We have no desire to come out of the sleeping bags and leave the tent. Suddenly an thought comes to my mind that today we have to spot the peaks to evaluate our course of journey. There is no other way but to identify the peaks and the Auden’s Col. Peaks are only visible in the morning or in the evening. This means we must start early to get to the point where we see the peaks. I come out of the tent and wake up Biswas. He does not want to leave the tent but I tell him that we must get to the point earliest to find the peaks this sets him to the frenzy to pack up everything.
Briana says, “But what about Baba?”
“Baba wakes up early and he is suppose to come here unless he is dead somewhere or is already on the way back to Gangotri. All we can do it to shout for him.”
Briana says, “If he is lost then what?”
“In either situation we cannot do anything. He is a responsible adult. Either he is dead, or running back to Gangotri or lost.”
We bring our belongings to the cooking site and everything is untouched there. Biswas brings the kerosene bottles from where he hid these. As we make tea we shout for 1008 but hear nothing in return. Nothing else we can do. He might have gone back to the cattle herders camp, some hours walk. We make Pohas with onions and ginger and then pack up and begin walking upwards to the visible snow. After just one kilometer we see golden peaks shining in the early morning sun. With the pictures we identify many peaks. The sun is coming up from behind Patangana dhar the Gangotri peaks one by one start to turn crimson. We identify our beloved Auden’s Col at our right hand side and the gully ends and we are facing the glacier and across it is the Col. There can not be any mistake in identifying the Auden’s col as it is the only dunk in the ridge joining the Gangotri III and Jogin I peaks.

Camp in the middle of cliffs and Auden’s Col is hidden in clouds

Beyond Bugyals (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 5.)

AUDEN'S COL Sitemap

1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath

Day 2:
Baba woke up everybody by his loud chants. It is 6AM and freezing cold. Moisture is frozen on the walls of our tent and it is difficult to leave the comfort of the sleeping bag. I gather the courage and wear my shoes and come out. Not many peaks are visible and as per my written notes, we must follow main stream to the end and then we must identify Auden’s Col by pictures. From that point we must find the suitable way to walk to the pass in the snows and ices.
I and Baba go out towards stream to bring water and then we scavenge firewood to make a fire to warm us up but not much wood is available in this meadow. Trees are mostly birch and juniper and all vegetation is stunted due to the climate stress. When we return we see Biswas lighting his brass kerosene stove to make tea. Nobody wants to eat parothas but also nobody has any courage to start preparing some real breakfast in this freezing cold and it is just the beginning. We all eat parothas and then prepare second cup of tea.

Jogin Peaks

Out of Gangotri (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 4.)

AUDEN'S COL Sitemap

1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath

Day 1:
We are in Gangotri and ready to set towards Auden’s Col although my heart is not in this expedition.
I wake up at six and curse myself for being here to see this day, Briana is still snoring. I go out and check the quality of parothas at many shops and then at one shop I order 15 aalo parothas, 15 gobi parothas, 15 onion parothas and 15 plain ones. I tell the man to pack the assorted parothas in four packs so to distribute the burden.
So today is the scary day when I or rather we both will be putting over selves to severe torture by carrying more than 25 kilos each.
When I come in the room with two cups of tea, I find Briana packing up her backpack. With reluctance I pack up and arrange my own belongings. Our backpacks are bulging full to the bursting point, our sleeping bags are tied on the top and sleeping mats are tied on the bottom. Then we both tie one kerosene container to the sides of the backpacks. I go out and bring the plastic bag full of parothas. Damn – it is heavy, at least six kilos. Also he gave us lots of pickle and chilies.

Bhagarithi Peaks



Motley’s Crew (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 3.)

AUDEN'S COL Sitemap

1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath

In the morning we visit Sri Krishna Ashram and there we look over the town of Gangotri in the golden morning while having tea. Swamiji admits that jokingly he told Baba about our walking to Kedarnath via Icy Mountains because it is a dream of that Shivnath Baba who calls himself Sri Sri 1008 Shivanath Baba Avadhoot and lives in a cave above the Gangotri temple. He is one of the few people who stay in Gangotri even in the freezing winters. Swamiji is not even a bit skeptical about Baba being able to cross Auden’s Col.
“He can live in freezing temperatures without food and water for several days.”
My dilemma is that Baba may cross Auden’s Col but this only shuts down my own escape route because on the slightest indication from Briana that life is now difficult, I will tell her to return.
But then another surprise is waiting for us in the temple. Swamiji sends a boy to call for another person who arrived in the ashram last day and was asking for some serious trekking routes.

The notch is Auden’s Col

Arrival in Gangotri (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 2.)

AUDEN'S COL Sitemap

1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath

After two days we hauled our load on the roof of a shared jeep and arrive in Jhala Village that is 6 kilometers before Harsil, at 2PM. We are given a room at my friend Prakash Rotela’s hotel and we walk to the Bhagori Village near Harsil, there I find my friend Mangal Singh and ask him for something of raw alcohol quality. He has none available but promises to arrange two bottles in the morning and send these to our hotel. He keeps his promise. I can write a couple of posts about Jhala and Harsil etc. but this series is not about this area in general. I wrote an whole series of posts on Jhala and Harsil etc. it is pending here on Ghumakkar. So let’s keep these posts about Gangotri-Kedarnath trekking experience and this series is already a huge one.
Next day we arrive in the Gangotri at 1PM. Small town is peaceful and tranquil in September with occasional busses arriving with pilgrim loads.

Gangotri Falls

Trek preparations in Uttarkashi (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 1.)

AUDEN'S COL Sitemap

1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath


In September Uttarkashi is lush green, sky is azure and Ganges is also happy. I and Briana are here and she is pressing me to plot the strategies to do Gangotri to Kedarnath trek and it is against my nature to plot a strategy for any of my travel. I travel at random and unplanned. On the other hand she has valid points; we have to cross rivers. We have to walk on the ice and over the crevices and we will be spending several days in the snows and in isolation in the most vicious terrine of the Himalayas.
“You must think about food, fuel, maps and what not. We will be climbing in between of the Himalayan peaks to go across the Audel’s Col. And then there is several thousand feet of dangerous drop of Khatling Glacier.”
To this I have no answer and may be I need to start preparations here in Uttarkashi. Things may not be available in Gangotri. Luckily she brought two lengths of 100 feet each lightweight rope, two feather filled light high altitude jackets, one ultralight and barely enough for two people tent, two lightweight sleeping bags designed for subzero and 4 dark goggles to cope with the sunlight reflection from the snow white etc. etc..

3D Map of Gangotri area. Auden’s Col is at the right top corner.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lima Epilogue – (South America Omnibus 7)


At noon.
First I go to my favorite Emoliente cart for my another refueling.
This time I am having Alfalfa tea, suddenly I remember about Gat.
What is Gat?
I ask the Indio, “Tiene gat?” (Got Gat?)
Indio makes a cross on his chest and sings, “Nooooo Señor, nooooo soy Pistoooooleer. ”
So this solves the Gat puzzle.
I begin marching for Miraflores because I cannot wait. Miraflores is an upscale area of Lima.
I take metro train to San Juan de Miraflores station. Lima metro is also new as Delhi metro and it is equally clean. But anyway South American countries may be as poorer than India but they are very clean. Nobody urinates or defalcates in the open. Nobody spits in the streets.

Train just outside of Lima in Andes Mountains
May be it is Christian culture. People wear clean clothes. One thing amazing that only a person from India can notice; even in the worse of the slums where several members of a family live in just one room. Everything is clean in the slums, no piles of filth and homes are also clean and painted or color-washed to the excellence. All dwellers of slum are perfectly clean and smiling.
Deuteronomy 23 (From Bible)
23:14 For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.
In India we may have tons of sayings in our scriptures about cleanliness but it is seldom followed. One white friend of mine visited India and he says that Indian only keep their home clean. They throw away all their dirt away from their home front, or at other’s front.
Well whatever, I am born desi and die desi.
But then I am after a Señorita from Peru.

Lima old railway station
I walk to Govinda restaurant and eat superb lunch that is so called Indian but actually it is a Globally Inspired lunch cooked by hit, miss and trial after reading this or that Indian recipes. An ad-hock Hare-Rama-Hare-Krishna-Devotee-Chef also used his own background and culture to create a fusion or mess or mix-up or mismatch . . . call whatever you wish. Food is eatable and not very bad. When I want to pay they tell me that I already got those tokens but anyway I pay my bill that was about 3 dollars. Rice, Raita, lentil and some strange subzi. After food I offer them my cooking services and they again gladly accept. Instead of cooking I end up chopping lots of Ghea and onions followed by cleaning of their kitchen.

Lima Beach
I leave at 4PM to find the address on the slip so to hover around that location. I still have 3 hours.
I buy a hat to look like an Amigo.
7PM.
I am at the given address. A small cafe. People are coming or going and busy in their shopping chorus. At 7. 30 someone touches my shoulder and it is Isabel. She looks different, actually I saw her five minutes ago with another girl but didn’t recognized her because she is wearing makeup and nice clothes.
She also didn’t recognized me because I am wearing a cowboy hat.

A train in the high Andes mountains.
Now she is laughing brutally seeing a 2 gallon hat over my head.
I tell her that I got a Gat too. She laughs so much that her tears come out.
She is looking very pretty and very worrisome. I shake hands with both girls. I ask then if they want coffee or food. She is hungry but she is hesitating. I take them to Govinda Restaurant. At this hours only snacks are available so I order samosas with tea.
Everyone at Govinda knows me now, they keep bringing the object that they call Samosa and both girls keep eating it. They claim that they have never eaten such a tasty thing in their life.

A village bus
And I want to smack at the head of the ISCON devotee chef from Germany.
At the end Isabel wants to pay because I am a guest in her country but anyway Govinda Manager refuses to accept payment from either one. Secretly I leave 10 dollar tip about the price of the samosas.
We keep sitting in Govinda because nobody asks me to leave or may be they are only waiting for me to start my shift at their kitchen.
Isabel’s story turns out the story of the mankind.
Her family is very poor, father is no more. Mother is sick. They are five sisters and 2 brothers. She is eldest and breadwinner. Her sisters are getting married one by one but she cannot. Hardly she got the job with airline only because no-one wants to work at Aguas Verdes office because of high crime rate, guns and drug trafficking.

Village folks
She says that she cannot marry, or at-least now. She cannot leave her siblings and her mother or at-least now.
I try to reason out with her but she is adamant.
She says that she is now alone but a full Lungar-Party of dependents and even if she agrees to marry someone, her marriage will not last because of her problems.
She says she will be always a friend.
OK, for the time being this much is enough.
When the girl accompanying her feels that I am not a thug or scoundrel she leaves us. She had to take some computer class.

Street food
We leave Govinda restaurant, shattering Manager’s dreams, that I brought my girlfriend also to work in the kitchen. We walk out and she is amazed at my knowledge of the city streets. I bring her down the cliffs to the beach through a secret way.
We stroll on the beach that is always misty. I never ever saw a sunny day in Lima.
While holding my hand she becomes very romantic she asks, “Tell me Pravee, I saw in a movie that monkeys roam free in the streets of India.”
“Yes, not even monkeys but other black monkeys too. We call them Langoors.”
She held my hand tight and her nail is biting me now.
She cries, “¡En Serio”
“Yes yes, I am serious. Not just monkeys, we have goats and cows and bulls and donkeys and mules and horses and sheep and dogs and hens and ducks and buffaloes and camels and elephants – and – big rats and cats and bats and many more animals in the streets. We all share the streets, there in India.”
With wide open eyes she asks, “Y mangosta?”
I ask, “Mangosta?”
“Que mata serpiente.”
“Oh yeah, we have mongoose too on the streets in India some times.”
“Wow!”
“La gente lleva serpientes en las cajas?”
“We call them saperas, they carry snakes in the boxes.”
“?Y los cerdos también en las calles allí?” (and pigs are also on the streets there?)
“Yes we have pigs also on the streets. Big black ones.”
“Pravee. I am scared to go to India now.”
“Why?”
She says in Spanish, “So many people and animals there on the streets and them all bite, kick, hit and trample each other all the time.”
Now I want to beat my head with my both hands.

A festival dance
We walk for one hour.
She leaves by bus at 9 PM. She said she will stay in touch by emails.
So I got a friend in Peru. A best friend.
I gift her my 2 gallon hat. She refuses to accept anything else.
I return to my hotel and Satbir is there waiting for me. We walk to liquor shop and buy his choice of Pisco Liquor. It is a grape based liquor.
Over the drinks I listen to more of his pathetic stories.
Before his this rendezvous, an agent took him to Italy and there he was deported from the airport.
He is gulping his drinks like crazy.

A dance at wedding
High alcohol contents in Pisco mellows him down and he starts singing Punjabi Songs.
Suddenly he asks me for my USA passport.
I give it to him.
He puts it on the chair and he himself sits down on the floor. He does its pooja.
He stands up and shakes my shoulder and stammers, “P pp pp Paji, you got any aggarbatti?”
“Nope. ”
“Any d d d dhu dhu d dhoop?”
I reply, “Nope.”
He goes in the bathroom and returns with my hair oil bottle.
“Any mmmmmm maaa machis, I must light a joth?”
“Nope.”
He orders me, “You can get it from the bald man on the counter. He smokes.”
I look at the old wooden walls of my hotel room and now I am worried.
He goes out himself and I hear a crash. It appears that he fell down.
Baldy comes in the room dragging Satbir by by his collar.
Baldy shouts at me, “Gang que no puede disparar directamente.” (Gang that cannot shoot straight.)
Baldy dumps him on the floor, he walks out shutting the door behind.

Peru Railways
I shout at Satbir, “Tera kya hoga Kalia, tune Daku Gabbar Singh ka naam poora mitte mae mila diya.”
Satbir is belly down on the floor and his broken nose is bleeding.
He crawls to the chair where he placed my passport for pooja.
He shouts at me, “Thakur yeh passport muzhe de dae, Thakur.”
Next day I leave the streets of Peru and return to USA.

A village train station in Andes Mountains
It was 5 years ago.
Isabel is a Virgo.
If a Virgo girl left alone she will never marry. You need a shotgun to make her a decision.
In all our Latin America visits, many interested women were always around us but I always picked an impossible target so to get further excuse to stay single.
End of this segment of this series.
Someday I will write the rest of my Peru saga because we arrived in Peru 4 weeks before and then traveled across the country to Amazonian. In Iquitos I almost drowned in the piranha infested waters of Amazon river. From here we caught a very high speed boat to Brazil’s Amazon river outpost town of Leticia (400 kilometers on Amazon river / 12 hours). Then to Columbia and then to Ecuador.
I wanted to write just one post on Balwinder Singh of Ecuador but it snowballed to many posts.

Bajaj Auto-rickshaws in a small town of Peru.
Wait a minute. I forgot to write the further story of Satbir Pal Singh.
That day he stole more than $100 from my room (whatever he was able to mop up). I was lucky that I was wearing my money belt so most of my money stayed safe. I gave him all my clothes, backpack, shaving kit, medicine kit, etc and etc. I just gave him everything except the clothes I was wearing to the airport.

Old town Lima
He made it to USA. He abandoned his wife and small child that he had with his Peruvian wife and she was again pregnant.
He became a small time drug dealer in Peru. His papers allowed him to travel till Columbia. From Columbia he crossed into Panama and then somehow with the aid of smugglers he made it to Mexico very fast. He spoke fluent Spanish that always enabled him to merge with the general multitudes.

A shop selling herbs
His relatives in USA recruited an agent from Punjab to get him across Mexico/USA border. A drug gang took him along with 50 others to the border of USA in Texas. He successfully made his crossing near Mission, Texas. Most of his group were murdered by a rival gang. A group of illegals is a commodity and commodity destroyed means profit lost, since more than half the money comes only after people make it to the other side.
He made it because he was a survivalist, very lucky, foxy, clever and street smart.

A Village street
He petition for Political Asylum is pending.
He works in his relatives’s restaurant who paid his passage from Mexico. The cost was 20,000 dollars and he must pay it back by working there.
He is cocaine addict, he picked up this habit during his stay with other Punjabi boys in the amazonian tri-country border area of Bolivia-Brazil-Peru.
About Alpaca/Llama animal.

Alpaca/Llama/caption]
This animal is found on the Andes mountains in south america and resembles Camel. This animal is not popular and was not imported to any other countries and made to much use because it spits. It usually targets the face and aims and shoots disgusting spittle so people avoid dealing with it.
Some animals just cannot be tolerated, same thing is with Zebra of Africa, can be made docile but problem is that it bites so cannot be made to serve mankind much. Same this is now happening with Yaks in Himalayas. Yak is big animal and need to graze whole day, since now newest variety of hardy vegetables, beans, potatoes are appearing and even high altitude areas are being cultivated – Yaks destroy those crops. People are avoiding them so this animal is also diminishing.
End of this Series.
Satbir’s name is not real.
Isabel’s name is not real.
Balwinder Singh’s name is real as he requested.
Praveen Wadhwa’s name is real but he never wanted to be known.
He loves to walk being unknown.
Blessed are those who are unknown.

Meet Satbir Singh of Lima (South America Omnibus 6)


I again come out of the hotel and take a bus to Miraflores. This is upscale area of Lima and coastline is visible below the cliffs. I walk in its colorful bazaars. This area is like Connaught Place in Delhi.
Here are just 2 Indian restaurants in Lima. One is Guru Kebab and Curry run by Mr. Waheed Ashraf, from Punjab, Pakistan. Other is Mantra Indian Cuisine run by Mr. Jay Patel. Mantra is in Miraflores and is more expansive than Indian cuisines in USA. It costs at least $20 to have dinner there. A small roti or naan is at-least 3 dollars.
In Miraflores I walk into Mantra. A very pretty Spanish girl is on the reception. I ask her if here is someone from India she goes in the kitchen and fetches Mr. Patel, he turns out a strictly business minded person and he anticipates no business from any person from India because of the pricey menu. It appears that he came to Peru from USA to open this and only one upscale Indian Cuisine.
He comes and asks very professionally, “how can I help you?”
I tell him that I wanted to see a fellow Indian here in Peru and he is the only one and first one I am seeing. He tersely pushes the menu in front of me and I decide not to eat there.
I walk out of the restaurant and then a desi comes running after me. He was visiting a friend in the kitchen of Mantra and then he saw me leaving the restaurant. He is Satbir Singh from Hoshiarpur, India. He asks me if I have some time, that I always have in plenty. We walk together in the colorful Miraflores area. One agent offered to bring him to USA for 30 lac rupee. Half money was paid in advance and rest was to be paid once he get into USA.
Agent brought a group of Punjabi boys to La-Paz Bolivia. There he took them to the Amazonian at the Bolivia/Brazil border. He was to get help from some drug cartel to get the boys to USA from either Bolivia or from Brazil. Their group of 7 boys stayed hidden in the jungle town of Cobija for 3 months. They left their room rarely and only at nights to avoid detection from people and police. Somehow police found about them and agent had to bribe the police. That money came from their homes in India. Agent was in negotiations with the carter but carter was asking for more money so more money was asked. Parents of the boys had no choice but to pay because their sons were stuck in the infamous drug area where murders was a routine thing. Police wanted more money now so agent brought them to the town of Epitaciolandia of Brazil by illegally crossing the river.
One day agent disappeared, he was never found.

Govinda Restaurant in Miraflores

San Cristobal Slum of Lima (South America Omnibus 5)


In Lima Hotel, I wake up in the morning feeling badly beaten up. I remember that I was having very strong tequila and then it appears that I collapsed. It is seven AM and I come out on the street and cross the river and walk towards other side of the town which is haphazardly placed. I badly need a half a dozen cups of herbal tea. Actually I love this side of town because it is haphazard like the towns of India, I feel at home here.

Back to Lima (South America Omnibus 4)


Back to Lima?
Yes, it is back to Lima because we 3 arrived in Lima and then went to Amazonian, there we almost drowned in the Amazon river, and then a high speed boat to Brazil/Columbia/Peru border and then to Bogota there one of us returned back to USA. . . . then crossed the border to Ecuador, there I begun this series at Columbia-Ecuador border.
I am sitting in the airplane, I am sad and watching the desert landscape of Northern Peru below me. At our right side is Pacific ocean and at our left side are the snowy peaks of Andes and some volcanoes here and there. Under the aircraft is the famous Pan American Highway travelling in the sandy desert. Pan American Highway is about 47,958 kilometers in total length. Except for an 159 kilometers rain forest break, called the Darién Gap, the road links the mainland nations of the Americas in a connected highway system.

Herbal tea (Emoliente) cart in Lima

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