Saturday, March 16, 2013

Amazonian Nights 4

Our little canoe turned in the middle of Amazon River and then suddenly I find myself under the water. Kid has pulled the canoe and is swimming with it while dragging it away from us. He is more concerned to save his canoe and himself.
Then I find Harsh’s head. I shout him to catch hold the boat but kid is pushing turned canoe away from us. He has oar in his mouth. He wants to rescue his boat and run away. Soon the boat is away from us down the flow and he is swimming with his boat while pushing it towards the bank that is at-least one kilometer away. Other canoe on which Rajiv is sitting comes near to us while we are in the currents of Amazon. Rajiv is shouting for help desperately because that rogue wave has thrown water in his canoe and it is about to sink too.

Amazonian rain-forest people

Amazonian Nights 3

We wake up in the morning and I decide today that either I will see the real Silva or go bust. Silva is the Spanish word for the real rain forest. We are in equator reason for the last two weeks and so far haven’t’ found any real Silva. In Pucalpa too people told us to take a boat for whole day and then walk for some days to get to the real virgin forest canopy. When we went there people said to walk to the Brazil border that was another 100 kilometers as crow flies. No matter how far we went, we only saw destroyed jungles.
Today I am determined to find the real Silva. We walk to the Amazon River. After a breakfast of bread and butter we fetch a public boat going down the river without asking anyone about where it may go. Before boarding the boat we purchase 2 breads for our lunch. Boat makes various stops at jungle villages and we keep asking people if we any real Silva around. Almost everyone suggests us to go to the last stop and from there real Silva is about 10 kilometers. Last stop comes after 2 hours but anyway we have enjoyed our ride although many passengers carried many kinds of dead animals for trade. We arrive at the last stop and it is barely a village of 10-20 homes. Only women and children are present in the village and all adults are gone hunting or gathering meat. As usual women are all naked except for a small waistband. They are not shy at all whereas we are shy. Homes are all open kind; it is a thatched shed on four poles and hammock hanging. No home has walls for privacy. There is a communal large thatched shed in the middle and everybody cooks at that shed.

Piranha Fish


Amazonian Nights 2


We are in Peruvian town of Iquitos that is on the Amazon river. We wake up in the morning in our hotel room.
We have to plan ahead as we are to go to Columbia. From this jungle city of Iquitos there are only two ways to get in or get out; flight or boat. There are no roads in the impenetrable Amazonian jungles. There is a one hour flight to Letticia or a ten hour high speed jet boat to Leticia that is little more expansive than flight. We walk to jetty in the early morning and book seats in the jet boat for the day after tomorrow’s run. Leticia is a jungle town in Brazil on the borders of Peru and Columbia.

Amazon River Area

Amazonian Nights 1

Iquitos is the largest city of Peruvian Amazonian rain forests and capital of the Loreto Region and Maynas Province. We arrive here in the evening by airplane from Pucalpa and after unloading our belongings we rush to the Balen market.
The Belen Market is a huge outdoor “super” market that covers more than 20 blocks. It is a wonder market and almost everything that can be bought or sold can be bought or sold here. Half the market is floating in the branches of Amazon rivers. Floating shops are made with balsa wood that is the lightest weight wood in the world. Or rather it is a small floating town. This place is for people that can move around without fear. It has narrow aisles and some very exotic goods: something that is marketed as snake oil, turtle meat and eggs, tapir meat.
Iquitos Belen Market
Iquitos Belen Market


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Harsil Diaries 5

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Earning the name “Pahari” or mountain man, Wilson also became an expert ornithologist and huntsman. Unfortunately the ecological awareness of the British was next to nil. They plundered the countryside not only of trees but of wildlife of every kind, hunting deer, bear, tigers, and countless rare birds which are now extinct. Pahari Wilson was himself a taxidermist, another gruesome British pastime and some of his specimens are still in British Museum.
Wilson worked behind the scenes for British intelligence and played major roles in preventing the Russian annexation of India, something we forget was a distinct possibility prior to WWI; as well as the protection of Mussoorie and Garhwal during the “mutiny” of 1857. In this way his prior military record was wiped clean. Later on Wilson settled in Murroorie as a respectable rich British subject. His son was married in St. Paul’s Church in Landour.
Jadganga bridge at Lankachatti

Harsil Diaries 4

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I walk from Harsil. I am on the way to Mukhba village where Deity of Ganges rests in the winter months when Gangotri temple is closed. Trail makes a dip in a waterfall and then rises again to the ancient village of Mukhba. First I pay my respect to the Gangotri temple where Deity of Ganges is brought in the winter. This village is marvelous with abandoned and ruined, huge wooden buildings. They say in the l991 Earthquake, most of these buildings became unstable. Square around the temple has a maze of these wonder buildings. Last year when we (I and Briana) came here, Holy Deity was here in the temple and two gentlemen priests told us to spend as much time with the goddess for as much we wish. They also presented us dried out Bhramkamal flowers. Not even that, they also brought us tea and food from their homes.\
Dharali Area

Harsil Diaries 3

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Bagori village is noted for illicit brewing and all people from surrounding few villages come here to buy homemade liquor made by sugar or gur. There are 3 or 4 tea shops serving porters and herders, tea and (liquor also but behind a curtain). They also serve aalo-gram curry and a soup of goat and sheep intestines and also sometimes Kharoda Soup (feet soup). Upon returning to my friend’s place in Jhala, I buy my supply from a Nepali Mr. Mangal Singh. His home is facing the meadow where Helipad is situated. Then from his home, I leave the village from outskirts amidst the apple trees and then cross the extremely scenic suspension bridge of Ganges. Then I climb to the main road and Jhala is barely 3 kilometers from there.
Harsil Area

Harsil Diaries 2

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Sukhi Top is a fertile area famous for its rajmah and apple orchards. In the apple season October and November, returning pilgrims make their purchase from this village. Now another crops is grown in Sukhi Top and surrounding areas and that is opium.
Well anyway, arriving at the Sukhi Top is a mesmerizing experience and from this top you can view this most beautiful area of the world. You can view the road descending down to Jhala village and then crosses the Ganges River and then disappearing at the bend of the valley.
Indeed views from Sukhi Top make me forgot about insects crawling over my face. As I take the shortcut trail to Jhala village, there cold air is not hitting my face anymore and these mysterious insects reappear on my face in all vengeance. I begin my run downwards on the steep 3 kilometers trail and hit the road before the straight street of Jhala that leads to Ganges Bridge.
Sukhi Top Area

Harsil Diaries 1

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Whenever I ask myself: What are the most beautiful places in the world?
I reply to myself:
Number one is Harsil area near Gangotri
Number two is Vancouver area in Canada
Number three: Hundreds of places fall in Number three.
And this time I will do it. I must do it. I have promised since the day one from I have this goddamned thing that one day I will be no more messing with it. I hate shaving. I simply hate it. I thought this time I will grow a beard. It is like a smoker’s promise that they will quit. I promised myself several times but at 4th or 5th day it begins biting me. Biting becomes intolerable and I find myself opening my shaving kit. I hate to carry shaving kit and it is just a burden of half kilo that I am carrying with me since the day one – this bitchy thing came to me.
View from Sukhi Top

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