Saturday, April 27, 2013

Last village on the mountains (Unknown Kumoun 11)

Unknown Kumon

Nanakmatta Sahib (Unknown Kumoun: 1)
Tanakpur (Unknown Kumoun: 2)
Chalthi and Champawat (Unknown Kumoun 3)
Lohaghat and Advaita Ashram (Unknown Kumoun 4)
Pithoragarh (Unknown Kumoun 5)
Jhulaghat on the India-Nepal border (Unknown Kumoun 6)
Baitadi Nepal (Unknown Kumoun 7)
Dharchula (Unknown Kumoun 8)
Ritha Sahib Gurudwara (Unknown Kumoun 9)
Basantpur village (Unknown Kumoun 10)
Last village on the mountains (Unknown Kumoun 11)
Most dangerous Nandour valley (Unknown Kumoun 12)
End of trail at Chorgalia (Unknown Kumoun 13)
Sounds of roosters wake me up in the morning. I already walked 6 kilometers so only 16 more to go, and this is a quite manageable distance; twelve kilometers to get to the top and then four to walk down from the pass.
Lala is also awake and doing meditation in front of a small Hanumanji’s picture that he has hung on the wall. I go out and take a walk in the village streets. Kids are preparing for going to school and women are cleaning their homes. Old people are taking out the cows to graze on the mountain. Most homes are old and ancient and made of lime mortar. Most roofs are the tiles carved out of the carved rocks. Almost whole village knows me now because most of the people were present in the wedding. One man Mr. Dina Nath drags me to his home on the second floor and they serve me buttermilk and ask about life in America. Then another man appears and drags me to his home for tea. Then another shows up and asks me for breakfast in their home but somehow I manage to escape the streets of the Basantpur and return back to Dharamshala to pack up. I have a long walk and long climb ahead.
I find Lala is done with his Pooja, he gives me a pathetic smile and I have an amusing idea.
I take out 20 rupee from my pocket and say, “Lala Ji, here are 20 rupee I borrowed from you tomorrow at tea shop.”
Taking the money from my hand he says, “yes yes Yes I know you owed me twenty rupee.”
He puts the money in his pocket.
My amusement cost me twenty rupee.
I bid him goodbye and I walk up to the wedding village and say my final hello to the family and Lala’s sons. They serve me tea and we eat leftover pakodas from the last day as breakfast. To the family of bride, I gift them my light jacket, small ten band radio that I bought form Nepal and whatever I feel I may not be needing it anymore and to lighten myself because I have to climb over 2 passes to get to Haldwani. Day after tomorrow evening I am leaving India for back to New Jersey.

Near Basantpur

My backpack is now half heavy. They ask me to pack the food but I decline, anyway they make a parcel for me. They update me about the route and I resume my walk at 9 AM. I keep climbing and climbing among the villages. In three hours I touch the last village, I don’t find any tea shop on the route because route ends at the village and not many people use this particular trail. I am told that next tea shop I will find in the village where I have to reach today.
After last terraced farms ends, begins the dense oak forest. There is no path but I was told to keep walking upward next to the cascading brook. Height is steep and I get hungry and open the packet. They gave me lots of food like poories, pakodas and sweets etc.
I make a fire and warm up the food on the flames and eat almost all contents in the parcel. I keep walking in the narrow ravine and there is no chance of getting lost because I have to walk up and up and there is only this path. I am panting and sweating and I take bath on the brook. Water is icy. There is no path now but I must keep walking up and up, pass is now very near and I keep climbing. Just before the pass starts soapstone area and slippery soft stones are very dangerous. A stage comes when I begin crawling to climb up on the slippery rocks those are acting like roller bearings. Cautiously and somehow I make it to the pass in the utter wilderness, devoid of any human presence.
At the top a surprise is waiting for me.

Village in Himalayas
When I though after the pass I will be again walking down in the wilderness but I find a primary school on the pass. Many small children wearing uniform, walking and playing all over and some are taking class under the sun on the grass. It is so amazing that they are at the edge of wilderness and I only wonder how come nobody goes to that trail.
Children crowd me and take me to their Master Ji who is relaxing on a chair under the sun. He orders a kid to bring another chair. I sit next to Master Ji and he explains me that I got lost and took the dangerously slippery soapstone slope.
“You are lucky to make it but anyway you will never be lucky to make it to down. Going down on this soap stone slope is like doing roller skating.”
Wow, this is news to me and I really believe him. Children are strictly forbidden to even go near the edge of the pass even if their ball falls down at this side.
A lady brings us tea.
The village where I have to go is now 4 kilometers. From the pass I can see below a dirt road going to that village. This dirt road goes towards Bhimtal area and then is connected to Haldwani. It takes 12 hours on bus that comes twice a week but most of the time it does not come because owners see it more profitable to book the bus for weddings etc. There are no jeeps, scooters, motorcycles or even bicycle in this village.
As I am ready to resume my walk to the village, master ji sends an adorable little boy of 4.5 years with me. His name is Rishi and he wants to go home because his tummy is aching. He is wearing brutally torn shoes and mutilated clothes. Little boy grabs my finger and we both start walking on the trail. Kid turns out a little happy wizard who knows just each and everything that is happening around this area. He tells me about his home and village, his uncles home and villages. He knows all the ways and all the villages around the area. He has never seen a train in his life. He never saw any airplane except far away in the sky. He read about pineapple in his book and wants to see it and eat it. He wants to ride on the camel that denotes ऊ character in his book. He says he ate mangoes two times in his life because they have no money to buy fruits. All fruits are more than 100 rupee kilos. His uncle will bring him new shoes from Haldwani because his Pa got no money. He drinks his cows milk but now cow is about to have a baby so he must wait for another month. He tells me that he loves to drink tea also but sometime they have money to buy sugar only then they drink sweet tea.
He shows me the plants and tree those are used for medicine, and the trees and plants those bear fruits that he loves to eat. He shows me a place where ghosts live and then a place where no ghost dare to visit. A place where he saw leopard and then comes a rock that has an OM inscription on it and some people worship it and put a banana or a piece of coconut there and he is allowed to eat all that because he is a Joshi Brahmin.
We keep walking and he keeps talking down on the pine needle laced slippery trail.
The village that I was told is 4 kilometers but it turns out more than 8 kilometers. Last two kilometers are on the dirt road. But I lose the concept of time because of this little happy chatterbox walking with me while holding my finger tightly. Little chatterbox is scared of leopards so he clings to me for as mother has ordered him. He says he is not allowed to go out of his home in the evenings. As village comes near, we stop and I open up my backpack and spread out everything and tell him to take just anything that he wants. But he finds nothing that he can play with our use. We together try to bring out every content from each pocket in the hope he may find something. He tries my socks but these are too large for him but anyway I tell him to take these. He tries my half sleeved sweater and likes it but it is too large. I give him that too and he wears it. He asks me if I have a cheap wrist watch, my watch is already cheap because I have a habit of losing my watch twice in an year so I give it to him but he refuses it saying his mother will be angry at him.

Village temple in Himalayas
We arrive in the village that is a village for the name only, there are hardly 20 homes here. Tea shop comes before village begins and I order two cups of tea and I tell kid to take anything that he wants. Tea shop has biscuits and buns only, kid takes one of each.
After tea Chatterbox pulls me towards his home but I decline. He promises me roties saying they have roties at home but I tell him that I will visit his home after I find a place to park myself. He asks me to come and stay at his place. His big sister who saw us walking together comes to us to take him home. I take his sister also to the tea shop for tea and biscuits.
After another cup of tea he gives me a tight hug and leaves.
After some distance he looks back and shouts, “Bring me pineapple next time.”
“Yes I will.”
I am already missing the happy little wizard.
There are two tea shops and have another cup of tea and ask for the where about of Master Ji who may provide me a bed. Master Ji’s (retired) home is just next door to the tea shop and he keeps a room for the travelers for no charge. I find Master Ji a jolly good gentleman. When I tell Master Ji that I am just an ordinary traveler who is trekking to Haldwani he seldom believes me.
“I know that you are from CID or CBI.”
I only smile to make him believe that he was always correct. It is 4 PM and I explore the area. These people are completely disconnected with the world although a road comes here. They rarely see a vehicle here and I didn’t even see any motorcycle here. At the tea shop I ask the man to make me dinner. He says he will make me cabbage, toor daal and rice.
I have a strong desire to pay a visit to my little friend Rishi and listen to more of his stories but I resist the temptation feeling that it would be inappropriate and they may think this or that because I am a complete stranger here.

Village in Himalayas
There is no electricity; my room is above a shop. Behind my room is another room and some men are playing harmonium there. I go to that room and find them (3 men) drinking and playing harmonium. They say they get together once a fortnight and play harmonium and drink homemade liquor. They don’t have enough liquor, they are poor people and I give them 300 rupee to bring 3 bottles for us all.
Liquor is very week and dilute. We all chat; they all are novice harmonium players and this is only their entertainment or night life in this village in seclusion. They all update me my next days’s walk to Haldwani. They give me detailed directions to get to Durga Pipal that is where the most dangerous Nandour valley begins. To whomsoever I speak with my walk to Durga Pipal tells me that the path is extremely dangerous and full of tigers and elephants. River has crocodiles. However they all are in accord that it is passable to get to Haldwani but with extreme caution. My detailed directions are that I take the trail going up to the mountain for 6 kilometers, there are no markers and I must stay on the widest path. Then I will see another trail and there I must make a left and then pass a ridge. Form the ridge a pond will be visible and I will walk down to the pond, the name of the Pond is Lohakhamtal, the distance is about 6 kilometers from where I will see it. From the pond I will walk down in the valley to Durga Pipal. There I will ask for shelter to Gujjars who live in a tall bamboo and barbed wired barricade. Gujjars will give me food and bed for some money. Next day you wait for someone making the trip to the Tanakpur-Haldwani roadhead and you accompany that caravan. Under no circumstances I am to walk alone in Nandhour valley. Under no circumstances I should cross the river. They say there is no other village for miles, till the road from Tanakpur to Haldwani, although I may find a couple of homes around the pond. Total distance from the village to the road is about 40 kilometers.

Village in Himalayas
Over the liquor we all sing and play harmonium and I have a good time with them. This is an amazing thing I feel here is that this village is simply disconnected. People from here don’t walk to the Ritha Sahib valley; they don’t walk to Basantpur area, neither people form that areas come here. And these people rarely go to Haldwani. A very isolated village and leopard killings are very often here. Owner of the other tea shop has one leg because other is mauled by a leopard. Many families have stories of the recent leopard attacks, some lost cattle, some lost children and some lost dogs.
These three men are cooking goat meat at the other tea shop, they invite me to have dinner with them but I am vegetarian. I go to the shop where I ordered the food and eat there sitting next to the fire.
It is moonless night and nothing else to do here so I go to my room.
Master Ji sees me entering in my room and he comes to me and whispers, “you drink on the duty too?”
I whisper back, “We have to – otherwise ….. you know …. ?”
“I guess I know. So what did you find out about that smuggling and murders?’
“You will know it very soon.”
“I guess so. We need a direct road here and may be you can help. Tomorrow I will give you a list of all the problems we have, some are concerned with your own department.”
“Master Ji, I will do my best.”
“Aapka dhanayawad.”
Masterji lives along, his wife expired and he has no kids. He keeps himself occupied doing social work in the village.

Village after the pass
I go to my bed that is very clean and room is also very clean.
Masterji gave me a candle and match but I don’t light it.
I fall to sleep.
Achillea millefolium Linn.
Synonym A. lanulosa Nutt.
Family Compositae; Asteraceae.
Habitat The western Himalayas from Kashmir to Kumaon.
English Milfoil, Yarrow, Thousand Leaf.
Unani Biranjaasif. National Formulary of Unani Medicine also equates Leonurus cardica Linn. (Labiatae) with Biranjaasif.
Folk Gandana, Rojmari.
Action Anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic (used in cold, flatulent colic, heartburn), emmenagogue, cicatrizant, antidysenteric, antihaemorrhagic, antipyretic, diaphoretic, diuretic, urinary antiseptic.
Key application In dyspeptic ailments, such as mild, spastic discomforts of the gastrointestinal tract. As astringent, antispasmodic, choleretic, antibacterial. (German Commission E.) As diaphoretic. (The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia.) Internally for feverish

Achillea Millefolium
Achilla Millefolium is also a very important medicine in Homeopathy. It is used for internal hemorrhages.
A Text-Book of Materia Medica.
(Characteristic, Analytical, and Comparative.)
By Pr. Allen Corson Cowperthwaite, M. D., PH. D., LL. D.
(Achillea Millefolium.)
Natural order.- Compositae.
Common names.- Yarrow. Milfoil.
General Analysis.-
Through the spinal nerves, Millefolium exerts its action upon the venous capillaries, especially within the pelvis, where it gives rise to haemorrhages from the organs therein contained, and from the nose, and has proved curative, not only in haemorrhages from the pelvic viscera, but also in haemorrhages from the nose and lungs.
It also affects mucous membranes, causing irritation and slight congestion, gastric and abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and enuresis.

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