Rinesh Nanda Bajracharya
Rinesh Nanda Bajracharya
‘The essence of pleasure is spontaneity’ -Germaine Greer
To me, spontaneity had everything to do with this hike. Right from the decision to email my name to get enlisted in the hike to the choices that were made throughout were all unplanned. First and foremost, the gang: Ashish, the black belt QA guy; Basanta, Mr. Courtesy; Sumit, the 40kg weighing dev turned guide; Prajwol, the ‘organize as you go’ organizer; Bibek, the human barometer (turns red with altitude); Avinab, the wearing-jeans-to-hike intern; and myself, the guy who was decided upon to write this blog even before the start. How do you like the titles now? We started the actual walk at around 10am after having reached Sundarijal at 9. The beginning was arduous to say the least. You could actually measure the hardship in the faces of the hikers - from heavy panting, clenching of the teeth, sweating, to turning red of the faces; no prize for guessing who the most red was though! We arrived at Chisopani National Park entrance gate after about an hour’s walk. There stood a guard with a gun trying to look menacing and welcoming at the same time. I joked with Bibek about borrowing his weapon for a photo shoot while the rest of the guys were trying to get tickets. Incidentally, there was a group of lady hikers who had just entered before us, and I could see the guys eager to be right at their tails. As Sumit announced at the gate that the real hike began there, something in me wanted to make it as short as possible. We passed mini waterfalls and greenery in abundance; debated on what was making the sound in the atmosphere; and cracked jokes (someone made a joke about bears which stayed with us throughout the trip). We passed a water dam, and Prajwol could not have missed the chance to take a snap and we obliged. The journey continued. The email about this hike was not clear on the destination - maybe this hike was all about the journey. By the time we reached Mulkharka, the adrenaline level in the gang was at its peak. Thus we decided to walk on. The way was all uphill, and we stopped intermittently for snacks; whoever thought ‘lyasi pau’ wou¬ld be the right staple for hikes, nobody debated and just dug in. The first victory was the peak of Mulkharka. As the stripes of Buddhist cloth waved in the cool breeze, we waited for our slower comrades. We asked a passerby how long before we reached Chisopani. He replied 2 hours, and we decided to go for it. The walk continued. Sumit and Ashish got some distance on the rest of the gang, but we toiled on. At last we reached Chisopani at around 2 pm. Ashish commented that Rudra Dai would be proud on learning of our accomplishment - I thought the instructions were to stay close to home. We booked rooms, freshened up and just sat at the terrace enjoying the view. The green hills looked as if they had congregated from all directions right at our doorsteps. The spotty huts spread out just to add to the beauty. The view was splendid and definitely worth the hardship. After lunch we walked around for a while. There weren’t many constructions around - just a few mini lodges and surprisingly a pool house. We were denied entrance to an army barrack, which seemed to feature a beautiful hilltop that had attracted us in the first place. We sat down for dinner at around 7 pm. We started with some ‘papad’ and fresh ‘paneer’ to go with the drinks. We talked politics, religion, Ramayan, previous hike experiences, and evaluated our day’s walk while contemplating on our route back. We hit the bed at around 10. I woke up to Bibek’s yelling - ‘sunrise’. Truly the view was magnificent and Prajwol captured it graciously. We had a hearty breakfast of egg and some Tibetan ‘roti’ with honey to sweeten things up. We were on our way again. The plan was to reach Jhule and then decide upon another plan. It was spontaneity at its best. After about 2 hours (9 am) we reached Jhule. The trail was nothing that we had not expected, except for a point in the middle where ground seemed to have eroded due to a slide, leaving a very narrow gap for us to pass by. There was another instance where the trail was steep downhill with prickly plants protruding in every direction, making things quite interesting. We stopped for some directions and a cup of black tea at an archetypal hut, which the lady owner claimed to have been used in a recent Kollywood movie. We decided to end the journey at Jarsing Pauwa. Sumit talked it over with Kedar, the van driver, on the phone and arranged for the pickup. Roads were downhill from there on, as the hikers enjoyed the green terrain that the panorama provided. We finally reached concrete road at Chowki Bhanjyang and got a ride to Jarshing Pauwa on a truck and waited for our Deerwalk’s Tata Safari. Admittedly, I had started to miss Kathmandu, and judging by the gang's demeanor, I knew they felt the same. As the SUV drove smoothly tackling the zigzag route downhill to Sakhu, I reflected back on our journey and what I got from it. Apart from the fact that against our own expectations we had conquered Chisopani and everything else, we also had a chance to see a different side of Nepal. I, for one, was new to it, and honestly speaking, the thing that affected me the most was the simplicity in the lives of the people we passed by. In so many ways their lives were different from mine, and this has helped me improve my perspective in life - not to take things for granted and try to see how fortunate I really am. As Kedar drove us back to the city, the scenes started to get familiar - the traffic, the dust, the congested concrete jungle, the overcrowded hustle bustle; even Bibek’s complexion had returned to light brown. Everything was back to how we had begun. We were home!