Friday, 9 November 2012

My Quest for the Himalayas

As part of my research work on climate change,got an opportunity to travel to the Hill Kingdom (Nepal).The Great Himalayas has always fascinated me..It was a dream in my life to Visit the Mighty Himalayas... Here i will be sharing a short account on the real life and beautiful memories which i encountered on the way..

Day one.. Festive Mood @ Banks of Lake Ashtamudi

Village was in a festive mood on the day of my departure to Nepal. It was the final day of the 10 days long festival at "Thrikkadavoor Mahadeva" temple. Was missing the festival for the past three years coz of my study abroad, but this time i enjoyed it to the top. Every festival season is very special in my life, It was on the banks of the lake Ashtamudi i grew up as a small kid enjoying her enchanting dawns and divine vespers..! 

Mind was wandering aloft the mighty Himalayas with trillions of questions. i woke-up hearing an announcement "The AI flight will be landing at Tribhuvan International Airport within a short while". It was nearing 5'o clock in the evening. After collecting my baggage, rushed out to see whether someone has come to pick me. My contact at Nepal Mr. Sahim, an Official with the DFID had already made arrangements for my stay at Kathamandu. I was well received by Mr.Joseph, a well built Nepali. His attire was very special.."wearing a blue T shirt, camouflage pants and with a stunning Rayban". He helped me handling with  luggage. Mr.Jospeh works for DFID. The range rover moved friskily, the roads reminded me of narrow streets in India. The vehicle entered into a narrow street with storied middle class apartments. Suddenly i noticed a group of children pouring colored water from the terrace.. It was Holy Time..!! for a Moment my mind flew back to my small village..! 

Accommodation was arranged at paradise Hotel,Mr.Jospeh left his contact number in case of any need. I was quite tired and took a shower. Sort of enthusiasm filled with in me; from the balcony i could see the evening life of Kathmandu. The city was in festival mood, often the motor bikes disturbed my thoughts with its rattling sound. Night slowly made its appearance, it was getting cold..Chilling winds started flowing towards the Kathmandu valley..My thoughts were interrupted by a phone call from the reception.." Sir, Your dinner is ready"..after having dinner..came back to my room..crawled inside the Duvet to sleep hungrily...!

DAY TWO:

Woke up hearing the clamor of vehicles from the crowded street. It's almost half past seven, though i was quite lazy to get up, thoughts of impending tasks made me to hurry up.. need to meet Mr.Peter Branney of DFID to make arrangement's for getting permission to do research.My Breakfast was of typical Indian dish and cut fruits. Mr.Jospeh drove me to the Office of DFID. Kathmandu was slowly waking up from the "Holy mood". Mr.Branney was very pleased to meet me, he pointed out some of the lacuna's in my study and suggested to rectify those. After meeting some of the  top officials of DFID, i went to meet Ms.Chanda, she took me to the nearest Bazaar for buying some warm clothes and necessary stuffs for my journey. 

The DFID people were very friendly in nature. By evening i made all arrangements for my Journey to Sankuwasaba. Mr.Sahim Ansari was the official who was employed to help me in my research, by late evening i got a call from Mr.Sahim. He gave me a short description about the real situation in the high altitude areas and the hidden dangers on the way. Some of his words which reverberated in my mind " be prepared to survive in a world with no civic facilities". The evening was getting cold, i went back to Paradise hotel. The receptionist with her sweet native accent wished me " hello Sir, Good evening".. you were having a call from home, please call back. Felt like i'm not in a strange world, i felt more comfortable than the day before. 

DAY THREE: Journey To Tumlingtar
             And Finally i'm all set for the great journey in my life. Mr.Jospeh drove me to the Kathmandu Airport (Domestic Terminal). The domestic terminal was a crowded one, and the security check was quite liberal, i got astonished to see the kind of aircraft, those were small medium aircraft (Twin otter Aircraft's) with a seating capacity of 15. The main operators were Agni Airways, Yeti Airways, Sita Airways, Buddha Airways..etc..My flight (Agni Airways) was scheduled at 12 noon. Plenty of time was left with me, It's my nature to observe people who awaits flights to different destinations. This was totally a new experience to me. Majority of the people were middle class, the Nepali Govt is running this flight service by giving subsidies  to the flight operators. This is the only mode of transport to some of the most remote districts in Nepal, which otherwise needs  the only option of walking for weeks. Transportation in the Hill Kingdom is still a Mirage. At the airport i was quite eager to check my mail, though quite expensive i checked my mail and made some quick replies. Announcement came " Agni Airways to Tumlingtar will be late by two hours due to bad weather conditions. These aircraft's are prone to frequent accidents due to the unpredictable weather conditions in the high altitude areas. While i was roaming around the airport, found a book stall and one book caught my special attention. The Book Titled " My Quest for The Yeti" by Reinhold Messner". The name yeti struck my mind.."the abominable snowman which perplexed my mind from childhood. Does Yeti exists??? with out a second thought i bought that book. And in fact this book became my companion through out the Journey. I leafed through some of the pages, by that time my Aircraft was scheduled for departure. I was thrilled to travel above the Himalayas. The flight was a small one, with a limited seating capacity. The flight started its running for take off. The sound was quite horrible with a "hrrroooommm" after a series of jerks and hiccups it took off. Air hostess gave us ear plugs, water and some sweets. The journey though quite thrilling was full of jumps in the Airpockets. i was enjoying the mystique Himalayan beauty from above. Some areas were fully ravenous while others with lush forests, glaciers. It took almost 1.30 hours to reach Tumlingtar.

There was not even a runway for landing, after a series of jumps it landed safely. After collecting my baggage, i started looking for Mr.Sahim, he identified me from a distance saying hello and gave me a hug. He was having a gentleman look and a Rayban sunglass. It seemed he was having an authority over the people in that area. Then i met Chindum sherpa, who was sahim's assistant, chindum helped me in carrying my luggage. Sahim told that we need to reach Sankuwasaba before 5pm after that it may become very difficult to travel. The only means of transport was a Jeep. The jeep was fully loaded, but some how Sahim with his authority managed to get me a seat in the front; near to the driver. All of a sudden one lady started quarreling with the driver for not giving her a seat, and the driver atlast managed to find some space for her near to me. The driver was a versatile person, i was wondering how he drives in such a rugged terrain with full of rocks and deep valleys. The jeep was the last service to Sankuwasaba that day. Sun was smiling at me with its Orange tinge and the jeep left a cloud of dust behind. The journey took more than one and a half hours and finally we reached a small township named  "sankuwasaba". Mr.Sahim told me to buy a sleeping bag with out which it would be difficult to survive in the high altitude. After walking for 20 minutes we reached the house of Mr.Suman Shreshta one among the  popular cardamom exporters in Nepal. His house was a two storied one and Mr. Sahim told me that "this is the last piece of luxury you can have before the journey to the Hillocks". The shreshta family was very friendly they arranged everything for my safe stay. The night was getting very cold and i was very tired. Drishya Shreshta showed me my room to sleep. she has kept a cup of water and said good night. i felt very safe at their home. I had to wakeup very early next morning coz the journey begins tomorrow...