Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ladakh Trip: Day Sixteen. The Party.

An easy rest day, well-earned. Wake up for once not at the crack of dawn, but well into sunshine, opening the tent flap, looking out at the panorama and sunshine outside, and absolutely glow in the warm realization that today you don't need to go out and walk through it. When I turned over to snooze some more - that was the second-best snooze of my life.
(the best was in the depths of a Delhi December, foggy and icy, on a day when I had a holiday and my (severely hung over) roommates did not. I lay there under the rajai, telling them of the games I'll play and movies I'll watch and hot tea I'll drink, and hey, aren't you guys getting late for office?)

My tentmate, PP, appeared to be fondling himself in his sleep. I kicked him awake. He looked around, sighed, and explained that he was missing his wife. He said -
Ye bedard zamana kya jaane
Kya dard-e-judai hoti hai...
hum l**d pakar ke sote hain
har ghar mein ch**ai hoti hai...

Half the group departed for a walk; the rest of us stayed back, lazing around. Read The Pianist in two hours flat. Strolled down to the nearby Hotel Changma, another parachute paradise.

We had some curious visitors during the day, who walked into camp, peering at us, nuzzling, and generally getting friendly.

In the afternoon, PP decided to go for a lone walk. He's come a long way from being knocked flat by the height at Changla when he arrived... Ns told him, "PP, mera bhoot tujhme chadh gaya hai, aur tumhara mujhme..."
PP: "Yes but I would like it back, please."

The 5 returned, brimming over with ideas for the evening; some of us went and gathered up firewood; and, as expected, now that our camera batteries are stone dead, we have our closest encounter yet with Yaks, who burst through the underbrush while we were woodgathering, barely 5 feet away, and goggled at us in a frankly astonished way before proceeding.

For post-dinner, our camp cook managed to actually bake a cake(!!)

After dinner, we light the fire, and a dance programme ensues; the highlight of which is all the guys dancing to Choli ke Peeche. Yes, there is a video; I will somehow get it from As and get it here one day.
Ajay and Rinku get superexcited, and possibly fuelled by a few surreptitious visits to the kitshen tent, are full of vim and vigour and enthu. Rinku finds a diesel jerrycan, and drums out a beat while Ajay dances around, lost in his own world, to Ladakhi and Himachali folk-songs. Some of us encourage him with whistles, but the head guide shushes us. Since a few dogs had started barking at the Changma tent 2 km away, we asked, 'Kutte aa jaate hain?'
He gave us a very poker-faced look, and said, 'bahut kuch aa jaata hai' and refused to say more.
Dancing makes you gasp in minutes; we sit down, breathing the fragrant woodsmoke, and sing for a while, as the flames leapt and danced all by themselves now, a little spark pushing back the vast darkness.

And finally, it's time to sleep.

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