During the ongoing summer vacation, two families took a trip to Manali, Himachal Pradesh, in an attempt to retreat from the extremely hot weather of West Bengal, and cool off the sweat, stress and tiredness of the mundane lives of going to school, college, office and working tirelessly at home. The highlight of this 10 day trip was the trek they attempted, at higher grounds, the main goal being Bhrigu Lake, located at Rohtang Pass.
Several members of the trip were new to trekking, and hence, were scared. As the vehicle carrying them crossed the police barrier after the driver showed the permit, the collective excitement increased. The drop off point was about a kilometre by road, and it took barely five minutes for the car to get there. Soon, the jeep that had all the bags and haversacks arrived, and so did the horses that would carry all the baggage, food and other kitchen accessories.
The plan for the first day was rather light– half an hour of climbing. The kids were elated as they wanted the walk to be as short as possible. Little did they know how difficult it was going to be. Within five minutes of climbing steep pathways, many were out of breath. The tour guide motivated everyone like a true leader, saying that everyone had a great speed for a first timer. That was enough motivation, as everyone soon climbed like soldiers.
The party was advised to drink a sip of water every once in a while, to not get exhausted. The weather was hot and sunny, and it was easy to get tired, within as quickly as two minutes. As the party climbed, a tent appeared in sight. It was a shop, selling various food items such as Maggi noodles, soups, chips and other snacks. As they were full from the breakfast they had eaten back at the hotel, the need for having some light food was alleviated. The campsite wasn’t far from the shop.
After carrying on with the spirit for another fifteen minutes, the party made it to the campsite. It was sunny, hot and the location overlooked the beautiful city of Manali. As the teenagers ran around, trying to take shade under the trees, the adults sat down and called their family back home to let them know that the first leg of the trek was over. The tour guide and his men got to work right away, setting up the two tents for the two families, one for the toilet and one for the kitchen.
As the clock showed 3 pm, the clouds took over. The wind began blowing over and the temperature dropped, forcing the windcheaters out. The men working for the tour guide walked to the fresh water source beside which the camp had seen set up, and filled up everyone’s water bottles. The water was cold, but no one had a problem. Nobody has a problem during thirst.
Very soon, tea was served. It was hot, milky and sweet, just enough to keep everyone warm when the weather was beginning to make everyone’s hands chilly. After the little refreshment, the adults took their DSLRs out to take pictures, while the teenagers took pictures using mobile phones. At the same time, a delicious meal was being prepared in the kitchen for everyone to devour.
With the clock turning 4 pm, the chefs came out of their tent with two trays- 8 bowls in total, 8 bowls of Maggi Noodles cooked with vegetables and chilies. No Indian dislikes Maggi Noodles, and they weren’t any different. Not only did they devour the noodles, they relished it, enjoying the taste of the vegetables with Maggi and the spice of the masala in the soup.
During the meal, the sun shined once again, but with the wind still blowing strong. The lighting was perfect to take more pictures of the beautiful scenery. After the meal, the adults took more pictures while the sun was there to stay, and the teenagers retreated to a tent to play a game of Uno.
With time, the weather began getting colder. With everyone settled in three tents- the tour guide and his men in one, the adults in one and the teenagers in one, time went by quickly. Soup, with a touch of ginger, was served so that everyone could be warm. Amidst the drinking of soup, playing Uno and talking about random teenage things, it was suddenly nighttime. The kids were called into the adults’ tent for dinner.
The Dettol hand sanitizer began making the rounds as the chefs arrived with empty and clean plates and cutlery, which was soon followed by bowls of daal, chicken, vegetables, chapatis and rice for everyone. The tent had to be zipped carefully, due to the strong and cold wind blowing at the tents. It was chillingly cold outside, but very warm inside the tent. During dinner, everyone spoke about current affairs, life at school and college as well as sports and politics.
With the completion of dinner and washing of hands in chilling cold water, the tired yet happy party separated into two tents, family-wise, and went off to sleep in the warm and cozy sleeping bags, to get rejuvenated for a big day of trekking that was scheduled to follow. Little did the newcomers know what the tour guide and nature had in store for them.
To be continued in: A Trip To Manali – 2
All photos had been taken using a mobile phone camera
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