Traveler

The Manang Trail – Part II

By Chinthana Gopinath

Ke Garne, Life's like that


Got up early, fully wired!! Today was going to be the start of my trek. After breakfast, we had to walk down to the bus-stand to take a jeep/bus to Syange from where my trek was to begin. I was to walk to Chamche (1385 m) to halt for the night. There were no timings for the vehicles, they would arrive when they did and leave when they were full. We bought my ticket for Rs. 450 and sat down to wait for the vehicle to arrive. I had to bid adieu to Salima as it was pointless for her to sit and wait with me. It turned out to be a 3 hour long wait for my bus to arrive. It was my first application of the Nepali philosophy of ke garne (What can one do? Life's like that). The mini bus rapidly filled up with people on the seats & the roof, bags of rice on the floor, a couple of goats on the roof and chicks in shoe boxes carefully placed on the laps of the villagers. Korto made people get up and sit elsewhere so that I could get a seat next to the window in the second row. Surprisingly everyone was happy to oblige!! Nepali and Bollywood music blaring from the speakers, we were ready to embark on our 3 hour long drive.


I looked outside at the beauty surrounding me, I was dying to get on my feet and walk. It was an otherwise uneventful, bumpy, noisy ride, made longer when a branch smashed into the windshield of the vehicle. Finally at around 2:00 p.m. we reached Syange. The goats got offloaded first from the roof, followed by my bag. Korto was tsk-tsking that we had gotten late. He swung my bag on his back and just like that, it was the start of my trek.

We crossed the narrow street of the village of Syange. All too soon I encountered my first steep incline, a slope that I had read about in several other blogs. I had to use the support of my hands to get up, the slope was that steep. All the excitement of starting my trek was soon being washed away as my sweat glands swung into overdrive. Already wondering what I had voluntarily signed up for, I pushed through. Finally I got to the top of that incline. Dramatically, the dustiness of the newly cut mountain surface vanished. The trail was fairly wide. There was thick green growth everywhere I saw.

The mountain on the other side was covered with trees, broken in places by rice fields and eroded rock surfaces. The sound of the mighty Marshyangadi flowing in the valley was the only sound in my ears as also the sudden bursts of waterfalls that dotted the mountains.

I felt a huge wave of joy gushing out of me. I was smiling. I had worked hard to be here. I had got up early in the morning for months to get ready to do this. Was it really true that I was here? I didn't have to pinch myself to find out if I was dreaming because I twisted my foot. The first lesson I learnt on the very first day was this — I had to be fully aware of the moment I was in. I could not afford to think of where I was going or where I was coming from. I had to focus my attention totally on the moment. If I let my attention waver, it would surely result in a twisted ankle or a fall. The trek, for this reason, turned out to be meditation in motion for me.

It started drizzling and it started getting dark as I reached Chymche around 5:00 p.m. It was my first day and I had happily walked for 3 hours without feeling the passage of time. I checked into my lodge. My room was big enough to hold two single beds with a small passage between the beds. I went to the bathroom on my floor and to my luck I got hot water for a shower.

The lock to my door was not working. I stuffed my pockets with my wallet, phone, camera and my torch as I wanted to head down to the dining room for my meal. As I got out of the room, it felt like too much weight to carry. Here I was, putting my faith in the Universe to take care of me on this trek that I had undertaken alone while at the same time I was burdening myself with my possessions for fear of them getting stolen? I put everything back except my torch, which was a necessity, closed the door and went down. Interestingly, the locks to my room didn't work for the first three nights in a row.

I went down and ordered a dal-bhaath which was to be my lunch cum dinner for the day. After my meal, I went into the dining room to sit as it was getting cold outside.

I met a much in love German couple that night, Christine & Frank and their guide of Indian origin, Manoj. We spoke about our own food & culture and what we knew of the others' food & culture. Manoj told me that I was very beautiful and he thought that I should be in the movies. He asked me how old I was and he was genuinely surprised when I told him that I was 30. He had pegged me to be 24-25. Turned out later that all the guides on the trail had pegged me at the same age. Flattering!! We discussed our trek routes. I was told a few days later that I inspired them to include Lake Tilicho in their plans.

By 8:00 p.m. I was ready to sleep.

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