The Garhwal Diaries – 1

26 October 2010, Delhi, Dehradun

We got rooms in the Doon club! Thanks to Dominic. The ‘Jehar’ (fresh lime juice) from the Doon club kitchen is supposed to be world renowned but I think it’s overrated. The boys made fun of my humungous suitcase. It can carry a whole town inside it.

Sandeep, seems to love animals. We were drinking in the balcony and Sandeep was all concentration, watching a bunch of dogs down in the lawns.  He even had his eureka moment and he screamed, interjecting an intense conversation, with ‘Hey they are having sex! They are having sex!!’

Sandeep says he sees our faces covered in undies. Because we kept saying ‘cocky’.

Raghuram Kalletla reiterates what a big fan he is of T. Rajender, by crackling every now and then with “Action cum direction. Added with perfection”

We concluded that we had to reach the Forest department office by 8:00 a.m. “Bull shit!” I told myself. But I believe in miracles.

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27th October 2010. Morning. Dehradun.

Note to self: Stop looking like a waiter if you want people to stop ordering stuff from you. Or buy a shot gun.

Feigned self-righteousness is worse than whoring around.

We reached the forest office. Prateek Panwar, the brains behind the Himalayan Bird Count, is a PR genius. He makes Kiruba look like a weeping amateur. Prateek’s only problem is that he never finishes articulating a thought. Even in public speeches.

“Hello Suman ji! How are you? How is your daugh…. (turns to someone) Sir, Suman is coming here for the second time he is- Ah HELLO! Dolly ji! sir, this is Dolly ji she is an avid bird- ARREY HI!!! How are you…” And so on. I have to admit that organizing such a huge event so well speaks a lot about his team’s capabilities. Awesome shit.

Sandeep is really happy. Isn’t it amazing what a cute looking woman can do to your day?

The briefing session started. Suman’s law: in the beginning they all praise. When the shit hits fan, you’ll need Vaseline. Hope the bird count concludes without a hitch.

Met Dr. Athreya. He discovered a new species of birds in Eaglenest Arunachal Pradesh. Someone asked “So?” I was dumbstruck.

Around 1430 hours we loaded all our suitcases and bags on the top of our jeep and left Dun. Seven of us and the driver plus cameras, bazooka sized lens, tripods, and our massive egos: I pity the jeep.

We just crossed Lakshman jhula. The mountains baby. And there’s Alakananda. Bustling and gurgling as she hurtles down. Raghu is already taking pictures from the jeep that’s doing 40kmph. I hate these point-and-shoot fuckers.

Note to self: stop saying ‘I am an amateur photographer.’ You think they don’t know?

Note to self 2: If one more time someone utters the phrase shutter-speed, kick them in the balls.

Note to self 3: Fart. But mute it. You can always blame Raghu.

 

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27th October 2010. Evening. Enroute to Khirsu.

In the remote mountains of Garhwal Himalayas, driving during the day itself is extremely dangerous. We have another four hours to go before we reach Khirsu, our destination.

I spoke to the DFO to find directions and also to thank him for allowing us to stay in the forest rest-house in Khirsu. Mr. Singh, the DFO, sounded like a nice person.  He added ‘If the road through Pauri is still there you can come through it or better still, I suggest you come via Srinagar.’ I didn’t quite get the road being there part. *shudder*

Wait, there’s no road here! It’s submerged in a landslide! Pandey ji, our driver says “the road from Srinagar to Khirsu is even worse”  We are two inches from a 3000 ft fall. Worse? I wanna go home.

It’s getting colder. The macho men retorted “What cold?” They are even ready to take off their shirts I think.

We stopped to take a leak. I look up and the sky is ethereal. I have never seen so many stars in my life. It’s like someone took a giant spray-gun and sprayed the stars all over. Zillions of them.

Dinner in Srinagar. The roti makers from all these food outlets should form a band. The way they slap the dough and clap it on the tawa… awesome. They can call themselves, um, Roti Riot? No? Okay!

If you are wondering why no pictures were added to this post, well, we didn’t click any. Except Raghu’s acrobatic-hanging-upside-down-to-take-a-picture-of-the-starry-sky-at-40kmph… no we shot little else. So wait till I transcribe my notes and publish the next set of diary entries. Thank you. We love you too.

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