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And The Chadar Runs

An Ode to our Dying Rivers And The Chadar Runs Crumpled white sheet of snow, by her thigh, The sleeping Beaut stirs by my side, Peaceful dreams flicker her eye lashes, Stretches, yawns & her wave splashes, She squints at the sun, tosses & turns And the Chadar runs. Peeps, smiles & sleeps one more dream, I watch her bosom swell, with each breath she takes, Chadar Gorgeous I whisper & touch, she quivers Winter hibernate her no more, Icy nights, a thing of yore, And the Chadar runs. Wide awake, she dazzles me with her eyes green, hums a love song from the mountains she had been, throatily she laughs, as I goose-bump on her embrace, Snuggles close to my chest, last time she does, Leaves her fresh breath on my neck, she kisses adieu And the Chadar runs. I watch the pristine Chadar undulate away, through the valley, with a womans sway, In the know of her fate, I sigh in vain, Beauty to be soon sullied by sewage drain, Polluted, tainted & dishonored by us, ask I why Ravaged, Oh muffled the Chadar will cry. And yet the Chadar runs. And yet the Chadar runs

Nights on Chadar

Nights on the frozen Zanskar river are magical. No electricity means no light pollution. No cacophony of man made machinations. You hear yourself breathe heavily & the snow crunch under your feet as you walk on the whitest of the white snow lit by a full moon. You gasp more due to the breath taking vista & less due to the high altitude rarified air. You sense the river flow, albeit muffled under the ice & snow sheath "The Chadar" & the billion stars silently twinkle at you from light years away. Chadar is one nature's magic show, which I would watch again & again.

Frigid First Night

Looks serene & spectacular right? On the very first night, I faced the cold reality that my sleeping bag was meant for -5 degrees & wouldn't really cut the cake, in the ambient -28 degrees Celsius. I tossed & turned, shivered uncontrollably. I tried spot cycling, school P.T. drills in a claustrophobic zipped cold cold sleeping bag, to no avail. I recalled the "Birbal's Khichdi" story many a times in the night, neither the distant glowing lamp's heat, nor sleep would come. I tried burying my fingers in every available warm orifice, excruciating pain wouldn't leave my digits. Gawd, they still hurt after a week! I could hear snores rumble from Tim Vollmer, my tent mate & even the other tents & I fired a few Surati Four Letter vocab at them. *2#%^! Kya Karoo, Brrrr!

True Frigid First Night story, fit for an Agony Aunt Column! Porters Suite

Whilst we were whining about the conditions, in spite of being layered under kgs of winter wear, the twenty two Ladakhi porters, would lug heavy loads the whole day & in the extremely cold nights, would merrily sing Ladakhi songs, tell stories about their villages & families deep inside the Zanskar valley. The fire, a ragged sleeping bag & fond memories, were all that they needed inside these caves to keep them warm in the < -25 degrees Celsius nights.

First Crush

Walk on Ice - Frozen Zanskar river is a Chameleon. It morphs it's colors & state every few hundred meters & changes by the hour. This huge patch was a solid thick slab of slippery transparent ice, which reflected the azure sheen of the sky. I silently followed in a Penguin Slide behind Kalpesh Jain & Saanddok, our Trek Assistant Guide & kept on clicking images & videos. I admired them in the LCD Screen & started walking faster with a smile. A big mistake! Before I knew, I slipped, was airborne & although I managed to keep the camera up & safe in my left hand, truly befitting a retired cricketer, I had twisted & nose dived on my right cheekbone. Thud! The lights went out

for a few seconds. It felt like a vicious Left Upper Cut of Neha, the Boxer. I heard the Referee count till six before I staggered on my knees. The new Oakley's, now broken & separated, dangled on my ears. I could feel the warmth of blood oozing out from the gash. I could sense the numbness before the pain seared through my teeth. I thought of applying ice to reduce reduce the edema & wondered if that would indeed be the right course of action upon hitting the ice? Kalpesh Jain, told me I looked ok..... like a watermelon green, black & red! Any fellow trekker who publishes my swollen face picture on the web, will be seriously sued for defamation by my lawyer! Aaaaargh! You'll never forget your first fall on Chadar!

To Be With Me

Yes, on the Chadar Trek, you of course take in the majestic, awe inspiring surroundings, but essentially you are there enjoying your own solitude & being with your own self, as you walk along the endless river. You hear yourself breath under the muffler wrapped around your face & you think - of life gone by & what lies ahead, about people & things, places, wants & desires. The brain never stops whirring, does it? Suddenly you stop dead in tracks, admire the stillness of the mountains, the sunbeams lighting up the narrow gorge & the river echoing your thoughts. You

smile, at the realization, that you, your own self, are a pretty nice guy to be with!

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