Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Trip

We usually have a certain equation of a good trip in our mind, with certain variables like how comfortable the stay is, how good the food is, how exotic the location is...etc. But all this while there are a few certainties like duration of the trip, location(s) to visit, number of days of stay at each location, a fixed schedule of the trip....The idea was to turn these constants into variables and sit back and watch the equation stake shape.

In late April, I started this trip with a visit to Varanasi. (I believe the city offers a kind of a crash course on India). I had no idea where I would go next .... and definitely no idea that the trip would ultimately take me to a remote village near the Indo-Tibetan border near Joshimath. There was no fixed date of return, no trip plan, schedule.....except for a certain budget (well that corners it down a lot). Anyway, till the money lasted, I met a lot of unique people that never really made me feel lonely during the trip. And yes, I took loads of photographs too.

On the Ghats of Benaras

Eternal sunshine

Waiting for her boat

Making the Arc

Holy Duties

Next I arrived at Haridwar, on my way to the Garhwal Himalayas. Though the Kumbh mela had just ended the crowd had not yet completely dispersed.

Lost in Kumbh

At Joshimath, the trip got really exciting

....where I took a ride on top of one of the India Post vehicles to a distant village some 36Km uphill.

Most of the people of these villages at such high altitudes migrate to lower and warmer places in the winter and at the time I visited, many were migrating back to these villages.

Most of them work as daily labour for road and other infrastructure projects. In the summer months, they trek to the treacherous snow line areas to collect a tiny herb that they locally call 'Kirajari' and sell it to local businessmen.

On route to one of the villages I got acquainted to one of my fellow passengers, who turned out to be a teacher in the village primary school.

The area is very high on literacy. There are even women with MA in the remote villages. However, jobs are scarce.

Madan, his brother Mohan and their father Pratap, my guide back from the Suki village (near Sonaithota).