Sunday, November 2, 2014

Yamunotri Going? Guide Chahiye?

   Bits from my journal Yamunotri (with most of the complaining and repetition and nonsense phrases gone)

In the cold, grimy pool huddled by the stream of hot water, Laura's face lit up, eyes half closed, covered in droplets. A pink room from another dark world. The smell is perhaps the sulfur, but more like a really dirty room. In our kurtas and leggings, splashing warm on our faces, ears, necks, knees, the patch of sun sometimes far off steam rising up and the particles in the water dancing, something long rotten. This is no Golden Temple, but it's divine, the gift of the sun to his daughter, the goddess-river Yamuna, a little dribble of it at least in the neglected women's pool. The temple right above is still freezing, filled with hash and drums, something carried on the shoulders of two men, turned to each direction. Aunties making sure we've had enough prasad, huge balls of warm jaggery, ghee, some flour, and black flecks of the pan. We are so high up, 10,000 feet, lungs straining the 5 kilometers up to the temple, up these uneven steps, metal coverings here and there to stop the glacial drip on out heads. It's like some mythological gorge, shiny rocks shoved up from the earth (why don't I know anything about geology?), the treeline ends where the goddess pours out of the glacier. Dark, gnarled trees, some colors look like fall below, blackberries, ferns, and spiked rose and nettle.
We came out of the water, dripping and freezing, lost Laura's pocket knife somewhere along the way. We stopped in a dubba, sitting on the stone hearth in silence with the men in a comfortable way of humans battling a common element. A huge plate of rajma chawal peas and potatoes, two dollars for two overfull bellies, never too full for tea.
Hiking is strange here, often it feels remote, then a family rides up on ponies. I'm so glad we are not on ponies. Then after the trek you expect some secluded, natural bit and find yourself in a little bustling town, food stalls and souvenirs all carried up the same trail.
Also I don't know if I've mentioned enough how stunning this place is, glaciers lit up by the sun, the valley goes on forever now with rays through the clouds, sunset and sunrise in our ridiculous hotel. The windows are nice, the bed mostly clean, no cockroaches or grime, the bathroom mostly works by pouring buckets to flush it. The very young manager just wants to be friends, but we have to be too cautious for that. This would be so much easier with a man. Yesterday we had a laze and acclimation day, in bed and walking around the village. From our window we see clumps of grass bumbling down the road, closer there are people under the masses, but it's more interesting to see it this way. A dead cow was on the road, there will be a story behind that,

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